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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in the 20th century—one-size-fits-all programming, in-your-face advertising, and dictatorial monologues—has been replaced by a more thoughtful and empathetic discourse that involves listening to the ideas of others, engaging in dialogue, offering comments and opinions, and sharing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:

Say what? How social media platforms affect what you say ... and how you say it.

 "Save it for the judge, kid."

"Save it for the judge, kid."

You already know that your audience influences what you say and how you say it when you’re telling a story. (That googly-eyed baby talk that entertains your girlfriend will get you tazed if you use it on a cop.)

But did you know that where you tell your story is just as important as whom* you’re telling it to?** Think about how the following venues affect what you say and how you say it:

VENUE: Your favorite noisy pub

APPROACH: Loud, off-color comments that you practically spit in your friend’s ear.

VENUE: Sunday Mass

APPROACH: Fidgety whispering about how bored you are, accompanied by crude illustrations drawn with those bowling-alley pencils on the back of the church bulletin.

VENUE: Elevator

APPROACH: Vapid comments about the weather directed to the top of your shoes.

VENUE: Men’s room

APPROACH: There is no approach. The first rule of “Men’s Room” is you DO NOT talk in the men’s room.

The same is true with social media venues. You wouldn’t post a video of a shark-cat riding a Roomba on LinkedIn would you? Of course not. Different venues require different approaches.

To help you navigate the rocky waters of social-media etiquette, the good folks at My Clever Agency created an infographic to help you “Create The Perfect Pinterest, Google+, Facebook & Twitter posts.”***

Check it out.

*Full disclosure: I don’t often use “whom,” even when I know I should. Just as I don’t say, “It is I,” when asked “who is it?” But my sister-in-law occasionally reads these posts, and she’s a stickler for proper grammar, so I figured I’d go all highfalutin for her this one time.

**But don't come after me for ending a sentence with a preposition.

***Relax. It's a quote. They capitalize, I capitalize.

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.”

 

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.

 

TV or not TV? Why your television may be your best social media mentor

"That's what 'twerking' means? Why didn't somebody tell me BEFORE my speech?" 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.

  • In 2011, part-time nanny Molly Katchpole told Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and the online world that she didn’t want to pay a new $5 monthly debit card fee. Moynihan was “incensed by the bad press,” and vowed that he “won’t budge on the new fees.” But the banker budged … and the nanny won.
  • In 2012, Hollywood’s top lobbyist Chris Dodd blasted his former colleagues in the US Senate for killing his signature legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have allowed the government to censor the Internet. Upon losing what had appeared to be a slam-dunk deal, an enraged Dodd said, “Don’t ask me to write a check for you [politicians] when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.” This refreshing candor resulted in its own online petition on the White House website calling for an investigation into Dodd’s alleged “open admission of bribery.
  • In 2013, Canadian PM Stephen Harper announced that he “has a lot of fun twerking,” but only with close friends and “every now and then with President Obama.” Before a media aide could update the PM on early 21st century parlance, he added that he “would like to twerk with every Canadian but that of course is impossible.”

There was a time when emulating society’s leaders was a viable strategy for success. But those days are truly gone. The 20th century leadership skills that catapulted people to positions of power—being unilaterally decisive and hogging the megaphone, to name just two—are liabilities in the Interactive Age, where collaboration trumps intimidation.

The sense of unassailable superiority by those in power is resulting in regular digital spankings as the once-untouchable establishment titans go head-to-head with “little people” who may lack executive prerogative, but more than make up for it in social media savvy.

But if successful business and political icons of the 20th century can no longer guide us to success, who can?

Television.

Yup. The faithful companion that taught you how to run faster, jump higher, and build strong bodies 12 ways can now help you navigate the roiling waters of social media.

Think about it. The world is changing faster and more dramatically than at any point in human history. Every aspect of communications is changing in ways we could never have imagined a decade ago. Keeping up with the changes is next to impossible and the struggle can overwhelm the strongest of us.

One way to get grounded and to regain a sense of balance is to filter these new experiences through the lens of something familiar; something that is feeling its way through this brave new world like you are. And there’s nothing more familiar and universal—in the 20th century, anyway—than television.

As the television industry navigates its way through these tectonic changes, it can teach us how to respond to similar challenges.

Coming up ... "Channeling your inner TV show." Stay tuned!

Television. AmIright??

Let your TV be your guide. “I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts.” —      Orson Welles

“If television's a babysitter, the Internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.” —Dorothy Gambrell, Cat and Girl Volume I

“The difference between TV and the internet was how far you sat from the screen. TV was an 8 foot activity, and you were a consumer. The internet was a 16 inch activity, and you participated.” —Seth Godin

Want to know the 33 things your television can teach you about storytelling in the Interactive Age? It's all in here.

New Era vs Old Errors -- What corporate titans can learn from "those dang activists"

"Seriously. Do NOT make me get off this bike." If David keeps toppling Goliath—which seems inevitable these days—we’re going to have to retire the idiom.

The latest giant-slaying is going on right now between the New Era Colorado Foundation (David) and Old Errors Xcel Energy Corporation (the soon-to-be vanquished Goliath).

New Era wants Boulder to wrest control of the power grid from Xcel because they believe that the city can provide cleaner energy for less money. As you can imagine, Xcel—which stands to lose $35 million in profit that the good folks in Boulder shell out annually—disagrees.

In a fascinating video clip that rivals Kony 2012 in its rousing help-us-save-the-planet climax and (some might argue) creative presentation of the facts, New Era boasts:

“Back in 2011, our community did something no other community had ever done before: we voted to explore taking control of our power supply for the sole purpose of lowering our impact on the planet. … If we win, we trigger a national model that can be replicated across the country.”

Upworthy posted the video last week and urged people to share it. Huff Post picked up the story and—to no one’s surprise—the video went viral. Big time. (You can track the real-time financial score board here.)

It’s not shocking that a bunch of energetic kids with honorable intentions and decent video production skills could end up in the eye of a media storm, especially with the help of Upworthy, which is considered the Punkin Chunkin catapult of viral-video launches.

But it is nothing short of genius that they were able to get such a response through creative positioning.

Consider the claim, “Back in 2011, our community did something no other community had ever done before: we voted to explore taking control of our power supply for the sole purpose of lowering our impact on the planet.”

Taken at their word, you might think that Boulder is on the verge of becoming the first municipality ever to commandeer the power grid from an evil for-profit corporation. But they’d actually be the 18th city in the last decade to do this.

However, they would be the first to do so “for the sole purpose of lowering our impact on the planet,” a caveat which—and this is pure gold, Jerry—enhances their case rather than diminish it, as caveats usually do.

You might even believe, as the video states:

“Boulder is on the verge of setting an important precedent that has national significance and could threaten not just Xcel Energy but the very core of the business model—and the billions of dollars in profit that come with it—of the dirty coal energy industry.”

Well, not really. There are dozens of cities considering making the break, including Minneapolis, the city that Xcel is based in.

But the most brilliant bit of magic is found in the pitch at the end of the clip.

“The only way David beats Goliath this time is with your help. Because the only way to counter money is with PEOPLE. … They might have the war chest, but we have the ARMY. And we are here to recruit YOU. Right now, more than ever, we need YOU. Your financial support will help restore our community’s voice this election.”

Yes, we need YOU … to give us YOUR money.

Normally, I’d advise against stretching the facts to make them fit your fattened claims. But this was done so creatively and has been so successful that, as the Anchorman once said, “I’m not even mad. That’s amazing.”

Tomorrow: Xcel’s Spreadsheet of Screw-ups

 

 

 

 

And I'll take The Washington Post, too. No, the entire publishing enterprise. To go.

  "Marcus is running late. He said he'll meet us there."

Back in January of 2012, we lamented that 20th century thinking among The Washington Post's leadership was going to crater the paper. Turns out we were right. The lesson: You must embrace online communication and socialize on social media, lest you get scooped up by your own Bezos-bub.

January 2012

Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth emailed her year-end thank-you memo to a bunch of WaPo swells on New Year’s Eve (her first mistake). Before the electrons were even dry, the must-read JimRomenesko.com posted her email in its entirety with the breaker that Weymouth blew air kisses to almost everyone at the Post—except executive editor Marcus Brauchli.

A C-Suite semaphore? Perhaps. But the real news wasn’t the errant Post Toasties. The real news was the unintentional candor with which Weymouth described how she is driving the paper straight into a digital tar pit.

If you care a whit about real journalism (in any medium), this memo will irk you, and not because of the grammar issues. 

I can overlook the dozen or so typos—it was New Year’s Eve, after all. And I can ignore the “they’re-their” slip-up. Spell check doesn’t always catch that one. I can even see past the occasional subject-verb-agreement lapse.

No. No, actually, I can't. She's the publisher of The Washington Freakin' Post, fer chrissake! Doesn't she have people to catch that??

But what really makes my eyes bulge is watching the Sacagawea of the Fourth Estate tell John Smith and the guys to press on after they've reached the Pacific.

The Internet asteroid has hit the Earth, threatening to bring an end to the Guttenberg Period of the Paleozoic Era. The time has come to challenge the talented WaPo team to innovate in the face this of pension-decimating upheaval. So what does Weymouth do? She instructs Wallace Hartley to keep playing the old favorites. 

Three examples:

Celebrating Attrition: Unless Weymouth is employing the “Zeno’s dichotomy paradox marketing strategy, there is no reason to celebrate “a rate of decline that is about half of what it was last year.”

Suffering from Polaris-is: The customer has always been considered the North Star in successful communications, even before the Internet demanded it. But Weymouth, apparently, is just coming around to that quaint notion.

“We set ourselves five priorities in the beginning of the year … 5) become more customer centric, by focusing on how we get our stories to people, how we package and promote them, how we can enlighten, engage, amuse and move readers.”

Worse, by Weymouth’s own admission, customer focus has only eked into the “top five priorities” in 2011.

“Customer focus has always been a priority at The Washington Post. By naming it one of our five priorities for the year, I wanted to push us to get even better and more disciplined.”

And even with that recent promotion, customer focus is still an also-ran.

“We are in the process of evolving to a company which uses data and our expertise to provide customers with more and more compelling consumer experiences. The most successful companies, from Southwest airlines, to Apple, to Walmart, have demonstrated, time and again, that a relentless focus on the customer always wins.”

"Strike up 'Nearer, My God, to Thee,' would you please, Mr. Hartley." 

Investing in the past: It is a given that shredding trees into pulp, spraying the dried mess with ink, wrapping it in plastic bags, and tossing those bags onto doorsteps across America is a fairly antiquated way to communicate a message.   

But when you're the Top Dog of this enterprise, it's your job to shine a hopeful, promising light on the looming overhaul of this 20th-century story factory. It is incumbent upon you to give hope to the ink-stained wretches who actually write, print and deliver the daily paper. "[W]e will continue to invest in our newspaper as long as their (sic) are customers who demand it," has kind of a Little Big Horn ring to it, don't you think?

To her credit, Weymouth does address, briefly, how the Post is embracing new technology.

"We are telling stories using the tools available to bring our stories to life in new ways, through pictures, video, text and graphics."

But I figured being the niece of Tina Weymouth, the bass-thumping founding member of the Talking Heads, Katharine would have realized before the rest of us that "talking heads" are, in fact, the future of news, and that she would have already developed a plan to drive The Post to that bright future.

The photo of Tina's niece is from Vanity Fair -- http://bit.ly/xSI9Z6

The Sacawagea image is from Sacagawea.com

Don't forget to pick up some de-odious! Why "Sure Unscented" is worth more than $15,000 to your story

"I don't care all the DC council members do it! You don't work for the DC Council, do you?"

Bob? Bob! ... Robert Francis McDonnell get down here this instant!

I was just informed that you took some money out of my wallet to buy toiletries—deodorant, sunscreen, and a … um … a digestive system cleanse. Is this true, Bob? Answer me.

You disappoint me, son.

Oh, you’re darn tootin’ you’ll pay me back, but it’s not about the money, Robert. Heck, we’re only talking about a few dollars. The bigger issues are trust and integrity.

For the last three years, we let you live here rent free. You could take the car whenever you wanted and we—not you—we filled it up when you left the tank empty. We fed you three squares a day, and never complained when you and your buddies raided the fridge after a night of partying. You didn’t even have to do chores because we hired an entire cleaning crew to clean up after you.

All we ever asked is that you pay for your own sundries and incidentals. But apparently, that was just too much for you to manage.

I don’t know, Bob. Maybe it’s our fault. Maybe we’ve been too lenient with all you little governors. Looking back I probably should have stepped in when Jonnie Williams gave you that $15,000 check to cover the catering at Cailin’s wedding. But, darn it all, that check put such a big smile on your face I just couldn’t tell you that your excuse for taking it was flimsier than an Ikea bookshelf.

Bob, did I ever tell you about the time that I ran out of deodorant? I was getting ready for an important meeting and I was running late. Yeah, again. Anyway, when I popped the cap off the deodorant, the last little clump of Sure Unscented fell right into the sink. I tried to scrape up as much as I could, but there was only enough to barely cover my left arm pit. And the only other deodorant in the house was some very sweet strawberry roll-on that my girls were wearing back in their middle-school days.

Long story short, when I put in my contact lenses, I darn near fried my corneas because I hadn’t quite washed all of that deodorant off of my fingers. So by the time I got to my meeting with ol’ man Digby, my eyes were red, my pits were stained, and I smelled like an eighth-grade girl after volley ball practice.

And you want to know the worst part, Bob? I was just at the Rite Aid the day before but I forgot to pick up deodorant. So you see, I really can relate to buying deodorant.

And that's the lesson for you, Bob. Nobody really understands—or much cares—about your crazy transportation plans, or whether you knew that taking Jonnie’s check was probably illegal. The common man just doesn’t relate to big numbers and abstract concepts. But when you’re talking deodorant and bowel cleansers, well son, you’ve got their full attention.

So when you do tell a story, make every effort to speak of the little things that you think your audience can relate to. Oh, and use concrete words as often as possible. If you do, you’ll find that people will really enjoy listening to—and retelling—your stories.

Now go put your jeans on, son. You’ve got some chores to do today!