Monday, March 30, 2009

It’s a Matter of Attitude

I admit it I was eavesdropping. I couldn’t help it. They were talking right next to me and they weren’t being very quiet. It was a couple of small business owners. They looked to be in their late thirties or early forties. The woman was talking to the man about the struggle she was having growing her business and he was offering what seemed like helpful suggestions. Now, I’ve already admitted I was listening what I haven’t told you is how hard it was for me not to join in.

Relax, I didn’t chime in, but I wanted to. Why? Well, because the man was offering some sound suggestions about how the woman could take advantage of social media to reach her target market. She was polite, but she wasn’t having any of it. Every tool he suggested she dismissed. “I don’t have time for that.” “What am I going to say?” “That’s a waste of time.” “They’re just kids online anyway.”

Now, this isn’t about age or gender. I’ve heard enough of these conversations where the woman was advocating the new social media platforms or where an older person was engaged with new tools and a younger person was resistant.

No, what this is about is resistance to change. I’ve heard it said that when
Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone people thought of it as a novelty. Why would anyone want to talk to someone 100 miles away? You can write them a letter. Seems absurd in our world today where we use mobile phones to talk to people in the same room. Good or bad, the fact is you reach people where you can and if you can’t be bothered to reach out to people where they are you’re unlikely to reach them at all.

The new social mediums are unfamiliar to the majority of people. It’s no different from the early days of radio, TV and for that matter the Internet itself. There will always be a next new thing. That’s just another fact in our ever changing world. That does not alleviate the need on the part of business people to keep abreast of the new media. As business owners we need to build awareness of our goods and services with our target audiences. No awareness, no interest; no interest, no desire; no desire and nobody will do business with us.

Don’t let your lack of familiarity stop you from exploring the new social media. One of the greatest challenges that all business owners face today is remaining relevant to our customers. Overcome your discomfort and investigate Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, and Delicious, et al. You figured out how to drive a car because you were motivated. You can figure this out, as well. It’s just a matter of deciding you’re going to do it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Delicious Idea

The media is a buzz these days about Social media. So, I’m going to try and
offer some guidance about one of the new tools. Seth Godin says one of the prime responsibilities of a leader is to make it easier for followers to communicate with one another; to tighten up the tribe so to speak. Delicious
is a cool tool for allowing people to manage their own information and to share their “library” with one another.

I’ve heard the Internet and the World Wide Web described as many things over the years. The one that has stuck with me is, “The World Wide Web is like the Library of Congress with all of the books thrown onto the lobby floor and no card catalog.”

That’s what makes Delicious, so delicious. Among other things; it’s the missing card catalog.

Delicious is a self-proclaimed “social bookmarking service that allows you to tag, save, manage and share Web pages all in one place. With emphasis on the power of the community, Delicious greatly improves how people discover, remember and share on the Internet”.

Delicious has four main components: Bookmarks, People, Tags and Search.

It uses Bookmarks to archive information just like your web browser.

It has a People section, like Facebook. It’s called your Network and it’s a people aggregator. It allows you to see what people you respect feel is important and provides a venue for you to share what you think is important.

It allows you to Tag articles. This is the card catalog feature. You get to attach multiple designations or categories to individual articles.

Then there’s the Search engine which allows you to search the articles you’ve tagged, those tagged by the people in your network as well as those articles tagged by everyone who uses Delicious.

When I decided I wanted to write about this I searched “Delicious” and over 9,000 articles appeared. That wasn’t helpful. So, I added “useful” to my search and the results were narrowed down to just over 2,000 articles. Now I could have continued refining my search, but after a quick scan I found an article that interested me on the first screen.

Now, there is no such thing as a free lunch. It will take a few minutes to set up your account and a little trial and error reading the very helpful Help section, but the payoff is well worth the investment. I’m sure there will be additional big things coming along any day, but in the here and now; Delicious is our flavor de jour. You can find us on Delicious at or by clicking on the Delicious badge to the right.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Meaningful Work

In Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, Outliers, The Story of Success, he makes a few points I think we’d all benefit from recognizing.

Success is a combination of talent, hard work, and opportunity. There’s an old saying that luck is where preparation meets opportunity and in each of his stories this holds true.

Every one of the stories is about people who had an interest in something and they worked at developing their skills. In the case of the musicians, programmers and athletes; our heroes were passionate about what they were doing. Honing their skills was play.

In every case, the protagonists were doing meaningful work. Whether they were farmers, lawyers or tailors they invested time in getting good at what they did. How much time? 10,000 hours. In all of his examples Gladwell found that his heroes had worked for ten years developing their skills before opportunity knocked.

Ten years? 10,000 hours? What a daunting thought. Surprisingly not when you consider that Bill Gates was just 14 when he started playing around with a computer. What do you enjoy doing? What skills have you developed? Take some time for self reflection and inventory your skills. Pay attention to those things that your interest and hopefully passion have led you to invest your time.

Then take a look at the world today. I call it market research; you might as well, too. Look and see where your skills, those talents you’ve honed, can meet a need or better yet fulfill a desire.

You never know, you may have unconsciously been preparing for today. You may have to invest more time, but when you develop the level of proficiency we’re talking about here, putting those skills to work feels like play.

Success for all of us is within our reach, today. Assess your skills and look for the opportunity to apply them to meaningful work. A good place to start is Gladwell’s new book. Listen to it on your iPod if you can’t find time to read.

There’s meaningful work out there for all of us.