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Posts Tagged “Twitter”

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.” So with social media.

I’ll be short this week. I seem never to tire of listing caveats about unanticipated conundrums surrounding social media and technology. It frequently creeps into my essays.

One of the reasons I find myself dubious and cautious about social media is the perfervid evangelical zeal of its proponents, which I frequently find blinker-visioned, jaundiced and of limited practicality for busy, non-genius entrepreneurs like myself.

Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade, partially addressed this issue in his blog, The Cut, last year. Drew is a successful entrepreneur and frequent speaker and thought leader on social media. He writes well and simply. He offers several helpful practical suggestions for “social media fatigue.”

  1. He suggests keeping Twitter lists under 200 and perhaps keeping a much smaller list you really care about.
  2. If you have more than 100 friends on Facebook, hide the dull ones.
  3. Look for trusted curators in your area of interest. Don’t follow everything. Drew recommends PSFK to discover the best of the best.
  4. Don’t feel you can’t go silent for a while.

As I hunker down in my luddite cave, cowering away before the onslaught of social media, I’d like to have more of this kind of practical advice. Every day seems to offer an avalanche of cool new technological must-haves. I need advice that helps me manage, sort, and prioritize a multifaria of social media. I could use a lot more common sense techie thinking. I don’t need to be “cool” and I don’t need every cutting-edge app. I don’t need technological Nirvana. I do need what I can use simply, quickly and efficiently.

Avinash Kaushik of Analytic Evangelist says, “Social Media is like teen sex. Everybody wants to do it. Nobody knows how. When it’s finally done there is surprise it’s not better.”

Sounds right to me. Thank you, Avinish.

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Geoffrey Chaucer says in “The Merchant’s Tale,” “There n’is no werkman whatever he be/That may beth werken wel and hastily.”

When you are in a rush, slow down. Or, as the Roman Emperor Augustus says in the 1st century A.D., “Festina Lente.” (Make haste slowly).

I’m a fairly hyper guy. That’s not an uncommon state for any entrepreneurial salesman. The day I am not up to my ass in alligators is the exception. However, though it may be counter intuitive to the credo of most entrepreneurs, I’ve personally found a multitasking frenzy ain’t the answer to this conundrum.

Perhaps I’m just slow and a dullard, but what occurs when I rush to get everything done in the seemingly inadequate time frames I’m presented with, is that I pay a price. The personal price I pay for speed is sometimes accuracy, sometimes quality, sometimes verboseness, sometimes oversimplification–but there is always a diminution in quality, exactitude and in depth of communication. That loss of precision is particularly a negative in presenting a compelling sales tonality to a corporate leader. Casual mistakes can sink you with these folks.

Finding time not to speed through things is a question of prioritization and time allocation. Any important project, RFP, or business communication needs to marinate. I personally have to allow the space for this.

One of my concerns about our burgeoning social media is simply the time it sucks up. How many online miracles and digital wonderments can I absorb? I personally find an overabundance of data makes important things fuzzy and harder to find. It actually impedes good decision-making and my business intuition. For me information overload withers efficiency. So personally, if I have to eliminate my attentiveness to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, et. al., that is a prioritization that creates time for me to find empathy, understanding, and subtlety in all my sales outreach. I simply decide not to speed through to cover everything our new media seems to demand I be up on. For me speed is the enemy of doing the core executive sales chores well.

The wisdom of the ages has cautions for the time-pressured entrepreneur. In the sixth century B.C. Confucius said, “Desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly.” Or to quote Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet, “Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast.”

So thank you Confucius, Chaucer, Augustus and Shakespeare.

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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.”

Thanks Woody.

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7983928912_f18c81fb31_oWords 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:

  1. Awesome (of course)
  2. Amazing
  3. Fabulous
  4. Totally
  5. Incredible
  6. Unbelievable
  7. Cool

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.

mark-twain-391112_640This 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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home-slide-1I 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.

  1. 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.

Connection. Creation.

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?

  1. 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.

  1. 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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