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How do you stay Future Strong? Back in 1997, I was with working with
Seth Godin at Yoyodyne when he coined the term, Permission Marketing.
That’s where my focus — Return on Relationship — got started, and I
carried that into the social commerce explosion.
My advice to everyone is stop worrying about what’s next, and execute
on what’s now. I see too many people looking too far out into the future.
I am rarely the first guy on new platforms. It’s not because I’m just
waiting to see if they take hold. It’s because I’m very busy executing
in the current media. I’m very present.
For me being future strong is about being fully present in the now.
Who I am as a person is being very responsive. I need to get back to people.
The best way to leverage social is to engage people, to have conversations,
and the only way to do that is to be available for people. A lot of people
don’t think that interactivity can scale. I believe it can. To stay strong,
I interact with the people who really want to interact with me. Because
the extended trail of our interactions — through tweets, additional posts
and more — creates vicarious participation for lots of others who can see
or become part of our interacting. Ninety-eight percent of the people on
social media are vicariously participating, by watching other people have
conversations, and then feeling or being a part of that.
Another big part of who I am and what keeps me future strong is the concept
of Be Good to People. This is a movement started by Kris Wittenberg. I wear
her t-shirts, I have her stickers on all my stuff. We met because I started
the hashtag of #JustBeNice, and I preach this to companies. If you’re nice
to people, if you’re employees are nice to people, if you treat your vendors
well…it makes a very big difference in how you do business.
It’s All About Who You Decide to Be: A while ago, I went through a four-
year battle to keep my daughters in my life. It cost me everything I had.
I had to rebuild after that. When it ended, I had lost a lot of years of
my daughters lives and I was angry. And I woke up one morning and realized
I don’t want to be angry any more. I wanted to be happy. Children
default to happy, but many adults do not. We default to angry, upset,
and lots more. So I just made a decision to change my mindset. So I now
do my best every day to live by this quote: Life is not about waiting
for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. I do
for others without any expectation of anything in return. That’s at
the heart of Return on Relationship because, in the end, that will come
back to you, one way or another.
What do leaders need to do to build Future Strong companies?
The smarter companies are telling their employees: “Build your
personal brand… Make yourself better. Because the better you are,
the better we are as a company.” If you have one thousand employees,
and every one of them has one hundred or one thousand followers on
social channels — if those people like where they’re working, think
about the reach that you’re getting.
A network gives you reach, but a community gives you power. If you
build your employees into a community, the power you will get is
astronomical! This is the Age of Influence, where anyone can build
a brand, affect change, make a difference, 24/7 — without a big budget.
There is no line anymore between work and who you are as a human being.
Empathy is important. You need to better understand your employees.
We need leaders who are mentors and coaches vs. a boss. The boss mentality has to emerge from the hearts of your people and what’s happening with them everyday.