Sunday, June 10, 2012

You Are Not All That Special....

Having highlighted one college commencement address in an earlier post and since it is that time of year, I found a high school commencement address that I believe should be broadcast to everyone!

Sometimes, we just need to be reminded that we just are not all that special! 

"David McCullough Jr., an English teacher at the school, delivered his rather unusual speech (see full text below) Friday, telling graduating seniors that they had been “pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped.” It was all said in the context of telling students that there is a big wide world out there and that they should not succumb to a culture in which everyone gets a trophy. McCullough, son of the award-winning historian David McCullough Sr., advised the students to seize the future by doing what they love, rather than taking a job for money. “Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you,” he said near the end of the speech. But he wasn’t exactly kind in getting to his message. “Contrary to what your soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special,” he said."
You can read the address here in its entirety.

Life is not about what you have done but rather what you are doing.  Like the earlier commencement address, its about the world rather than about you.  Maybe what we need to do is focus less on self help books, or books that will improve you or make you successful but rather we need to focus on educating ourselves of others; other countries, other cultures, other people....

Maybe, just maybe, you are not all that special, maybe, just maybe, you might be wrong....

But if so, you have a lifetime to explore, to test, to challenge, and to move forward.....

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Conversations, Social Media, and E Commerce

There is a tremendous focus among the leading minds of the internet on the concept of "conversations."   The thought process is quite apparent at blogs such as Arnold Waldstein, William Mougayar, and AVC and with start ups that are attempting to facilitate "conversations" such as Engagio and Disqus.

I think that Arnold states the obvious when he says, "Engagement is the new currency of the web but it’s still very scarce."

We are constantly reminded about engaging the consumer, developing communities, and all the other jargon that is used to define the illusive benefit of the web.  Its one thing to discuss the concept of "community" on a blog that gets 200,000 visitors a month on average and enjoys over 150 comments a day to any article, on any topic that is posted; that is an engaged community where commenting has become conversations.   

The real battle, is between, is the internet truly a tool to redefine social relationships or is it nothing more than another marketing/advertising channel?  I hear a lot about "community managers" and I cannot help, after searching the web for "what does a social media community manager do" but realize that the concept of social media as nothing more than a marketing/advertising channel is winning by a long shot!

The reality is that social media needs to foster something more basic than 'community' or 'engagement' and something fundamental to 'conversations' and that is a sense of BELONGING.  

I would recommend the following two articles:

In a world of big business vs. everyone else, the battle between the web as just another advertising channel vs. fostering engagement, communities and conversations, is one that we must take seriously.  No conversations occur without a sense of belonging.  Nothing becomes a 'brand' without a fundamental belief on the part of the consumer that the 'brand' belongs to or holds value to them.  A community is nothing more than a 'place' where someone feels they belong.   Someplace between promoting products, seeking business connections, and or hyping our own expertise, the web has to foster a sense of 'belonging.'

I think that one small company has found the ideal, and I enjoy reading every single one of their posts:  Door County Coffee & Tea.