Liking you enough to care

Posted: May 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Have you been to a marketing conference recently?  I’m sorry if you have, but there is one phrase or one word of real value that seems to keep coming up again and again.

Listen…

And I think it’s critically important we engage and listen to consumers and everyone agrees right?  Than my question would be, why are we so focused on having millions of followers while only following 4 people?  And why are we so focused on the damn content calendar instead of sending @ replies or engaging in other people’s conversations?

Again and again in talking with people as well as brands I hear this idea of “my follower to follow ratio has to be x so I look like I have credibility”.  Personal belief: credibility is built by the people you engage with, the ways you enrich their experience (on whatever platform it may be) and by building real relationships.

Just a thought:

Initially forget the numbers…completely.  Follow all the people you find compelling and through them you’ll find others who are doing unique work, have a fresh perspective or are in industries you never thought too much about before now.  Most of the people you’re following in this stage may not follow you back and it doesn’t matter.  Now engage with the people you follow, the people who you want to build relationships with.  Forget about writing the most brilliant post and comment on what you think of their content.

Now watch what happens when you do this for an extended period of time.  When you’ve commented on enough other people’s content and spread the word about their new project.  When you’ve broken your back for someone you know just through Twitter to help them promote their book.  It’s less than a 140 characters but the relationships that are derived from these short conversations become just as real as ones anywhere else.  It’s old but is more true now than ever “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

If this were to be called phase 1, I’d say live in phase 1 for a while…

Let’s start off with an honest statement…I don’t do all these things.  Actually I fall short on most of these things quite frequently, but as a work in progress I find it invigorating to put out into the world a challenge to myself.  And to you as well.

There’s also a game-plan that goes along with this list: 

  1. Once a month I’ll be creating a new list, looking to build off of the previous month’s, with new ideas for learning, becoming better, and even more charming.
  2. I’ll post a tracking system (yet to be created) to hold myself accountable and keep score.
  3. If/when you decide to create your own list or use this one, tell people!  Nothing sparks a fire under my ass like having to live up to a public goal.

The List: 

Capture Everything (almost everything)

    • People, places, processes, major fails – This is an opportunity for a month to understand what grabs your attention, bring to light things you take for granted and understand yourself a bit better.  For this one I’d say a small point and shoot camera would be ideal, make sure it’s easy to carry.  Lets keep it simple and say capture 10 items per day, no rules other than that.
    • Ideas – My best ideas disappear as quickly as they come.  I may just say that because I can’t remember them so I claim they’re the best but now we’ll see.  I’m keeping a notebook next to the shower and getting back in the habit of using evernote to get down ideas.
    • Stories – I’ve always been in love with what story corps does, capturing people reflecting on what moments have mattered the most to them.  And to see it is amazing, but to sit down with people is a whole different experience.  I’m doing at least 2 interviews a week of people, finding out what’s inspired them in their lives.

Do what you say

    • Write down promises made – I feel like this piece is more than half the battle, just being able to recall what it is that I said I’d do.  Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to have in a single document all the commitments you’ve made to everyone over the course of a week?  Sounds frekin fantastic to me, and will certainly make me a better fried/consultant/resource/you get it.
    • Date them – Now that you have them all down, date em all.  And I like to add in a bit of a buffer, always nice to deliver promises early.
    • Check and track – Instead of missing delivering on promises I’m thinking this will help me to gauge how far I’m extending myself and correct the amount of yes’s I put out there before over committing.  Again that’s just a prediction, a hopeful prediction.

Everyday do’s

    •   Write a thank you letter
    •   Meet someone new 
    •   Do 3 small favors for people 
    •   Plan out the day in the morning 
    •   Tell at least one story 

Laugh often

    • The law of attraction – People are attracted to people who laugh.  There’s no two ways about it, it’s a sign of confidence, of friendship and of genuine good fun having.
    • Yourself – Laugh at yourself.  One of the most greatest shows of confidence that I’ve come across is self-deprecation.  People who don’t take themselves to seriously and often poke fun at themselves before targeting other people.  Both classy and hilarious.
    • De-stress – Have you ever been really mad while laughing.  Probably not… Or really stressed out, I doubt it.  It’s an instant mood changer, and certainly gives perspective on all the things that can be derailing.

Write your own rules…Here’s the fun part.  The discovery of what matters to you enough to make it the center of your focus for an entire month.

I read a lot.  I have my news feed in the morning when I wake up. Then on the subway either a book or magazine; when I get to work my twitter feed gets me caught up on the world.  Than throughout the day I jump between blogs, TED talks, youtube content and random articles that friends send over and look intriguing.  It’s a lot.  But when knowledge is the new social capital you kinda have to know everything…right?

I’m not sure…What I do know is that I can only do so much in a single day.  And when those days are overrun, even by brilliant people online giving advice and sharing insight it doesn’t leave a lot of time for producing.  And as any trend following junkie would now (because I read it in 17 different articles this morning), doing is the new knowing.

And it’s a trend that’s catching on; but catching on quite slowly and as a late comer to the game I think I understand why.  Human nature…  Reading is much easier than writing.  It’s also a heck of a lot less scary.  Watching is easier and much more passive than filming, and after filming comes posting.  And after posting comes comments, and criticism and realization that you’re not quite as smart as you thought you were.

At least that’s the story we tell ourselves.  So we (and by we I mean I) go back to reading more articles and watching more TED talks.

And than comes a certain day.  And I’m not sure quite what sets this day apart but I imagine it’s different for everyone.  It’s called I don’t give a shit day.  It’s a day where for some odd reason you aren’t really worried about criticism or people who won’t like what you have to say.  This is a day where real work gets started, the scary, intimidating type of work that actually matters.  Chris Guillbeau calls it Legacy Work, Seth Godin calls it Art, I call it significant work.  It’s doing the thing that’s going to make a big impact, a tsunami sized splash that engages and ignites people to change just a little bit.

It’s this day when the reader becomes the writer.  The student starts to teach and the quite kid in the back raises his hand.  It’s a pinnacle moment we all have that should be celebrated at any age.  I’m nominating it for the next national holiday.

Conversation Framing

Posted: March 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

Random Stranger: “Oooo Jason it’s nice to meet you, I’m (fill in the blank).  So you work at Google that’s kind of awesome.”

Jason: “Well no I don’t work at Google, actually a friend of mine who picked up the tickets works for Google, somehow this is the name-tag I got.”

Random Stranger: Excitement and energy in voice begin to slowly fade, priority of refilling empty beer increases exponentially.  “Well that makes sense, ummm so what do you do?”

Google has this really interesting proposition.  It’s a proposition very few companies ever get to.  It’s a subtle statement that says “regardless of what I do, I work at Google and I must be interesting.” And I’ve found for the most part it’s true.  The quirky, crazy, wildly brilliant people that they largely employ (although occasionally social awkward) are incredibly intriguing folks.  But what about your company…

Most of us don’t work for Google and as far as name tag spotting goes we live (thankfully) in relative obscurity.  So how do the masses get by?

Lets go back to my short stint as an employee of Google.  At that event I was introduced to a friend of a friend.  “This is my friend Jeremey, Jeremey this is Jason.”  Pretty normal intro… So we run through the basics, and eventually and unsurprisingly we get into the unavoidable question of “What do you do?

Well I’m an Emmy award winner.”  Interesting start.  “Really, for what?” Than we get into it; and he does voiceovers for a Sesame Street character.  [How fucking cool is that?]  As we start talking further he gets into a web series he has that’s one numerous awards for its writing and an ice cream flavor he invented with bacon in it.

I think by this point you get where I’m going.  Company brand be damned, every person has the opportunity to create their own Google ora.  And it’s not by perception; it’s the cool shit that you do, the rules that you break, the things you produce and the lives that you change.  It’s the opportunity to have the name above the company mean just as much if not more than the company name below it.  It’s an opportunity to build your own frame, now go build it.