8 Reasons Why Introverts Rule the Interactive Age

After spending the 20th century in relative silence, introverts are poised to rule the Interactive Age.

Social media has changed the way we communicate. The extroverted approach to communication in the 20th century—one-size-fits-all programming, in-your-face advertising, and dictatorial monologues—has been replaced by a more thoughtful and empathetic discourse that involves listening to the ideas of others, engaging in dialogue, offering comments and opinions, and sharing interesting content.

And no one is better prepared for this communication revolution than introverts. Here are the eight reasons why introverts will rule the Interactive Age:

Interactive Age Dictionary: "Upstartup"

"And the best part is we stole the rainbow logo from Kodak's Polaroid camera!" up∙start∙up


noun derogatory

noun: upstartup; plural noun: upstartups

  1. A company that has risen suddenly to wealth or high position and annihilated its old-school competition through the savvy use of social media and Internet technology.

See also: Instagram v. Kodak, iTunes v. Tower Records, Netflix v. Blockbuster Video, Skype v. the telecom industry, Oreo v. Twinkie, Expedia v. the entire travel agencies industry, Amazon v. Barnes and Noble, New Era Colorado v. Edison Electric Institute, The Huffington Post v. Newsweek …

The Surreal with the Fringe on Top--Why you should never believe anything you see, hear, or read on the Internet

"The shades are made from fish bladders. The dashboard--that's the dried skin of a dead cow. And those tassels atop us? Caterpillar spit. Ain't she a beauty?" In one of the opening numbers of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, Oklahoma!, Curly tries to persuade Laurey to go to the box social with him by promising to take her there “in the slickest gig ya ever seen” – the surrey with the fringe on top.

It’s a sweet ride. The wheels are yella, the upholstery’s brown, the dashboard’s genuine leather, with isinglass curtains you can roll right down, in case there’s a change in the weather.

When I first heard about isinglass curtains during rehearsal for our high school’s rendition of Oklahoma!, I pictured an exotic, delicate roll-able crystal sheet. Turns out isinglass curtains are actually made from the dried swim bladders of fish like sturgeon or cod. Not as romantic, of course, but certainly nothing to fear.

Until now. Fish bladders are all over the news this week, striking fear into the hearts of beer drinkers everywhere. Why? Well, according to food blogger, Vani Hari, some beer brands “are trying to slowly poison us with cheap and harmful ingredients,” like fish bladders.

It’s great hype, resulting in breathless headlines and countless morning TV show appearances for Food Babe Vani Hari (who will show you how to avoid being poisoned by your food for a mere $17.99 a month).

The trouble is her claim about fish bladders in beer is alarmingly overblown … a fish story, if you will … and patently absurd.

Humans have been clarifying beer and wine with isinglass for centuries. They are among a group of substances known as “finings”—which includes egg whites, blood, milk and Irish moss for you vegetarians—that are used to remove organic compounds like yeast, sulfides, and proteins from beer to improve the clarity or to affect the taste and aroma of the final product. During the process, all these scary finings settle to the bottom of the cask and disposed of.

But you wouldn’t know it from the headlines that demand to know: “What’s in your beer? Fish bladder and anti-freeze ingredient?,” “What’s in that beer you’re drinking? Are brewers hiding something?,” and Vani’s own eyebrow-raiser: The Shocking Ingredients In Beer.

Vani certainly has a right to make bank by hyping imaginary dangers to a gullible public, and the media has a right to attract eyeballs with sensational headlines. But if you’re at all interested in learning the facts on any given issue, you owe it to yourself to dig just a little deeper before taking your place among the chorus of the easily misinformed.

Lessons from Zombie Boy: Heart-tugging campaigns--like beauty--are often only skin deep.

"Baby Jesus, please make Zombie Boy pretty like the rest of us so we can accept him as he should be, no matter what it does to his acting career."  After every outdoor recess my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Yaroschuk, would make us boys wash our hands in the boys’ room and then march single-file past her desk to show her that we got the job done right.

I, unfortunately, had inherited a mild skin condition that would flare up at the most inopportune times—like just before opening day of the 1969 Outdoor Recess Season.

This condition manifested itself as a crescent of very dry skin that ran from the base of my index fingers to the first knuckle of my thumbs. When that skin got dirty—which was always since it was attached to the hands of a nine-year-old boy—it stayed dirty. I couldn’t wash it away no matter how hard I scrubbed.

Mrs. Yaroschuk, even more unfortunately, did not know about this condition and demanded to know why I refused to wash my hands. When I tried to explain sotto voce—since, at this point, we had captured the collective attention of the entire class—she declared to the class that I was lying.

Then, in the middle of hand-inspection time, she grabbed my arm and dragged me into the boys’ room so she could “get that dirt off your hands myself, believe you me!”

She did try, I’ll give her that. But after about two or three minutes of rubbing my hands under hot tap water with coarse brown paper towels slathered in industrial-strength liquid soap, it dawned on her that I was telling the truth.

Today there are a number of products on the market that would prevent such humiliations (mine and Mrs. Yaroschuk’s). And one of those products—Dermablend—is currently taking its turn as an Internet darling with a contrived video campaign called “The Camo Confession,” created by Agence Tuxedo, an ad agency in Montreal.

The premise is clever: A beautiful person sits before a camera, tells you something wonderful about herself, and then makes her “confession” by wiping the Dermablend foundation from her face and revealing a striking skin condition. It’s fascinating, really, when you see that these “normal” people are actually suffering from rather extreme skin conditions caused by things like lupus, severe acne, and vitiligo, a skin disorder that causes the loss of skin color in patches.

The reveal, and each person’s story, makes a powerful case for why some people feel strongly that they need to use Dermablend when they’re out in public, and why—were it not for our reactions—they really wouldn’t have to.

Real feel-good stuff … until you meet Rico. Rico, you see, suffers from … well, let’s let him tell his story.

“Many people would say that I’m different just because of my skin, but I don’t feel that way. In many ways, I’m just the same as anyone else. I am accepted by a lot of people who are … who are different, and in the same position as I am.

“No matter what you’re faced with in life, always feel proud of who you are, for what you are and not to let others’ judgments get in your way. Today, I feel proud. I did what I had to do. And look at me now.”

Yes, Rico is suffering from … tattoos. Hideous, debilitating tattoos that he presumably paid people to etch over his entire body. But did he let that self-inflicted affliction slow him down? Quite the contrary! Rick “Rico” Genest, aka Zombie Boy, is a DJ, an actor, and a model … not in spite of his skin condition, but because of it.

God bless him.

According to Agence Tuxedo, “Above all, you wear a Tuxedo to make an impression.” Well, guys, the impression I hget from that video is Rico in a tuxedo T-shirt, because it says, “I want to be pitiable, but I’m here to party.”


The former CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters loved our book. Dig us!

"Upon reflection, I want to add one more 'really' because it really is that good." If you’ve spent any time in Washington DC, you’ve heard of David Rehr. When he ran the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Fortune Magazine ranked that organization as one of the “top ten most influential lobbying organizations” in America. When he was president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, Radio Ink magazine named him one of the “top 20 most influential people in radio.” And Washington Life magazine put him on their “Power 100” list. Yeah, he’s that good.

But what makes David Rehr so special (besides his eerie resemblance to Matt Damon) is his uncanny ability to identify talent. Take this book review he recently posted on

“Megan McDonald & John Doyle break through all the communications clutter and treat the reader to the essential "you have to get these right" elements in this easy to read, yet fascinating book. I have been in organizational communications my entire professional career but found myself shaking my head (while reading the book) and saying to myself, "yes, I have to be sure I do that..." This book is a great investment. It's has some lighthearted moments but the content is serious - we do live in a cluttered communications environment and virtually all organizations are terrible in getting their positive messages out to the public. I am certain I will continue to refer back to it on important communication projects. It's that good. No, it's really, really, really good.”

Now the fact that he was talking about our book is just icing on the cake. In fact, I didn’t even realize he was referring The TV Guide to Telling Your Organization’s Story until Megan pointed that out to me.

But it was our book he was talking about. And if a man as busy as David Rehr could find the time to order our book, read it, and post this brutally candid and informative review, you can too.

So go ahead and get yourself a copy. As David said, “It’s really, really, really good.”

Six powerful social media lessons you can learn from Birchbox

To no one's surprise, the "Mystery Mini-Bottle Box Service" was discontinued shortly after its launch. Back in 2010, a New York City start-up called Birchbox offered women cosmetic product samples that were tailored specifically to their tastes and preferences based upon a self-reported “beauty/grooming profile.” Today, Birchbox generates about $40 million in revenue annually, most of it from their 300,000 subscribers who pay $10 a month to receive the boxes.

Since then, the “box service” concept has exploded, offering everything from toiletries to fishing supplies. The box service concept is brilliant in its simplicity and its effectiveness in connecting retailers with their customers. It also provides six powerful lessons in how to communicate effectively in the Interactive Age, as you will see in these excerpts taken from a recent Washington Post story on this innovative marketing strategy.

1. Joint venture partnerships magnify success: If the 20th century was a winner-take-all poker game played with a stacked deck, the Interactive Age is parachute day in gym class. You only “win” if everyone plays together.

Success in the box service game starts with a partnership with wholesalers who are willing to provide a steady stream of products “at a discount or free from companies hoping to be introduced to new customers.”

2. People will give valuable data and honest reviews for trinkets and beads: If the NSA really wanted to learn the most intimate details of our lives, they should have just started a box service. All protests to the contrary, people will gladly share intimate details about their lives and desires for a box of product samples. And we will happily—and honestly—rate those products in service to our community.

“Much of the appeal for retailers is the personal data they collect from customers … Subscribers share tons of personal data to customize their boxes. They also provide retailers valuable feedback on products before they hit store shelves.”

3. People rely on the advice of peers in newly formed “communities”: Most of us don’t take our lead from four-out-of-five-dentists anymore. Instead, we rely on the advice of friends, even friends we just made by virtue of our shared taste in a particular face moisturizer.

“Subscribers, a vocal and social-media-savvy bunch, have set up blogs and online forums to review the best boxes or swap goodies to fit their tastes.”

4. Subscriptions—“The real money is in inertia”: I just bought an ASUS 802.11ac wireless-AC1750 router for $190. It is so the sh*t that I haven’t yet figured out how to open the box it came in. As I was concocting ways to justify the expense, I calculated that over the years I have paid Comcast $849,000 in monthly rental fees for a wireless modem that had less range than a thalidomide baby playing shortstop.

“There are downsides to subscription boxes. ... consumers may lose interest but be too harried to take the extra step of canceling their membership. By the time people realize they don’t want [a service] anymore, it takes time for them to cancel it. … The real money is in the inertia.”

5. Curation is currency: No one actually drinks from a fire hydrant, but when we were kids we’d often try to drink from the garden hose with the nozzle set on “eviscerate.” Not sure why we did that beyond the fact that we were idiots, but I did learn that if I blasted the water into the palm of my hand I could get a drink without boring a hole through my cheek. When I’m looking for information online, the Internet often feels like that high pressure jet of water. Curators, in turn, act as the palm of my hand, providing just enough good information for me to get the job done. The same can be said for the box service.

“Americans … are on the lookout for deals and they are used to the convenience of online purchases. Subscription boxes let ‘experts’ do the research for time-pressed shoppers and send their recommendations to people’s doorsteps.”

6. Start with a gift ... and make sure it's the good stuff: In the 20th century, nobody but bakery shop owners and drug dealers gave away samples of their best products. But in the Interactive Age, it is a mandatory first step in relationship building.

“For retailers, monthly boxes are like offering shoppers a plate of appetizers: Sample what you like, come back for more — and if you don’t like something, give it to your friends."

So next time you’re trying to raise money, sell a product, increase your membership, or build a coalition … just remember, the best lessons come in little boxes.

Saccharine Vanzetti: Lessons you can learn from the Oreo-inspired miscarriage of journalism

"It's OK, Honey. Oreo says we cant still dunk in the dark. Can you bring back my glass of mill, please?" Oreo to launch two new cookie flavorsNew York Daily News

A New Oreo Rises! And It Will Probably Be As Addictive As CocaineEsquire Magazine

“It seems impossible to improve on the Oreo but Nabisco is giving the classic cookie a new twist, launching limited edition cookie dough and marshmallow crispy flavors.”NBC’s Today Show

To paraphrase Woody Allen, if Walter Cronkite came back and saw what was passing for journalism today, he’d never stop throwing up.

I don’t blame the good folks at Nabisco. They’re just doing their job, and doing it damn well, I might add. The fault lies squarely with the (generally) young and (astonishingly) naïve “journalists” who seem to have learned everything they needed to know about investigative reporting from Perez Hilton “exclusives.”

But this is the world we live in, so let’s make the best of it.

Following is an excerpt from our book, The TV Guide to Telling Your Organization’s Story, that should give you some insight into Oreo's 21st century thinking.

The Oreo. It’s not just a cookie. It’s a flash mob. It’s a meme. It’s a YouTube sensation. It’s a Twitter genius. It’s a Facebook monster. It’s milk’s favorite cookie.

It wasn’t always this way. Oreo's used to be just a snack, like Twinkies, Ring Dings and Devil Dogs. But while Nabisco was celebrating Oreo’s 100th birthday with flash mobs and online events, Hostess was filing for bankruptcy protection, which briefly killed off the much-maligned Twinkie at the relatively young age of 82. (The Hostess bankruptcy also put Drakes Cakes out of business, shutting down—at least temporarily—the Ring Ding and Devil Dog assembly line.)

How did Oreo's become a global Internet sensation just as Hostess was throwing in the apron? Because Nabisco used social media to tell the story they wanted to tell that would resonate with the audiences they needed to reach. They carefully planned and deftly executed intricate campaigns and skillfully seized unexpected opportunities. And they did it creatively, humorously, and relentlessly.

It wasn’t a story about sweet white stuff slapped between two black wafers. It was a story about your experience with their cookie. For Baby Boomers, the story was a nostalgic trip back to childhood. For the Millennials, the story was exciting, edgy and often political. And for the young ones, it was a story about Grandma and imagination.

Hostess, on the other hand, allowed the Twinkie story to be told by others. And we know how well that turned out.

And it isn't just thoughtful planning. Team Oreo also seizes opportunity--swiftly. During the 2013 Super Bowl (the night that the lights went out in Nawlins), Oreo carped the diem by conceiving, creating, approving, and tweeting a graphic ad that capitalized on the Superdome’s power struggle in just five minutes. The ad got re-tweeted thousands of times, and the brilliant marketing move was talked about worldwide. For free.

According to The Washington Post, Oreo’s ad team “required that ad agency and client executives be at the same place at the same time” which was a “social-media command center” at its digital ad agency 360i in NYC.

That is the reality of storytelling today. You’ve got to be quick. You’ve got to be relevant. And you have got to execute. The days of “running it by legal” are over.

A note from the authors of "The TV Guide to Telling Your Organization's Story"

"Kinda like a 21st century Moonlighting, right Megan?" "Not so much, John." Where would you be today if, back in 1994, someone gave you a book that explained how cell phones, PCs, and tablets were going to change the world over the next two decades?

This is that book.

No, John, it isn’t. But it does serve as a primer on some of the large-scale shifts affecting communications and provides strategies that you can adopt to successfully navigate them, using the model of a TV show.

A TV Guide, if you will.

And much like a TV Guide, it provides brief but enlightening overviews, not of shows but of concepts and tactics that you can use to tell your organization’s story more effectively. It also helps you identify areas that you are interested in spending more time learning about.

What it doesn’t do is teach you how to tweet, post, #hashtag, or Skype. And if you’re looking for scholarly insights about the literary themes in famous stories, you’ve got the wrong book.

Instead, it delivers the context and insights to help you become a better communicator in any medium.

And it does it in a way that allows you to jump around so you’re not forced to read a bunch of chapters just to get to the good parts.

Specifically, this book is comprised of four distinct sections which can be read independently or in any combination. The first section explains how we communicate with each other today—both as individuals and as organizations—and what we can do to communicate more effectively. Sections two, three, and four offer specific advice on how to successfully find, tell, and live your story in the Interactive Age.

And there are quite a few pictures and bullet points to make the reading feel a lot less like work.

One of the reasons our partnership works is that we’re extremely different in our perspectives, experiences, mentalities … and writing styles. So you will notice two distinctly different voices in this book.

I tend towards abstract and educational tones, while John provides concrete narratives.

The combination of two very different minds also went into the overall structure of the book. I usually read books from start to finish, and prefer a cumulative, linear approach to learning.

Blessed with the gift of attention deficit disorder and a dash of dyslexia, I like the freedom to hop in and out of a book without having to remember a lot of plot. So I need short sections, pictures and lots of white space.

Regardless of your preferred style of learning or level of background, this book will be helpful in navigating the future of communication.

And we hope you have as much fun reading it as you do buying it.


The Rise and Fall of PR in 100 Short Years

Edward Bernays, PR

The following is an excerpt from our new book, The TV Guide to Telling your Organization's Story--Insights and tools to help you navigate the Interactive Age.

Like what your see? Get yours here.

“Ours must be a leadership democracy, administered by the “intelligent minority” who know how to regiment and guide the masses. The common interests very largely elude public opinion entirely, and can be managed only by a specialized class whose personal interests reach beyond the locality.” –Edward Bernays

The 20th century was the Golden Age of managed messaging. Media moguls, corporate titans, and government agencies controlled virtually every aspect of mass communication. This “intelligent minority” were literally the “they” in any statement that began with “They say…” The blueprints for this power paradigm were drawn up in the wee hours of the 20th century by Edward Bernays, the man who would be crowned “the father of public relations.”

In his aptly named essay, Propaganda, Bernays asked, “If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, is it not possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing about it?”

Turns out it was possible … and very profitable. (A small example: It was Bernays who convinced America that women had the right to smoke in public with his “Torches of Freedom” campaign.)

Bernays—who was related to Sigmund Freud through both his mother (Freud’s sister) and his father (whose sister married Freud)—knew a few things about crowd psychology and other psychoanalytic approaches to public relations, which he called “the engineering of consent.”

He was also keenly aware that the burgeoning mass media infrastructure of 20th century America—“this web of communications” he presciently called it—was ideal for the “manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses.” This was critical, he wrote, because “those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

America’s mass media infrastructure was critical to Bernays’ success in developing “technique[s] for the mass distribution of ideas.” These techniques, which he collectively dubbed “public relations,” were amazingly effective because they were based on the belief that “the United States has become a small room in which a single whisper is magnified thousands of times.”

But the Internet destroyed that small room a few years back and countless communities have popped up in its place. The people in those communities aren’t buying the linear monologues spouted by corporations, media conglomerates, and political leaders. They are putting their faith in their friends and their communities, with astounding results.

Social media has brought us full circle to what Bernays described as “an earlier age … [where] a leader was usually known to his followers personally [and] communication was accomplished principally by personal announcement to an audience.”

This has up sides for organizations of all sizes, but our new reality requires that you make a few adjustments to your communications program if you want to be heard in the Interactive Age.