The air inside the Brooklyn Bowl smells like well worn leather, sawdust, and evidently hops (from the nearby Brooklyn Brewery, but I’ll get back to them). All around me are authentic Coney Island early 20th century amusement park props, like the tin targets from shooting galleries. There’s a band putting their gear together onstage for an evening event, lots of percussion and fewer amps, so I’m guessing it’ll be some kind of folk or world music. In front of me, Charley Ryan, cofounder of the Brooklyn Bowl (with partner Peter Shapiro) is pressing his business card into my hands and is about to say the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard while receiving a business card.
“I hope my phone number goes from this card into your phone and that you use it whenever you want to get in touch.”
My son, Harold, is huge into video games and video game culture. He knows more weird and deep-level memes and obscure details than you’ll ever know. Harold has convinced me to take him to the SCG Convention in Texas. To say he’s hyped and excited is to really underplay how he feels about it.
As part of this, I’ve encouraged Harold to do as much of the planning and deciding as possible. Harold chose the Aloft hotel chain. Swell by me. He picked it because he loved the videos. I prepaid for the days of the conference. And then, I ran into a snag.
I’m sprawled out on my bed writing to you. My son is reading a copy of Retro Gamer and my daughter is playing Splatoon (it’s a Wii game that your kid probably wants). Lately, I’ve been thinking about this blog, about you, about my business, about what I stand for. That kind of stuff.
The Biggest Competitive Advantage I Have is Openness and Honesty
But that sounds like I’m trying to be virtuous. I’m not. I just think it’s easier/better/faster to just tell you what I think and feel, instead of worrying.
My son, Harold, found out quite by surprise that he really likes puppets. He pretty much had to have this Kermit the Frog puppet. What we did with it was quite interesting. And in the process, I found myself thinking about me, then you, and about us. About all of us. And about something I’m not sure I’ve yet shared in this specific way.
The Magic of Puppets
When you put a puppet on your hand, you empower someone else to speak for you. You can say things you might not say from your own lips. Because hey, it’s a puppet. Puppets are like a super power.
I’m a big fan of the work of Dr Nick Morgan. In my circles, when people ask me advice about how to be a better professional speaker, I tell a somewhat backhanded and loving story about how I paid for a day of Dr. Morgan’s time, hellbent on having him make me a much better speaker. I loved everything he had to say. It was brilliant, full of really important details and ideas. And I couldn’t really make good use of any of it.
Dr. Morgan mentions it in this post. For instance, “The good news for you conference organizers, then, is that if you hire Chris you’ll get something largely new each time. In spite of my best efforts.”. (emphasis mine)
I’m working on some interesting stuff as it relates to both bigger businesses as well as small businesses. I’m interested in how better use of data could open up a whole big slice of not-yet-tapped economic value for companies (again both bigger and smaller). It’s times like this where I feel bad for people who think I’m the “social media guy.” I’m thinking about velocity as it applies to marketing. Meaning, if we knew something faster, could we add more value and help someone better?
Velocity as a Marketing Tool
I was in Atlanta the other day for 20 hours. During that time, the services that would have been of value to me might have been:
A Peek Into How This All Threads Together for ME
I’m sharing MY personal setup. You can do yours any which way you want. But There’s some method to the madness, and it’s all contained in that picture above. I wanted to show you how it works for me.
My mom (and sometimes my dad) blog quite regularly on a site called Mom Pop Pow. I can’t post the link, because it’s thrashed with spam right now. The site was hacked. Last time Mom checked, there were many WordPress plugins that needed updating. Those might be the culprit, too. WordPress maintenance can be a part time job, I swear. And even if everything were 100% buttoned up, there are still malicious people out there looking to take over your site. It’s happened to me. Twice. Expensively.
So Now My Mom and Dad are Drug Dealers
You’d think that if you visited their site on the day I wrote this. But they’re not. Mom writes book reviews. She writes about trips to museums. She writes about things that face the Boomer generation. It’s a pretty awesome blog, says her biased and overly proud son, because it’s about what SHE wants it to be about.
A friend recently emailed me and said she was having a crisis of faith, that her attempts to work with people weren’t going especially well, that she felt a bit lost in it all. I gave her some fairly harsh feedback, but all in the service of love. The shortest version of my response to her? “You have a white truck, not a business.”
Define Your Business As Clearly As You Can
When I talk about a “white truck” business, here’s the thing: if you buy a white truck like the one in the picture above, you CAN do pretty much anything with it. You could be a landscaper. You could haul stuff. You could help people move. You could start a logistics and delivery organization. Whatever. There are LOTS of ways to use a white truck.
This post won’t change your life. Just the same, I wanted to tell you that I see a lot of shifts in the whole online/social networks landscape. Some of it kind of saddens me. The rest of it points to the weakening state of effectiveness of various platforms as business tools. You can disagree. That’s fine.
Social Networks for Business
I should note that most of my opinions have changed dramatically (180 degrees level) in the last handful of months. I’m basing this on business. Not on whether I like or don’t like something, unless I state it as such.