Archive - May, 2011

I chased him down

We were having a meeting in the Soma Games/Code-Monkeys office a couple of weeks ago near the front of the shop. In the middle of the meeting Chris Skaggs our CTO yelled out, “he is wearing our shirt!”. We all turned to look out the street front window. A guy in his twenties had just walked by wearing a Soma t-shirt. I immediately jumped up, opened the door and chased him down. He turned around as I called out, noting that he was wearing our t-shirt. I then asked him where he got it, telling him I thought it was cool he was wearing it. He said a guy named Chris had given it to him when he stopped in the shop out of curiosity. I thanked him for wearing it and invited him in to come in anytime to play XBox or see our latest projects.

I remember thinking to myself as I began to chase the guy down “what the heck am I doing”. I realize I really didn’t care if he thought I was nut. I was so excited this guys was walking around with our brand on him. I was going to do anything to make sure he knew we appreciated it.

That is what makes the difference today. Every fan, customer and community member matters. They have a voice and they hold the keys to you getting your name known. So when they wear your t-shirt, give you a shout out or blog about you, chase them down and make sure they know you saw you appreciate what they do. It doesn’t cost a thing and it goes a long way to further enchantment.

Here are a few examples of brands that listened this week.

A friend asked about the best Microsoft Office document app for the iPad. We had a conversation on twitter and Quick Office chimed in with a thank you.

I have a twitter list I use to promote Authors who are engaged on line. Using Paper.li the list sends out a note about the top posts from that list. Several Authors say thanks. Two of which are Ted Coine and Laurie King through her famous character from her Beekeepers Apprentice Novels Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes’ young assistant.

These gestures are worth more than prizes and they can never be bought.

Staying Allocentric with Curiosity

First, yes it is a word. Someone asked if it was last week after reading my article on the Huffington Post: Egocentric or Allocentric Connectedness. Interestingly enough it is actually a hard word to find even on the web. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “having one’s interest and attention centered on other persons — compare egocentric”.

So how do we achieve an allocentric approach today in a world that demands us to tighten our tribe, gain followers and continually master whatever we are good at. That could be answered multiple ways but I find that what helps me the most is constant exploration. I explore what others are up to. I try to learn something about the world I might miss if I just focus on my own communities. We really don’t need to go far to do this either. Tools like Squidoo.com keep me exposed daily to interests I would not otherwise know care or about. Really your own community is sometimes the wealthiest resource. Create lists of interesting people on twitter or explore your friends updates on Facebook. During your day allow yourself to tag along with someone and do something you would never do yourself. Eat someplace you would never usually eat. Take a risk. Take the initiative. It is the fuel for innovation and what keeps us from turning stale. Seth Godin puts it this way in Poke the Box “Initiative is a little like creativity in that both require curiosity. Not the search for the “right” answer, as much as an insatiable desire to understand how something works…”

Last week a friend asked if I wanted to go with him to buy some silver. I know nothing about silver and at first thought of dozens of things I could be doing instead. And after all no one I know deals in silver…accept him. But then I wondered what I would learn. Could just a simple experience like this change my perspective that day? It did. I learned way more than I thought I would. Plus I have a greater connection to my friend because of his interests. Curiosity keeps us not only smarter but it expands our world and keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. It allows us to connect with people and communities that are different.

What will you explore today? Who will you connect with outside of your regular tribe?

My own personal Eeyore

When I was little I had a stuffed Eeyore. I loved the toy and I felt a real connection to the character. You see, I was a bit of a complainer, even at an early age. I am not sure if I picked this up along the way or if I was born with a melancholy disposition. As I have come to terms with this I think the former is probably the truest. Misery loves company and Eeyore seems to attract plenty of it even if that crowd often thinks we are obnoxious. One day I realized that this was miserable to be around. I began to dive into the reasons I had to complain and go after ways to either change my attitude or my life. We all have due cause to complain about something after all. I realized I could change more than I thought.

Add in social media and platforms for anyone to express themselves through blogs, podcast, YouTube and we have an overexposure of the uglies. It begins with feeling camaraderie with others who are complaining, but then quickly turns in to one big downer. I am not proposing that people should never have an opportunity to share their hurts to find support. However, I am challenging people to turn around and see how others are impacted by your outlook. Who wants to be around someone who constantly is complaining? And yes I have those days that I still sigh a lot (A former co-worker never believed me when I said I was just needing more oxygen those days). But I find I have much better connection with people when I can optimistically take on my day.

This post was first inspired by Gini Dietrich’s post on SpinSucks and by her link to Peter Bergmans post in The Harvard Business Review, both excellent read on the subject.

Egocentric or Allocentric in our Connectedness

Previously posted on The Huffington Post

Last Saturday I watched Brian Solis’ interview with filmmaker Tiffany Shlain, the founder of Webby Awards. Brian was interviewing her about her new film Connected. Near the end Solis makes a statement that was thought provoking. He explains our connections today as greatly centered around ourselves in a type of egosystem, egocentric because they center around our own interests. This bothered me. I am constantly trying not to be enticed by the rampant growth of narcissism in our world today.

Self-absorption is something to mindfully resist. If we don’t we decline into a pursuit of destructive affirmation. If we only focus on our interests and not on the community at large, we risk not understanding different world views and how those differences contribute to our world. Also, intellectual disruption leads to growth.

Parallel play is what children do before they are able to see and understand what others are doing. It is a normal part of child development, but adults should guard against parallel conversations. I blogged on how small business can do this in Parallel Playing.

Is our connectedness causing us to grow or simply reinforcing our comfortable belief systems? I think we are at risk here. I am a noticer. I often enjoy exploring the interests of others. This can simply be someone’s hobby or their profession. These observations expand my perspective and lead to personal growth. We don’t need to exclude ourselves from the tribes and interest groups that feed us, but we should continue to expand our understanding and mindfully reach out and be more allocentric in our connectedness.

Cutting to the deal

A few months back I was going through a few personality tests. The last one I took was the Core Value Index. I learned a big lesson from the CVI. I value relationships so much that I have a tendency to delay or stall closing a deal when doing business. On the other end of the spectrum there are people who leap to the deal too soon. There is a sweet spot. I am learning that if my skills and knowledge can benefit you I need to make that known and offer it up. Of course I need to feel that I have gained your trust first. For those of you ready to cut to the chase to early, slow down and get to know us first, discern if we really need what you offer. As I get to know you, I will naturally want to spread the word and if it is valuable to me I will buy your gadget or ask for your service.

This also applies to people already in our network. Just this week a friend who I had not heard from in a while contacted me and right away tried to sell me something (I admit I have made this mis-step too). It was just a big turn-off. Ask me how life is going first. Hang out with me for a while. Get reacquainted. Then, like I plan to do better, cut to the deal.

Wrangling Contact Management

Contact management systems are probably the number one most valuable tool for connecting. They allow us to keep track of people in both our inner and greater tribes.

For some time I have looked for the best application for managing contacts. I would like to say I have found the perfect one but that is just not the case. Personally, I prefer and have been using Google Contacts since it allows me to securely store and access my contacts on all my devices as well as use priceless tools like Rapportive to keep up to date with current friends and locate platforms new friends hang out on. (Check out my post on Rapportive integration for more.) But these tool only work well if I can share the database and interact with others in the organization.

Many organizations like my own share both pc and mac platforms but also varying philosophies regarding cloud computing. Rather than trying to wrestle with these ambiguous obstacles, I am taking an approach first offered by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith in Trust Agents. Brogan suggest that whatever contact management system you choose, make sure your personal database is one that allows easy archiving and save it as a csv (comma separated values) database. That way it will outlive any software, desktop or cloud based, and it is easily transferable to new systems and throughout multiple platforms. He also recommends archiving it regularly for safekeeping. For the full explanation of Brogan’s approach see his section in the book called “You Live or Die by Your Database”.

So I will continue to use Google Contacts and extremely useful tools like Rapportive, but like Brogan suggests, keep a safe and secure copy locally that can be accessed anywhere at anytime regardless of the platform or state of the cloud.

How are you managing an assest, as Jeff Pulver is quoted in Trust Agents, “as valuable as gold”? A question I also put to you, and one I am currently trying to wrangle, is how do you best integrate your personal database with your group or companies database? Please share what you have found in the comments.