Seth Godin

The Connection Economy in Action: Rand Fishkin Gets It

I’m a fan of Rand Fishkin. Mostly because I glommed on to his company’s social media work a few years back when I was really learning the game myself. When you don’t know much about a thing and you’re casting your intellectual line into the waters of the interwebs, sometimes you catch whales, sometimes old boots. Moz was a whale.

Rand does a great job here summing up the beauty of the connection-economy: that people you connect with are better than people that you buy, or beat over the head with ads.

There’s a fun thought experiment I’d heard years ago: Imagine if you could, growing up without any sense of religion in any capacity, and then when you turned 25 you were suddenly exposed to all the major organized religions of the world. Like a job fair, but for your soul.

Now imagine that you’re walking through this expo-hall and talking to the reps from all of the majors about their beliefs and weighing them against each other equally. Would you wind up choosing the religion that you currently belong to? Or, without prejudice of social pressure and indoctrination, would you choose another faith? I know, it’s a tough question, but that’s what makes it interesting.

I bring it up because the same thing essentially happened to me, but with marketing. I’d had no prior indoctrination before 2011, at least in regards to the social media space. I was searching through the different schools of thought that were emerging and I had choices to make. Was it best to focus on pure SEO, or Adwords ads, or Content Marketing? Was simply being on Facebook, Twitter, etc… enough to turn into dollars? What exactly was “Content Marketing” and what was the point?

And of course, the holy grail question: “What’s the ROI of social media?”

After months of TED talks, blog posts, youtube videos, white papers, forums, etc… it became clear to me that Seth Godin’s “The Connection Economy” was probably the closest match to my conclusions as to the best approach.

connection

Rand and Moz belong to the same overall school as Godin, Sinek, Vaynerchuck, et al. I count myself as a firm believer in this school. I’m constantly looking at what marketing moves me, and those around me, and the answers are the same: Social connection.

When I believe what a company believes I want to see them win. A few great examples that I’m nuts about: Alamo DraftHouse, Purple, Rock, Scissors, PackageLog, and  Radiolab. Each of these groups are doing amazing things to connect with people and I feel a part of what they’re doing.

Trust is rare, so it matters. “Real” is rare, so it has value. Because we’re bombarded with a constant cacophony of ads our defenses are up and we trust no one. As marketers (and if you work for a company that sells anything, you’re a marketer) it’s our job to connect people and create value. Ads for the sake of ads are a black hole and a waste of opportunity and treasure.

Let’s be people. Let’s do what people do best and connect with one another. The rest will take care of itself.

Advertisements

We’re all Liars?

Seth Godin’s book, “All Marketers Are Liars” is available in audio format for free on Youtube.

It’s a great synthesis of a lot of his recent ideas from TED talks and various interviews. I’m in love with his message of authenticity, honesty, and story telling. These really are my favorite things and my sticking points constantly in our dealings with Team Members and Customers alike.

Do yourself a favor and give it a listen while you’re working today, or on your next decent car ride and then talk about the ideas with a co-worker or your significant other.

Enjoy!

Sift Media has the right culture

While checking out the best of Slideshare 2014, I came across this gem. For anyone reading my blog, or anyone that knows me, this perfectly encapsulates my thinking on Company Culture and what it should be. Give it a quick run through and I think you’ll fall in love with it.

Who’s in charge of the magic?

Who’s in charge of the magic?

This is a great Godin blog post where he essentially asks why don’t we designate someone to be in charge of the “Magic” in our organizations. Of pushing whatever it is to be the best it can be, to wow and, sorry – WOW! and to make things remarkable. It’s a great point, really. 

Perhaps we hope that each person will make things magical. Maybe we think the boss or CEO is doing it – but I think routine and day-to-day demands take their toll and the first thing to go is the magic – the special sauce. Just getting it done becomes the focus, regardless of how it gets done. There’s only so much caring one can do – but if it was your sole job to care about adding the magic? 

I often times think that’s what my job is about. I have a hard time with “good enough” when remarkable would be so cool, and doesn’t mean that much more effort -just more caring. 

A Song, An Original Typed Story, and Picking Yourself

During a recent sojourn through the fjords of the internet, I ran into a remarkable artist going by the twitter handle @RovingTypist. His real name is C.D. Hermelin, and he types original one-page stories, on an honest-to-god typewriter in the parks of NYC, all while you wait, and for a donation amount of your choosing.

How cool is that?!

Having seen it, and that he also takes requests for stories via his website, I had to order one. But what about? The coolest aspect of this little service of Christopher’s is that you can provide him with as much or as little (read: none) information to craft your story.

Recently, I’d become obsessed with this song by a fledgling band called The Front Bottoms, and more specifically their song “Twin Size Mattress” which had been on repeat at my desk for a week.

So, I decided to ask the Roving Typist to listen to it and write whatever came to mind. It didn’t have to be about the song at all, could just have been a thought that formed while listening to it. The final product was amazing in how well it fit together and created this little possible backstory for the song.

My Story from @RovingTypist

My Story from @RovingTyp

I tweeted the author to convey my thanks and was hit back with this:

tweetRovingTypist

All of this then ties in with another of my favorite authors, Seth Godin. One of his big sticking points is that in a world of people that get picked, we should pick ourselves. Sure, a publisher could do it, or a record company, or art dealer – but that’s not really necessary or ideal at this point. Pick yourself. Put your art into the world. Make connections. This is your time, and if you do something remarkable, why not let people know it?

C.D. Hemelin is most certainly doing that, and succeeding on a grand scale of connecting with people and making a difference in their lives.

This entire trip has been an amazing experience. I’ve realized fully, the value of being your most authentic self. Reaching out to another person I’d never meet and then to get a piece of art (and this is most definitely art!) that I’ll always tie to a time and place. Plus, I get another great story – or, two, actually.

If this remotely appeals to you, I suggest you contact the Roving Typist and let him share his art with you. Even at the $25 I chose to spend, it’s a pittance, and something you’ll enjoy sharing with others.

Your Silence Isn’t Helping Anyone…

Your silence isn’t helping anyone. Least of all you.

Sure, it fits with all the things you’ve been told. That it’s better to “fly under the radar” and to “live to fight another battle.” The problem is you aren’t looking for any battles. And you definitely aren’t looking to live another day – because you’re not doing any living right now. At least not the kind that matters.

I’m not talking about rock climbing and cliff diving and all the risky things one does with one’s life that might provide a rare dose of adrenaline. I’m talking about the day-to-day living that would do a lot to make you happier and more successful. It’s easy to be daring when jumping out of a plane with a trained instructor strapped to your posterior, but another thing altogether to open your mouth at the next meeting and say the unpopular thing that needs to be said.

Forgive me, I’ve been reading/listening to an insane amount of Seth Godin lately, and like all good philosopher poets (we’re calling a “marketing guru” this now? – I am) they have their ONE. BIG. THING. And Godin’s is seductively simple: Make Art. Cause a ruckus. Be bold. Sure, there’s a lot more, but this is the overarching summary in my eyes. And it’s a summation that rings big ass church bells in my noggin.

As a business leader and overall fan of the human condition, I’m constantly motivated by learning what motivates people – or as I’m finding out – what holds them back. My current project is leading a team of 40+ in the daily operations of an off-campus Student Housing community near UCF. It’s exhilarating and every bit a seething mass of awesomeness. At the same time, a big part of my role is as teacher to a number of them whom are still in college and finding their way in the world. This is the messiest part, and also my favorite.

On certain days (read: the best days) I pontificate a lot. My passion gets to run free and I become a whirling dervish of know-how. I try to start with underlying principles and work up from there to the more concrete issue at hand. If you don’t know the “why” you won’t care about the “how”, I always think.

With that in mind, and a good dose of Godin in my ears, I’ve come to believe the biggest restraining force working on anyone is the fear of being wrong. No one likes it and frankly, we’re not taught how to deal with it and accept it. In fact, we’re taught to avoid the whole possibility entirely:

  • If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
  • Everyone has their own opinion
  • Who are you to say?
  • There’s a time and a place and this isn’t it. (Never is!)
  • Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. (this is my favorite)

It’s all part of the same thing. Sit down. Stay quiet. Hide your art. Hide your knowledge. Hide your passion. No one can crap all over your dream if you don’t actually do anything to make it concrete. This extends past dreams to mere notions of “wouldn’t this be cool…” so we don’t dare do anything we’re not explicitly told to.

It sucks. And I’ve known this for as long as I can remember. I’m done with it.

I’ve had a great career thus far and I owe it entirely to my inability to shut my pie hole. I say the wrong things at the wrong times. I break rules and conventions when they don’t suit the mission and act as obstacles to our goals. I don’t do this recklessly, but do you realize how many rules exist because some idiot not following it could do real damage?

And failure has been a big part of it. I’ve screwed up royally for sure. Mostly, I’ve finished with far more success than not, and in failing, have cleared a new path of others who could benefit from my failure. It gets seen, it gets celebrated. “Whoops, I did something stupid guys – but this is why I did it.”

So speak up. Stand up. Be counted on. Be a part of whatever it is you’re already a part of instead of just dipping in your seat to avoid getting called on. Guess what? They know you’re there and they know you’ve got nothing to say. Isn’t that way worse than being thought stupid?

Prepare. Learn. Think. And sit up straight next time, lean forward and open that mouth god gave you. Your living doesn’t happen on the weekends or in a mountain – it happens wherever you are, everyday.

Worst case? They fire you for looking/thinking/saying something stupid. You move on, get a new gig, and you are in a better place for it. And most importantly you’ve learned something.

Your silence? No one wants that. Unless a movie is on. Then by all means shut up.