I don’t remember when I was first came across Brian Solis. It may have been through a mutual friend since we have many. I still have not met him personally but I have enjoyed his posts and video interviews. I had planned to read his book Engage for a long time but my book stack has taken on a monstrous likeness lately. This past spring I stumbled on on his interview with Tiffany Shlain where she talked about her new 2011 Sundance Official Selection documentary film Connected. I enjoyed Brian’s questions in the interview and decided to dig into his work more. When he launched an early campaign for his new book The End of Business as Usual I decided to order an early copy. Yesterday I started it. I was hooked on a book within the first chapter. Honestly I was hooked by just reading Katie Couric’s foreword. I will post more about the book as I continue.
I have been in social business as a guide sharing what I have learned about engaging, connecting and communicating with a digital world for almost a decade now. One person I continually learn from is Chris Brogan. I’d say his book Trust Agents, co-written with Julien Smith, has influenced not only how I do business but also how I approach much of my world in an open and involved manner. When someone asks where they should start in digital communications, I hand them a copy of Trust Agents quickly followed by either Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae and/or Tribes. I don’t even know how many copies I have gifted. So when Chris Brogan published his latest I quickly added it to my book stack.
This last summer I got an early invite to Google Plus. At first I was skeptical of the tool. Google Buzz was for me a competed failure.
I even deleted all my Buzz posts after my streams ended up being saturated with spam and content irrelevant to me or my community. After exploring and seeing the sharing and content tools I started to see it as potentially changing everything. It contained in it’s functionality all I had wanted from twitter and Facebook. Brogan had not published his book yet so like every other early adopter I had to go about exploring on my own. Fortunately you don’t have to. Chris has brought his excellent business acumen and social business skills to the new platform and walks both the seasoned online user and newcomer through all the aspects of Google Plus from sharing, profile creation to making original posts. Best of all he invited many other professionals to share their experiences on the tool as well as some early stories of success.
For me Chris’s stories are the most valuable. Stories are still rare because Google Plus has only recently been made made public. I expect Brogan to release a new edition as throngs of users continue to join. I highly recommend Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything for anyone planning to use the tool for building community and engaging with customers. Personally I am using the book as a reference text. Others who have already established social network platforms will benefit from the same use. Those just now engaging will find it to be a valuable tool. Brogan presents the material in a way that is very digestible in content and his methods that are easy to implement.
This past year I have been catching up with the series Mad Men that tracks the protagonist Don Draper as he goes about his life becoming more entrapped by a web of lies. Every episode he falls deeper into a pose, an act that is far from who he really is. One episode highlights how far from reality he has strayed and ends with him taking his family trick or treating. As they stand on the steps of one of the houses, the neighbor cheerfully asks the children “now who are you?”. The Camera pans up to Draper’s face and the question becomes truly haunting as you see in his expression that he really has no clue.
This subject of identity surfaces when I am having conversations about privacy. I think it is more about the pose. People seek my advice on content, sharing and building influence and community in business. I often get the privacy question: how much should I or my business share online?
Before I answer that question I first ask how much they are comfortable being themselves. With the latest run of Facebook changes, many have found that they are no longer comfortable with the content they have shared presumably behind a wall of protection. Timelines expose their photos or likes freely on their friend pages. While I enjoy seeing what people are up to there are two types that I would prefer kept silent. Watching a person in a pose can be painful. Like Mad Men’s audience, the world is aware of our pose. Our lives are played out, some in public, some behind closed doors, but all on a stage.
Don Draper is an example of someone who is able to fool those around him, for a while. Others take on an almost clownish behavior afforded by wealth or fame. Take Megaupload’s founder and now jailed Kim Dotcom as a prime example. Even before his fall anyone could tell he was hiding his true identity behind fast cars, women and loud bragging.
Being ourselves doesn’t mean we have to bleed our issues all over the internet either. I share my workflow and personal life everyday. I invite others along on my journey and enjoy seeing others post as they go about their work and life. I don’t share every intimate detail of my life though. I have an inner circles of friends, each one with which I trust with more confidence as the circles tighten and reach the center.
This also means that I take time to self reflect and change the things in my life that are out of balance. I also ask a select group to be candid with me if they see anything in my life that is not in character with the person they have come to know. They are my trenchmates and I listen to them.
So when you ask, I encourage you to first know yourself, reach that place where you like who you are and change the things that you are unhappy with. Next I encourage you to find a balance that you are happy with when it comes to sharing you life with the world. I believe we are meant to learn and be inspired by the stories of peoples lives. We can’t do that if you hold back your own life. We have a lot to learn from you.