The New Intermediation: Specialized Domains

If you have been in a business domain for a long time, acquiring a deep knowledge and broad network, you may well have an opportunity to carve out a unique (you-based) business role for your future. Of all people, you can be one of the new intermediaries.

In an introductory post, I opened up the idea of potential business opportunities that exist by thinking about The New Intermediation. The Ugly Graphic below depicts how this works:

Intermediary1

Just yesterday, I was handed a brand-new business card by someone I’d spent a few hours with several weeks back. This experienced professional was being laid off – there are always ups and downs in the pharma/biotech realm, and some great folks lose positions regularly because of factors having nothing to do with their performance.

Anyway, this person had a deep area of domain expertise, able to fill an information and business-building need that few could touch. I encouraged them to launch a consultancy (they did), and yesterday, I got the news that their first client had signed up for a 6-month engagement!

How awesome is that? From corporate dependence to carving out your own path – isn’t that what so many should be doing right now?

Another friend is steadily positioning himself for a unique intermediary role in his industry (agriculture-related) due to his immense knowledge and hard-won reputation as a very knowledgeable guide for both growers and producers. Make no mistake, however – his reputation as a value-creator is based on incredibly hard work in a specialized domain. This role is not for kids fresh out of college.

Just saw this post by Rohit Bhargava, who is taking on the role of a Marketing Concierge. What is that? An expert who comes alongside the client, and makes relationships and workflow better with their agencies. Read the post and you’ll see why he can do this – deep domain experience. He’s a new intermediary. My friend Tom Martin serves as a digital adviser for higher-level marketers, who cannot possibly keep up with all the digital ferment. Tom is immersed in digital AND knows what agencies/marketers need. He’s a new intermediary.

In each case, people pay their dues for years working for others (building up domain knowledge and reputation), then get to a position when it’s time to be an intermediary. If you’re in your 40′s and 50′s and wondering if you’re being bypassed – if you’re all washed up – think again. This is prime time to be a value-creator by having a foot firmly planted in two realms.

I find that people with this type of depth and track record generally need a gentle push – a little outside permission-giving. “This is your sweet spot. You’re ready now. No-one else can do this like you can. Here’s your market[place]. Go!

Think beyond the next job title in someone else’s hierarchy. Build toward your unique place of adding value “in the middle.” Maybe you should be one of the new intermediaries!

Previous Connection Agent posts on The New Intermediation:

The New Intermediation in Publishing

The New Intermediation: Curation

The New Intermediation: Matchmaking

The Business Opportunities of The New Intermediation

The New Intermediation in Publishing

This week, I attended the O’Reilly Media Tools of Change for Publishing conference in NYC (well, specifically, the Author [R]evolution Day on Tuesday). It was well-attended and the buzz was palpable.

Clearly, the industry is being thoroughly disrupted by technology. Publishing is undergoing rapid disintermediation, AND rapid new intermediation. <—(click to tweet this)

ARday tweets

Self-publishing, and assisted publishing without the help of traditional publishers, is flourishing, and we’re in the anarchy phase of it – a ferment of new ideas, platforms, and approaches, with old standards and procedures falling by the wayside while new rules are being written on the fly. It’s exhilarating and confusing.

As a relative outsider to the industry, but someone who is committed this year to pursuing long-form (book) writing, I came to the conference to see what the various options are. What I came away with was a resounding reinforcement of my message about the new intermediation.

In an introductory post on the topic I opened up the idea of the many potential business opportunities that exist by thinking about The New Intermediation. My Ugly Graphic below depicts how this works:

Intermediary1

In a second post, we discussed the opportunity of Curation (filtering and delivering information) in the networked world; and then we also glanced at another manifestation of the new intermediation: Matchmaking. Those are general opportunities; now let’s turn to see how this is working in the specific sector of authoring and publishing. Instead of being forced to take the traditional route of the legacy gatekeepers (publishing houses), there is a flourishing new set of alternatives evolving:

  • Assisted, rapid self-publishing: SlimBooks has an interesting approach to this.
  • A la carte, author-controlled selection of services and revenue-sharing: The crew at NetMinds (including the dynamic Tim Sanders) is doing a fabulous job pioneering this approach.
  • Re-defining the role of the agent into a publishing sherpa: We heard a great talk by Jason Ashlock on this subject. He even used the term “radical intermediator”!
  • Iterative, progressive writing: I really like what Peter Armstrong and the Lean Pub team has come up with, and am strongly considering using this platform (I am a big fan of iterative thought development).
  • Crowdfunding emerging authors: some have used the Kickstarter platform for this, but Pubslush is a focused platform for authors.
  • On-line story sharing: Wattpad gets 14 million visitors every month.
  • Analytics that authors can tap: Bookigee, led by Kristen McLean, is breaking new ground.

So, let’s take the drawing above and adapt it for one instance –  an author looking into alternative ways to get a book to market:

Intermediary Publishing

(the above is not an either-or intermediary approach – could easily be both-and). I’m sure you can see other examples – for instance, intermediaries between authors and Big Data (Bookigee); between readers and authors (Wattpad), etc.

Amazon has been the classic case study of a disintermediating technology/business force, but many others are evolving. These are exciting days, with loads of new opportunities for both authors and new intermediaries. What other entrepreneurial services can you envision that would serve this community? And what tools/platforms/approaches do you recommend for others to consider?

Additional resources:

O’Reilly Media’s Best of Tools of Change collection of articles (free download)

NetMinds’ article on Choosing Between Traditional and Alternative Publishing

Guy Kawasaki’s new book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book (Amazon affiliate link)

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Recently on Connection Agent blog:

De-fogging Your Business (or Career)

Claim Your Market[place]

Connectedness

Prediction: in 10 years, a lot of terms we use now will have reached their expiration date:

e-   i-

Computers  Smartphones  Tablets  Devices

Digital   On-line   Internet   Big Data

Websites   Twitter   Facebook   Texting

Social Media   Networking   Blogging   Social Business

Connectedness

Don’t get too caught up in the first- and second-generation labels we now use. They’re all parts of a much larger movement:

>> Connectedness <<

Life and business – people and information and things – data and intelligent systems – all will be digitally connected. Grasp that big picture and all the bits and pieces make sense.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Is your professional direction and message CLEAR? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> BE CLEAR: Narrowing Your Focus

>> BE CLEAR: Drop the Buzzwords

Go With Door #2

There are two ways of looking at the world.

Behind Door #1 is everything that has been pre-built, pre-defined, and pre-established by others in the past. You are invited to fit in.

Most people fall into the trap of planning their career using Door #1. Why is this a trap?

Because it was built by someone else, not by you. It was built for someone else’s purposes, not for yours. It was built to meet past needs, not necessarily future opportunities.

It’s not always the best deal.

Behind Door #2 is a blank screen, waiting for you to project yourself upon it.

Your skills. Your direction. Your goals. The opportunities you see.

Door #1 is the default choice. Door #2 is for the courageous.

Go with Door #2.

The En-visioners

Two books that I’ve read lately have renewed my appreciation for an amazing gift possessed by a relatively few number of people.

Of all the abilities we might see in our children and colleagues and friends, this one, if present, ought to be steadfastly fanned into flame.

Steve Jobs (I highly recommend his biography) had it. He could en-vision how things could/should/will be. He had a grasp of ideals, overlaid on the current reality, and the indisputable gift of “seeing” a solution to move from point A to point B.

He was a dreamer-doer.

The amazing geniuses who created our earliest computers (new book: Turing’s Cathedral. Very techie, and very interesting!) understood, conceptually, how such a machine would work. There were massive calculation challenges facing them – many brought on by the need to win a war – and the most remarkable thing for me, reading the account of their efforts, was how firmly they envisioned what the computer would do – and how it would work – before the technology parts and pieces were available. They foresaw it, planned it, invented it – took their vision and theories in hand and brought it to life.

This gift does not require an IQ of 222 (though that certainly won’t hurt!). It’s a way of seeing, and a compulsion to “make it so.”

The en-visioners are our world changers. They may not fit easily into our school-factories, because they are driven by creativity, not conformity. And they don’t just invent objects – we need to encourage our young en-visioneers to create business models, networks, social structures, charitable approaches. We need to give them permission – no, encouragement – to step outside of the status quo. The next Apple, Avon, or Amazon will be the result.

Who are some of the en-visioners you see that are in the process of changing the world? List them in the comments. And, more importantly – who are the 8- and 12- and 15- and 20-year old’s who are right now seeing the future? Let’s nurture these kids and set them loose to make a better and richer future for everyone!

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Hire Steve Woodruff as your Brand Therapist

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> We Do This (and this, and this, and this…)

>> Fearing Obsolescence? Four Questions for your Future

Fearing Obsolescence? Four Questions for Your Future

I was sitting by the outdoor fireplace last night, talking with a long-time friend (who is about my age) regarding his desires to start something new. Like many of us who have worked for others over many years, he’s looking ahead and wondering if there isn’t something he should be building for himself.

He was also facing the dilemma that more seasoned professionals often face as they pass the mid-point of their career and start looking at the late-stage: will my skills become obsolete? Am I expendable? If this current position is eliminated, can I be marketable? These questions can be particularly acute if you’re in the ever-evolving technology field.

He had passion about one very different direction, but during our discussion, it was quite difficult to see a business model there. It was too big a side step, without much established expertise, and it would require changing long-standing business models that would prove extremely resistant. There are things that we often really WANT to do (I have several), but for which there is just not an evident business model. And it’s different looking at that challenge in your fifties, than it is when you’re 24.

So we settled on a few questions, which actually began to tease out a pretty promising direction:

  1. What is core expertise have you deeply developed over the last (20+) years?
  2. What can you do that a young hot-shot just starting out can’t do, with their lesser experience level?
  3. What skills do you possess that transcend a given technology, platform, or market sector?
  4. What existing pain will business money-spenders gladly pay to get rid of (and you know how to solve that problem)?

He mentioned something he was quite good at – a problem that, with his experience bridging both the technology side and the end user/business side, he could solve for just about any company. An “evergreen” problem that would require a smart consultant to solve, irrespective of the particular platforms in use. Suddenly, an experienced professional who was worried about obsolescence began to look like a really smart guy who could help solve a thorny problem that exists everywhere. Not by trying to do something brand new. But by identifying a “hidden” skill that is absolutely not a commodity.

If you’re thinking of being a later-stage-in-life entrepreneur, it’s tempting sometimes to look far afield and make some huge leap into uncharted waters. But the fact is, the channels you’ve been successfully navigating for years probably have the best possible opportunities awaiting you. There are people with lots of money to spend who need a smart, experienced resource to come in and fix problems that a twenty-something can’t possibly understand. Obsolescence? – pfffffft. You may be perfectly suited to take a big leap forward – on the same trails that you know far better than anyone else.

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Hire Steve Woodruff as your Brand Therapist

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> How the Exit Door Can Improve Results

>> Cattle Disguised as People

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!

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Legacy Stuff

Look around you. Everything you see is there for a reason.

A past reason.

All the products, processes, methods, structures, and systems were created to meet needs.

Legacy needs.

Do not assume that what you see right now can truly meet present, let alone future needs. It’s all legacy stuff. Some of it is still relevant, and will remain so.

But a lot of it is status quo without a genuine purpose.

Don’t waste your team trying to conform to, or catch up with, obsolescence. Instead, ask what needs to be created NOW.

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Publishing Perma-links: Steal This Idea

Lately, I’m reading more books that use hyperlinks as references.

It’s ugly.

(from Guy Kawasaki‘s new book, Enchantment)

But I can understand why authors choose to do this, instead of using URL-shortening services like bit.ly and tinyurl. These services may be transitory and unreliable, while books are meant to be more permanent archives of knowledge.

Here’s the problem: links are transitory, too.

So, is there a business opportunity to solve this problem? I think so. Please feel free to steal this idea if you agree:

Someone should launch a combined URL-shortening service and cloud-based archiving mechanism (similar to the wayback machine) that will take and store a snapshot of the referenced page in an archive, as well as have a pointer to the URL in its current state (which may be either the same, or with altered content, or a 404 Page Not Found).

This way, we can have nicer and more compact perma-link URL pointers in print materials (it would work for on-line content too, actually) which will have a permanent record. Tie it also to a generated QR code (used creatively in The Now Revolution by Jay Baer & Amber Naslund) for the archived link and you’ve got a real winner.

Call the service book.it or something like that.

I could easy see a 2-tier free (personal) and paid (professional) version of this, so it could be used by individual researchers, students, and the like. Every publishing house would be on the professional version, and each book released would have links formatted something like this:

http://www.book.it/nowrev/1-1 (The Now Revolution, chapter 1, first link)

I don’t have time or expertise to create this. So do us all a favor – steal this idea. Just put a perma-link back to this post when you’re done, for the first test case!

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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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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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Social Media: Start Here

You are considering how “social media” fits into your current or future business strategy.

Or, you are already on board with social networking but have to convince colleagues or clients who are skeptical.

Here’s my advice: Don’t start with social media. Start with the much bigger trends, which are making social media inevitable.

It’s all outlined here: The New Normal: Networked Communications. This Slideshare explains that technology-fueled Trend Currents (not current trends!) are shaping society in such a way that the use of social media/networked communications is inexorable – and inevitable.

If you’re looking for help educating professional colleagues and clients about how networked communications are (inevitably) re-shaping business, let me know. That’s my consulting/speaking sweet spot.

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[This post is the summary of a series of posts, each covering a certain aspect of the topic: see part 1, The New Normal; part 2, The New Normal is the Old Normal; part 3, The Microphone is Mine Now; part 4, The Incredibly Shrinking Middleman; part 5, Someone Took Down the Fences, part 6, The New Digital Neighborhood; and this final post - Social Media: Start Here]

Networked Communications (part 6): The New Digital Neighborhoods

Your community used to be your extended family, your neighbors, your schoolmates and members of various community groups.

The ties were physical and, by and large, local.

They still are – but now we take part in whole new neighborhoods. Communities built around shared interests and common causes, all brought together with digital tools.

The new neighborhoods are found on digital networks. They’re local, global, temporary, permanent, rooted in the past or purpose-built for the present and the future.

And businesses that don’t recognize this sea change – people who remain rooted in legacy thinking about communities – will lose a wealth of opportunities. People are fed up with being bombarded with one-way, manipulative marketing messages. They want to hear from people like themselves. People in the communities they choose (or even create themselves).

And just as neighbors always have, they have a powerful influence on each others’ buying decisions. Not in the game? Not part of the discussion? You lose.

Involvement in social media is not a difficult decision, when this larger context is understood. We want to be where customers are. We want to influence communities, generate neighborhood referrals, and build tribes. The fastest growing businesses will be where the most efficient networked communications occur. Social media is crucial to any strategy of reaching people “where they are” now. Because where many of them are gathering, and talking, and influencing, is on-line.

If your co-workers or clients have cold feet about social media, simply ask if they have a smart phone. If they use the Internet. If they are on Facebook. If they use these tools and more to…connect with people. If they’re influenced by ratings on Amazon, if they’ve used Yelp to find a good restaurant, if they’ve used LinkedIn Answers – all of that is taking a dip into the pool of on-line neighborhoods.

Customers are swimming in those pools, some in the shallow end, but increasingly, many in the deep end. Seems counter-productive to sit on the sidelines when buyers and influencers are already in the game…

[This post is part of a series of posts, each covering a certain aspect of the topic: see part 1, The New Normal; part 2, The New Normal is the Old Normal; part 3, The Microphone is Mine Now; part 4, The Incredibly Shrinking Middleman; part 5, Someone Took Down the Fences, part 6, The New Digital Neighborhood; and the summary post - Social Media: Start Here]

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Networked Communications (part 5): Someone Took Down the Fences

Brief technical lesson:

If computers are linked via a central computer, that’s a client-server setup.

If they are linked directly, that’s peer-to-peer.

OK, lesson over.

The Internet runs on thousands of servers, lashed together to provide information. Businesses have run on client-server architecture for a long time. And throughout many years, there were many walls and fences between free access to people and information.

No more.

Social media is all about peer-to-peer communications – that is, people directly having access to one another. Unmediated.

LinkedIn lets you reach into a company and contact connections at every level. In 140 characters on Twitter, we can interact directly with a famous author. Facebook lets us share a picture with anyone we want, anytime we want. Smartphones increasingly tie us directly together with text, voice, video…you name it. Here’s the big picture trend: immediate, personal access.

It’s a networked world, and a peer-to-peer world. When a business person resists the idea that networked communications/social media is re-shaping how we do business, we need to explain this much larger trend. People nowadays are far less interested in monolithic, top-down pronouncements – the old one-way messaging, and reach/frequency approaches are become passe. Now, in this peer-to-peer world, we’re liberated from that, and free to engage more directly.

Resist social media? That’s spitting into the wind. It’s a peer-to-peer world now.

And really – what’s not to like about that?

[This post is part of a series of posts, each covering a certain aspect of the topic: see part 1, The New Normal; part 2, The New Normal is the Old Normal; part 3, The Microphone is Mine Now; part 4, The Incredibly Shrinking Middleman; part 5, Someone Took Down the Fences, part 6, The New Digital Neighborhood; and the summary post - Social Media: Start Here]

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Google Me and Metamee

The rumors are swirling around that Google may be working on a Facebook killer (code-named Google Me).

If they’re smart (and they are smart over there at Google), they’ll be designing something far more ambitious and far-reaching than the walled garden over at Facebook.

We need an entirely new way to approach on-line networking. And Google already has a lot of the bits and pieces (Blogger, Voice, Buzz, Profiles, Gmail, Maps, commerce solutions, etc.) to pull it together.

What could this master portal look like? I sketched out a series of ideas in some blog posts two years ago (One Interface to Rule Them All) that generated a good bit of discussion. To date, no-one’s come close to building this (code-named Metamee):

Links to the entire One Interface to Rule them All series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

plus…The Ideal Social Media Interface

Google Me, meet Metamee. Make this and I’ll throw everything else out the window. How about it?

[Note: it appears that Cliqset is taking some steps in the right direction with a brand new version...]

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Steal This Idea

Just went to Wal-Mart to buy some replacement ink for my printer.

I hate the prices, and I hate the thought that 90% of the price is the packaging. Thief-proofing, I know – but wasteful and environmentally unsound.

Here’s what I’d love to find – a really high-quality third-party ink replacement company that would let me “subscribe” to having ink sent at regular intervals (or on-demand). In simple packages without the retail garbage surrounding it. I just enter in the printer(s) I have, make my first order, specify auto-ship or auto-remind intervals, and never run out of ink again.

I’ve used third-party ink replacement companies before, but the interval between orders is so long, I often don’t even remember who I used. And, the quality can be spotty. I hate paying manufacturer’s ink pricing – give me reliability and cross the threshold of easy; you’d have all my business immediately. Game over. Plus, the simple principle could then be extended to other supplies.

Anybody you know have something like this in place??

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Three Network Realities Nobody’s Going to Stop

For companies being “disrupted” by the new networked communications culture we’re entering, it can all seem like a major threat.

It’s an opportunity. Better still, it’s a fountain of opportunities – if you look forward and not backward.

Pandora’s box is wide open, and we’re in the midst of a revolution. Continual disintermediation. Unlimited self-expression. Bottom-up community-building. Personal control.

This is not just social media. It’s the tide of technology driving point-to-point, peer-to-peer, person-to-person real-time access.

Here are the three realities to embrace, which will shape the way we do business:

1. Connecting opens up new opportunities

2. Collaboration creates bigger pies

3. Communities (co-operations) will become the new corporation

It’s time to stop thinking about “companies,” and to realize that the new, more organic, more human and evolving structure will be the networked organization, in whatever form(s) that takes.

I, for one, welcome it!

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A New Venture – Impactiviti Talent Network

This week marks the official launch of something I’ve been working on for months – an On-line Job Board tied to Social Networking.

Maybe you can help us get it off the ground? Please read on.

My main money-making business has been in the pharma field – specifically, “matchmaking” pharma/biotech/med device client needs with optimal vendor/suppliers. It’s a wonderful business, being built on trust and networking – yet one of the (welcome) side effects is a constant behind the scenes effort to help people find new jobs, and clients find new talent. I’ve wanted for quite some time to find a way to meet this “matchmaking” need in a way that will build the business and help the most people.

Impactiviti Talent Network

I launched a Job Board (giving credit here to Twitter pal Jeremiah Owyang, who blazed this trail before me – thanks, Jeremiah!), but it was clear that the need was too large for me to take on without diluting the rest of my business.

So – I have brought on a business partner to run the Talent Network. On-line job posting will appear in a large searchable database (and in LinkedIn), AND be promoted throughout my extensive Impactiviti pharma social network. My partner Jan is making calls into the vast pool of organizations who could benefit from this broad and targeted approach to getting industry job listings noticed.

It’s a win-win-win business model, my favorite kind. Here’s the link to the overview and the Job Board.

How can you help? Well, by tweeting the link to this post, for one thing – I want to gain maximum exposure for this initiative. And especially, if you have any contacts in pharma/biotech/med devices HR organizations – staffing professionals who are looking for a recruiting edge – would you please send them the link (http://impactiviti.wordpress.com/impactiviti-job-board/)? There’s a downloadable .pdf file there that gives the basic info needed.

If you know people we should talk to who would benefit, please feel free to send me an e-mail (stevew at impactiviti dot com)

Also, any companies that service the pharma industry (agencies, vendors, etc.), and want to list jobs, can do so as well. And, of course, job seekers can go right to the Impactiviti Job Board and search for new positions.

Thank you in advance for being part of this new venture. It’s social networking being put to work!

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It’s All Going Away

These social media tools we’re all using right now?

They’re all going to go away. Or, they will morph so much in the next 3-5 years as to be unrecognizable.

Why? Because they do bits and pieces of what we want. They’re Legos. Blocks. We’re rapidly growing up and finding we need better toys and tools.

We want to Find. Connect. Filter. Stratify. Create. Publish. Consume. Purchase. Consolidate. Aggregate. Edit. Comment. Link. Interact. Organize. Get face-to-face. Control our information.

Smart designers see this and are evolving their tools to keep doing more, and doing it better.

But we’re nowhere close to having what we need – these functions are scattered all over the place. We like the bits and the pieces, but now we need them assembled together in smarter ways. There are undoubtedly brilliant developers already working on this in stealth mode.

I, for one, can’t wait for a lot of what we have now go away. Not because it’s not great stuff. But because it’s not really built around us, and how we want to interact.

What do you want to see in the next generation of networking platforms??

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You’re in a Museum

Look around you – what do you see? The businesses, the tools, the structures, the systems, the products, the solutions….we see all this and we think, “this is what is.”

But, in fact, what is exists because of what was. All of these things were created to address past problems, prior issues, old needs.

You’re in a museum.

In fact, when you look turn and gaze at all that surrounds you, what you see is not some fixed series of boundaries set in stone – not unless you let it be so. What you see are the best attempts to deal with the past.

Of course, many structures are put in place to address enduring needs, and cannot be cast overboard entirely as so much ballast. But even those often need improvement or adjustment.

You don’t have to fit into other people’s corporate structures, expected roles, and hand-me-down expectations. You may choose to, for a season – but why decide to set down your roots within those walls when you can invest in present and future needs?

Yes, it’s comfortable to conform to a niche that was built by someone else, for some other reason, at some other time.

But museums are dusty places that seek to preserve the past. Here are several questions – think of them as new contact lenses – to get you thinking in different directions:

    1. What is actually not working?
    2. What is missing and should be created?
    3. How could this be better?
    5. What do I want to leave behind as a legacy?
    6. How can ideal become real?
    7. What would I REALLY want to make happen if there were no limits?
    8. Why? And, while we’re at it – why not?

In other words – question the status quo. You don’t exist to support it, and certainly your purpose isn’t merely to perpetuate it. Learn from the past, keep what is sound – but beyond the front door of the museum is where your creative juices will flow. Relics are inside. Opportunities are outside.

Things are the way they are for a reason, but some of those reasons are bad, some are in need of adjustment, and some are well past their expiration date. Just because you grew up with video rental stores on every other street corner, doesn’t mean you should be buying into a franchise peddling VCR tapes.

It’s much scarier fun plowing in new fields, and much more rewarding making the pie bigger!

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The _____ and the Restless

I like restless people.

By that, I don’t mean people who can’t settle down, concentrate, and get things done. That may call for ADHD medication, or at the very least, some maturation in self-discipline!

What I mean is that I am attracted to folks who ask questions. Who don’t assume the status quo. Who not only think different, and see different, but want to make things different. And can’t abide waiting around for others.

You may be younger, older, male, female, black, white, liberal, conservative, rich, poor – the key thing is, are you restless? If so, you can’t sit still. You are purpose-full. You prefer to brainstorm new realities than whine about current limitations.

Add focus and drive and smarts to restless, and such people get things done.

Restless people succeed (well, usually!). Restless people start restless companies that succeed. Restless people look at a nine-inch diameter pie and say, “Why can’t this be twice as big a pie and a bunch more people share it, and then make their own pies?” Restless people build movements. And they do so with other restless folks.

I’m more restless than I’ve ever been. How about you?

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100 Proof

Almost every alcoholic beverage has its place. I say almost, because there is still lite beer, and wine coolers. But you get the point.

Sometimes a glass of wine is right. Sometimes a summer ale, or a hearty porter. A nice bourbon on ice with a friend out on the deck is delightful.

The analogy can only be carried so far, but various forms of social networks are of varying strengths, and for various purposes. As much as I enjoy and use the general platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), much of the frustration is that overall, they end up being somewhere between 3-8 proof. Weak and watered down by sheer numbers, and wildly varying quality.

Yes, there are 100 proof people scattered throughout, but what if you had a whole bunch of them together in a closer, more organic network? Pay-it-forward professionals. Proven performers. Ethical, authentic people who want to work together to do business in new and creative ways.

Distilled, 100 proof trust agents.

Think of the possibilities. It’s an intoxicating vision. And if we get together this year, let’s sit down over coffee (or wine, or….well, not lite beer) and blue-sky this together… (and if you’re going to be at SOBCon 2010 in a couple weeks, well, let’s brainstorm in Chicago!)

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Letting Go

We grow up and live surrounded by “stuff” that becomes familiar. People, things, methods, media – they enter into our comfort zone of default assumptions and, at times, we don’t really want to let them go.

They’re comfortable. They’re known. And, they’re potentially deadly to business growth.

It was certainly hard for some people to let go the notion of riding horses to get from Point A to Point B – but you couldn’t tweak horses into performance that matched the newfangled automobiles. It was time to let go.

It’s hard for marketers to give up the notion of one-way communication – but in an interconnected world where people can now selectively listen, and freely publish and interact, it’s time to let go.

Many of us work in structures called corporations. It’s familiar, and these structures evolved to fill a purpose. But does that structure allow us to optimize our abilities, maximize our time investment, and earn what we’re worth? Should we think of company structures as some kind of inescapable default – or can we let go of the familiar and create new business approaches?

The creative architects will win. Those who can look back and resurrect what worked better. Those who can look around and replace what doesn’t work well with something superior. And especially, those who can look forward and not only let go of the current defaults, but create whole new ways to unleash their talents, and those of their teams and tribes.

Restless, questioning energy will blaze new trails. If we’re prepared to let go of the old ones.

I want to spend the rest of my days letting go. And creating. And unleashing. How about you?

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Is This the Future of Knowledge-Sharing?

I love books.

I also enjoy magazines and newspapers. But we’ve all known for quite some time that the publishing world is changing rapidly, and a lot of our knowledge-sharing would be digital.

Despite that, I have not invested in a Kindle or iPad, nor am I reading books on my iPhone, because the idea of a simple porting of text to (smallish) screens isn’t compelling enough for me (yet).

Maybe that will change. For a long time, I’ve had the notion that the whole way we go about publishing “books” (static bodies of content that are obsolete the moment they’re published in a rapidly-changing world) needs to undergo a revolution.

We need to have multimedia, mobile, update-able knowledge-sharing. Perhaps even subscribe to people and knowledge-sharing projects over time (“progressive publishing“), not just buy a “book.”

Seth Godin wrote this post today. I promptly downloaded the Ideavirus iPhone app (worth the 99 cents just to evaluate!) because perhaps this is starting to approach the new way of knowledge-sharing. Video tied to abbreviated text. Potentially update-able. Looking ahead, all sorts of on-line community-building bolt-ons could be integrated.

I think we’re getting there. I’d urge you to invest the 99 cents and think about the possibilities. Because this looks to me like just a first-inning single, with plenty of power hitters in the on-deck circle….

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Enlightenment in 4 Slides

OK, I’m sure that headline is overstating it a bit…!

Nonetheless, those of use who believe that social networking is transforming business have an ongoing challenge: helping people who are most familiar with traditional business communications “get” what is happening with social media, and understand why it will touch all areas of business.

Here is my “first draft” attempt to distill it down to 4 slides (on Slideshare). How would you express it? Add comments or link to your own Slideshare/blog post!

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