Who would think that a guy with goofy dance moves can show us how the world has changed? Amidst talk about recession, oil crisis and inflation, everybody should watch this video to understand how much hope is out there, how much the world has come closer together and that the human spirit is something we should never count out.
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While I was having an intense discussion about Conversational Marketing in a Boss store a few weeks ago, I realized that some of the most productive and thought-provoking meetings took place in weird locations:
– Bell Tower of the Michel ( a church in Hamburg)
– Rooftop of an apartment
– On a swing in the lobby of an old apartment (Yes, there was a swing!)
– On a bicycle
– in a parking lot
Do we really need creative spaces or do we need to make sure that we create environments that allow for serendipity?
We are living in a transitionary period. From analog to digital age. From industrial revolution to information revolution. From boom times to recession. Climate. Politics. Web 2.0. Media. Advertising. You name it.
Changes are scary. Transitions are even scarier. Changes get us somewhere. Transitions leave us in a nowhere land. We know the old is disappearing, fading away. Like a day that disappears in front of our eyes. Transitions are like the dark night. We know there will be a sunrise but we are afraid it might come too late. Or maybe it’s the first day without any sunrise?
The natural reaction to transitions is to go into stealth mode. Since we don’t know where the transition will lead us, we revert back to old, known behaviors, strategies, tactics. That’s a huge mistake.
Old strategies, tactics and behaviors won’t succeed after the transitional period is over. That’s why it’s imperative to experiment as much as we can. Try things. Learn. Collaborate.
Brands have problems with that. They tend to stay away from transitions as much as they can. It used to work that way, why shouldn’t it work again? We’re in a transitionary period from mass media to social media. We all know it. We all feel the major changes about to break and change our world. Our learned behavior tells us to do nothing, to go into stealth mode: “TV still works.” “If Facebook can’t be monetized, the whole idea of social media is completely overblown.”
Transitions are opportunities. Either an opportunity to retreat into passivity and be ruled by fear. Or an opportunity to change the game and lead by courage. Nobody said it was easy. But, looking at history (Coal Mines come to mind) we don’t have a real choice. Unless you regard failure as an option.
Image: Courtesy of Keri Smith.
Whatever you thin about Tiger Woods, you have to admire his work ethic and philosophy. When he was at the Olymp (Masters), he took the risk and retooled his swing. Not once. Twice. In his words:
“My swing was good enough to compete on tour when I came out, but I didn’t think it was good enough to compete consistently on tour. I had a lot of holes in my game. I wasn’t a very good driver of the golf ball, my distance was terrible with the short irons. I would fly it over a bunch of greens. And my putting was way too aggressive. I had holes in my game that I needed to rectify in order to be consistent week in and week out.
“All the great champions that have ever played, that’s what they did. I didn’t think my game was good enough, so I needed to make changes.”
Companies, management consultants, individuals, kids should have this quote taped to their bathroom mirror. Too often all of us settle for mediocrity. For quarterly results that calm down Wall Street. For individual achievements that are good but not outstanding. For incremental change instead of radical change.
The real game changers (Dylan, Apple, Picasso – just to name a few) are never satisfied, always reinventing, changing. They have the patience for long-term results, don’t get frazzled by mid-term disappointments. And they are not guided by fear.
Fear is what keeps people/brands/corporations from changing. And, in the case of Conversational Marketing, keeps brands from adjusting to the changing media consumption habits of their customers. Instead, brands allocate experimental budgets to social media campaigns instead committing fully to the new marketing reality. Brands see their customers participate in a media category without them but they are too afraid to push the red button and change dramatically. Social Media is too often seen as the $1 lottery ticket: You get it right, you look like a hero (Doritos, anyone?) If you don’t get it right, so what? It’s just a buck.
Tiger’s life was and is about commitment. That’s why he’s the most successful individual business man. Ask yourself: Are you afraid or are you committed?
What is the key issue we all have to deal with besides the environment and the digital transformation of society? I would argue it’s the gender issue.
We have seen amazing progress in the last few decades but there’s a stalling feeling when looking at the future. The first phase of equality advancement was based on legal and political changes. Women could celebrate numerous victories guaranteeing equal rights and protection under the law. Society focused on abolishing discrimination, empowering women to keep up with men. This forced women to play in an environment built by men, controlled by men, perfected by men.
The most successful women were those that displayed male characteristics and often had to act more manly than any of their male competitors to be considered for promotion or executive positions. Hillary’s primary run was a perfect example for this behavior. Interestingly, Hillary had to play the ‘man card’ of being cut-throat and hyper-competitive to be regarded as a strong competitor. Obama, on the other hand, showed a softer, more female side as a competitor by emphasizing relationships and making connections. Frankly, Hillary had no choice: The gender environment requires women to act like men.
The next step will be hardest: Women have to change the way business is done. They have to change the way we conduct politics. They have to move society away from competitiveness towards relationship building. The desire for this change is out there. Not only in politics as we’ve discovered with the stunning success of Obama. We see this need for more relationship building and connections in the way people use new technologies.
This change can’t be dictated by courts or politicians. It will happen when women finally use their buying power to force businesses to change. Voting with their wallets will change car dealerships, banks, health care, well, almost everything. Society is ready for it. When will brands answer?