Browsing Tag


Lessons Learned: Bigg Night In Chicago

With just enough of learning to misquote. – George Gordon Noel Byron, Lord Byron (1788–1824)

It’s always a little difficult to open a post with a quote, but sometimes you have to try. A kernel of knowledge can indeed be a dangerous thing and a fact many, myself included, forget all too often. So with that fundamental baseline, I’m in Chicago to learn and meet good folks. Every day represents a new opportunity to drive change, improve your understanding of stuff and develop relationships – day 1 was of SOBCon has provided all 3 for me at least.

The first thing I have learned is we all want to meet others like ourselves and be part of a community. A quick/ad hoc survey of the attendees last night easily represented all four corners of the US and around the world. The diversity in geography is only matched by the diversity in expertise and passions which are distributed amongst the attendees I’ve spoken to so far.

While it seems that the blogosphere is littered with marketing folk and productivity leaders, this meeting represents participants who have diverse editorial agendas – parenting/homeschooling, education/international culture…. While I met a good deal of folks (ok Emily did – she was my introduction wing chick), we spent the majority of the evening engage in just a few coversational circles. It’s not the quantity, but quality and I was able to find some quality insights without a doubt from everyone I spoke to.

One of those more interesting and rewarding conversations was with Mary-Lynn and George, from Bigg Success. So today, I thought I would post the 3 things I learned from Mary-Lynn and George:

  • Cards are good
  • Get ahead of the game
  • Play into your strengths

Cards are Good

Yup I love pinochle, but this reference is about a different type of cards – business cards. Ok – nearly everyone I met reinforced this lesson along the way. Apparently everyone makes their own cards – CRAZY creative cards which convey their focus.

Style, substance and brand are just part of having your own cards, but they also serve the very tactical purpose, follow up. You will invariably meet so many smart, cool and interesting folks throughout an event you can’t possibly remember everyone, even though you try. Essentially it appears that your cards are an extension of your brand.

Lesson learned – get cards – CHECK!

Get ahead of the Game

Last night I spent the better part of the evening honing my introduction pitch. The pitch organically meandered into an overly verbose apology for the lack of business cards while rolling into explaining that I’ve been traveling for three weeks and that my recent content shouldn’t be seen as characteristic of what I’m trying to do at I’m actually not sure what I am trying to do here which is another reason I am here at SOBCon08.

While I did reasonably hone this intro, my sheepish/apologetic intro pitch to George and Mary-Lynn teed up an immediately valuable retort on the importance of staying ahead of the game. George made it pretty straight forward: plan, write, edit and post. Seems simple enough – stay 1-2 weeks ahead. Initially I thought this was uniquely related to audio, since Bigg Success focuses on high quality audio production, but no it’s all things content since all content requires planning and execution. George confirmed this by providing an overview of their hybrid approach leveraging text, audio and newsletters for their readers.

So the key thing to remember for me was to stay ahead of the curve on content production. If I can practice this seemingly straight forward concept, I just might be able to avoid the horrible content holes which continuously creeps up by accident or by conflict here. So hopefully, the conflicts of my life, travel and the absence creativity can be avoided by staying ahead of the game with my content.

Play into your Strengths

So while I have multiple ways to look at this, Mary-Lynn and George put it simple: “We plan, we produce and leverage core skills which makes a better product in our opinion”, or something like that. So I took a little time to think about this. My conclusion – it’s as much about as skills as it is about reputation. The talented folks I have met here already have a common thread/quality – they are leveraging their past experiences to drive credibility and authority.

Bigg Success’ Mary Lynn is an example of this with proven/verifiable career in radio, as is George who brings to bear a life of lesson’s learned in business and an academic approach to sharing the information they provide on their shows. These folks are an example of how we should use our knowledge, skills and integrity to deliver value to our readers/listeners in a medium that best suits a person’s abilities. This is just what they have done.

While video may be killing the radio star, that doesn’t appear to be the case with Bigg Success, they are hopefully at the start of their online hockey stick, but for them it is more than stats.

George crisply summarized what “Bigg Success” would be for he and Mary-Lynn: “If we can help a single person with each program then we have accomplished a big part of why we are doing this”.

Social Evolution: Access & Developing Relationships

Trust and Interaction

I’ve been spending a great deal of time thinking about relationships lately due to a great week I had with my whole family over spring break. It was one of those classic vacations where all of us – Kevren, Dijouri, Prescott, Hadrian and Emily were able to revitalize ourselves and develop even closer bonds. I also missed the opportunity this week to catch up with couple of folks who I only see a couple of times a year and missed an introduction to another – so this week was just chock full of relationship stuff.

With near misses and great successes this week, I thought I would jot down some concepts which I have been bouncing around the evolution of a given social relationship.

Not all social relationships are created equal and neither are all interactions.

Yup, Captain Obvious is back! While a fairly simple observation, it was punctuated with some great social content which found me this week thanks to the great folks that I follow, share and interact with. This week had escalating Shel v. Loren action, Sarah’s FAQ, Christina’s milkshake and @rabeidoh’s five levels of social media relationships – each of these folks demonstrated varying levels of investment for evolving active social relationships. The key takeaway this week from my network for me is that each person has different expectations and these change over time based on your interactions, for good or ill.

While I really don’t want a Social Media Antagonist or think that anything such as a social media Ninja exists, I do think we are ALL attempting to generate meaningful relationships which evolve towards their natural end state, what ever that is. Ultimately whether you are just a feed voyeur, a follower or a personal friend you will ultimately find the shared value equilibrium in each social relationship you engage in.

The Interaction Evolution

We all bring our own quirks and expectations with us when we start building social relationships, this includes or preferential biases for communication. I use different tools, mediums and response requirements based on where I am with a specific relationship or topic I am covering. Think about it – What access do you provide to a twitter random? Who get’s your REAL email? Who get’s your phone number? Who gets added on twitter?

No simple feat to qualify a mutual connection for mutual investment and evolutionary access. Mutual contribution and participation will ultimately determine what level of interaction happens and access is provided. Dopp’s recent post demonstrates how access expectations vary and what qualifies as a valuable interaction via email for her as an individual:

If you have my phone number, the best way to get my attention is a text message. If I’m following you on Twitter, you can have the same effect with a direct message. Email is the next best thing, and “info at sarahdopp dot com” will get you past my spam filters if you’re not already in my address book. I read every email I receive but I’m not always the best at responding, so please follow up if you’re not getting what you need from me. (Tip: I tend to respond to short emails faster than I respond to long emails.)

Appears to be an expectation gap in some of Sarah’s relationships, but now everyone has the ground rules which is a good thing. It is something to build on. What are you going to GIVE your connections to build on?

The Evolution of Social Relationships

We all have to start somewhere and any given social relationship hopefully will evolve towards greater access, trust and value over time or it won’t and you are 1 click away from something else. No specific state of a social relationship is any less rewarding or beneficial for the participants, just different exceptations, access and interactions. It sorta has a “deal-with-it” undertone, but facts are facts. To go even further cliche on this – you get what you give from a social relationship.

The Connection: Sharing and Learning

Some of the most rewarding social connections I have are centered on the sharing of information and experiences of people I have no other connection to than a random twitter add. Most social relationships start with an innocuous add and may ultimately stay a voyuer for both parties, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable relationship. When you are sharing ideas and time with your network you are investing in the relationship which provides for new opportunities and interactions with your connections.

Your Social Colleagues

Over time and with work, you will be able to identify folks you interact with who you would consider a colleague. You meet at conferences, grab coffee and catch up at other geek social events, but you probably just show up at their house in 20 minutes. This is however where your investment continues to evolve and provides initial returns for both folks through shared experiences and increased trust.

Social Friendship

There are plenty of business colleagues I interact with which represent some of the most rewarding relationships I have which are steeped in shared successes and interests, but don’t evolve into “friendship”. Just like in business, social relationship can develop to become personal relationships that transcend your typical business relationship – mutual respect, mutual learning and continued investment in share goals and values, but it requires more than just shared experiences. Shared goals, ideals and investment are central to developing and maintaining social friendship.

Social friends are definitely good stuff when you can find it and the social relationship is now just a just a primordial hop out of the sea to borrowing tools or going into their refrigerator uninvited.

A Personal Friend

This should be self-explanatory, you have real friends right? Yup, you can borrow stuff now. This is also the part in which any relationship becomes wonderfully unpredictable, interactive and enjoyable. This is the “best of luck” part of the evolution, as from this point on it’s not 140 characters or dodged voicemails – they are showing up at your house uninvited and eating your food. Time to food theft varies by person, but it’s worth the wait and the effort.

The Homo Sapien Complexity

Social relationships evolve very much the same as any other relationship. The main anomaly is the candidate pool is so much bigger for finding cool folks that you can’t possibly develop each and every connection to the same level at the same time. Even though you have exponentially more access, it doesn’t mean you have exponential time or value to add, so do what you gotta do to evolve the right relationships.

No matter the path a given social relationships takes, each interaction provides the opportunity to drive shared value and extend/change what the evolutionary equilibrium is.

To that end… @shelisrael go ahead and block….. @Film_Girl I have my fingers crossed! And don’t be that guy…

A Litmus Test: Transitioning Technology to Product

I haven’t spent much time doing pure play product management posting in a while, so I thought I would today. I’ve been doing a bunch of leisure surfing and looking at a bunch of great stuff online and challenged myself to think about what it takes to transition a technology into a product. While I didn’t come to a great deal of conclusions, I think I’ve come up with some reasonable litmus tests for consideration:

  • Does your product have more defects than enhancement requests?
  • Can the users manage their own product experience?
  • Does everyone tell the same story about the product inside your organization?
  • Do customer users out number the support staff?
  • Can your product be contracted the same from sale to sale?
  • Are your training materials for the organization more lengthy than the prospect presentation?
  • Do you use the words scripting and framework more than configurable?
  • Does a product error message require research from development or is it in the knowledge base?
  • Are there more sales tools for the product than product managers?

What questions do you ask about your product?