We are all in the same boat. We all are being forced to adapt to the blistering pace of change we see in the world. It’s unsettling, it’s scary, and, worst of all, nobody knows what will happen next. Alvin Toffler predicted that we would live in a state of “cultural anxiety” in Future Shock. Who would have known that what he predicted in 1970 would come true?
For many, death is something to be feared…hence the massive pain we see in the world as we witness the end of the Industrial Age. And why is it that death is promoted as the ultimate “dark” experience? Are we even aware of what is dying?
It appears that the 300 lb. gorilla in the room is that what we have known to be true is not only being questioned, it’s dying. (Kubler-Ross talked about grief in her famous book: “On Death and Dying” ).
Fear not…what is dying is what we are conditioned to believe…not life itself.
Life constantly moves forward regardless whether we like it or not. Engaging fully with life is the hard part…especially when we are desperately holding on to the past to make sense out of our future.
Accepting is to let go. It is impossible to truly accept and be fearful.
If you understand the process of grieving you will be on your way to accepting your current circumstance.
The fascinating thing is if you let go, you won’t break. You will be set free.
If you are a business owner, a marketer, a concerned individual or all of the above it probably occurred to you that “community” is a buzz word that is generally misunderstood depending on where you stand.
Building a community is hard work. And, like any endeavor, without clear goals the chances of success are slim to none.
When defining a goal there are usually more questions than answers. What can easily be missed is in this process is the underlying intent behind the action.
Are you honest with yourself about why you want to build a community? Is it for money? Is it to satisfy your ego? Is it altruistic? Is it to amass power?
It can be all or none of the above.
Beyond understanding the building blocks needed to create a community (barrier to entry, influence, shared emotional values etc), it is important to be clear about your underlying motivation as well. Clarity of purpose (intent) and motivation will guide your every move going forward. Success will require following a predetermined road map along with enough gas in the tank to get you there. Intent and motivation provides the fuel needed to make the journey.
It’s a funny thing about human beings: we all perceive information differently and to a large degree will spin information so that it falls in line with existing beliefs (confirmation bias).
In “Blink” Malcolm Gladwell talks about our innate ability to determine truth from fiction based upon facial muscles, instinct, context etc. No longer is “do as I say, not as I do” a valid strategy. This falseness will be apparent to everyone. Like “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, let’s hope you are not the last to know.
Building a sustainable community requires being clear about your intent and motivation. The quickest way to discover that is to look inward with honesty. Your audience/community will then be able to determine if the value you offer warrants their attention. If they choose to participate it will because they perceive that membership is of higher value than the real or implied “barrier to entry”.
What is community? How do we define it? Do we actually know what it is? Ever thought about why we as humans think it is important? With a big h/t to Greg Lexiphanic here are a few thoughts to consider. I will try to paraphrase this great ebook. For more detail please go here
Key criteria to establish a “sense of community” (as defined by David McMillan & David Chavis- “sense of community: a theory and definition”) are:
1. Membership 2. Influence 3. Fulfilment of needs 4. Shared emotional connection.
For a community to exist members must experience a sense of community.
How can you create a community around who you are, your business, your interests? Take the time to understand how these 4 elements relate to each other and what they mean individually.
Membership implies exclusivity (a barrier to entry or boundary). Either you are in or you are out. Implied in membership is a trust that you will be safe and taken care of within the boundaries and definitions of the group.
Influence is gained by having an affecting change on the group. Influence is only achieved by listening as well as expressing your beliefs.
“People who acknowledge that others’ needs, values, and opinions matter to them are often the most influential group members, while those who always push to influence, try to dominate others, and ignore the wishes and opinions of others are often the least powerful members.” —McMillan & Chavis, 1986
The fuel to drive a community is reinforcement. To receive reinforcement requires participation by the members. If participation focuses on the betterment of the group then reinforcement and a “sense of community” can be achieved. it is a two way street of give and take within the boundaries created by the group. No matter which side of the coin you are on (giving or receiving), if you feel fulfilled by taking part, the group will fill satisfy your need to belong and a bond will develop.
Shared Emotional Connection. There is a great line from the film Local Color that talks about art: “A shared experience is more meaningful than one experienced alone.”
Why is it we seek out group experience rather than isolation?
Intimacy, acknowledgement, sharing of views in a defined format, reward for your investment of time and energy and spiritual bonding ties us together in groups creating a more powerfulexperience than trying to do it alone. Its why we identify with an join groups in the first place. We are tribal animals…it is intrinsic to our nature.
Attempting to create an online or offline community is difficult and time consuming. However, the rewards can be far outweigh the investment. The pot of gold will come from the bonds you create in your community.
Look at your business and personal relationships. Question the drivers and quality of the interactions, what value you derive from feeling connected and reward you receive in return.. Most of us blithely stumble into situations that are driven by habit and conditioning rather than conscious thought.
The opportunity for all of us who are interested in creating community is not only to succeed but also the learn more about ourselves.
Ever give much thought to how you present yourself when you met someone? Do you stumble over words? Do you maintain eye contact? Does your body language indicate warm and inclusive or guarded and remote? Are the muscles in your face relaxed or tense? Do you ask questions and listen? Or, do you talk over the other person?
If you are in sales you have probably thought about these things. If not, it may have never given it much thought.
PRESENTING YOURSELF ONLINE.
Even though online interaction is primarily text driven, your choice of language, photos, which posts to comment on and which to avoid is essentially a reflection of who you are and defines your online presence. These interactions are how you will be judged and will determine whether or not the reader will choose to engage.
Successful social media interaction requires you to understand “why” you are posting/commenting/likeing etc prior to making the post. Once you click return you lose control of your message.
Best be focused if you want to get your message across.
At play here are two competing choices: traditional media companies vs. technology companies. Traditional media can only survive with governmental guarantees that copyright will be respected. On the other hand, Google and Facebook want to control the service (distribution) and not be responsible for what users do. Google and Facebook track every move you make and monetize it. Movies/TV want to put the genie back in the bottle to ensure that they get paid for their efforts. No problem there either.
However, what we have seen as a result of this clash of titans is that technology will trump content by sheer volume. That being said the service providers (google, facebook) cannot survive without great content.
Our culture has shifted from being passive media participants. We now expect to effortlessly create media and immediately share it with our network of friends. Therein lies the dilemma: how do we control the actions of the participants who have the ability to play by the rules or not depending on their point of view? Will it be possible to gain consensus about the value of copyright or, will we descend into anarchy?
I believe the answer lies in education and civil discourse between all parties to understand how to come together as a whole. I’d appreciate your thoughts.
How do you stand out? How do you become memorable?
Think about the waitress who has a spark in her eye…the one who goes out of her way to make you feel special, the one who you think is best at what she does. If a specific person comes to mind it means she has been successful in creating a connection with you. This connection will appear effortless and authentic. You understand who she is, her passion for what she does and the value she places on her relationship with you. Her “brand” has made an impression.
Branding is about how you are perceived and how other people feel when they recall the experience of their encounter with you or your product. Therefore it is the experience of the human connection that is important.
Today the consumer is in charge of the conversation…not the business. An online “conversation” can literally happen in a millisecond. We scan because our attention is our most valuable asset. We engage only if it is important enough to invest our time and attention.
GETTING YOUR MESSAGE ACROSS
Focus is everything. The reader must be able to determine who you are, what you offer, how you do it and whether or not they choose to participate in a matter of seconds. . Following basic branding principles helps you focus your presentation. It will help you discover what makes you unique by forcing you to think differently about how you present yourself.
Ask yourself these questions:
What are your core values? How do you support these values? What is your promise to your reader/client? Can you define the culture of your business? Describe your personality? What do you aspire to? Define how your characteristics makes you unique?
Asking yourself these questions (going through a branding process) will keep your messaging clear and concise.
You are not an inanimate object. You are a person. Branding is only a tool to help you express yourself. Make connections with people (through authentic, concise messaging) and your brand value will rise.
How often do you buy something you want vs. something you need? Do you have the disposable income to buy a product or music on a whim, listen to it once, or, in some cases, never listen to it? Buy a coat, dress, pants or shirt and wear it infrequently? Prior to the 2008 economic crash the answer was most likely much different than today.
Our cultural values and buying habits are shifting. More value is being placed on access rather than ownership, or the concept of collaborative consumption. What’s mine is yours to share.
This is a wave that cannot be ignored. The question we all face is: “how do we adapt?”
With the demise of traditional sales channels we have all had to rethink how to sell our goods and services. I wonder how we can all be GREAT at one thing while we attempt to expand our skill sets to include marketing, promotion, sales, etc. I don’t know about you, but there are not enough hours in the day to be the best musician I can be.
What is the answer? Well, if I knew that I’d be on my private jet…flitting about the world on a whim.
I do know this. To stand out from the crowd requires dedication to excellence and the discipline to work hard enough to achieve it. (check out Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”).
I am about 2/3 of the way through reading “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. The common theme is Jobs’ obsession with brilliant products. When Jobs came back to run Apple he immediately scrapped 70% of the Apple product line. His view was: “focus on 4 products and make them great”. They were: 1 pro laptop, 1 pro desktop, 1 consumer laptop and 1 consumer desktop. Focusing on making great product enabled Apple to create exceptional value for it’s customer.
Rising above the noise of the Social Web.
We should all, musicians and non-musicians alike, strive for greatness rather than trying to appease everyone (confusing everyone in the process). “Great” will always have value. There will always be a desire for great. Who cares about mediocracy?
The silver lining may well come from the notion of “collaborative consumption”. As we continue to find more efficient means to live our lives I would like to optimistically think that discretionary spending will increase for products and services the consumer considers to be not only “great” but of “great value”.
Art is not going away. It has survived since the beginning of recorded history. Economic and political cycles come and go. Art adapts to these challenges and survives…in large part because of the human need for expression.
Take a lesson from Steve Jobs: focus on creating “Great product”.
What is your strategy to succeed and do you have a social media strategy to help you advance your career as a composer? Ever thought about it in those terms?
Ever wondered why you aren’t getting traction?
Never forget: It’s all about relationships. Period.
It’s a given that competition is tough. There are certainly more applicants than jobs available. How can you create an edge?
Improve your interpersonal skills.
Rather than focus on “please give me a job” (as we all do from time to time) shift your thinking. Focus your energies creating connections–not jobs.
If you are like me, for the most part I feel most comfortable when I’m working, alone in my studio. As a result, it has taken great effort on my part to improve my interpersonal skills to where I can: walk up to anyone and start a conversation, ask questions, engage them in a conversation and walk away knowing more about them than they know about me. Sometimes things click, mostly not. At the very least if I meet someone and they walk away with a positive experience I feel that it was a successful encounter…giving myself the opportunity to potentially work with them in the future.
People like to work with people they know and feel comfortable with.
Sales is a numbers game. You are not going to work for everyone you meet. FYI Direct mail conversion rates are about 1-2%. Click through for online ads is about .10 of 1% (1 out of 1000). But, just like dating, the more you do it the more confidence you will have which increases your potential of success.
How can social media help you? You can virtually reach more people online than in person. Use comment threads, status updates, tweets to share your personal brand. Readers will develop an image of who you are, what you stand for if you are consistent about the way you share information online. And, of course, the music you make.
Who knows who you will meet? More importantly- you never know where seemingly chance encounters will lead.
Is being “cool” a subjective term? For some, being cool is as attractive as a flame to a moth. For others it is something to be avoided. Whatever your opinion we all think of it as a “mysterious quality” that some people have and others don’t.
Don’t believe it. Being “cool” is a combination of three personality traits. And, regardless of your natural aptitudes your “coolness” can be nurtured and refined.
What makes somebody “cool”?
Having discipline, willpower and the ability to focus attention.
Like most patients I instantly feel more comfortable when my doctor comes into the exam room if I sense he is in control of his emotions, unflappable and can focus their attention on me, rather than the multitude of distractions available. In this instance being able to focus your attention really means being able to listen attentively.
Why is attentive listening “cool”?
Focusing your attention while listening is when the magic happens. Focused attention opens the door to making real and lasting connections. It is only after such a connection is made that you can be truly compassionate and empathetic. As the world continues to change at such a dramatic pace our attraction to authentic relationships will become more and more important. Great value can be derived by simply by listening well. Without even realizing it your “cool” factor will increase.
Why is discipline “cool”?
We all face difficult situations. Those who maintain their self-control usually manage to navigate through rough waters while those who react emotionally will have a more difficult time. The phrase: “cool under fire” comes to mind. Don’t we all prefer to be around people who seem unflappable?
Determination is defined as a “firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end”. Why is Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson or any other successful athlete or performer deemed “cool?” They have all used their willpower and determination to achieve their goals. We instinctively gravitate towards winners because at some level we want to share in and identify with their success.
And why is being “cool” so important?
We have reached a milestone as a culture. Almost without exception we have learned to spot a phony a mile away. We no longer will accept being sold a bill of goods.
Using social media effectively requires that you offer the reader something more than what you receive in return. What better than to offer them the chance to experience an authentic connection? Now that would really be “cool”!
Increasing your “cool” factor is not mysterious. It’s actually rather simple:
- Listen with focused attention (enabling authentic connections)
- Strive to be disciplined (staying on message)
- Never give up (pursuing your goals)
How will that change lives?
You will undoubtedly affect the lives of those around you. And, you may realize one day that you are, in fact, pretty cool!