Month: November 2014

“Don’t chew with your mouth open. Don’t live Tweet a funeral.” – Scott Dadich

Scott Dadich is the Editor-in-Chief for Wired magazine.  His editorial in the June 2014 edition was dedicated to manners in a digital world.  It’s about time!  And it’s significant for a hip if not somewhat snarky magazine like Wired to take on the topic.  The June issue even invited the venerable spokesman on etiquette, Jerry Seinfeld to weigh in on the subject.

I grew up in the south where the culture fostered respect for our elders and those in positions of authority by addressing them as “Sir” or “Ma’am”.  Later, I was amazed to find people were offended when you responded, “yes, Ma’am” or “yes, Sir” to a question.  At it’s core, politeness is a social convention that presumes we should generally show respect for each other, especially when we are in public or perhaps meeting people for the first time.  It may involve subduing certain aspects of our personalities until we get to know the other person.  But humans tend to take easy concepts and complicate them.  We have to create rules. So manners were created as a general list of behaviors that would induce politeness.  But that created divisions based on pretentiousness.

And then the Internet happened.

Now we can convey our personalities and our opinions with lightning speed to hundreds or thousands of people.  The built in anonymity of the web only amplifies the tendency to be controversial and abusive.  As Americans, we are proud to wrap ourselves in the First Amendment, for which we are truly blessed.  But as my mom said, “just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right.”  I like to think people are basically good but it is clear in some cases that if you completely remove the potential for retribution and accountability, we find what we have always known, “mean people suck”.

I don’t know how to address the issue except to talk about it.  It’s time we all grew up with respect to the power of anonymous free speech provided to us by modern technology.  BloggingGazelle will participate in the conversation.

And thanks to Scott Dadich for raising the issue!

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Technology’s only human.” – Ray Hiltz

I was reading a blog this week and there at the top of the page were the obligatory social media icon links for sharing.  I believe I counted seven options: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google +, Buffer and there may have been more.  Social media is so diverse now we need apps like Buffer and Hootsuite to manage it all.  BloggingGazelle automatically publishes to a few social sites as well.  The pros of social media hype stories of how hotel chains have people whose job is to scan all social media for hashtags and mentions of their chain as well as competitors, for the purpose of spreading good will.  This is all good stuff!

But here’s a question – when do we reach the point where we are serving our technology?  Blogs, video clips, podcasts are all great ways to communicate with your tribe but they take time to create and more time to manage.  Perhaps this cost is tiny compared to traditional marketing costs of just a few years ago but has anyone counted the cost of the time commitment?

Just wondering…

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Nothing looks better on a human being than self acceptance.” – Livingston Taylor

People can tell when someone is talking about their job and when they are talking about their life.  This is the challenge of acting; to convince the audience that you really are the person in the story.  Another saying is you can’t sing the blues unless you’ve felt some pain.  It all goes to authenticity.

For entrepreneurs, pitching the company is an ongoing activity.  You are always selling your company to investors, to customers, to partners, to advisors.  All these people can tell if it’s your job or your life.  Don’t be afraid to let your passion show.  It reveals authenticity which is a better story to listen to than hearing a story of someone else from a script.

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“A performance is a conversation between you and an audience.” – Livingston Taylor

Pitching your company is a performance.  Singing a song in front of an audience is a performance.  The experience is completely different but the mechanics are exactly the same.  You are sharing a story with a group of people you hope will respond in your favor.

Make it personal and conversational.  Engage them where they want to be.  Make it important to them.

Read “Stage Performance” by Livingston Taylor

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Anything could happen. For instance, a fez.” – Dr. Who

Customer Discovery can lead you to some unexpected destinations.  One of the companies we work with started life as a really high tech device to monitor radiation in research environments.  While they were trying to figure out how to build the device at scale, they determined there was not a good way to document technical specifications in a way that was easy to update.  So they created their own solution and found out the market need for their creation was huge compared to researchers monitoring radiation.  So they had a big pivot and became a software company.

When you focus on solving customer problems, anything could happen.

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.” – Walter Lippmann

Hang around people who will disagree with you.

They will challenge you to think differently.  People know what they believe but how many actually know why?

Until someone challenges you on your ideas, you haven’t gone through the process of understanding why and you may have blinded yourself to alternative, and better, possibilities.

This is important when you are talking to your customers.  You have your idea that you believe in and you want to know what they think.  We are happy to hear form those who agree with us but the idea gets better when it’s challenged.

BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“The last time I signed something without looking it over, I ended up in the Army.” – Unknown

There is the famous scene in “The Social Network” where Eduardo Sevarin meets with the company attorney to sign some documents.  They were just “standard stuff”.  Little did he know he was giving up the farm.

Attorneys can get expensive but they are worth it in the long run.  Legal documents are complicated by design.  You need someone who speaks the language.

Blogginggazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Seems like voter apathy has been around awhile.  In Tennessee, they only expect about 1/3 of registered voters will participate in this year’s election.

Steve Case was on Charlie Rose last night to provide a very interesting update on entrepreneurship in America.  His current job is Chairman of the Startup America Partnership, appointed the the President of the United States.  Central to that discussion was the government’s role in helping startups and entrepreneurs be successful.  This includes federal and state initiatives.  A big one is the recent passage of the 2012 Jobs Act which has made equity based crowd funding possible.  Now if the SEC can get through the sausage making of creating the rules, maybe it will happen soon.  Since 2009 Tennessee has enjoyed a state sponsored  program called TNInvestco which made $200 million in insurance tax credits available to create 10 seed stage venture capital funds.  The National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy have deployed technology commercialization programs specifically aimed at getting technology out of the research lab through startups.

Here’s the thing – a lot of entrepreneurs we work with are by nature, skeptical of government but our federal, state and local governments have supported entrepreneurship like never before.  Entrepreneurs have a big time stake in our government’s role in entrepreneurial support.

So should you get involved?

Please vote today!