Posts Tagged collaboration

A business ethos that transcends industry

Posted by on Wednesday, 5 February, 2014


I was recently listening to a podcast via Bet On You in which my friend Ted Pappas was interviewed about  Big Bottom Whiskey and what inspired him to start the business. In this 45 minute conversation (it’s an interview but has a deep conversational tone that Ted cultivates well), he discusses a lot of the early trials and difficulties in the path and choices for the business. But, while I believe early failures are good and critical to success, what I believe is even more important is the latter part of the conversation when he begins discussing more of the ethos and philosophy behind the respect, camaraderie, and cooperative efforts which Big Bottom Whiskey is leading in the industry. Which gives me an opportunity to talk about it from my own perspective not only as a tenant to Big Bottom Whiskey with my own company Tualatin Valley Distilling, but to also expand the ideas beyond just the alcohol industries.

Ted’s ethos is about mutual benefit, respect, and helping others succeed in their passions. It is a direct result of this attitude that Tualatin Valley Distilling is a possibility and as a result of this shared vision, we also strive to help as best we can. As an alternating proprietorship, our visions are aligned and keep us focused on what matters: making great products that we all believe in; working together towards common goals.

It was while listening to Ted in the interview above that I realized our shared ideals, philosophies, and vision wasn’t specific to just the whiskies world. Rather, I started thinking of some big “what-ifs”: What if social business wasn’t seen as a zero-sum game. What if we all worked cooperatively, with a shared ethos of respect and camaraderie as social business professionals, while seeing competition as positive drivers for improvement rather than negatives to be conquered or fought.

What does this look like to a social business professional?
First and foremost it means seeing social business as something other than a marketing tool. Social business is in itself an ethos as well as a tool.
Secondly, the guiding principle of being a social business means engaging in conversations and listening to your audience more than talking  AT  them. It is conversing WITH your audience and building relationships using the tools of social platforms like twitter, google plus, tumblr, Facebook, and others. It is more about relationship management than marketing, working with your clients more than selling to them. It’s about building that community and collective intelligence to move us all forward in our collective and individual goals.

This spirit of cooperation and mutual benefit is alive and well in the Oregon spirits industry, one in which the Oregon Distiller’s Guild is helping to drive the recognition of Oregon products to the benefit of all. It is this same focus, this same attitude which can help redefine what social business does and how we do it.  Ted has proven that the ethos within his business model works (as he touches upon in the podcast about listening to his consumer base), and I am hopeful that my own work in social business can help exemplify how collaborative knowledge sharing can also drive success in both my day job as a global social business strategist as well as a small business co-owner creating products for our local market.

Until that day when my own success stands as self-explanatory, I will continue to drive the open and transparent, collaborative, inclusive, and humanist ethos within all of my work; whether it is in strategy or production. I also hope you’ll jump on board and also adopt a strong collaborative ethos as well… after all, I can’t collaborate alone now can I?


image credit:  Some rights reserved by Gauravonomics

The year of social: takeaways from IBM Innovate 2013

Posted by on Friday, 7 June, 2013


I blogged in December 2012 about how 2013 would be the year of influence. More so than influence, however, I think now it is simply the year of social.

The past few months have proven that true, but no more than in this past week while I was out in Orlando at Innovate, IBM’s new Technical Summit. Not only were there a ton of great sessions in the social business track, but I was able to connect with a huge number of colleagues also working in the space and share not only some of our difficulties and frustrations, but also the huge wins we’ve seen in our own areas.

For me, the biggest part of being able to attend was to build an in-person connection with so many of my coworkers whom I’ve only previously worked with in socially collaborative spaces online. I called this out in our kickoff meeting on site as my favourite Innovate moment, and after flying home, It still holds true. To me, that is one of the greatest benefits of social media: already having built a relationship through online networks allowed us to dig right in to wonderful discussion as if we’d met years ago. The reality of this is, of course, that we did meet years ago… just not in person.

This is the new world of business. One where professional networks are built and curated in social channels on-line, then strengthened and supported in gatherings like conferences or periodic on-site meetings. It allows for global collaboration to occur 24×7 in effective and meaningful ways, and then reinvigorates passion for our work. In fact, that was one of the great realizations I had this week:

Watching so many people passionately discuss topics, I realized that so many of us work in such specific industries or have expertise so focused that we tend to bore most others in our lives. So when you gather people of like mind, skill, and passion in one place, the conversations flow freely, as we now are able to talk with others who are as passionate as we are and understand not only what we are talking about, but the importance of it all as well. I rarely see people’s faces light up like they do when they can share with someone else who really “gets it”.

But there really isn’t anything new under the sun. Just like cloud computing, social business isn’t anything new either; just the tools (and subtle changes in etiquette) have evolved in innovative ways to do it all better. (Yes, I just said cloud is nothing new. Remember dumb terminals? That was cloud computing before the name.) Now, things have evolved and cloud is absolutely a critical piece of business today, but the core hasn’t changed. Social is in the same boat. Business has ALWAYS been done socially. But today, we can use new tools and innovative thinking to build those business relationships and maintain them in a scalable fashion, so when we meet in person we aren’t spending time learning about each other before we know enough to begin accomplishing anything, but rather spend our time on deeper conversations based on that online social connection.

All we need to do as social business professionals is to help break down the preconceived notions that this newfangled thing is just for kids, show people that it isn’t as unfamiliar as it seems, and really can prove to have huge business impacts from the measurable to the esoteric and un-quantifiable.

The power of social isn’t just in sharing knowledge on-line though. It is in the networks of trusted people we bring together, to surrounds us with amazing and wicked smart peeps who can agilely pivot and attack problems to not only succeed with their business goals, but blow them out of the water and rebuild the entire understanding of success. We’re seeing that from the top down and bottom up. Yes, 2013 is indeed the year of social.

Working Outside the Inbox- A presentation

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 August, 2012

You’ve heard me talk about it before, how my colleague Kelly and I have been working towards inboxes of fewer and fewer emails. Following is a Slideshare presentation I built along with Kelly based on our prior blog posts to help evangelize the concept and distill the content into just the basics:

Working Outside the Inbox is a concept taken from Luis Suarez’ experiments working in IBM without using email. This presentation is based on the WOTI blog series published on the Notes from Rational Support Blog.  In this series we investigate some of the key items to use in your own attempts to reduce the overwhelming amount of emails in your inbox, and drive towards a more open, transparent, and collaborative culture in the workplace.