We had an interesting and provocative discussion this week at Samadhi about the intersection of the evolution of media and the evolution of consciousness. It also turned out to be one of those times, when out of the blue and unexpectedly I got what I describe as “jacked up by the Field”.
I’ve found that philosophical discussions and meetups requiring rigor, have huge benefits for professionals and content creators in the change business, including:
- Linking and integrating ideas, solutions and content that seemed mutually exclusive.
- Bringing unconscious beliefs contradicting ideas, solutions and content, into awareness.
As I developed the post, the “enlightened idea wiki” came up and I think it has a lot of potential as a both a practice and content structure and model.
This is how it evolved. I’d recently spent a lot of time developing a presentation about models for professional service providers and content creators. The focus of the presentation is: The Credit. So when I read this NYT article, Author, 17, Says It’s ‘Mixing,’ Not Plagiarism, it brought up a good deal of righteous indignation that I was happy to share with others in my social communities who felt the same way, especially about her specific quote:
“There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity,” – Helene Hegemann
It felt so good and so right to rip into this with so many people who agreed with me.
Flash forward to the meetup. The discussion was preceded with a meditation and then a reading of an EnlightenNext Magazine column, Awakening to the blob, inspired by Mediated, Thomas de Zengotita. A quote from the book via the reading:
In a mediated world, the opposite of real isn’t phony or illusional or fictional—it’s optional. Idiomatically, we recognize this when we say, “the reality is…” meaning something that has to be dealt with, something that isn’t an option. We are most free of mediation, we are most real, when we are at the disposal of accident and necessity. That’s when we are not being addressed.
I discovered that terms and concepts actually exist to describe the experience of growing up in the postmodern era. I discovered that we are living in a mediated world, and I am a mediated girl.
Suddenly my righteous indignation about the 17 year old “mixing not plagiarizing” author seemed out of whack from the vantage point of my greater self who “meets” people where they are and without judgment. I realized that How Dare You! was my ego’s voice, justifying my resistance to a vantage point that threatened mine. That was an important shift.
A wiki post is a lot of work but I recommend creating one, maybe once a quarter. Here’s why. Like a great visual it takes a lot of seemingly disconnected, linear, small things and gives them form and expression in a way that adds dimension and artistic expression to your ideas, solutions and content.
Isn’t that a better use of your time than a quarterly plan?
Someone asked me the other night what kind of coaching I do and without thinking I responded: paradoxical.
Most clients I work with want my help marketing their ideas, solutions and content. They’re very receptive to my approach:
- create your “one of a kind” point of power at the edges or intersections – markets, industries, areas of interest or expertise etc.
- discover your voice and develop your stories around that point of power
- give and don’t hold back
And then they get scared and overwhelmed and go back to their old ways which stopped working long ago: email blasts, snail-mail announcements, hiring the magical business development manager, handing out cards at networking meetings etc. They give themselves over to the habitual impulse to interrupt instead of giving themselves over to their story.
When the old methods fail I suggest examining and clearing, with my facilitation, the assumptions and expectations blocking change. And that’s when the paradox kicks in. Because this is what they believe the process should be: telling me their stories! How they got where they are. Why they do what they do. The history, the details and most of all – the reasons.
They claim to be very receptive to my simple approach: unconditional permission to allow me to interrupt if I start to get more information and story than I need to know in order to facilitate an identity shift. Then I interrupt 5 times in 10 minutes and its “Call in the Marines”.
If it weren’t for paradox it would be easy, right?
Think about it this way:
Story is your ideas, solutions, and brand in form – the content.
Identity is your beliefs, assumptions and expectations “minus” the content (story, knowledge, thinking, form).
My granddaughters recently gave me a painting embedded with sea glass that we’d collected together. They know I love to get things they created and this was really nice since they’d made it together.
Emily, who is younger was especially intent on pointing out that she was the one who found the light purple piece in the center and that it was “very rare, Nano”. I remember the day we were on the beach searching and collecting. She wasn’t finding as many as me and Sam, her older sister, and she was getting frustrated. Just before we left she found the purple glass and I made a big deal about it. I was so proud of her for remembering and being sure she got the credit a whole year later.
And Samantha was equally impressive. She didn’t try to upstage Emily. As anyone with kids knows, that’s not how it always plays out. She could have just as likely said “you got the purple but look at all the dark blue I got so I’m even better, ha ha weirdo!” But Sam gave, and Emily accepted the credit naturally and with grace.
Since then I think a lot about credit which I’ve concluded is a greatly underrated factor in the probability of personal or cultural change success or failure. Last week, for example, I concluded that the issue of credit was the singly largest block to any kind of political change progress. Thanks to the girls I now accept that credit is part of a complex system of beliefs with which I’d completely, but unconsciously identified..for most of my life! That lack of awareness, of course, drove many of my responses and reactions to challenging job, sport, school, family and team experiences.
I wanted to share what I’d learned. A new model and accompanying presentation that I was developing for solo professionals and content creators interested in WordPress and innovative business models provided the venue.
Art and Idea Credit: Samantha Wynne & Emily Wynne, Artists / Entrepreneurs
“Enough with the content, its action that really matters”.
Content and action aren’t mutually exclusive. Content is directed movement (action) in form: written, audio and video.
I can’t think of any action that doesn’t correspond with content, including:
- communicating – stories
- meeting – recaps
- directing – strategy
- sharing – posts & comments
- teaching – course work
- designing – visuals
- preparing – notes
- helping – feedback
- marketing – web pages
- systematizing & processing – applications
- searching & researching – aggregated information
- presenting – shows
- entertaining – scripts
- playing – toys
I think this is very important for anyone just starting out, or struggling with content creation. Don’t buy into the myth that you’re sacrificing action for content. They’re hand in hand.
Title: hand in hand
Artist: Lumatic on flickr
I read Creating You & Company in 1999 when I was planning to leave my last real job and start my professional service firm as a solopreneur.
It was a great influence because it validated my sense that “having a job” was a worn out concept, signally that huge, disruptive shifts would take place in the world of work. It also supported my business model idea which was to offer services as products, which I call programs.
Recently, its occurred to me that professional service “products” need merchandising just like any other product. I know quite a bit about merchandising because I work part-time doing garden center merchandising as the liaison between the grower and the big-box stores.
Three fundamental merchandising concepts in garden center merchandising can be effectively applied to professional services:
Display – One of the first things I do when I take on a new store is to scan what product is out front in the main aisles and benches, and to look at what product is in the lot and in the back of the carts. Typically, there’s old stale product where people are shopping and fresh new product languishing where nobody can see it. Are you displaying your best solutions, ideas and content where your clients are are looking and shopping?
Consolidation – In the garden centers, I’m continually maximizing shelf space while at the same time grouping products for maximum appeal. The more I do it, the greater the capacity I develop for quickly scoping out very large areas, visualizing the end result, and figuring out the most efficient way to get that result. What are your opportunities to continually consolidate and group together your solutions, ideas and content so they “pop” when your clients are looking and shopping?
Culling – I’m surprised how difficult it is for people to get rid of product that’s no good. I think its mainly because they can’t make culling decisions by putting themselves in the customers’ shoes and asking themselves: “will I buy this?” Its a no excuses point of view. Prolific author Stephen King is a great culler and strongly advises that aspiring writers pay strict attention to culling:
..kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings. – Stephen King
Are you hanging on to boring or outdated solutions, ideas and content that are spoiling the overall appeal, and are holding back the growth and momentum of your professional service practice?
If these fundamental merchandising concepts make sense, and the questions hold some truth for you, this may be a good time to put aside the latest and greatest tools and technologies and merchandise your professional services. Inspiration is always available at your local garden center. If you need a good system, I love WordPress.
I’m a big Battlestar Galactica fan. I’ve watched most episodes several times to understand the story’s complex arcs, but always had some unanswered questions. The producers and writers clearly wanted to challenge the audience, and succeeded.
Despite my passion for BSG, my expectation for the recent first episode of the prequel, Caprica, was fairly low. The initial reviews were lukewarm so I figured it wouldn’t live up to the BSG series and might confuse me. I was wrong. It was great.
Since watching it, I’ve been thinking about the value of the backstory to bloggers, speakers and solo professional and creative practitioners.
You know how the prequel is usually done in business. The writer or speaker either begins with, or interjects some version of “now let me tell you a little bit about myself”. Its a literal and linear approach, although sometimes effectively interjecting anecdote and humor as it explains. The Ron Moore (BSG and Caprica Executive Producer) approach is much more interesting. It doesn’t explain, it unfolds. The audience has to be more attentive in order to connect the slender threads between past and present. So its a compelling and inclusive user experience and not a boring account.
Your backstory can be woven through your content. Its your personal myth: defining moments, experiences, insights, synchronicity, dreams, joy, metaphor, suffering and learning that you made happen or let happen and that changed you. Your readers, viewers and listeners won’t be bored, and they won’t be confused about what they really most want to know: who are you?
In Pt 1: Evaluating solo professional service business models, I pointed out the importance of building content assets. I included this old slide that is somewhat outdated but I think still highly relevant.
A few readers asked: what do you mean by build system (or process) assets?
The systems I refer to are unique to the solo professional who may also license or own systems such as financial planning or CAD. You might take your unique systems and process for granted, until or unless you’re expected to deliver equivalent value differently.
The tools you use may be widely available, simple, open source or even free. But how you use, integrate and continually refine and upgrade them to service, support and (hopefully) delight your clients is valuable asset.
For example, I integrate wiki’s, social media tools, tagging and rss feeds as an integral shared learning system between me and my clients. Anyone “could” do it, but I’m the one who does it. Simple does not necessarily mean “easy to copy”.
The solo business model you choose may preclude your building system assets. That may work out great for you as long as you’re aware of, and take the time to evaluate, the pros and cons of the model you choose.
I was recently talking to a friend, a marketing professional, who was leaving her job to go out on her own. When I asked her if she wanted ongoing contract work, specific projects or to design her own program(s), she said it really didn’t matter to her.
That conversation reminded me of a workshop I gave at Babson 4 years ago about Solo Professional Services. I dug up what I considered the key slide, and the one that caused the most confusion. The audience didn’t understand the evaluation criteria: “building assets”.
The presentation is somewhat outdated, but I think that confusion about building assets still exists. A model based on branded content ownership and control is not the recommended model for everyone. But as de-jobbing accelerates and independent professional service providers fill the gap, its more important than ever to fully evaluate and understand the short and long-term implications of the model you choose to provide your services.
Related Post: Solo PSF Business Models – Pt 2
Recently, a female celebrity remarked that she’s against Botox because it takes the “warmth” out of a person’s face. I think the result is a blandness and sameness. I see a lot of that in blogs,too.
Sometimes they’re too long. The subject may be interesting and the post well written, but it could’ve delivered the same value in 1/4 the length. They have a “sucking up all the air space” and boring quality that we dread in presenters.
Sometimes they try too hard to retrofit the content to some idealized blog format and the main points get lost. They use too many sub-headings and popular keywords that unnecessarily break up the flow or try to hide that there is no flow. They have a “that’s nice but I don’t really get what you’re trying to say” quality.
Sometimes they’re too reductionist. They over-simplify and strip the rigor and critical thinking out of every strategic and creative topic (including creativity!), reducing it to some version of 10 tips or 7 steps. They have an “I’ve heard it all before – please tell me something I don’t already know” quality.
I’m sure there’s many tactical reasons for the above: wider appeal, standardization, SEO/SEM, less risk. And like a Botox face, they can be very attractive and successful. But they just don’t inspire.
Thanks subscribers! I hope you’ve been enjoying my monthly newsletters. Unfortunately, Zookoda, my email/blog service is shutting down Jan. 1 so this will be the final edition in this format. I have another email service through Feedburner that I’ve moved my subscriber list to. The difference is that every blog post will be emailed; but the privacy and security is the same, or better, and you can unsubscribe with a single click. Generally, I post once a week. I hope you’ll like the change and and will recommend it to others.
The other change I’d like to mention is my fee structure for my consulting and creative programs. I’ve made my fees more fluid and flexible and write about that in a post that follows called Alignment Pricing.
Many of you are local and I hope to see you over the holidays. Community, both local and online, is the gift I’m most thankful for this year because it provides so much support and connection in times of extreme change. I appreciate each and every one of you and value your precious attention. I hope your holidays are peaceful and joyful. – mary