Posts Tagged “Twitter”
American business journalist and thinker Henry Hazlitt once wrote:
“A man with a scant vocabulary will most certainly be a weak thinker. The richer and more copious one’s vocabulary and the greater one’s awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one’s thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together. If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.”
Words are wonderful.
They are much more useful in business than they get credit for — particularly in executive sales. But words are not much emphasized or particularly valued in our technology hegemonous world. Sales articles are crammed full of an overwhelming amount of information about psychology, motivation, technology, social media, ROI, SEO, etc., yet seemingly never mention that simple cornerstone of human communication-words. Vocabulary. It’s as if words are unimportant or irrelevant to a modern woman or man. Words are for poets and philosophers, academics and lawyers, journalists and judges. Words are old-fashioned. Words are of the past, supplanted by a world of Twitter abbreviation (OMG, NRN, LOL, TMI, L8R, WTF, etc).
This is utterly wrong. And it is particularly not true about high-end, entrepreneurial business development, which was the specialty of my former executive sales outsourcing firm Corporate Rain International. Word usage and proficiency is important in branding a tonality of equal business stature when selling to real strategic corporate decision makers. CEO’s are more well-educated, thoughtful people, trained in the best schools in the world. Or, if they don’t have that specific educational pedigree, are fierce autodidacts. Either way, they are usually people of probing intellect and subtle ability to express and communicate nuance.
Corporate decision makers like to do business with their peers. They want to deal with people of equal business stature. A comfort level with precise and sophisticated word usage is one way of immediately establishing that tonality.
This does not mean to pepper your business conversations with artificially grandiose phrases, fustian excess or arbitrary verbal whimsy. Precise vocabulary can be used simply. But words bring shadings of specificity and descriptive depth, even a sensual enlivening, to the most prosaic of entrepreneurial conversations. (Also, by using new words, I actually learn them).
Last week one of my friends asked me to please write a posting not requiring use of a dictionary. Nah. It would remove too much color and delight. As Woody Allen puts it, “I call him a sadistic, hippophilic, necrophile, but that would be beating a dead horse.”
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Words are wonderful. They are much more useful in business than they get credit for. However, words are not much emphasized or particularly valued in current articles and discussions I see about entrepreneurship.
Sales articles are crammed full of an overwhelming amount of information about psychology, motivation, technology, social media, ROI, SEO, etc., yet seemingly never mention that simple cornerstone of human communication–words. Vocabulary. It’s as if words are unimportant or irrelevant to an au courant, cutting-edge businessman. Words are for poets and philosophers, academics and lawyers, journalists and judges. Words are old-fashioned. They are for dead white men. Words are of the past, supplanted by a world of Twitter abbreviation (OMG, NRN, LOL, TMI, L8R, WTF, etc) and verbal imprecision.
This is utterly wrong. Word usage and proficiency is important in branding a tonality of equal business stature when selling to real strategic corporate decision makers. CEO’s and strategic executives are especially well-educated, thoughtful people trained in the best schools in the world. Or, if they don’t have that specific educational pedigree, they are fierce autodidacts. Either way, they are usually people of probing, practical intellect and subtle ability to appreciate and communicate nuance.
Corporate decision makers like to do business with their peers. They want to deal with thoughtful people of equal business stature. A comfort level with precise and sophisticated word usage is one way of immediately establishing that tonality.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the annoying use of the ubiquitous and meaningless word awesome–a word often displayed by its users to seemingly show how “with it” and modern they are. (Why You Need to Stop Saying ‘Awesome’). What the users of “awesome” actually show is their verbal limitation, carelessness, and laziness of language. Awesome is a word that instantly identifies you as a member of the lemming-like herd. It absolutely damages your credibility.
Here are 7 words that instantly kill your trope of business gravitas:
- Awesome (of course)
These words smack of the jejune. These are words of regurgitated, hyperventilating cliche that brand their practitioners as lightweight and unserious servants to the tyranny of the given. These words are a medley of breathless hyperbole and empty cacophony, without real import when applied to your or any business.
This does not mean you should pepper your business conversations with obscure parlance, artificially grandiose phrases, fustian excess or arbitrary verbal whimsy. Precise business vocabulary can be used simply. Note that Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address in 1865, one of the most effective speeches in the history of the world, was only 701 words long. 505 of these words were one syllable, and 122 had two syllables. But words of real meaning bring shadings of specificity and descriptive depth, even a sensual enlivening, to the most prosaic of business or product discussions. They matter.
As Mark Twain put it, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. It’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Thank you, Mark Twain.
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Posted by Tim Askew in Blog, Creativity, Entrepreneurship, Technology, tags: A World Gone Social, CeBIT, Chris Riddell, Google Scholar, IBM, Jim Clausen, Justin Davies, Kare Anderson, LaRae Quy, Mark Babbitt, Prezentt, Quora, Scopus, Ted Coine, The Social Executive, Twitter
I smiled when I received the Twitter link How technology is increasingly isolating us from each other and stifling creativity to @TimothyAskew’s article on tech zombification because it brought a number of people together who subsequently sparked off his idea, in part contradicting it.
Let me explain.
A week after this Twitter exchange I furthered the conversation with one of the Twitter participants futurist Chris Riddell over coffee. How did I know Chris?
Well, many moons ago when I was speaking at CeBIT I tweeted for an iPhone charger and a guy called Justin reached out.
MC for the event that year Justin Davies is also CEO of start up company @Prezentt and the next time I was in Perth (on the other side of Australia from where I live) we had lunch. I sent people his way and vice versa and we continued the digital discussion over many years.
Earlier this year when Justin was in Melbourne to collect an award for that same start up we had a red wine over all things digital when he said Chris was a guy I should meet – in a click, we were connected. With a strong, shared interest in the impact of digital on future trends and social innovation, we have since started collaborating.
Why the detail?
Because it reinforces how virtual and real existence converge. How social media networks generate mutually beneficial relationships that operate off and online. That’s how things work now.
This is not to suggest that technology is a panacea or that the value of face-to-face connection has diminished.
There’s dark and light to any technology (fire, hammers), but notwithstanding this, the capacity to encourage innovation and collaboration is huge. One world is an extension of the other rather than a separate realm.
Like Tim I am fascinated by the impact of technology on human behavior and believe we have yet to fully understand its impact.
And I confess too that I have seen and been one of those buried knee deep in smartphone and stumbling from place to place, staccato style, because biologically my brain can’t handle the whole shebang in real time.
Yes, I confess, I am distracted.
That aside I believe online is potentially one of the most powerfully connecting, creative experiences that challenges notions of where that self begins and ends.
Here are some of my experiences.
- Being online makes me think.
When I am online, I start to think.
That doesn’t mean I don’t think offline or appreciate the value of reflection.
I also know when I need to hunker down to read research and pull together a thoughtful piece of writing I’ve got to concentrate, question myself, think hard. It takes energy.
But when I discover something on the web I react instantly – look it up, consider its opposite, click on some or other hyperlink that provides more insight and information or even a new direction and of course, share it. And there are always plenty of people who hop in and influence my views.
Online I learn as I search. I learn as I engage. People teach me.
I may be deep down some rabbit hole when a stranger I’ve never heard of or met suggests something I’ve never thought about and bang, I’m off exploring a new path.
I may know them for that minute or find myself on the tube line to meet them in London a year down the track. It doesn’t matter. Even if the interaction doesn’t change my view, it makes me reconsider what I think more consciously.
It’s not without costs. It is possible that I am outsourcing my short-term memory to Google, but given the limited capacity of my brain I wonder if it frees up space to think better? I don’t know.
It is possible that my attention span is diminishing. It is. As to how this impacts the quality of my thinking, how do I work that out?
- Being online connects me offline & online.
Online facilitates connection online but leads to deeper and richer offline connection.
I recently spent time in San Francisco and London to promote my book The Social Executive – how to master social media and why it’s good for business and caught up with people I had formed virtual relationships with over the past few years as well as newer ones.
This history meant that when we met for the first time in the flesh, we were not at zero. The pre-established sense of mutuality made face-to-face contact more meaningful.
Although virtual and real life connection are equally important in their own way and on a continuum they are not the same.
Eating a Gorgonzola burger with A World Gone Social authors Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt and Social Business Manager for IBM Jim Clausen or catching the ferry to Tiburon to hang out with author Kare Anderson and mental toughness coach LaRae Quy gave incredible dimension – but Twitter facilitated that opportunity in the first place.
- Being online makes me part of a global brain
I often say that no matter how smart any one of us is we are never as smart as the lot of us. While that goes for behaving stupidly too, the information available to us at a click is astounding.
Right now I can go online and learn Greek, Math, how to program a computer from prestigious universities anywhere in the world and for free. When in history have we been able to do this?
I think of Twitter, for example, as a global brain because it’s a vast network of links and people that take you form A to Z in an instant.
Such global connectivity is a form of abundance.
Tim’s generous invitation to respond to his article falls into this space. It’s less about what’s ‘right’ than inviting views that contribute to our collective knowledge on how we handle what’s coming up.
I believe Tim highlights important issues around distraction, which is necessary but can also be counterproductive to human life. Some distraction can elevate mood and counter-intuitively, assist decision-making.
But issues of distraction and addiction aren’t new.
“The world is too much with us late and soon, getting and spending we lay waste our hours, little we see in nature that is ours,” Wordsworth wrote in the 18th Century.
It does not make our current predicament less important but we need to remember that before there was a web to surf people killed time in other ways. Gossip, for example, has been with us from the start.
There are significant emerging issues resulting from technology –
- Sometimes we assume if we can’t find information online it doesn’t exist. Unless we’re dedicated scholars, the hunt stops here.
- Search is not yet sophisticated enough to discern quality from poor information and algorithms can be gamed. Sites like Google Scholar and Scopus can help and for those with an academic bent try these suggestions on Quora.
- Screens command attention in ways earlier addictions appeared not to do. Whether or not this turns out to be true, we shall see. Will it be good, bad or indifferent? Who knows?
- Are our brains being rewired Carr asked? Is this bad or just adaptive?
We simply don’t have the answers. We probably don’t even have the right questions.
There’s a wonderful collection of essays on Is the Internet changing the way you think on Edge.org that is well worth a read for anyone who is interesting in this issue.
The influence of technology, good and bad, is part of who we are right now. The self isn’t fixed, it’s constantly made and remade. Information we can’t access influences our behavior and technology is a big part of that.
Even when I’m walking with my smartphone off or taking offline downtime, which I regularly factor into my life, I am still connecting with people I’ve met through and outside of social networks, discussing ideas I’ve encountered online and thinking about the sorts of issues that Tim raises and we are discussing here. Or sometimes, I’m just distracted.
Dionne Kasian-Lew is CEO of Social Executive®, professional speaker and author of The Social Executive – how to master social media and why it’s good for business. Dionne contributes to Forbes, Smart Company, Salesforce, Firebrand and Uncluttered White Spaces. Kred rates her top 1% for global community influence. Connect with her @dionnelew. Connect with her at The Social Executive or BeYourWholeSelf or on Twitter @dionnelew.
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Posted by Tim Askew in Blog, Business Travelers, Corporate Rain, Entrepreneur, Technology, tags: Alvin Toffler, Douglas Rushkoff, Facebook, Future Shock, iPad, iPhone, Jaron Lanier, Nicholas Carr, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, Twitter, You Are Not A Gadget
As a frequent business traveler, I have noticed an unhappy change of late: I’m meeting fewer people than I used to. And I don’t like it.
It is not that I am a hopelessly garrulous yakker by nature. Quite the opposite. I’m a bit of an introvert–a lover of reading and personal cogitation. But I’m finding my recent business travel an increasingly isolating experience. Too much so.
I used to have the jolliest of chats with total strangers on planes, trains, and boats. It broadened me, it amused me, it opened me to the new. Of late, not so much. Less and less do I find these unexpected illuminating contacts with folks different from myself–whether it be a country barber, a beauty queen, or another business owner.
Why is this? I’ll tell you why. It’s bloody technology, goddammit.
I’m afraid technology is turning us into dull-eyed, unpresent I-Zombies. We are losing the gift for connection to our fellow human beings, as well as stunting our brain processes that summon nonrational revelations and “aha”s.
This was brought home to me earlier this year when I was in Dallas on business and found myself a bit lost and late to my next appointment. I was walking through the downtown arts plaza and I looked for some friendly, authoritative face to approach for aid. But as I looked around I found every person I saw shuffling along fully immersed in their personal private technology Idahos, oblivious to any person or thing around them.
I didn’t want to rudely interrupt, but I was annoyed because I needed some directions! This made me think about how much present richness and human feeling we sacrifice for an ersatz virtual reality. (I increasingly feel the same way walking down Broadway in New York when half the folks bump into you while texting, rather than taking in the infinitely unique international culture and urban magnificence constantly on display in my never-boring city.)
Note Douglas Rushkoff‘s book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. (The title is a riff on Alvin Toffler‘s Future Shock from the ’70s.) We’re becoming addicted to what Rushkoff calls a “dopamine squirt,” the ego boost we get from Twitter, Facebook, emails, and texts. This leads to a compulsive immersion in the superficiality of keeping current and cool on social media. According to Rushkoff, this is stress-inducing and, more importantly, creativity-killing. I certainly agree that we are becoming committed to a sort of always-on, live-streamed reality show which is taking us into creatively shallow, spiritually thin cultural waters.
Or consider Nicholas Carr‘s book The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, which posits the rewiring of our brains by way of technology and social media. (Carr first became alarmed when he found himself increasingly unable to concentrate when he sat down to read a book, because of his longing for and growing addiction to the peripatetic excitement of his pinging computer.) Carr writes: “Any kind of thought process that requires focus on one thing is what is being disrupted, and, unfortunately, another thing brain science tells us is that the process of paying attention, paying deep attention, activates a lot of our deepest thought processes. Our long-term memory, the building of conceptual knowledge, critical thinking, all of those things hinge on our ability to pay attention.”
In other words, our “eureka” moments may be being sacrificed for a mess of pottage–that mess of pottage being our present experience of superficial sledding on an omnipresent sea of technological connectedness.
So I miss my now-infrequent accidental connects with my fellow man when I travel. (Not to mention the fact I’ve gotten two major pieces of business through these chance encounters over the years.)
Jaron Lanier, computer scientist and classical musician, who originally popularized the term “virtual reality,” wrote a book in 2010 called You Are Not A Gadget, in which he offered this prescient warning:
“Information is alienated experience. Stored Information might cause experience to be revealed if it is prodded in the right way. A file on a hard disk does indeed contain information of the kind that objectively exists….But if the bits can potentially mean something to someone, they can only do so if they are experienced. When that happens a commonality of culture is enacted between the storer and the retriever of the bits. Experience is the only process that can de-alienate information.”
I don’t think I can sum things up much better than that. So, the next time you travel, try keeping some of your time away from the allures of your iPad and iPhone. There might be some lost soul out there looking for directions. Like me.
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Posted by Tim Askew in Blog, Corporate Rain, Entrepreneurship, Vacations, tags: Align4Profit, Ann Patchett, Bart Lorang, Bel Canto, Clayton Christensen, Elon Musk, Facebook, Fox News, FullContact, HarperCollins, Harvard Business School, Helanie Scott, How Will You Measure Your Life?, James Allworth, Karen Dillon, LinkedIn, Perrenial Publishing, Stuart Varney, Tesla, Twitter
There is a reason to take vacations. That reason is to simply stop.
This summer I took my first vacation in over two years. It was not easy. Taking a vacation is a very specific conundrum for the impassioned small businessman. There is no good time to do it. There is no time when it seems there is not a Sword of Damocles looming over our high-risk, very personal business creations. There is no time when we do not need four times as many hours as there are in the work week. It seems unimaginable to take a prolonged work intermission. A true existential furlough from our labor.
Workaholism is a habit. It is an addiction. It needs to be fought each day with tools like meditation, prayer, yoga, and exercise. But it also needs the occasional Big Break.
My friend Helanie Scott, CEO of Align4Profit in Dallas, writes an excellent newsletter on business leadership each week. She points out that brain researchers have proven that habits create neural pathways in our brain and these paths are like ruts in the road that send you in a predetermined direction before you even have time to consider where you are going. We need to break up these preordained ruts periodically. She says, “That’s scary enough but it gets worse. The longer you indulge in a bad habit, the stronger grows the pull of your neural pathways.”
Not taking a vacation is a bad habit. It’s easy to get off—to get high—on the everyday frisson of business drama. Harvard Business School professor Clayton Cristensen, in his bestseller How Will You Measure Your Life (Harper Collins, 5/15/12, with co-authors Karen Dillon and James Allworth), points out that the ROI of work is immediately apparent. It offers instant gratification and feedback in the form of general approbation, ego inflation, contracts, and money. Entrepreneurship can be a habit not too different from the high of cocaine, heroin, or sex.
Bart Lorang, CEO of FullContact, a contact management firm in Denver, warns of what he calls “misguided hero syndrome.” (Stuart Varney, Fox News, 8/14/14) Misguided hero syndrome is the belief that the world might stop spinning without our wonderful selves. He actually pays his associates $7500 to take their vacations. He only asks three simple things of them in exchange.:
1. They actually go on vacation.
2. They must disconnect from all technology.
3. They can’t do any work on the vacation.
Personally, I was stopped in my tracks this year when I realized my recent divorce was partially caused by my bad work addiction. I think I actually never wanted a real vacation, though I denied that to my wife. My relationship with my daughter was also in danger. She incessantly asked me to “take off my business face” and be with her. (I noted that uber-entrepreneur Tesla’s Elon Musk is a twice divorced father of five, who has acknowledged taking only one vacation in four years. Hmm.)
Well, I took eight days out west with my daughter this summer. I committed to only checking my email every other day during that time. And no Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, et. al. That’s as close to going “cold turkey” as I can for now. All was fine when I got home.
It’s ego-gratifying to believe our companies would collapse without us. L’etat c’st moi! The fear of vacation is partly that we might discover we are less important than we thought. A vacation allows one to self-humblify.
In her novel Bel Canto (Perrenial Publishing, 2002), Ann Patchett intones through one of her characters. “I don’t have any talent for vacations.” Me either, Ann. But I intend to practice more.
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