Why Google+ Could Succeed

Google has begun rolling out its latest iteration of a social network, Google+. It’s getting plenty of press in the blogosphere, with a wide variety of opinions (great start; Facebook me-too late in the game; meh-be; etc.)

Here’s my take on why it could be a winner – our current social networks are dumb.

You heard me. Dumb. Google+ is showing some potential smarts.

Not to say that Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and the like are poorly designed, or that there aren’t really smart people behind them. And certainly not to say that those of us using these networks are dumb for doing so. Not at all. These platforms are a good start, and it’s very smart to be involved with digital networked communications.

But these initial tools are baby rattles, compared to the sophistication we really need.

I’m going to point you back three years, to the series I wrote on the ideal social media/web interface (One Interface to Rule Them All <– the link is to the first of 7 posts). There, I outlined how we need smart platforms that would do things like layering (Google+ Circles),  automated finding via Intell-Agents (Google+ Sparks); and, last year, I had a hankering for real-time private rooms (Google+ Hangouts).

The need is for far better ability to classify, stratify, find (not just search), and control. Google+ is heading in that direction, and that is why it could take on platforms that do a more “brute-force” job of connecting and publishing. And make no mistake – current social platforms are still quite “dumb” on the brute-force level. They give us a bigger and bigger fire hose with only the most rudimentary ways to manage it all.

If  Google+ evolves with simple elegance and solid integration, our brilliant friends at Google have a great shot at a next-gen platform.

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Unconstructive Feedback – A Leader’s Guide

When Lisa Petrilli and I launched Leadership Chat last year, one of our hopes was that we would, at times, provide a point-counterpoint perspective.

Turns out that we actually agree on an awful lot, though we do tend to approach things from different angles.

But this week, we’re on opposite sides of the fence. Lisa writes about Giving Constructive Feedback in this 8-point post. And that’s all well and good – but what about those leaders who really want to excel in Unconstructive Feedback? Who’s giving them guidance?

I am. So, in the interests of conforming to the recently-enacted No Stupid Left Behind Act, here are my eight counterpoints:

1. Delay is critical. Disassociating feedback from action will help create the desirable sense of confusion that keeps employees on their toes. It is best to wait a day, a week – even a year – before telling George, “Hey, that time you talked about our company history in the presentation to that client? – it was too long-winded.”

2. Keep it vague. What you want is maximum guilt feelings spread over the widest possible range of behaviors. Instead of focusing on a specific typo in an email message, and the potential confusion that it may have caused to a small group of people, simply say, “Your writing leaves a lot to be desired.” That sort of generality will encourage better performance in all circumstances!

3. Focus on the abstract. Instead of looking at how a particular behavior impacted a particular circumstance – the why and how – move to higher levels, such as, “You’re a superb demotivator. Why don’t you stop it?” That way, any number of behaviors and attitudes can be ranged under one overarching criticism.

4. Exaggerate everything, being sure to put each criticism in the worst possible light. Remember – people don’t understand context. So just bring the maximum firepower for maximum effect. The question you always need to ask yourself: “Can we go all scorched-earth on this transgression?” Make it memorable!

5. Make it hard-nosed. Underlings have to be kept in line. You’re not there to make friends. You were made a leader to enforce policy. Period. Remember – you can’t fix stupid, but you sure can enjoy yelling at it!

6. Keep ‘em guessing. While criticizing undesirable behaviors, be sure to leave the alternative along the lines of, “I’m really expecting you to do better.” That way, they never quite know if they’re getting it right, which could lead to complacency.

7. Monitor behind closed doors. Tell them they’d better get it right, and that you’ll be watching. They were hired to do a job and they need to know that you’re not there to babysit. If they want a coach, they can go back to high school and join the football team.

8. Let them know that they are right on the bubble. The best workers are those who fear for their jobs continually. Use the word “expendable” liberally when upbraiding them for their marginal performance. This will extract the maximum effort from their dissolute souls.

Lisa, I know you meant well. But, really – I have far more “leaders” on my side. My principles are embedded in so many organizations, and they are passed down from generation to generation by countless corporate scribes and practitioners. In fact, I’ve been meaning to tell you – all of your blog posts really leave a lot to be desired – I’m expecting better! :>}

(yes, dear readers, all of the above is sarcastic spoofery. If only it weren’t so common in practice, however!)

So, what do you think – Steve’s view of feedback, or Lisa’s? Join the discussion on Twitter tonight during #LeadershipChat (8 pm ET) and let’s talk about how to give constructive – or not – input.

(Image credit – Wilted Rose)

PLUS – big news! Special guest host joining us for next week’s LeadershipChat (July 5th) – author and all-around smart fellow Guy Kawasaki (we’ll talk about leadership principles from his book Enchantment). Don’t miss this one!

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Who Are You?

“I’m a Vice-President” | “I’m a Sales Rep” | “I’m a Researcher”

Roles and titles easily slip off our tongue. What we DO is not the same as who we ARE, however.

And that’s true of companies as well.

So, here are the 12 Most Important Questions you can ask about your Identity, published on the popular new site, The 12 Most.

Preview:

As a company, or as a person, you possess a vital stewardship over something unique – your identity. Your DNA. That which sets you apart and gives you something of great value to offer.

Too many people, companies, and brands spend their time and effort on message development, and short-change the process of understanding their identity. Yet message and market positioning must grow out of a clear DNA discovery… (read the entire article)

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

DNA Interview: Shannon Whitley

This week, we’re getting to know my friend and collaborator Shannon Whitley (@swhitley on Twitter) – interviewing him to discover a bit more about his professional DNA.

Shannon could easily be labeled “The API Guy” – if there’s an API for a social or enterprise platform, he’s probably integrated with it! He also develops great social tools, such as Contax.io and ChatTagged (see the video for more on those).

Need to gain understanding of your personal or company DNA? Contact me about Brand Therapy – you’re only a few hours away from a professional epiphany!

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Know Your Verbs!

As a professional, here is the view I like. —>

A fallow field.

If it’s already built, if the framework is designed and the system is in place, I don’t belong.

I need to create new things. I used to wonder about serial entrepreneurs, before recognizing that, in fact, I am one. Ooops.

Others would never flourish in the face of the unstructured environment that excites me. And that’s fine, because we need people across the entire range of skills, from pure creativity to repetitive tasks, and everything in between.

That’s why you need to know your verbs. What are those actions that describe you at your peak of effectiveness?

For me: Analyze, Envision, Create, Connect, Communicate. Operational stuff? – ugh. Number-crunching? – umm, no. Toll-taking? – kill me now.

I want to look at what isn’t, and figure out how to create something new. Give me the fallow field.

Now, I’ve done plenty of work in the past that was outside of my ideal verb zone. And I highly value those with a whole different suite of verbs than mine – if we were all like me, there’d always be something new – and nothing else would get done!

So, what are your verbs? Can you narrow it down to, say, 3-5? Feel free to share them in the comments. Those verbs may well provide the clue to your future professional path!

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Turning the Corner

At a tweetup in NYC this week, I had the joy of talking to a fellow entrepreneur about how her business had finally turned the corner and begun to really take off. She and I had talked late last year and she was right on that borderline at the 3-year mark – “will this make it? Or do I need to get another job?” I knew she both needed and wanted to make it on her own.

Five years into my business adventure, I’ve been right on the edge of that bubble, too – more than once. Really wondering if this Impactiviti/Connection Agent business was going to fly. Now, as more and more business comes through the accumulated time and effort of network-building, it’s amazing to look at that corner – in the rear-view mirror!

My mission is to help entrepreneurs. And one of the biggest difficulties we all face is getting to, and around, that corner of steady work and profitability. Have you gotten there? Can you give hope to others by sharing your success, and perhaps a vital lesson or two you learned getting there? You could do so in the comments; but even better, perhaps – write it up on your blog, send me the link, and I’ll post it here.

It can be a lonely path. Let’s help kindle the hope and confidence of our fellow entrepreneurs, in the best way we can. There’s nothing better than a success story!

UPDATE: Here is a great video story from Carrie Wilkerson, The Barefoot Executive

Great perspective here from Anthony Iannarino, on the role of client acquisition in turning the corner.

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Specialize or Generalize?

I was reading a great post by Rohit Bharagava last week on The $1 Million Specialization Question.

If you’re an solopreneur, consultant,or small business, here’s my advice. Specialize. Then sub-specialize.

You cannot stand out, or be memorable as a business, if you employ Bullet-point Branding. “We do this, and this, and this, and this. Oh, and if it means cash flow for the next 3 months, we’ll do that too.”

Your goal should be to create the sense that you are the Go-To person or company for something very specific. Some niche you can define and dominate. Find your unique value and wave that flag.

You don’t merely need business. You need an identity first. Then you can pursue the right business for you.

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Praise or Flattery?

Praise is sincere. Flattery has an underlying motive.

Praise acknowledges what is true. Flattery overstates for effect.

Praise builds up. Flattery butters up.

Praise is nourishing. Flattery is junk food.

Leaders have a great responsibility and privilege – helping others grow and improve. Heartfelt and appropriate praise is one of the ways we can reinforce what is good. It is a spotlight on that which is exemplary, for the recipient (and others) to see. It should create aspiration.

It’s part of being on the gold standard of leadership.

I know someone professionally who is constantly overstating the value of others. When you’re described with too much sparkle too soon, and too often, you can’t take it seriously. I think it is meant to create good will, but it comes across as hollow and forced. Everything then has to be taken at a discount – it’s a verbal form of printing money (some of which feels counterfeit). Not gold standard.

On the other hand, I can tend to be too parsimonious with praise. And that can be discouraging, causing people to think that I’m impossible to please. Too much New England reserve isn’t necessarily a helpful leadership trait! The best remedy is to remember the effect – sometimes profound – that others have had on me when they’ve given sincere and encouraging praise.

No leader is going to get this perfectly right all the time. What or who has helped you become better at this important leadership trait? Please share in the comments – and join the #LeadershipChat community as this topic is discussed at 8 pm ET tonight (6/21) on Twitter. In preparation, be sure to read the post by my talented co-moderator, Lisa Petrilli, on Mastering the Powerful Art of Praise.

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

From the Mouths of Children…

9-year old Seth: “Dad, what does ‘cultivate’ mean?”

Me: “Well, with plants, it means to prepare the soil, and water, and do the work to make things grow.”

Seth: “Oh, like you do with business?”

Smart boy.

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

DNA Interview: Sean McGinnis

I love sitting down with folks and finding out more about what makes them tick – their professional DNA.

Today’s Skype video interview is with my friend Sean McGinnis (@seanmcginnis on Twitter), principal of 312 Digital and well-known Chicago networker.

Sean’s mission is to help clients with Digital Customer Acquisition and Loyalty. Listen in as we chat for a few minutes… (please pardon the slight video pixelation…)

Need to gain understanding of your personal or company DNA? Contact me about Brand Therapy – you’re only a few hours away from clarity!

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Your DNA

Sitting down with a friend over lunch recently, I was listening to the frustration in his voice as he outlined the painfully slow process of seeing progress made in his (huge) company. Not an uncommon experience – right?

He’s an innovator. A collaborator. A thinker. A sharer. And, in my opinion, a teacher of others (yes, I can’t help doing a little Brand Therapy, even over lunch!)

That’s his DNA. That’s him. And when a role and a company environment are more driven by risk-aversion, process, and silos – frustration is the inevitable side effect.

Now, sometimes that is exactly what is needed – a person with the will and ability to swim upstream, overcome obstacles, and make progress against inertia. Sometimes, however, it may only be an exercise in futility.

Ideally, you want to find – or create – a role in line with your DNA.

Are you truly aware of your DNA, as a person and professional? Do you fit in the structure that surrounds you? Does the grass look greener on the other side – only to find that, when you make a change, you’re right back where you started?

As a person – What drives you? What do you dream of doing? Where do you perform best? What’s your core makeup? What are your professional strengths? What drives you crazy, that you wish you never had to do again? What do you want to build?

As a company (or consultant) – What are your true competencies? Where do customers value you most? What kind of work do you do best now, and what do you really want to be doing in 3-5 years? Who are your ideal customers? What bogs down your progress? What is your message? What are you uniquely able to build or accomplish?

Discover your DNA first – nothing matters more. Then you can decide where you belong, what you have to offer, what your message is.

The alternative may well be a lot of time lost spinning your wheels in frustration.

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Epiphanies

I see my development as a person and a professional as a timeline filled with two elements – the slow, steady accumulation of wisdom that comes from experience, and the intrusion of epiphanies.

(from Dictionary.comEpiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something)

For instance, I clearly remember the ground-shaking impact of the central message contained in the books First, Break All the Rules/Now, Discover Your Strengths. The insight that people can only perform at their best when working in alignment with their core strengths radically changed my world view and has profoundly shaped my thinking to this day.

What about you? What have been some of your epiphanies (people, books, talks, even tweets)? Please share in the comments!

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

First Twitter Chat M&A Activity Announced!

The on-line rumor mill is buzzing with the news that #LeadershipChat has made an unsolicited (but friendly) bid to acquire #TChat (TalentCulture Chat) for a sum equaling a 3.5x annual revenue multiple, plus a hashtag to be named later.

“For months, we’ve been eyeballing #TChat’s growing audience, which occupies the same time slot (8 pm ET Tuesday) during which we convene,” stated Steve Woodruff doppelganger Connection Agent, co-founder of #LeadershipChat. “In fact, many participants were attempting to participate in both chats simultaneously, leading to hashtag distortion fields and chaotic chat neutrino interference. For that reason, we figured we’d better just absorb #TChat, which also gives us Meghan Biro and a couple of minor-league avatar draft choices.”

According to Lisa Petrilli, acknowledged as the real brains behind #LeadershipChat, “Our M&A advisors at J.P. Morgan figured that #TChat was worth at least one large platter of cannolis plus a pair of fiery red stilettos, but we figured we’d base our offer on revenue, which was a much simpler calculation. Competing as two separate chats was clearly a zero-sum game. Turns out that combining was as well!”

Response from the two chat communities was mostly positive. Lurker Mack Collier, founder of #BlogChat, figures any arrangement that dilutes the influence of Steve Woodruff has to be positive. “I can never understand half the stuff he rails on about anyway. Meghan and Lisa, I get. This can only expand the audience of people who aren’t interested in seeing metaphysical concepts reduced into 140-character soundbites.”

Meghan Biro was not available for comment due to a confidentiality clause in the agreement, but according to DMs brought to the surface from her hacked Twitter account, she was preparing to launch her next venture, tentatively called #WhatWereTheyThinking?Chat. Negotiations were well underway to feature a NY congressman as the first guest host of the new chat.

===> Um…OK, the above is a spoof. But, in fact, #LeadershipChat and #TChat ARE having our first joint chat on Tuesday night, June 14th, at 8 pm ET. Please join us as we discuss the topic together: How Magnetic Leadership Attracts the Best Talent. Please use both hashtags (#LeadershipChat #TChat) as you participate!

And, to make your chat experience even more enjoyable, try out ChatTagged, a custom-made Twitter client for helping manage your on-line chat interactions!

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

“People Should Pay Me To…”

Just got done with a Brand Therapy breakfast meeting with a long-standing friend, now looking for new avenues of work. He’s got a ton of talent, but just needed some definition of his professional DNA, and direction on how to create new opportunities.

I love those sessions.

It occurred to me, on the drive home, that we often default to the wrong thought process when looking for new work. Regularly, we think like this:

“I need someone to offer me a job to….”

Ugh. For a moment, put the entire legacy corporate structure out of your mind. No position, no title, no company, no job.

Instead, we should be saying this:

“People should pay me to…”

The first focuses on you, the worker dependent on others. The task-doer and title-holder. The second focuses on you, the giver of value who should be given money in return for services you alone (or best) can render.

Don’t simply look for a job. Identify and promote your unique value that leads to income.

Now that I think about it, adapt the words slightly and this mindset also goes for companies promoting themselves.

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

DeltaFAIL? You decide…

Delta Airlines has a PR nightmare on its hands – or, is it an opportunity?

Here’s the deal – some soldiers returning from Afghanistan put up this video on YouTube (please watch) complaining about the fact that they had to pay, out-of-pocket, for a fourth piece of luggage. They had been operating under the impression that they were allowed 4 pieces of baggage.

Delta put up this apologetic response on their blog, which outlines the fact that soldiers traveling coach class are actually allowed three bags (first/business class allows four).

Military people know that you have to do things “by the book” as you do your job. And Delta employee(s) were apparently doing just that – following the rules. Clearly, we have a case of miscommunication – and maybe a policy in need of review – that has blown up and is creating a strong emotional response.

So, here’s the question – what do you think Delta Airlines should do – right now for these soldiers, this week for PR damage control, and long-term regarding their luggage policy for the military? Put your thoughts in the comments and let’s discuss.

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Terry Starbucker and Leadership

Tonight, Lisa Petrilli and welcome Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie to LeadershipChat as a co-host.

While both of us typically write a topical “warm-up” post for the Monday/Tuesday before each weekly chat, today I’m going to take a slightly different tack (Lisa’s excellent post is here: Three Leadership Secrets for Building a Great Team).

I’m going to tell you about Terry, the man I’ve come to know over the past few years.

Terry is one of the bloggers I stumbled across early on in my social media voyage some 4+years ago. If memory serves me correctly, we actually met for the first time (face-to-face) at Blogger Social ’08, a watershed event for many of us who were involved in marketing-blogging in the early days.

What has always struck me about Terry is that he’s for real. What you see is what you get (well, except for the name change – ask him about that story sometime!) On his blog, you see friendly, thoughtful, upbeat, approachable. When you meet at a Starbucks in Manhattan, or at an event like SOBCon, what you get is friendly, thoughtful, upbeat, approachable.

Some people go through life with a fin out of the water – always looking for how to make a killing, and perhaps deigning to speak with you if you appear to be a suitable means to an end.

That’s not Terry Starbucker.

Terry is loyal, supportive, and steady. A wise.businessman and a friend.

And that’s why you want to join us for an on-line discussion about leadership, with Terry, tonight at LeadershipChat (8 pm ET on Twitter. Hashtag: #LeadershipChat). If you want to get a nice snapshot of Terry’s top thoughts on leadership, download and browse through the quick-read free e-book on his site: Leadership From A Glass Half-Full.

Don’t miss the chance to meet Terry if you haven’t already. He’s the real deal.

(to make your chat experience even more enjoyable, try out ChatTagged, a custom-made Twitter client for helping manage your on-line chat interactions)!

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Announcing the QWERTY Thirty in Social Media!

There has been a proliferation of lists lately circulating in the blogosphere/Twittersphere: 40 Brilliant Women that Must be Followed or You’re Done For. Awesomely Hunky Men in Tech.  99.5 Clowns (still waiting for Gary Vee to publish this one).  You know, arbitrary feel-good lists that allow us to pat people on the back and tell them we think they’re cool. Plus, it’s linkbait.

So I thought this morning I’d make up my own: Awesome People Who Are On This List Because I Said So.

No gender. No reason. Pure, arbitrary choice.

But wait! This should be a community project! We all should have our say-so. Have you come across someone who uses a QWERTY keyboard to express their awesome? Or even their not-too-awesome? Then help create the QUERTY Thirty list:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

…..

30.

Go ahead – create this list by adding your favorite people in the comments. Put ‘em on this stellar list just because you say so! The list closes at 5 pm ET. That’s arbitrary, too.

(what if we end up with 746 names? Simple. We’ll just round it down to 730 to keep things rhyme-y!)

————-

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

Twitter: @ConnectionAgent | @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 153 other followers