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Does Being Busy Make You Valuable?

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017


Live mindfully long enough and you can get an interesting perspective on lifestyle changes.

Some will please, some not; some you’ll question, some deplore, and some will cause you to shake your head in amazement.

The last is how I felt when I read new research from HBS.

In fact, some boast the lack of spare time as a status symbol—even an aspirational lifestyle.

“The new conspicuous consumption is about saying, I am the scarce resource, and therefore I am valuable.”

I’ve seen this first hand, not just in the startup community or twenty-somethings, but among Gen Xers, Boomers and even my own peers.

It used to be that overload came from always saying yes, instead of a carefully evaluated “no” — however, if you are known for saying ‘yes’ be prepared for the backlash if you change.

These days, the things that keep you busy also need to raise your profile/ reputation/Klout score/ increase your Likes/generate followers (preferably on multiple platforms)/social presence/etc.

A couple of year after I started MCS a reader asked why I bothered to do it when it generated so few comments.

My response was that I wasn’t writing to promote myself, but to provide information to those who wanted/needed it and that comments came when readers had questions or wanted to add to the dialogue.

While accurate, my response ignored the fact that because my blog is not high profile commenting on it has a very low ROI.

That said, I understand and don’t fault readers.

We live in a world where building your personal brand is a necessary part of building a career, so the time allotted to writing comments needs to provide a certain ROI and, of course, you are busy.

OK, I get all that.

But no matter how long I live I doubt I’ll ever understand the fragility of egos that need to prove their value so badly they are willing to give up their lives to do it.

Image credit: Sean MacEntee

If the Shoe Fits: Answer 5 Questions To Boost Your Management Skills

Friday, January 20th, 2017

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here.

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mDid you start this year with a promise to yourself to be a better boss?

If you didn’t you should have , because no matter how good you are you can always improve — but that’s true for everything.

In December I gave you 56 words that would change your life and at the start of the year three steps to being a better boss.

Today I’m providing five questions to ask yourself.

  1. How well do you delegate, AKA letting go/loss of control.
  2. Is your self esteem tied to your Klout score or your team’s accomplishments?
  3. Are you so tied to your vision that you’re blind to your market’s response?
  4. Do you practice culture by design or by accident?
  5. Do you want to get things done or just done your way.

Next, query five trusted colleagues for objective, outside input.

Compare the responses.

Depending on you’re your goals, adjust your attitudes and actions accordingly.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Things Are Not Always What They Seem: Influence

Monday, August 11th, 2014


As someone who has lived more decades than most of my readers I can remember when having influence wasn’t considered a viable life goal.

But that was then…

Not only is it an acceptable goal, there are sites like Klout that track your influence and even companies and managers dumb enough to hire based on a candidate’s Klout score.

These days, influence is measured based on important criteria, such as number of friends and followers, tweets and other commenting and web presence—an impressive way to measure, to be sure.

As influencers become more intentional and influencees less discerning I thought this was a good time to repost something I wrote several years ago.

Influence = Manipulation

Every conversation about leadership talks about ‘influence’ and how to increase yours.

In a post at Forbes, Howard Scharlatt defines influence this way,

Influence is, simply put, the power and ability to personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions or thinking. At one level, it is about compliance, about getting someone to go along with what you want them to do.

He goes on to describe three kinds of influencing tactics: logical, emotional and cooperative, or influencing with head, heart and hands and talks about ‘personal influence’ and its importance in persuading people when authority is lacking.

A couple of years ago I wrote The Power of Words and said, “Personally, other than socially acceptable definitions, I don’t see a lot of difference between influence and manipulation,” and I still don’t.

I realize most people consider manipulation negative and influence positive, but they are just words.

I often hear that leaders are good people, while manipulators are bad people. But as I pointed out in another post,

  • leaders are not by definition “good;”
  • they aren’t always positive role models; and
  • one person’s “good” leader is another person’s demon.

Everyone believes that they use their influence in a positive way, but when you persuade people to do whatever who are you to say that the outcome is positive for them?

Influence, persuasion, manipulation; call it what you will, just remember that it is power and be cautious when you wield it.

And if you are on the receiving end of influence, be it active or passive, you’ll see a higher ROI by paying attention and being mindful of intent.

Image credit: Anonymous

Look at Me; Look at Me!

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014


When you were little and did something you were proud of you probably yelled “look at me; look at me” to your parents or whomever was there.

These days the desire to be noticed doesn’t stop as people age, it merely moves to social media.

People have taken to putting themselves out there in all kinds of ways, producing — in words, pictures, videos — the shared stories of their lives as they are transpiring. They disseminate their thoughts and deeds, large and small (sometimes very small), in what can seem like a perpetual plea for attention.

They do it because their friends do; to raise their Klout score; to prove they matter.

The desire to matter is ancient, probably all the way back to our caveman ancestors, but it was the Greeks who named it—kleos.

Kleos lay very near the core of the Greek value system. Their value system was at least partly motivated, as perhaps all value systems are partly motivated, by the human need to feel as if our lives matter.

The difference between the Greeks’ idea of kleos and our current focus on klout is the difference between internal and external.

Mattering wasn’t acquired by gathering attention of any kind, mortal or immortal. Acquiring mattering was something people had to do for themselves, cultivating such virtuous qualities of character as justice and wisdom. They had to put their own souls in order. This demands hard work, since simply to understand the nature of justice and wisdom, which is the first order of business, taxes our limits, not to speak of then acting on our conclusions.

Of course, that kind of deep thinking is out of favor these days, since it doesn’t provide instant gratification or lend itself to shouting ‘look at me’.

Flickr image credit: Pat

Three Categories of People

Monday, June 24th, 2013

all-knowing-leaderPeople have longed for an all-knowing leader who they can mindlessly follow and abdicate their decision-making, since time began.

Some seek this all-knowing leader in religion; others look to politics, while still others believe that business is a better source.

Their time would be better spent accepting the reality that no such thing exists anywhere in any walk of life.

Then there are the people who aspire to be that all-knowing leader.

To that end they amass thousands of friends and followers, network their way well beyond what’s needed to be a LinkedIn Lion and work ceaselessly to raise their Klout score.

Finally, there are those who know without doubt that all-knowing leaders are in the same category as the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa Clause and they aren’t them.

Which are you?

Flickr image credit: Warning Sign Generator

David Beckham and Your Brand

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/gowestphoto/3921758575/In these days of social media too many people put more time and effort into building their brand and raising their Klout score than they do raising their kids or supporting their team.

Many personal brands rest on nothing than the person’s ability to manipulate social media (especially true about Klout).

But what really fuels my dislike is the arrogance and ego in which the same folks like to indulge, saying if it’s good enough for Larry Ellison, Donald Trump, LeBron James or Alec Baldwin it’s good enough for them.

There are many ways in which to build your brand, but no matter how you do it the result should reflect your values.

It also helps to have a role model who reflects similar values, so if your goal is to be admired, appreciated and just plain liked you may want to consider David Beckham.

Beckham was not merely an athlete; he was an international brand that smartly fused a handsomeness that bordered on beauty with athleticism, marketing savvy and an eager embrace of the role of pop idol.

Beckham just announced his retirement from MLS, but that’s unlikely to diminish his brand.

Unlike many athletes, Beckham’s brand isn’t tied to his sport, nor did he set out to build it. He had a dream of playing soccer and played his best for every team he was on, no holds barred.

And unlike many stars, Beckham never acted, and probably didn’t think, he did it alone.

The difference is that instead of buying into the frenzy surrounding his looks, talent and skill he stayed a nice guy; one that everybody liked.

Stefan Szymanski, British co-author of the book Soccernomics and a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan, says, “Beckham is like that [the Queen Mother]. He never puts his foot wrong. He’s nice to everyone. You could never fault him for not giving his all. He doesn’t have enemies. It’s hard to dislike him unless you’re deliberately perverse.”

Beckham is proof that you can pursue your dreams and win big without being, or turning into, a jerk.

Flickr image credit: tpower1978

The Rest of Your Life

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/49333775@N00/5068199415/I’m writing this long before election results are in, but it doesn’t matter. I can guarantee, without a doubt, that some of you are very happy campers and the rest of you are POed, angry, upset, depressed or scared.

No matter which, I suggest that you focus instead on your personal ikigai—your reason for being. Or, as is said on Okinawa, “a reason to get up in the morning”, that is, a reason to enjoy life.

Few Americans are willing to invest the time to get to know themselves well enough to identify their real ikigai, so they substitute all kinds of prefab things to give meaning to their lives.

Politics. Religion. Work. Followers. “Friends.” Klout score.

All of which are prone to failure as a reason to get out of bed, because they are external as opposed to internal.

In other words, they were created by others.

To possess a strong, stable ikigai you must come to it from deep self-knowledge.

Even if it includes one or more of the above elements you need to know why it/they are included.

If you do invest the time and effort to truly identify your own personal ikigai you really will live a happier, more satisfying and satisfactory life.

It’s guaranteed.

Flickr image credit: The Shopping Sherpa

Klout the Destroyer

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012


As an official digital dinosaur I never heard of Klout; now that I have I wish I could go back to my ignorance.

Watching stupidity unfold is never pleasant, but watching stupidity that has the power to destroy lives is much worse.

It started when I saw a recent article on TechCrunch, talking about a Salesforce.com job ad requiring a Klout score above 35.

I searched for more info and found what seems to be the earliest article from Wired back in April

Klout uses a proprietary algorithm to crunch your activities in social media, especially Twitter, to assign you a score.

The scores are calculated using variables that can include number of followers, frequency of updates, the Klout scores of your friends and followers, and the number of likes, retweets, and shares that your updates receive. High-scoring Klout users can qualify for Klout Perks, free goodies from companies hoping to garner some influential praise

Worse, employers are using them as a hiring make-or-break.

The interviewer pulled up the web page for Klout.com—a service that purports to measure users’ online influence on a scale from 1 to 100—and angled the monitor so that [Sam] Fiorella could see the humbling result for himself: His score was 34. “He cut the interview short pretty soon after that,” Fiorella says. Later he learned that he’d been eliminated as a candidate specifically because his Klout score was too low. “They hired a guy whose score was 67.”

I saw ridiculous job requirements in my 20 years as a headhunter and more since then, but to use a criteria that so easily manipulated is nuts.

There are four actions you can take to raise your score according to product director Chris Makarsky.

  1. Tweet a lot more; this is strictly a quantity not quality thing, food porn works well.
  2. Concentrate on one topic instead of spreading yourself to thin.
  3. Develop relationships with high-Klout people who might respond to your tweets, propagate them, and extend your influence to new population groups.
  4. Keep things upbeat. “We find that positive sentiment drives more action than negative.”

It works.

Partly intrigued, partly scared, Fiorella spent the next six months working feverishly to boost his Klout score, eventually hitting 72. As his score rose, so did the number of job offers and speaking invitations he received. “Fifteen years of accomplishments weren’t as important as that score.”

People are always looking for shortcuts to evaluate and rate the people they meet. I’m old enough to remember when the first question people asked upon meeting was “what’s your sign?”

With the rise of MySpace and Facebook it was “how many friends do you have;” then Twitter arrived and the questions was “how many followers.”

Now there’s Klout to promote arrogance or undermine confidence and accomplishments, damage people’s psyches, and give them yet another false yardstick that has nothing to do with skills, value, accomplishments or any of those old fashioned intangibles like loyalty, honesty, ethics, empathy, the list is endless.

But Klout doesn’t care.

Flickr image credit: seanrnicholson

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