Posts Tagged success

Train horns and social business

Posted by on Wednesday, 20 November, 2013


There are train tracks a few miles from my house. On most days I forget they are there, as they’re far enough away that I don’t see them daily, and rarely get stuck at a crossing. I do, however, occasionally hear the horn. When the conditions are just right I will hear the blast of the horn come through the trees, over the hills and across the tops of the houses into my office as I’m working in the early mornings. Rarely do I hear it when the fog is in, or even when there is cloud cover, but on the few clear mornings, the sound of that horn bounces through the atmosphere and reminds me of the tracks three miles away.

Success in social business is much like that train horn: conditions need to be right in order to be heard. Luckily, we can control some of those conditions more easily than we can change the weather. In order to get your voice through the filters and noise of the social internet there are a few things you can do to tip the conditions to your favour, much like the clear skies helping the train horn carry miles across the valley:

  • Get the lay of the land; learn the valleys and peaks. Watch and see how everyone interacts to determine the etiquette in the space.
  • Start small by just adding people you know to your networks.
  • Don’t be a tourist for too long. Watch and listen, but begin sharing things you find interesting.
  • Begin curating your networks to include people who share things relevant to your interests or business.
  • Continue sharing things you find and start adding in your own expertise and ideas.
  • Engage in conversation with your network to build deeper relationships.
  • Continue curating your networks by adding your target audience. By this point you should have an established presence that will help show value to anyone who may look to follow you.
  • Be active, slightly provocative, and consistent in your voice.

Now, when you sound your horn, the message will fly further than you may have ever expected. You’ve taken the right steps to tweak the conditions to your favour and build the atmosphere to support not only visibility of your message, but hopefully others sharing it as well with their own curated networks to amplify far beyond the rail crossing of you and your immediate followers.

Fear of failure and disruption; on stifling innovation.

Posted by on Thursday, 2 May, 2013

IMG_3498I’m sure you’ve all heard it before, but what does it really mean to not be afraid to fail? I know a lot of us may say we’re not, but when it comes down to it, do our actions prove that to be true? In my experience and observations, no, they don’t.

For whatever reason, our culture has supported and ingrained the idea that failure is bad; that we must do everything in our power to appear successful regardless of the actual truth. I’m sure you’ve heard the business advice often provided to startups: “fail fast and fail often”. When this advice is taken to heart failure ceases to be scary and simply becomes a form of very valuable feedback. It is precisely this (or really, ANY) kind of feedback for which we are all so starved. Some of us get more feedback than others, granted, but I’m relatively certain none of us get anywhere near enough of it.

By only highlighting our successes, and hiding our failures, we are actually doing ourselves and our businesses critical disservice. How can we grow and evolve, or do the *right* things when we sublimate such important feedback and pretend we are all amazingly successful?

And wouldn’t you know, as I was writing this post, I serendipitously came across the following article also posted today by Brian Solis: Disruptive Selection – Natures way of weeding out the average business

In some ways, I think failure is seen as a disruptor as Brian points out: like it is something to stifle and subdue, rather than learn and innovate from as a lesson in either what not to do or how to change. Fear drives both the aversion to disruption, as well as the desire to hide failure. But, as Brian points out, the digital Darwinsim metaphor fits nicely as disruption (and failure) naturally evolve towards deeper innovation and ultimately more successes when it is understood and allowed to occur. Progress and success, however, are only stifled when disruption and failure aren’t even allowed to be recognized or acknowledged.

It is the cycle of business; innovate or die. In this cycle we must not only make room for disruption and failure to occur, but embrace them when they do. Only then can we see true innovation, change, and eventually success again.

To succeed in business, don’t do what I do.

Posted by on Wednesday, 10 April, 2013

Every one of my colleagues will tell you: when it comes to my accomplishments I vastly understate them, and tend to overstate my failures. Time and time again, this has hindered me in the business world where the culture rewards exactly the opposite. In fact, I owe most of my success to my colleagues who (luckily for me) promote my results and achievements on my behalf, ensuring some meager success in my career.

Success in social business, however, is something entirely different. Oddly enough, I think this very same behaviour which works to my detriment in traditional business  has been a key player to my success in social business: the lack of focus on my own achievements, and more focus on helping and/or highlighting others’ successes and accomplishments.

Unlike traditional business culture, the social-media culture tends to reward this altruistic nature of sharing while similarly demonizing the overt self-aggrandizement. Those who are seeing great success in social business are the ones who are sharing not only their own content, but more readily the content of others. In the social spaces, ego is damned while the authenticity of altruistic sharing is lauded.

With that, I’d like to share this TED talk on what motivates people in work. Specifically, I’d like to call out the idea and connection here that motivation to engage in social business can come from more than just individual personal benefit, and that success in social business will be seen when more people are engaged as the builders rather than observers/evaluators: