Tag Archive | "people"

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Your ‘Brand’ is the One Sentence People Say About You Behind Your Back


This post was originally published on LinkedIn, where it received about 15,000 views and was shared socially roughly 2,000 times.

Not too long ago, Lululemon was a revered brand. Now it’s not, and sales have declined accordingly. Not so long ago, Apple could do no wrong. Now people wonder out loud if it’s innovative anymore. With constant connectedness and infinite information, consumers have never been so fickle about their choices.

According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.” That sounds like something from orientation day at Sterling Cooper Draper Price. What does the term “brand” actually mean in practice?

A brand is essentially the one sentence people say about you behind your back. This practical “street” definition based on actual human interaction applies equally well to people, products, and companies. For example, someone might describe Lululemon to their friend as “absolutely the best place to buy yoga gear, ever” or they might say “people say Lululemon great, but I’ve bought a few things and they fall apart, totally overrated.” Someone might describe you to their professional acquaintance as “the smartest person in New York on things related to creativity in advertising, you must talk to them” or “too cerebral and academic, I’m not sure they’d be the right fit for your advertising company.”

That one sentence means a lot. It may be the difference between buying a $1300 suit from Ralph Lauren or a $500 one from Suit Supply, the difference between buying brand-name Tylenol or generic CVS pain reliever, and between you being considered to keynote the a major industry conference or not. These single sentences constantly being transmitted between couples basically mean everything.

A side effect of this is that even well-established brands “can never coast on past performance,” as James Surowiecki recently wrote in The New Yorker. This is not only because people are better informed than ever, but also because they can transmit their learnings easier than ever as well, not only in person but on social networks and through older but still powerful tools like email and message boards. This applies to people’s personal brands too; it is very easy to spread negative and even false information about people using all the social and mobile technology at our disposal.

The good news, especially for people, is that brands can be modified through your activities. For companies and products, that means branding and marketing activities. For people, it means your own personal actions in the community. For example, many people currently identify me with the technology industry, because I recently worked at Microsoft for almost four years. That’s somewhat fair, but I’m trained as a scientist. How would I get more people to think of me and “brand me” as a scientist? Simple: By bringing it up in conversations with people, by writing about my skills and interests, by tweeting more things about science, and so on. It’s gradual. You have to coax people to a new position over time – a year or two, perhaps.

If you accept that your brand is the one sentence people say about you behind your back, it’s worth thinking about what things people are saying about you right now. Write down a list of reasonable things people might say about you to their professional contacts when asked. Are you happy with those? What would you change? How might you begin that process? Your brand is not completely in your control, but you can do a lot to positively influence it and update it over time.

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What You Should Read About Monetizing Your Tweetstream


There’s been a lot of discussion about the authority of Twitter users, and how users with many followers, or authority, or subject-matter expertise, might monetize their tweetstream via inserting paid advertisements. Here are the most important articles I’ve seen about this debate. I recommend reading them in the order below.

The New York Times has a piece that makes it sound cool and neat-o.

Paul Carr has a piece at TechCrunch that makes it sound like the end of civilization.

A venture capitalist investor in one of the services wrote a piece defending the idea.

Robert Scoble crunches some numbers and writes a good piece that digs deeper.

Finally, read this piece about the hypothetical SuperTweet with a “metadata payload.”

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IBM Knows How To Monetize Your Friends


IBM researcher Ching Yun Lin gave an interesting talk about the monetary value of having friends today at Web 2.0 Expo in New York. IBM is a gigantic company with thousands of people – mobile, global, and moving around. How do you find the right person to answer a unique question or problem? How does one unlock the power of existing social networks? Where within networks does knowledge actually reside?

I can’t hope to summarize the talk, injected with math and graphics and jargon as it was. But here’s the big takeaway: Your friends are worth money to your organization. Somehow, IBM scientists have not only determined that network size is positively correlated with performance, they also somehow know that every email in an address book is worth 948 dollars!

Researchers also found that stuctural diverse networks within which few people are connected are correlated with higher performance, and that having strong social links to managers also was positively correlated with performance. Some of the research information should be available here: http://smallblue.research.ibm.com

To me, this is really cool because I am an advocate of social networking as a positive influence on the workplace, even if such networking is not strictly work-related. IBM seems to have data that back up my more anecdotal and street-smart notions about this, which I’ve been speaking about lately under the guide of “Social Networking: The Two Dirtiest Words in Government 2.0” – and I will continue to do so!

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Does Andrew Ross Sorkin worry about his quarterlife crisis?


I just finished reading a great New York magazine article about New York Times writer and now book author Andrew Ross Sorkin. There’s a lot of interesting information in the article about Wall Street’s evolution during the past year, the tensions between Sorkin and other financial reporters (even at his own paper), and questions about where you draw the line of being too close to your sources.

But what was really interesting to me was the depiction of Sorkin (who’s about my age, by the way) as a breathe of fresh air with an entrepreneurial spirit working within (some might say, trapped within) a traditional business that’s losing money. From very aggressively and socially courting valuable sources, to capitalizing on his personal brand and news trends to get into management at the Times and get a 600 page book published, to devising new ways to drive traffic and make money (like a daily morning newsletter for finance and mergers and acquisitions geeks), he’s a killer. He hustles.

There’s a growing trend I see in the blogosphere, particularly among women (not sure why that is), of talking about a so-called “quarterlife crisis” that people have in their late twenties. Just because someone writes a book about something – especially something bad or depressing – doesn’t mean you have to believe it! And just because someone generalizes about your gender or race or place where you live or age group or career path – doesn’t mean you have to be part of that stereotype!

So: Boo hoo. If everybody spent the time they think, talk, and blog about their perceived quarterlife crises and put it instead into doing something productive, maybe you’d be a little more like Andrew Ross Sorkin or Gary Vaynerchuk. You know, successful people who have built personal brands through hard work, talent, and marketing that open doors they never thought possible. Vaynerchuk signed a ten-book deal for eight figures. Sorkin has a standing offer to move to Vanity Fair. Who had really heard of these guys three years ago?

Sorkin hustles to crush it every day, and when he’s not doing that, he’s probably thinking up new ways he can do it tomorrow. He outflanks his boring competition. He exceeds people’s expectations. Sure, he steps on some toes, and sure, he takes a few wrong turns. But to quote one of his (presumed) Wall Street sources, Jamie Dimon, “It’s better to do ten things and get eight right, than to do five things and get them all right.”

If you don’t believe that, enjoy your quarterlife crisis.

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Tweetup: The Term Is Played Out


Do you know what a “tweetup” is? If you don’t, trust me, that’s okay. Don’t bother learning it. The term is already played out.

A tweetup is a meet up that is planned on Twitter, or at least it’s supposed to be. At first it was a cool, insider thing. Now it’s an uncool, wannabe thing.

In 2009, I was invited to “tweetups” in person, on EventBrite, on Facebook, by email, and by e-newsletter. Guess what – that’s a meet up, not a tweetup, folks.

Just because you use Twitter and are having a gathering of people who may happen to use it to does not mean you’ve having a tweetup. Just call it a happy hour, or a fundraiser, or a gathering, or a salon, or just a bunch of techies having drinks. Stop calling it a tweetup. The word has become meaningless.

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My Philosophical Review of the Audience Conference


Loren Feldman. 1938 Media. Audience Conference.

That’s about as much of a summary as you’ll find about the Audience Conference held in New York last Friday. That’s because there were no open laptops allowed during the performances. There was also no Wi-Fi, no video streaming, no tweeting, and no blogging. Something akin to omertà joined the members of the Audience Conference together.

This bond of silence was at the core of the Audience Conference, and it goes against everything that technology and Web 2.0 events normally stand for: openness, transparency, and participation. You would be hard-pressed to find any information anywhere on the web about any of the Audience Conference content. Tweets during the event were generic (“just arrived at the Audience Conference”) and posts after the event were vague (“loved the conference, got to meet Calacanis”). Nobody knows what happened unless you were a genuine member of the audience.

Many other features of the event were also unfamiliar. There were no sponsor booths, banners, and signs all over the place, the speakers had no slideshows, internet connections, or videos to keep us interested, and there were no press or even questions from the audience allowed. No problem.

Read the rest of my new post, “Quarantined Conferences: Claustrophobic Technophiles or Attentive Audiences,” at O’Reilly Radar today!

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How To Win Dates and Influence Girlfriends


In 1936, Dale Carnegie wrote a book called How To Win Friends and Influence People. I have serious doubts about whether this is the best way to go about trying to be an influential person, but I have to admit that this is the best dating guide for men I’ve ever seen.

Below follows the summary, which can be found here (http://3.ly/OhF). Men, imagine while you read this that you are on a first date. You may not feel very honest or authentic after doing all this stuff, but I guarantee she’ll think fondly of your time together.

“How To Win Dates and Influence Girlfriends”

Part One
Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest and sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Part Two
Six ways to make people like you

1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
2. Smile.
3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Part Three
Win people to your way of thinking

1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
4. Begin in a friendly way.
5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
11. Dramatize your ideas.
12. Throw down a challenge.

Part Four
How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
5. Let the other person save face.
6. Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement.
7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
9. Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest.

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The Emerging Twitter List Arms Race


I use Twitter a lot, but I was not among the very first to see the new Lists feature. I can now, though. And what I find much more interesting than actually using the feature myself is the fact that I woke up this morning to find that I was on dozens of other people’s lists.

Even though the irony is that Twitter introduced lists about a year after I stopped wanting such a feature, I do think there is some value in having other people put me on their lists. Braggadocio. Oh yes, braggadocio. I’m talking about the incredible hubris that comes from knowing I’m on Ezra Butler’s list of people he’d take a rubber bullet for, the chutzpah of telling everyone that luminary Tim O’Reilly’s list of Government 2.0 people includes me among its few members, and the extra swagger in my step that comes from the radiant energy of being on professor Jay Rosen’s list of the best mindcasters he knows. I always knew I was awesome, but now I can prove it.

I’m joking a bit, of course. But when getting retweeted has been boiled down to a science (”Adding ‘please’ increases retweets by 12.3%!”), every maven is in search of a social media metric that shows who has “authority.”  Being on someone’s Twitter list is a difficult thing to game because it’s about organic usefulness to a community. I recently read Gary Vaynerchuk’s inspiring book  Crush It, and to me, Twitter lists have the potential to be a metric that measures how generous you are to the communities you’re a member of.

So forget about counting your number of followers, or how many retweets you get, or the many “Follow Friday” mentions you land – Those metrics have been blown out for a long time now. The new high fidelity for my vanity is the Twitter list.

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Job Opening: National Security Journalism Web Community Manager


I don’t normally post job openings, but in this case I’ll make an exception. I’ve been talking with the folks behind the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism’s new National Security Journalism Initiative about their Web strategy. They’re hiring a community manager, and I’m sure it could be a great job for someone in my network. It’s also a part-time job, maybe 20 hours per week, so that’s important to keep in mind. Medill has a newsroom in downtown Washington, DC. Job opening follows:

The Medill National Security Journalism Initiative at Northwestern University seeks a Web site community manager with strong production, writing and editing skills. The ideal candidate will have experience in social media, participatory media and interactive journalism. The focus of the Web site is on national security, defense and civil liberties with the purpose of improving journalistic practice and increasing public engagement.  The community manager will help launch the Web site and other outreach tools to bring together interested parties.

This is a part-time position of at least two years’ duration.

Responsibilities:

*   Launch, along with the co-directors of the program, the week-to-week editorial strategy for the new site
*   Help develop the tone and the voice for the site and any associated programming
*   Maintain and produce the site (A working knowledge of HTML and CSS, as well experience with audio and video production, is essential.)
*   Grow and expand site traffic and audience engagement
*   Seek out and execute meaningful editorial and content partnerships
*   Supervise social media and other audience development strategies.

CONTACT: Please send natsecji@gmail.com a cover letter and resume.

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You Don’t Have To Follow Everyone You Like In Real Life On Twitter


I want to let you all in on a little secret: You don’t have to follow everyone you like in real life on Twitter, just because they have an account there!

Simple, right? Well, not really. A lot of people seem to have a disease whose symptom manifests itself in the form of a question, “Why don’t you follow me on Twitter?”

Guess what. I can choose follow people I don’t like in real life on Twitter. And I can choose to not follow people I enjoy speaking to in real life. Maybe you tweet so infrequently I forget you’re there. Maybe you’re boring. Maybe you don’t engage. Maybe I don’t even have to explain myself.

It doesn’t mean I don’t like you. You might just suck at Twitter. Let me give you one example. I unfollowed @MorningMika (http://twitter.com/morningmika) today. She co-hosts a terrific morning show on MSNBC, “Morning Joe” – I watch it all the time. But her tweets are boring. And she doesn’t engage her 13,000+ followers, almost ever.

So, follow people who add value to you. And link up with other people on Facebook, LinkedIn, the comments section of their blogs, whatever and whenever adds the most value for the least cost.

If using Twitter were the same as real life, it wouldn’t be very unique, interesting or useful, would it?

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