Do your social media look like this?

You’re someplace with a bunch of people… …on a lunch break at a conference, seated at a table with people you don’t know… …in line at a coffee shop that you go to all the time. There are a few regulars there you recognize… …in a classroom, and you’re the instructor… …in the stands of a sold-out ballgame… …and what comes out of your mouth in those situations looks like your social media feed. Is this what you’d want your in-person social interactions to look like? Why or why not?...

The key skill in simplifying complexity

In computing, zooming is the ability to change the scale or view. You know, like zooming in or out. In content, zooming is the ability to change the scale or view. You know, like zooming into the details or zooming out to see the big picture. Whatever your expertise, most of us have the curse of seeing our world in one way. Our expertise and experience with a topic means that we understand the context of all the details (how they all fit together). As Chip and Dan Heath popularized it, this “curse of expertise” is why we often struggle with explaining things to others. It’s hard to see the world from their point of view. Think about an academic paper. There’s a single paragraph at the beginning that tells you what the following 15 pages of detail say. This abstract — abstraction — isn’t untruthful or incomplete. It’s just a different expression of the “stuff.” The ability to change perspective is a critical skill when it comes to simplifying complexity. And simplifying complexity is important if you want to maximize how you reach, teach, and lead with content. Simplicity isn’t the antithesis of complexity, it’s a different expression of it. ...

The mission of showing up

Years ago I found myself not wanting to go to family functions, but a pivotal moment in that changing for me was realizing I had something unique to bring. In other words, that something would be decidely missing if I didn’t go. I started calling it the “mission of showing up.” And inexplicable moments of connection started happening, not because I went with an agenda. Just because I went ready to engage. Corporate or customer evangelism didn’t originate with Guy Kawasaki, but the story of how he was chosen by Steve Jobs to be an evangelist popularized the notion. Now it’s increasingly a job description in many organizations. But it doesn’t have to be part of your job description. Perhaps more importantly, it’s such a foundational part of anyone’s role as a connector that it shouldn’t have to be part of your job description. If you have a mission, it’s likely that accomplishing is going to require doing something uncomfortable. If you’re a celebrity or maybe the CEO, you may not have to do the going, but you and I have both seen people who “arrive” and forget the very things that made them successful in the first place. Leaders show up. In their...

Do we have a “conversation versus publication” problem?

If you and I were having lunch and I did all the talking, what would you think? Even if what I was saying was interesting to you, at best you’d think I had something to say. What you wouldn’t think, however, is that I got to know you one iota. At worst you’d think of me as an unselfish, if not egotistical boob. And if my goal was to really connect with you, I be failing in my mission. In context, the expectation would be conversation. In conversation, listening, not talking, is how I connect and learn and make you feel valued. The world we live in is different technologically, but not socially. I could be talking to you on the phone — a real time modality — and accomplish the same failure by doing all the talking. The problem with a lot of social media is that it’s not exactly social. A host of gurus want to tell you how to put social media on auto-pilot. Except that we’ve already established the conversation, not publication, is the more powerful means to connectorship. Except that we’ve already established that since the world is noisier than it’s ever been, it’s dang near impossible to “talk” in enough to cut through the noise. Except that we already know, because we all live it every day, that being interrupted is a terribly low efficiency way to get attention, let alone build trust. There is a time to publish information. There’s a time to write a book or blog post or post something on LinkedIn. There’s a time to publish a stream of...

It’s just relationship

Her response to my Facebook post struck me as profound: “I found myself referring to you as a friend more than once while talking to my boss about working with you before realizing we’ve never actually met.”  Immediately following the sentence was a little smiley emoticon. What I’d just posted was something that had struck me as I saw something on the web about automating the marketing relationship: “It’s not ‘marketing relationship,’ ‘relationship selling,’ or ‘relationship with our customers.’ It’s just ‘relationship.’” I confess this was a knee-jerk reaction to something that bugs me at a deep level: you can’t automate relationship. Those who try turn people in to spreadsheet numbers and interchangeable parts of a big machine. It’s not only no-fun, it’s also decidedly short-term thinking. So JF, who posted that she referred to me as a friend, actually is on to something. Somewhere deep inside each of us, deeper than the actual wiring and neurons and cells, deeper than our fleshly hard drives and I/O ports and random access memory, somewhere way down there we’re all programmed to be relational. In other words, we relate. To be sure, one of life’s paradoxes is that we all are relational and at the same time unique in how we relate to each other. Especially when relate through something like words or images or Facebook posts. As I recall, JF and I *met* on Twitter. Maybe it was after I spoke at a virtual event, I don’t know. We have subsequently talked on the phone when she and a partner started a business I wanted to know more about. Later...