Archive for the ‘authenticity’ Tag

Social media and business evolution

Somehow this holiday season is dragging on interminably.  I’ve had a nasty cold, so it’s been an introspective time.  I’ve refrained from blogging, but did manage to renovate my website and also to make a Hub page about approaches to defining brand.  

Social media has me in its thrall, and I must admit that Twitter takes up a good deal of my time lately.  Not that I’m chattering much, but just going there and clicking on eight or ten links every visit, and spending an hour reading up on the suggestions from my follows.  It takes a good while to get a handle on how to use all the information.

I think social media is like a new, seriously tricked-out telephone.  People wonder if it’s a just a fad, but to me it’s clearly no more a passing fancy than the telephone or computer itself.  It’s here to stay, but how we use this amazing new tool will mature considerably.  Right now, we’re all just playing in the sandbox; at some point, you want to actually make something of all this shifting sand, all these glittery toys.

While learning about the technology and the huge range of tools available is currently making our heads spin, it’s so important to remain firmly glued to the truth that content is king.  It’s tempting to use the software and apps for their own sake.  But until you have something useful to say, all these delightful new megaphones will get you nowhere.  Nobody’s interested in amplified hot air.

My urge, when considering all this, is to use social media to help really small businesses.  The old marketing traditions had seriously eclipsed small enterprises, for whom print advertising was not only prohibitively expensive, but ineffectual as well.  With online social media, small businesses can finally gain the respect and following they deserve.

But the most awesome thing is that if a small business uses social media for marketing, that businessperson must be engaged in the meaning and impact of their work in a whole new way.   S/he must actively think, research, and respond regarding aspects of the business every day, and be able to enthusiastically live it online.  Parallels must be drawn between the business and larger life; compassionate understanding of clientele must guide every communique.  So these new tools democratize marketing, and simultaneously demand that we take our work with a deepened seriousness.  It’s simply not enough anymore to work at something you don’t care about.  This current technology forces us to find nurturing connections between our human-ness and our work.

The search for authenticity is just beginning.

Web and work

One of the maxims business experts like to throw about these days is that your business must cater to what the people want.  Certainly, in terms of making money this is true.  I tend to doubt that it’s useful advice, though, in terms of being happy.

Often, what you’re doing – especially in an entrepreneurial circumstance – is working on your deepest passions, and often there seems to be no interface with the public at large.  You’re developing a new widget, or offering a new service that you believe in 110%, but few others seem to appreciate your product.  You knew from the start that your focus differed widely from that of the masses, but it is the thing that floats your boat and involvement in some other direction would be simply inauthentic.

I do not approve of diminishing or watering down your offerings for the sake of popularity.  Will the madding crowds care a fig for you in the end?  Isn’t it smarter to stay loyal to your highest dreams, the ones you intuit will save your soul?  There’s no surer road to defeat than compromising your own truth, even if the path that is true to yourself  is rocky and full of potholes.

Thanks to the modern miracle of the internet, staying true to yourself is now more possible than ever.  With patience and commitment, you can find the precious few who appreciate your values, wherever they are in the world, and build a support (and feedback) structure that will enable your continued work.

If  ‘flipping’ or ‘scaling’ is what turns you on, the net can help you amass millions of supporters.  But if creating and developing are more to your taste, you can use the web even more productively, through dialogue, connections, and marketing.  So please don’t fall for the directives of people with base aspirations.  Please choose to find your own truth, and work on developing your gifts to their ultimate expression, and don’t worry if what you produce is not of the instantly popular variety.  As long as it nurtures your being, as long as you stay open to discovering, as long as you generously share, you’ll find not only rewards but sustenance.

The coincidence of massive layoffs currently, and the proliferation of the web seems serendipitous to me.  So many people, many of relatively advanced age, needing to find new means of support, while the web continues to open up all the resources of the world to each of us.  It’s an evolutionary leap:  perhaps instead of selling our souls to the corporation, we can now contemplate the very real possibility of developing our individual awareness and gifts.

Prime motives

I enjoyed Hugh MacLeod’s interview with Mark Earls a week or so ago, in which they discussed “Purpose-Idea.”

Put really simply, the Purpose-Idea is the “What For?” of a business, or any kind of community. What exists to change (or protect) in the world, why employees get out of bed in the morning, what difference the business seeks to make on behalf of customers and employees and everyone else? BTW this is not “mission, vision, values” territory – it’s about real drives, passions and beliefs. The stuff that men in suits tend to get embarrassed about because it’s personal … P-I makes things personal – makes you put your balls on the line.” 

The drive towards authenticity necessitated by our recent financial debacle is founded in the concept of meaningful Purpose-Idea. As Earls suggests, many are uncomfortable with close encounters of the soulful kind; pride and dominion have warped our human-ness, and many think themselves above the messiness of emotion or passion. Yet e-motion refers to the force that gets us moving, and having mired our productivity in artificiality and emptiness, we no longer have the option to ignore prime motives.

Whether boss or worker, President or homemaker, now is the time to establish your ground in a Purpose-Idea that has infinite meaning for you. Do not settle for material rewards, financial gain, elevated personal status. Be sure you set the bar high enough that no unexpected circumstance can deter or discourage you. Locate the vision that will remain ultimately motivating, and reorient your affairs to address that vision exclusively.

It’s time for Americans to leave behind the fads and cheap thrills of adolescence and progress to the responsibilities of adulthood. Only then can we anticipate the joy and fulfillment that come with deep meaning.

Wood and plastic

Consider wood and plastic.  Certainly plastic is here to stay, and it contributes immensely to the ease of our lives.  But in the majority of instances, something made of plastic lacks the attraction it would have if made of wood.  Organic, as we are, wood is something we know and trust and relate to with respect and admiration.  Plastic is dead, shiny but lifeless, cold, brittle.  Wood is the real thing, plastic a mere imitation.

So much of our world has become plastic, and the metaphor extends to the field of commerce where we have morphed organic realities into their plastic counterparts.  Investments with no real value, expectations with no foundation in experience, bailouts of the market economy by the government – which is supposedly outside the marketplace – suggesting that the market economy can’t adequately take care of our needs anymore. 

We have a hard time relating to all this plastic;  it’s just not in our nature.  We also have limited creative abilities, and limited courage, and can’t imagine how we could combat this well-entrenched plastic inundation.  My suggestion today is to consider the contrasts between wood and plastic, and henceforth, choose wood as much as possible.

Seek the human, the organic, the flexible, the choice that moves and lives.  Reject the lifeless, the contrived, the other choice that is cheap and easy but inhuman.  There’s a time and place for plastic, certainly, but we have overdone it and now need to restore our connection to authenticity.

The dictionary meanings of ‘authenticity’ begin with synonyms such as ‘authoritative’ and ‘trustworthy.’  It’s akin to a Greek word meaning ‘to accomplish,’ and a Sanskrit word that means ‘he gains.’  The definitions like ‘genuine’ and ‘bona fide’ come later in the dictionary entry.  So authentic first means reliable, and secondly it means real.  Interesting distinction. 

Shall we focus on authenticity for a while, and let the artificial lie?  Shall we align with our humanity and put aside cheap imitations, so that we can again locate sure footing?  More government loans and shifing tactics announced in today’s news suggest that few are ready to tighten their belts, prefering to go along with smoke and mirrors.  But for you and me, dear readers, the lure of authenticity looms large these days, and I believe we’ll do well at this point to seek the wooden alternative.