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

This Week’s Networking Boomerang

What is the value of investing in building a great network of people? I think it was Chris Brogan that recently pointed out the distinction between thinking of ROI (which, in my opinion, is a fine metric for a specific tactical business approaches) vs thinking of the overall value of social networking.

One huge value of social networking is that, when you add value to others and build bridges with them, good people will add value back. It’s the boomerang effect.

Sounds nice in theory, right? But here’s the value in practice, just this week:

Example 1: We had an oven that died. While my wife attempted to find a source in the traditional way, I tossed it out on Twitter, which is now my default Help Desk.

Result? Immediate response by a friend, pointing a semi-local dealer he knew of on Twitter – which company responded immediately by Twitter and phone, and got the business in minutes.

How cool is that?

Example 2: This week, I confirmed a speaking engagement as a panelist discussing social media for automobile dealers. How did I get approached for this? Peter Shankman (who became an Ironman last week – good going, man!). Peter and I got together a few months back just to chat and get to know one another. He recommended me for this opportunity. Then, in order to help with my preparation, I put out a blog post and linked it on Twitter, asking people for links and resources on social media and automotive dealers. Within a few hours, I had everything I needed via crowdsourcing for a post-event list of resources and case studies.

Example 3: I met this week with someone from a healthcare agency interested in having workshops for social media and project management (two of my sweet spots). I didn’t know these folks from Adam and Eve, but they approached me because someone else in my pharma network passed my name along and recommended me. This is the second time in the past 6 weeks I’ve had an agency approach me this way via a third-party recommendation (thanks, Rich and Jon!)

Example 4: We’re about six weeks into our weekly #LeadershipChat on Twitter, and this past week’s on Passion was wonderfully helpful and lively. How did LeadershipChat come about? Lisa Petrilli reached out to me via social networking this spring, we met at SOBCon Chicago, and have been collaborating since. Also, via networking, Lisa got to know Tom Martin, and together with Lisa Diomede, they put together this week’s CocktailsforCauses event in Chicago.

Now, that actually isn’t everything that happened this week. And I’m not even listing the boomerangs that went out for others, which will bear fruit in their lives and businesses. Or the important, sometimes life-saving things that happen via social networks totally outside of “business value.”

When people obsess over the “ROI of Social Media,” I’m forced to smile somewhat. Who can trace the actual ROI of all the hours and effort that have gone into building an opportunity network? But, is there value? – oh, yes! The boomerangs have only just begun to fly…!

Build your network. Feed your network. Be ready for the boomerang.

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Why I Follow…Chris Brogan

EVERYONE follows Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) on Twitter. Well, there is that one fisherman in Papua New Guinea…but everyone else has already found Chris and subscribed to his tweets/blogs, right?

But why? I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’ll give you two reasons why I do. First, he exemplifies what social networking is all about. His tweets are a great variety of news, resources, one-on-one conversation, and funny commentary. And I like 140-character humor, which is my second point. The guy is funny. Here’s a comment of his from this morning that almost had me snorting coffee:

“I believe if you get in the “expert” line at the TSA and you’re a doofus, that’s automatic grounds to be tazed.”

If you’re going to get started with social networking, I think one of the best things you can do is find examples. Learn by how others do it. And Chris is unmatched in that regard. Plus he’s a friendly guy in real life, which counts for a lot.

So, that’s my #FollowFriday recommendation for this week. Why do you follow Chris Brogan? Or, better yet, why do you follow someone else? Share on your blog and on Twitter…

———-

Prior FollowFriday posts

Let’s improve Follow Fridays!

Connect with Steve Woodruff

Five in the Morning – Finale

swbeard1Yes, it’s true. Today, after nearly 100 Five in the Morning posts (including guest posts by other bloggers), I’m bringing the series to a close.

Why? Well, mainly it’s a matter of time – there are some other priorities that now require more of my attention. Creating Five in the Morning posts, as fun and fulfilling as it is, can be quite time-consuming. Plus, there is that existential sense that “it’s time” – major goals have been met of exposing people to a variety of great bloggers and resources, and other creative ideas are striving for attention.

Of course, the StickyFigure blog will continue on, as it did before Five in the Morning, so you can expect my usual brilliant insights and world-changing ideas right here – just not daily, perhaps.

A big part of the fun of Five in the Morning has been the interaction with you, the audience, and the participation of other bloggers who have guest-hosted. We’ve enjoyed guest entries from Cam Beck, Mike Sansone, CB Whittemore, Olivier Blanchard, Tom Clifford, Connie Reece, Chris Wilson, Lisa Hoffmann, Arun Rajagopal, Amber Naslund, Mack Collier, Becky Carroll, Matt J McDonald, Ken Burbary, Beth Harte, Karen Swim, and Doug Meacham.

And while we’ve pointed to plenty of posts from “name-brand” bloggers like Seth Godin, Jason Falls, Geoff Livingston, Chris Brogan, John Jantsch, Jeremiah Owyang, Doug Karr, David Armano, Liz Strauss, Charlene Li, Ann Handley, Valeria Maltoni, Shannon Paul, and other luminaries, I hope you’ve subscribed to some of the very smart, but lesser-known lights after seeing their posts featured.

If there is to be a “legacy” to this little series, my hope is that some of you with particular areas of expertise (PR, Design, Writing, Branding, Non-profits, etc.) would become consolidators as well, pulling together great posts (maybe on a weekly basis) for your audiences. Yes, it’s work, but it’s a wonderful way to meet new people, and, done rightly, it can drive more traffic to your blog over time. I will happily link to others who pick up the torch and become info-scouts for the rest of us.

OK, so for your Friday, here’s a Fabulous Final Five. OK, Six. I never was great at math.

———

Kiss the next hour good-bye. 2009 ReBrand Winners. Sweet bunch of links showing before/after. Seriously – your day of planned productivity is over. You are GND.

Using Twitter to land a job. Who doesn’t like a success story like this? With a nice passing mention of @prSarahEvans.

How do you keep customers happy? Jay Ehret, @themarketingguy, says to focus on the experience. And at the Brains on Fire blog, here is a fabulous example, with the spotlight on a local Whole Foods store.

[this space reserved for a designated non-mention of Skittles]

How much Money is $1 Trillion? The Anatomy of a Sticky Illustration. Nicely done. Hat tip: Cam Beck.

Give First. Amen. From Mitch Joel‘s Six Pixes of Separation blog.

PLUS: Tabasco advertising. No words needed. Hat Tip: Brand Flakes for Breakfast blog.

————-

Thanks for tuning in for these 5 months of fun and experimentation. Oh….and I really don’t get up at 5 am most mornings. It’s really 5 (posts) delivered (early) in the morning. But while sipping my first cup of coffee between 5:30-6:00 am, I still get a chuckle out of all of you  thinking I actually get up early…!

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Five in the Morning 010809

Real-time. Chris Brogan today talks about real-time coverage of events, using as an example his live-tweeting of a press conference last night. What do you think – how much of a game-changer is this? Frankly, I think that the convergence of the tools (cameras, smartphones, etc.) and the platforms (blogging, Twitter, etc.) has already fundamentally changed the game. Immediacy is now here, and we’re just realizing it. Latency is….well, a thing of the past.

2009 – The Year of Going Social. From the blog of Laura Fitton (Pistachio). “The bad news for business? You’re late. The good news? You’re not too late…”

Is Social Media the same as Marketing? Beth Harte‘s asking – what do you think? I’m guessing most of us have had this discussion, at least in our own heads. “…a good communicator does not always make a good marketer nor does a good marketer always make a good communicator. They are two different disciplines.”

Want a nice daily summary of some Social Networking headlines? Here’s one of my secrets. Business Week‘s Business Exchange. Worth a daily visit.

Jeremiah Owyang provides a nice summary blog post of Social Networking news each week. Well worth subscribing to. Here’s the latest.

PLUS – What’s Cramberry? A cool spin on an old technique. Too neat-o to pass up a link. From ReadWriteWeb. And, just because the headline is so imaginative: The Art of One Butt Cheek Blogging (from Copyblogger).

Like this? Re-tweet it on Twitter (just cut/paste):
Get today’s fresh-brewed Five in the Morning fuel from @swoodruff right here: http://TwitPWR.com/1Dd/

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Shannon Paul, Social Media Maven, Named new Head Coach of Detroit Lions

shannon-paulIn a startling move that has taken the blogsphere by storm, Shannon Paul, Chief Social Media Goddess of the Detroit Red Wings, has just been named head coach of the floundering Detroit Lions football franchise.

William Clay Ford, owner of the team and descendant of iconic Henry Ford, decided on Ms. Paul after witnessing the spectacular success of Scott Monty, recently-appointed social media guru of Ford Motor Company.

“Scott single-handedly kept us from from bankruptcy, from taking the poison pill of federal bailout money; and he also crowd-designed all of our new hybird vehicles right from his blog-thingie. He Twitterized us out of a death spiral by creative use of these new-fangled socialized media gadgets. I figured if one social medium expert could turn around Ford, surely another could take on the greater challenge of making the Lions competitive.”

It was also revealed that Ms. Paul was found after being “friended” on Facebook by unnamed Lions front-office staff, who also vetted her qualifications using Google and StumbleUpon.

Ms. Paul wasted no time assembling a top-notch support staff, including hiring Geoff Livingston, renowned for offensive prowess, and luring away “Big” Jim Connolly as head of trackbacks. Gary Vaynerchuk will be leaving the Wine Library to be Chief Sideline Libation Engineer, as part of his training for eventually taking over the NY Jets. Connie Reece has agreed to come on board as chief archivist for the Lions Championship Museum, currently housed in a corner of Ken Burbary‘s closet. She also began immediate negotiations with fans and the UAW, both groups of which had threatened a permanent boycott of the Lions.

Local Detroit blogger Karen Swim was initially non-commital about the news, having been bypassed in favor of her cross-town rival Ms. Paul, until being unexpectedly named head coach of the Detroit Pistons. “My goodness!” said Ms. Swim, “I figured I might have a shot at the Tigers, but the Pistons have actually won a few things! That’s a slam dunk FTW on you, Paul Shannon!”

“What I’m really looking forward to is the upcoming blogger draft,” exclaimed Ms. Paul. “We’re going for 140 top characters! I’ve had my eye on some serious talent, like “PR” Sarah Evans for Eighthback,  Jason Falls for Tight End or Wide Receiver (depends on Twit2fit progress off-season), and Barefoot Exec for Punter. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re losing Steve Olenski to the Colts, who traded Peyton Manning and two FriendFeed accounts to be named later to get him.”

Reaction around the NFL was mixed. Apparently, Chris Brogan has been approached by the startup Boston Pirates franchise to serve as their new head of operations, but he replied with 15 Reasons Never to Hire a Freshly-Shorn Blogger. The New York Jets are in secret discussions with 5-year veteran blogger Paul Chaney, who is robo-twittering negotiation progress from Brett Favre’s living room.

Meanwhile, Guy Kawasaki, who first broke the news on Truemors, capitalized on the trend by launching SocMedCoaches.Alltop.com, a news item promptly re-tweeted by 21,544 of his devoted disciples.

The ROI of hiring social media mavens for positions of leadership with sports teams is yet unproven, as is the ROI for just about anything social media related. Your mileage may vary. However, we have it on good authority that those with the most followers are the most important and authoritative, and so should provide the best bang-for-the-blog when making hiring decisions.

Oh, and I have to mention Ann Handley, of course. Just because…

Happy 2009 to all!

(Previous StickyFigure spoofs)

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Five in the Morning 100908

Effort? Or luck? Some pointed and  helpful thoughts from Seth Godin.

Social media campaigns – they ain’t like the traditional kinds. Nice overview from Kat over at Social Media Explorer.

CollabFinder – a place where designers and developers can find each other. Great use of web networking. Hat tip: Swiss Miss.

Mark Goren asks: Really, What is Marketing? From his Planting Seeds blog (nice design, btw Mark!)

Can you describe your personal brand in one word? Dan Schawbel is asking!

BONUS: New Twitter-generated TwIndependent presidential ticket announced. Go GaryVee and Chris Brogan! (now with bonus links to prior spoofs!)

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New “TwIndependent” Party Springs up Overnight

In a stunning move that has rocked the Presidential election season, a large group of disgruntled Twitter micro-bloggers has banded together and crowd-sourced a new political party in 24 hours, calling themselves the TwIndependents.

Sick of all the mud-slinging and shallow lies of both Republican and Democratic candidates, the TwIndependents, who have solved many of the world’s problems previously via social media, have hammered together a 140-character platform stressing free thought, universal understanding, and hearty beer.

Informed by late night DMs that they had been drafted as figureheads for the party, presidential candidate Gary Vaynerchuk and vice-presidential candidate Chris Brogan immediately hit the ground running with policy tweets and 12-second videos on such themes as economic recovery, the war in Iraq, Peruvian Pinot Noir, and mobile uploads.

“We’re bringing some partisan THUNDER!!” declared Gary Vee, underscoring his disdain for the current two-party system with a hearty spit into a NY Jets bucket. “The current candidates smell like a combination of old armpit and dried cowpies, along with a slightly grassy nose up-front and some Dr. Scholl’s foot powder on the mid-palate. It’s swill, baby! Me and Chris are going to take these oak monsters DOWN!!”

In a more measured tone, Mr. Brogan listed 14 reasons why the TwIndependent ticket was worth considering, along with 12 links to similar tickets in the past, and 5 counter-balancing principles to consider about voting for such a tech-heavy ticket. He also promised to provide more information at upcoming conferences where he is scheduled to speak, on October 10, 13th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 24th, 27th, and 3 webinars to be named later.

Given the heavy road schedule of both candidates leading up to the surprise announcement, Twitter conspiracy theorists were already speculating that this had been in the works for some time, and that both men had, in fact, been covertly campaigning all along. Newly-anointed TwIndependent party head Lucretia Pruitt denied that this was the case, stating that “all of this got started around my normal 3:30 am bedtime, and we had a full-fledged political movement launched by 8:00 am. That’s not even time to pal around with terrorists or drive kids to a hockey game, let alone anything else of a nefarious nature.”

The blogosphere was lit up with the suggestion that the next presidential debate occur via streaming video from Robert Scoble‘s phone, moderated by Leo LaPorte with responses limited to 140 characters or oncoming nausea, whichever comes first.

Other spoofs by Steve Woodruff:

Well-known Blogger Demoted to “Q-List”

Twitter Rockstar Half-Year Calendar…Tweeet!

…and, from the pharma-focused Impactiviti blog:

Doctors now to be Required to Consult with Patients

Cure for ADRD (Attention Deficit Relational Disorder) Announced!

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