Re-Imagine. The Power of the Personal Brand.

Let me begin by saying that I love the new WordPress blog interface that I accessed via the new home page. Sweet. Looks and feels alot like Tumblr and yet I am glad I do not have to post only in that totally crazy mad world of the Creatives – I can still remain respectable and hire-able by posting to Word Press. 🙂 Thanks WordPress for being cool and creative and for still seeing the creative writing on the wall!

It has been a busy summer. mostly doing websites and managing some social media properties. As of late I have been away on yet another one of those client journey’s. It was the classic scenario. To begin they love that I am so creative and want to know what I think—even went so far to claim that they are “obsessed” by me. Not a good sign as obsession leads no good… but hey for the first few weeks I felt like I had just won a shot at the Olympic good metal round in Fencing, my favorite sport, and that someone was actually listening to what I had to say!  Then suddenly the honey moon was over and I am assigned to what feels like the position of “employee” as all my creative ideas are swiftly, with no explanation, swept under the carpet and we return to BUSINESS AS USUAL — even though we have not signed anything to that effect and I have from the start been no other then what my Twitter Profile states.

In an effort to cheer myself up I set about to read some good inspirational stuff on my iPad about what I do best  –which is communications. Early this am I came across a post that lead to an app for a guy who claims to be a MEDIA Futurist. Excited not so much by what he had to say, I am sure I have heard it all before after all I have been in this game for a hell of a long time now, both on the technology, creative and sales side and adore McLuhan but rather by the his method of engaging me I proceed to the Apple Store for a download. For me McLuhan, is still my main media man for 100 years after his birth he is one of the few intellectuals who gave credit to artists saying “I learnt everything I know from the Poets and the Painters”.   AMEN.

Anyhow, I downloaded Gerd’s app onto my ipad so I could experience my first personal brand app, that was the coolest part and I made mental note to blog about it later as it had the same mind blowing effect as a good cranial adjustment — waking up some nerve endings which have fallen asleep in the race to please offer appeasement.

So the guy is named Gerd Leonard — not an American as one would expect but a European – as all white people are anyhow…..a German actually – who lives in Europe, who of course, lived for some time in the United States and advocates – god forbid, some green solutions– probably a fan of that guy who wrote the book called The Solar Economy back in the day.  Thankfully, in the video I watch on my ipad app Gerd talks only about Media Ecology so I don’t have to worry about the thought police knocking at my door…

Alas I am trapped in Canada, a nation of bean counters, who simple don’t get what it is to be Creative when it comes to business —-even though they do try on occasion, which typically means paying lip service to some tired old ad agency in Toronto who still advocates a mix of media even as Gerd speaks to me via his personal app loaded onto my ipad in a You Tube Video posted at his channel about “The Future of Technology”.  He is cool school and apparently advises large fortune 500’s in Europe about change and employs 25 “Change Agents”. While I do feel a connection with him thanks to social media my ipad craps out half way through his talk due to a bad Bell connection.  While feeling uplifted I am quickly forced to go back to the reality of the day, one spent in a country where the dominant network does not know the works of Marshall McLuhan little lone some dude named Gerd who has his own ipad app and recommend that we all  “RE-IMAGINE”. One can only re-imagine what that means for the Future of Canada,eh?

UPDATE: Just went to like Gerd on FB and see that three of my Facebook Friends also like him. Surprise, one is Canadian – Don Tapscott, whose own writings are greatly influenced by McLuhan.

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Social Media Shapes Society

Thrilled to find an article today on the release of another of the One to One Marketing book series. I began my serious study of marketing back in the late 90’s when I read the book “The One to One Future” by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers. It really inspired me and opened my eyes to the possiblities of a new way of marketing.

The title of their newest book is The Marketing Century: How Marketing Drives Business and Shapes Society. In the UK they are marking 100 years of Marketing. I am celebrating 100 years of McLuhan. If we place the two timelines side by each I am sure that we could see that it is Social Media that is the greatest force on shaping society today.

Watch the video below in which Martha speaks about the skill set of a top sales person in the age of relationship marketing where the skills of sales expertise, creative and analytics are big factors. What she says really resonates with my experience of the last decade as a Sales and Marketing consultant while touching on the new position that I have adopted.

Tribal KLOUT is in Full Effect

The backlash against measuring influence on Social Media is rising. Before you get up on your soapbox and rant however, I suggest you step back and look at the BIG picture in an attempt to “understand media” and the role that this tool and tactic plays in the evolution of Social Media. As usual I will refer to that 100 year old master of communications – Canadian Marshall McLuhan – born in Edmonton, Alberta under big blue skies and next to a deep river valley, which he said, gave him a perspective on what it is to be human in relation to nature: a dot on the horizon.

Further, I will remind you that these new measures of influence are based on algorithms designed by some programmer and has nothing to do with what you know yourself to be. Then again our entire ECONOMIC culture is based on similar concepts – your credit score for example. This is the tyranny of numbers divorced from the spirit and wisdom of ART. This has been the history of the world for the past 500 years. Get over it.

So McLuhan said that everything he knew he learnt from the poets and the painters. Painting was my first area of study which gives me “klout” with respect to my perception of New Media and its evolution into Social Media…

Consider this:
Marshal McLuhan first noted the retribalizing effect of electric technologies; they collapse space to a point, effectively recreating the continuous, ambient (aural) awareness of the tribe. The tribe is completely connected. All of its members have direct access to one another; there is little hierarchy, instead, there is an intricate set of social relations. Everyone thoroughly understands one’s own place, and that position is constantly reinforced by the other members of the tribe. Tribal society is static, which is to say stable, over long stretches of time – at least tens of thousands of years.

A bit mind blowing eh?? McLuhan is not easy. What he said, to this day, does not sit well with those who do have a firm grasp on the “The Laws of Media”….

Now think about your presence in Social Media. I bet you have already connected with your “tribe” – your family and friends and those who “think like you”. But there is more to it than that, especially if you are conducting “commerce” within that space. Now you have to add the complexity of

1. Connecting with users/consumers who think like you or who might resonate with your offer
2. Building community around your product and or offering – which by the way – better share some of the core values that they hold dear if you hope to attract, engage and build a relationship that leads to a SALE.

Thank Q. Once you have “their” attention the usual social tribal nice-ities are in full effect. The masters of this tradition – our first nations people, in spite of their dismal position in our current economic system, are one of the best role models we have. Study their traditional ways and modern moves —- in which everyone has a voice, everyone can speak in turn for as long as they wish until they have fully expressed themselves….everyone is heard…and everyone is RESPECTED.

As a search and social media strategist I may or may not be asked to show “social proof” of my skills. My knowledge of Media is not consider important – the average Canadian business client wants to know how much it will cost. Typically, they are not even aware of how many fans I have on my fb page, the type of posts I make, how many followers I have on twitter or what I tweet about. They then say in no uncertain terms that they are “too busy” to find out. My response? Time waits for no man or woman. If they choose to ignore the fact that Canada is one of the most connected and media literate cultures on the planet so be it. Their loss both financially and socially….

How can you assign a price to something that you do not even have a value for? The “tribe of Canadian business” owners has not assigned a value to “social media” for the most part they are still trying to figure out search. Further, they do not get the connection between sales and marketing and online world of mouth….still stuck in the idea that they can get referrals from neighbours that they don’t even know…who may be running a credit card fraud operation down their street in their own “nice middle class” neighbourhood…

In the interim, I continue to try to connect to my “tribe” – the CREATIVE and Media Literate. Best described by Derrick de Kerkhove in his book Brainframes as fast paced, flexible, informed, perceptive, ethically aware, technologically aware, environmentally conscious, knowing more than one culture, speaking more than one language, thinking globally, acting locally, ALL with Total artistic perception.

The role of the artist is to update consciousness. It is not a state that most enjoy. Change is uncomfortable and analysis of what that means with respect to big picture factors is not for the status quo. Give them another five years and they will be all on the bandwagon bragging about how much influence they have in their online communities. Human Nature being what it is, not much changes in the hearts, minds and egos of men and women.

Tribal Revolution 2.0

Tribal Revolution 2.0

Do Creative people need solitude?

While attending art school at SAIT in Calgary, years ago, I read the The Labyrinth of Solitude by Mexican author Octavio Paz….in it he writes:

Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone, and the only one who seeks out another. His nature -if that word can be used in reference to man, who has ‘invented’ himself by saying ‘no’ to nature consists in his longing to realize himself in another. Man is nostalgia and a search for communion. Therefore, when he is aware of himself he is aware of his lack of another, that is, of his solitude.’

This week I am across a post from the artist’s network Behance which poses the question “What is one of the most crucial commodities for creative people that’s also becoming increasingly difficult to obtain in the 21st century? The answer: Solitude”

Great article with quotes from the poet Rilke who says to follow what is difficult. While I recognize the importance of solitude for soul-searching and creativity – I feel that right now on this planet – it is a time for connecting, especially online. The big question is how to connect to like-minded creative individuals and work together to solve some of the pressing issues that face us globally -that is DIFFICULT.

Increasingly as we will work more and more in solitude, from a home office, winding down on the “great white commute” and integrating our work into our lifestyle we take control of our time and manage it accordingly. As long as technology remains up and running we can stay connected to our networks and the ideas, news and information flowing through them…

This past week, a dear friend in Australia, who works in technology and just set up his own server, posted on Facebook that the floods of Queensland were encroaching on the home he and his wife share. Since he was iPad enabled he remained connected on Facebook while friends commented on his posts with prayers and well wishes. Thoughts are things. The floods stopped literally outside the driveway of his home and his next post was of preparing a camp style meal for his wife….

With the internet keeping us in touch – should we wish to be so – it is the best of both worlds…alone and yet connected. Alone and yet, not lonely.

Today it is heavy snow in Toronto. In the last hour I connected online already with lots of folks…as the snow continues to fall. Now it is time to get out and shovel and in the solitude of that activity I will contemplate my reason for being and the wonder of it all….

Would Art Classes improve Observation Skills for Social Media Managers?

I heard a report on CBC the other night that gave me food for thought. It was about how Doctors in Training who take art classes have better skills of observation – increasing their accuracy by 38%.

This got me wondering how it would impact the role of a Social Media Manager and if any Employer and or Client had ever given it any thought as a pre resiquite when hiring. I have never found it to even garner a mention.

Apparently art teaches you how to LOOK. Gosh, you would never know that when it comes to advising my clients…with 25 years of ART and NEW MEDIA training and studies…over the last 3 decades — NEVER once had my highly trained eye observations taken seriously… They always give me the “crazy, coo-coo” look when I make a suggestion…

I recall in the fall having traveled to Calgary to pitch a client on a Social Media Strategy designed to sell a 10 M dollar Resort in Mexico we ended up at a trade show in Edmonton – after they decided that Social Media had nothing to do with their offering. I wanted to be present to learn more about the “users”/clients/potential clients/buyers – in effect- the target demographic. While setting up, I was allowed to bring in the staging stuff but when it came to decisions on how to set the booth up and make it more attractive – not one of my suggestions was implemented….it was laughable….worse still – they were all guys…..you would think that on female intuition alone – I would be able to participate – no way I was put to work stapling together sales materials…the secretary role. This is just one case – I could go on for ages but it is too painful…

In Social Media one has to posses the skills that allow you to monitor conversations, find and curate content, assess its value and relevancy, analyze data, note big picture changes in the Social Media Space and so on..

Granted not all of these tie into to the “visual literacy” that the doctors in training got from their 6 month course….but ART is about much more than that – it is at its core about PROBLEM solving….Creative problem solving and pattern recongnition..artists deal with media constantly…they observe the world and create -in effect – a communique on it…they are “media literate”.

The result is a group of doctors who are more confident in their own powers of observation and thus more confident in their own skills of diagnosis.

cover of the Book by Colin Wilson called The Outsider

Classic study of the Artist in 20th Century...the 21st is even WORSE!!

Happy Creative 2010! Get your Search On!

When considering what to do over Christmas I came across a list of best books for 2010

Reviewing the list I was both shocked and surprised to find the top three books were about Creativity and Ideas but happy that I could download 2 of the 3 of these books on my ipad through the KOBO application.

I was shocked because these book are NOT reflective of the current state of the Canadian business world at all – and I would hazard to guess that is the case in small town USA as well. While I am still waiting for the trickle down effect on Richard Florida’s notions of Creative Culture in Toronto, with a new mayor who aims to run the town for profit only and whose first words were that the “party” around the notion of “green” is over it is back to the basic Burger culture with all hopes of a larger sphere of cultural influence extending outside the core of G20 Ground Zero to the burbs resounding like a large methane fart….

For the most part small businesses do not even have a budget for the most creative part of their business plan loosely called “marketing”. Further — they totally miss the tie in between creative sales and marketing, never mind the fact that social media is NOT free, you have to pay someone who “gets it” to do the job of curating all that stuff….

I was surprised because the recessionary mindset loves to bash the Creative even though they are the only ones with the talent to generate ideas in the new knowledge ecomony, witness Google giving its employees 10% raise for Christmas and 26 year old Mark Zukerberg being names TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year”

If I were to sum up the 2010 year with respect to the number one discussion with my clients -sadly it had nothing to do with Search and Social Media always revolves around a struggle over ideas and creativity. This is contrary to the very notion of the creative act, which is about FLOW. Again and again we reach an impasse where my creativity is questioned over their knowledge of their business offering. This encompasses everything from the smallest decision on ad word copy or to large campaign concept. It hurts my head, heart and mind as I never win the duel and it makes me wonder when the 50K I invested in ART school training will EVER be recongnized as having any validity whatsoever…

“Success benefits the body, but failure develops the Mind”

And yet I soldier on, with sword in hand a daughter of ART the Farmer.. I read an article yesterday on the web that asked why Big Business is having so much success in Social Media and the answer is the same as it was in the old days of Advertising – Big companies employ small Creatives, like myself – who have “unique” ideas and who go to bat for them at the boardroom table and argue passionately for their right to execute them in order to engage users with the brand and ultimately drive sales…go figure, what a concept…duh…

It is not the BIG company per say that embraces the idea of Creativity, rather – it is individuals within the organization or those hired by the organization to create ‘buzz”, generate new ideas and execute them. They take the risk and the big company funds it. Win or loose Big Biz has no choice for someone must be reading the books on how Creativity RULES – I would guess it is what McLuhan called the “print bastards”. Creativity is not an experiment, it is a business imperative. Read the top three book on the list above and tell me if this is not the case argued again and again….

What happens with small businesses is that they have the “employee/employer” mentality in which only the BOSS has really good ideas. They may hire marketing “experts” but do not want to surrender even for one minute their vision for their brand…and so it quickly turns into the “I am paying you to….scenario” to which I reply with attitude, “paying me to do WHAT??? the same old same old?” And yet – the expecations at the end of the day are that you will elevate them to ROCK STAR status.

The reality is that small business in Canada is so far behind the times that it is not funny. Not only should they take on a true leadership role and “delegate” the task to those who have expertise in the area of idea creation — in 2011 those BIG companies who are really progressive will be hiring creative types who know how to engage the audience, get them to interact and make applications for just that purpose.

Speaking of creative companies, Google is celebrating it’s 10th Anniversary in SEARCH and has created a great little application on You Tube that let’s you get your “Search On” Check it out by Googling You Tube / Search On. Here is my contribution to the Search On Stories…. Time is ART 2.0 Just as it was in the daze of Disney — I believe in happy endings in which good triumphs over evil….lol…