You Have the Goods

I spent a couple hours recently going in-depth with someone about an impending major career change – a BIG jump from one type of endeavor to another.

Without giving away too much about his/her background, I’d say that about the last thing you’d expect from this individual is the hesitancy and uncertainty that stems from fear.

But there it was.

“I don’t believe I have the goods.”

I think one of the best gifts we can give one another is an assessment of what we’re really good at, and a huge pat on the back to go forth and conquer.

If you believe someone has the goods, tell him or her. That little word of encouragement – that expression of faith – may well be the needed push to get someone over the barrier of fear.

Even the most seemingly-successful folks have the “you don’t have the goods, you big jerk!” minor-key soundtrack playing in the background sometimes.

Many times what we need is someone from the outside, someone both objective and encouraging, to say out loud, with a smile and little shove forward, “You have the goods!”

Live-Reviewing The Impact Equation (book review)

(I didn’t get all the way through on day 1, so I’m continuing for a second day. Simply scroll down to see the review unfold chapter by chapter)

It’s been sitting here for a few weeks, neglected. Chris Brogan and Julien Smith‘s new book, The Impact Equation. I have a pre-release copy and I’ve put off reading and reviewing it.

Until now. You see, this is the public release week for the book (you can use this link to order it). And I know the authors want as much exposure as possible – hey, who wouldn’t?

So I’m going to do something I’ve never attempted before. No, it’s not going over Niagara Falls in a parafoil made of recycled Diet Dr. Pepper cans. Something far more daring. Something with immense and incalculable risk.

I’m going to live-review the book. This morning. On this blog and on Twitter.

You thought jumping out of a capsule from 128,000 feet and breaking the sound barrier was daring?? Pffffft.

You might say that this is a link-baiting publicity stunt. You’d be partially correct. You might say that the Niagara Falls idea is actually more risky. Well, for me, maybe; but this chapter-by-chapter live-reviewing stuff is far more risky for Chris and Julien. And that’s the kind of risk I prefer!

So, here we go. It’s 7:30 am ET. I’m going to relieve my guilt over not reading this volume sooner by diving right in, and telling you what I think, hourly-ish. For better or for worse. Twitter hashtag: @impacteq.

Woodruff/Mystic. Brogan/Smith. It’s on!

(Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in this book, nor are any links affiliate links)

Part 1: Goals

This chapter has a few main themes:

- We live in a time when we can (and should) build our own channels

- This is not primarily about tech – it’s always about people

- Success comes from the long haul

The acronym CREATE* is used to explain how impact comes about. As it is presented, I see the word “equation” as a misnomer here – it’s more of a recipe.

Good content overall, but too many thoughts are presented – this chapter feels like a pinata of ideas. Like most business books, it feels verbose. Writing style is more informal; idea flow not particularly tight.

* Contrast / Reach / Exposure / Articulation / Trust / Echo  (the first and last terms feel a bit forced)

- (posted at 8:20 am) -

Part 2: Ideas (Contrast)

These section is all about differentiation. In the grab bag of ideas presented, we see the concepts of screening good ideas (out of the pool of bad/mediocre ones); the role of emotion in making an idea interesting/spreadable; the need for bravery to publish ideas that differ; and the role of extrapolation and metaphor (note: I am a huge advocate of using metaphor/analogy in the messaging process).

As a writer/creator, I find myself on familiar ground here – but I wonder if someone who is not a social media content-generator might not find this chapter overwhelming. Most people don’t, I suspect, have a flowing fountain of ideas (or an impetus to crowd-share them as a sifting mechanism). For the ones that are seeking to break new ground in the idea-realm, however, the principles are solid. The writing style, again, is very informal and breezy, with (lots of) (parenthetical) (statements) sprinkled throughout.

The concept of breaking through the human pattern-recognition screen is one of the more valuable take-away images of the chapter.

- (posted at 9:45 am) -

Part 2: Ideas (Articulation)

“Part of learning Articulation is learning which words to choose. Another is learning which words to lose.” That pretty much sums up what you need to know (and it’s great advice).

This chapter starts out well, but then wanders quite a bit about ideas, e-mail marketing, business viability, mind-mapping, and more. Good advice all, but themes are scattered around like disparate blog posts in a RSS feed. Some fierce editing was needed here. Loose links, productivity ideas, etc. – some nice stuff, solid thought-gems, but not finding a real clear flow here.

The snapshot below, however, is great advice:

- (posted at 10:35 am) -

Part 3: Platforms (Reach)

First you need ideas. Then you need a transmitter. That’s Platform. “Platform multiplies power. The vaster and more effective it is, the stronger you become.”

This chapter is  more tightly written. It focuses on the need to continuously build a growing audience (over time), and how on-line tools have enabled this in a unique way. Some good case studies are included, including TED and Dollar Shave Club. Some good stuff on how/when to extract value (e.g., sell stuff and/or gain access) as you grow your Reach. Good emphasis on adding value. Anyone serious about writing a book, or growing an audience for any other purpose (including business networking), should read this. It’s not an exhaustive chapter full of steps, but it is suggestive and contains important perspectives.

- (posted at 12:55 pm) -

OK, I was too optimistic about getting this all done today. Will continue tomorrow…!

It’s tomorrow! —>

Part 3: Platforms (Exposure)

This chapter is very much about using social media for exposure. Don’t expect to see much about other avenues. And, at first, I found myself slightly annoyed that there were a whole lot more questions than answers – lots of generalities. Then I woke up and realized that that’s the point – gaining exposure through social channels is one big experiment, and there is no one-size-fits-all (as there is no one audience, and no single set of expectations). I’ve had to wrestle over the years with all of the same issues – frequency, media/channel types, formatting, length – and, if you’re seriously reaching out to a growing audience, it evolves.

Again, however – this chapter is for people serious about making content and building an audience. And it’s about long-term commitment. I’m completely down with that but it will seem difficult to reach for many people who have a different make-up or professional role. And that’s the challenge that must be addressed – individuals and companies are all becoming broadcast channels, like it or not. It’s time to embrace it and take the right steps.

- (posted at 8:30 am) -

Part 4: Network (Trust)

“Your idea may be genius, and it may be caught immediately imprinted on people’s brains. You may be differentiated from your industry and highly visible. But if you are not trusted, if you are not credible, you are nothing.”

Pulling on the (excellent) work of Maister, Green, and Galford (book: The Trusted Advisor) – this section discusses the Trust Equation. Four elements: Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy, Self-Interest.

This chapter started off with the sound of rockets on the launch pad, then ended with a whimper. It was supposed to be the clarification and capstone of the prior book by this pair, Trust Agents (which I read and recommend). It wasn’t. It was mainly self-evident principles and recycled bromides. Disappointing work. Vuvzelas, Pokemon, and blogging calendars didn’t cut it for me.

Just read the first few pages and skip the rest.

- (posted at 9:50 am) -

Part 4: Network (Echo, Echo)

Be human. Allow people to relate to you. Make a personal connection – reply. Package and own your quirks – you’ll always find a niche of interested sympathizers. Speak their language. Basic stuff. Good reminders, but nothing new here. And it seems to come too much from a place of outsized influence – how someone already influential should try to relate. This chapter seems to float a little bit above everyday life and business. And the section at the end about relating to critics seems out of place.

(end of book) – (posted at 10:30 am) -

My conclusion:

Here’s a great quote from the last chapter: “Distill your message. Whittle it down to the tightest, sharpest thing possible.”

I wholeheartedly agree with the principle, though I did not see it well-embodied in this book!

Make no mistake, there are a lot of good things said here. But instead of a crisp, expertly-guided tour (some authors are masterful at this, moving your mind sequentially and building a step-by-step case), this book felt like a meander in the field with a couple of smart guys. The authors are pointing out a nice vista here, picking up some rock samples there, naming the trees and birds, crossing back over the same areas a few times – a pleasant enough stroll, but not real tight. If you’re looking for research-driven content, this book won’t satisfy; and if you’re brand new to social media, it might be overwhelming. I think for those who are seeing the value of building a platform for influence, and who need a bunch of tips and perspectives based on experience – there’s value here.

Stylistically, the writing is casual and uneven – a given style isn’t necessarily good or bad, but just understand that if you’re into flights of new revelation through tightly-argued logic, this book won’t appeal. On the other hand, those who value the thought-snippets that come from blogging, and want to see them gathered under some type of more ordered framework, may well find this volume to be inspiring and enlightening.

Mystic, it turns out, was more interested in The Milk Bone Equation!

___________

Related posts on Connection Agent:

>> My Career Fragmentation Story

>> The Seven Shortcuts to Creating Trust

Surpassingly, Divinely Exceptional

This morning, I was reading Psalm 48 (link leads to a modern-English version; I’ll be referencing a few phrases from it in this post), and marveling at the heart-mind response of people to God’s glory.

The psalm paints a picture of an outstandingly-aboveness – a unique greatness – that evokes the most devoted human response.

Being a businessman as well as a worshiper, I found myself thinking – what kind of surpassing wonderfulness, as depicted in this psalm, could turn customers into devotees and devotees into a growing business?

1. Unmatched greatness – in short, spectacular-ness that people cannot help but praise. When devotees line up for days in front of an Apple store for the latest product, so they can be the first to experience it and praise its excellence, this isn’t a mere transactional relationship. It moves into the realm of awe for Apple’s design and execution genius. Those 150 psalms in the Bible? They are bursting with praise that words can barely express. Wouldn’t it be something to have customer testimonials like that?

2. Outstanding memorable-ness – we are surrounded by forgettable, commodity products. Yet these worshipers cannot help but dwell on the surpassing quality of what they’ve been able to touch. Exceptional means top-of-mind in a very noisy, distracting world. You know when your favorite artists releases a new album and a couple of tasty tunes keep occupying your mind and escaping your lips? That.

3. Evangelistic enthusiasm – in this psalm, people are encouraged to look at the beautiful details, to consider and count and marvel, to rejoice with others – and to tell the next generation (organic word-of-mouth). I go out of my way to tell people about Loveless Cafe in Nashville, or Amica Insurance. Why? Their consistent excellence makes me want to see more people enjoy what they offer.

True worship of God has never been about miserable conformity to a set of nonsensical rules – it is about above-all-else greatness, heartfelt awe, and a personal attachment that is grounded in divine beauty. A form of religion with forced or transactional followers isn’t much of a model for us. People yearn for spectacular, not run-of-the-mill.

Our goal should be nothing less than being exceptional and creating enthusiasm. I guess you could consider that kind of business one that begins to reflect, in some feeble but real way, the image of God.

___________

Related posts on Connection Agent:

>> A Tale of Two Welcomes

>> The Seven Shortcuts to Creating Trust

The Seven Shortcuts to Creating Trust

  1. There
  2. Are
  3. No
  4. Shortcuts
  5. To
  6. Creating
  7. Trust

We all want shortcuts. And for getting from A to B in some things, shortcuts are possible.

But not in that fragile, yet powerful, realm of human trust.

Trust is created by people of character, who live and act consistently.

You earn it. One action at a time. One person at a time. Over a long period of time.

No shortcuts.

(Image credit: John Hartsock via Flickr)

___________

Related posts on Connection Agent:

>> A Tale of Two Welcomes

>> Creating a Welcoming Climate

A Tale of Two Welcomes

This past week, my 3 brothers and I took our annual pilgrimage up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for some bro get-away time. We hike, we play tennis, we joust over the card table, we verbally spar – it’s a fun time to re-connect. And we love upper New England in October.

There’s a lot of tourist activity in this part of the United States, so it’s interesting to see how different states and communities pull it off. Shortly after entering Vermont on I-91, there is a Welcome Center (Guilford exit) that trumps all other welcome centers I’ve ever seen—>

Beautiful post and beam construction. An eye-catching variety of country implements, Vermont memorabilia, information stations, clean restrooms, lovely exterior design and landscaping – and a huge carved-in-granite welcome sign. Plus, as a bonus, there was a pavilion outside inhabited by friendly locals who were serving coffee and selling a nice and diverse selection of baked goods (many of the healthy/organic variety). One of whom went out of her way to take a group picture of us.

A Welcome To Vermont that was truly memorable.

Then, on the way back south after our stay (which was lovely, by the way – the fall colors were just about at their peak), we left Vermont and re-entered Massachusetts. Now, I’ll try to be fair here – the more touristy sections of the great state of Massachusetts are to the east (Boston and shoreline) and to the west (Berkshires). But I-91 is a major corridor, and I’d like to think the powers-that-be would want to leave a good impression of the state. At least a nice welcome.

Instead? After the obligatory Welcome to Massachusetts sign at the border – “Pull-off area, 2 miles.” No Welcome Center. No facilities. Not even – get this – a trash can.

Well, at least there was a nice threat. Does this type of user experience encourage a repeat visit to the state? Is this the memory anyone wants to leave?

Now, not many of us are in charge of state tourism bureaus. But we do run businesses. And first and foremost on our minds should be our Welcome Centers. What is it like when people first encounter us on social platforms, for instance? A barren, sterile, and functional presentation with nothing to offer the user isn’t going to be particularly memorable – except in a negative sense. A vibrant place of beauty and interest and personal interaction, however, can color the impression of an entire entity – all the way up to the level of an entire state, let alone a business.

I’m a New England boy, so I happen to know all the goodness that Massachusetts has to offer. But had this “welcome center” experience been my first impression of the state, it may have also been my last – and my lasting – impression.

How’s your welcome center? Your first impression may be the last. Make it like Vermont!

___________

Related posts on Connection Agent:

>> Creating a Welcoming Climate

>> Sweet Customer Service by Vosges

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