Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Inspiration – III

February 11, 2008

Enjoying some personal recharge time in San Diego, I met a couple of committed walkers who taught me some great insights into authenticity as a personal and institutional lifestyle.

I was climbing Cowles Mountain, the highest spot in San Diego county. It’s a great spot to enjoy the sunrise — an hour up, 15 minutes down. While on the way, I stopped to rest and as Del (on the right) passed with his friend, we struck up a conversation. I asked him about walking as metaphor of life, and he hit me right between the eyes with, as Kenny Rogers put it, an ace that I could keep. Del’s formula?

“I have two feet. The first is rethinking/change. The second is confidence/assertiveness.” (I’m translating from more religious terminology – repentance and faith). Del went on (I’m paraphrasing): “When I start out, I have to listen and respond to my environment. I need to rethink, based on who I impact and where I don’t measure up. Then, I am free to confidently go forward, seize opportunities, be effective at what I can do and who I am. And then comes another step of listening, responding, rethinking.”

Del’s comments inspired me with a fresh insight into both personal and institutional authenticity. Being “me”, honestly projecting who I am, is not enough if I want to be perceived as authentic — if I want to be an organic and productive enterprise. I also have to respond to “you”. I must be committed to self-improvement, and work that out through a cycle of receiving and sending, give and take, listening and expressing.

The brand of an institution does not emerge from what it repeats about itself. As John Moore said in Brand Autopsy recently, it flows from being, not “branding”.

Being “me”, personally or institutionally, involves a recognition that if a “me” has value because of my story, my unique experiences and perspective, then every “you” has value, too. If one individual is golden, a diverse community brings infinite riches.

If there were only one university it would be a boring and provincial world of ideas. But Oxford has greater value because there is Cambridge. Harvard is interesting because it shares many qualities with the other Ivies, as well as because of the nuances which differentiate it.

Each “me” becomes actualized as an authentic brand because of its response to its environment. I can attempt to assert my independence from my peers, but when I do so it only cheapens my actual brand, the authentic “me” which is not what I think of myself, but what I actually am as an organic member of a community of interrelated, interdependent organisms. My ability to project a distinct perspective, a valuable set of values, tarnishes whenever I grow sluggish in my efforts to be accountable.

In fact, I would argue that if there is one foot more important than another in Del’s metaphor, it would be the rethinking foot. By rethinking and changing as rapidly as possible to changing conditions and needs, I earn the right to assert my identity as valuable, as useful, as worth consideration. I have a valid reason to hold forth my brand. And I have a decent chance, thus, of my brand being perceived as authentic.

Thanks, Del, for your helpful insight!

Archetypical Climbers

Doing different

December 31, 2007

Thanks to John Moore for another good year-end advice column on Brand Autopsy. My three favs:

 14. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.

15. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.

16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

Those three attitudes have been integral to my way of thinking and working since day one, and I think it’s why I still have the same college clients today that I had in 1985.

Happy New Year!

20-20 presentation brevity equals pecha-kucha

December 22, 2007

That’s the Japanese term pronounced pa-CHOTCH-ka. It’s like the visual presentation version of haiku — a standup that limits itself to 20 slides with 20 seconds each. Learn more about it at pecha-kucha dot org. This entertaining example is by Dan Pink: Emotionally Intelligent Signage.

Authenticity on YouTube: Q and A

December 18, 2007

Here’s another Becky Roth video, this one from her personal vlog:

Authenticity

Here are my “answers”:

1. If it’s produced can it be authentic? Yes, if the assembled moments are authentically “found moments” or else “realistic moments” which communicate a truth about some aspect of the human condition.

2. Can it be authentic if green screen or other devices are used? Yes, if the visuals convey a truth with a sense of perspective and appropriate emotion.

3. Can it be authentic if it’s rehearsed? Yes … Hollywood does this all the time. Here, you start with authentic dialog, true to the character, to the situation, to human nature. Then you rehearse it until the actor can deliver it in character, in the moment, as though it was authenticly caught by a candid camera.

4. Can it be unrehearsed, unmediated, unedited, and still be inauthentic? YES! It can be a come-on, a false or extremely partial view into a person, a misrepresentation of their feelings, a statement of what they think you want to hear.

5. If it’s authentic, does it have intrinsic value? No, because it can also be authentically banal, boring, derivative, destructive, shocking, titillating, or horrifying…. and thus other than perhaps being a form of art, pretty much worthless in spite of its authenticity.

Thanks, Becky, for raising these questions. I welcome comments on these perspectives.

Authenticity on YouTube

December 16, 2007

From one of Mike Wesch’s students, Becky Roth, comes this documentary:

Near the end a college-age student asks, “As long as you know it’s fake, what difference does it make?” He seems to be in the minority: most folks want to feel like what they are watching is authentic.

Maybe McLuhan was right

December 14, 2007

During the 90s my brand positioning statement was “The Medium is NOT the Message” — directly contradicting Marshall McLuhan’s famous apocalyptic remark about where we were headed.

My point, then and now, was that the message is what’s important. Content trumps conveyances.

Here’s a video by Mike Wesch, a cultural anthropology prof at KSU that perhaps you’ve already seen… over 5 million folks have watched it on YouTube but it was new to me until Ken Christie called it to my attention through his blog.

Web 2.0: The Machine is Us/ing Us (final version)

This articulates as well as anything I’ve seen what Neil Postman warned us all about, and McLuhan before him: each medium carries with it a powerful bias as to the kind of information (or noise) that it disseminates. Each medium has a strength, and a corresponding weakness, just as sight and sound, taste, smell and touch each have their own unique strength. Web 2.0 is so hard to define because it carries within it the ability synthesize all of the media, resulting in either crystallinity or mush. And as usual, the way each is used, and perceived, depends on both the sender and the receiver.

Perhaps Web 2.0’s greatest impact comes from the degree to which this mega-medium puts most of that power, not in the hands of the sender, but the receiver. More than ever before in history, beauty (and truth) are indeed in the eye of the beholder.