in the mix

“look at the mix and ratio of those who’ve made it, versus those who’re starting out”
/via Dan Hon

the storm is coming
the storm is coming

Dan Hon is talking about the opportunities for different conversations at conferences like XOXO.

It got me thinking about the people I surround myself with.

I’ve started hacking this a bit with my FivePersonOrbit but I want more. I need more. Especially need to spend more time listening to people who are in the thick of it, vs reading so much from people who “have made it.”

Still hacking and thinking. What would you do?

Healthy Dissent

#1. What is happening in Downtown Las Vegas is wonderful. Having the opportunity to be a the ground floor of building a new community is a once in a lifetime chance. And I am excited to be a part of this, since the first day I sat down the TheBeat coffeehouse and records (literally the first day they opened).

#2. That said, I truly believe that one of the most important ingredients for the healthy development of this downtown project (the business and the community) is more healthy dissent.

I am not suggesting that more naysayers should sit on the sidelines and complain.

I am suggesting that the entire local population should learn the art and craft of healthy dissent. We should all be asking the questions that nag us at the core. And, while not the point of this post, we should step up and become the change we want to see.

So, what are the first steps toward learning the craft of healthy dissent? Heffernan suggests beginning with these five guidelines:

  1. Appoint a devil’s advocate.
  2. Find allies.
  3. Listen for what is NOT being said.
  4. Imagine you cannot do what you all want to do.
  5. After a decision is made, declare a cooling off period.

What about you? Are you willing or interested in discussing ways (or define other tactics) to implement this framework in our city?

Experiment: Share your Fear

I was wondering if you would help me out with a little experiment? I want you to share your fear with me.


Pause for a few seconds, and take a few slow breaths. Just long enough to really notice them, and to let the buzz in your head from being in a consumption mode fade into silence. Then, think about what you’re most afraid of right now. You probably already have a name for it… a shorthand way of describing to yourself what it is. But, don’t just say the name. Think about what it is and what it feels like.

Now, if you’re willing, would you please send me an email describing your fear? I don’t want to know your simple name for the fear, but rather a description of what you are afraid of, or why it causes you fear.

No one will read this except for me, and I will write you back.

Thank you.

There is no excuse for addressing me as, “Hi {$firstname}”

Hi {$firstName},

It was a pleasure connecting with you at [event] in San Francisco. We appreciated the chance to talk with you about your IT environment and our services for IT professionals.

Fortunately, this was not an e-mail service provider (ESP). That would have been really embarrassing. Pretty sure they didn’t even talk to me about my ‘IT environment’ OR their services. There is never an excuse for making this kind of mistake.

1. But, we are a huge company, so scaling is an issue.
Fine, then you have two options. If you’re that huge, you can hire a few more people to treat your people correctly. Or, stop pretending to know me by my {$firstName}. You think I can’t tell you don’t know me? Pretending to is not going to impress me.

2. But, it is the software’s fault.
I’m sorry, but who bought the software? Hopefully you did. Which means, the only correct response is, ‘I bought the software and I didn’t learn how to use it, and I made the mistake.’ Or, I’m willing to bet you didn’t even pay for it. You probably outsourced this to some agency or consultant. Again, your fault for outsourcing the most important part of your business–talking to your customers and potential customers–to someone else.

3. Opps! This was just a bad mistake.
Please see the above comment about not pretending to know my name if you don’t have it. But, mistakes happen to all of us. That’s cool. Just make sure you tell me that you made this mistake. If you’re willing to spend money to send me emails promoting your service, then you should be willing to send me emails connecting with me as a person to clarify your mistake, and let me know why you hope you won’t make that mistake again.

Peak Experience

I just came down from the mountain. An 82 hour life-changing gathering of an amazing community of entrepreneurs, storytellers, and world changers called Summit Series.

A number of friends have been asking about it. I am happy to have that conversation, but it should be in person and over a good meal. So, hit me up to plan that meal.

However, I do want to pass on to you a few ideas I wrote down to remind myself how to live the summit experience every week of the year:

  • Actually talk to the person beside you. You never know who they are.
  • Be willing to be inspired by something you don’t understand.
  • Always think positive thoughts, you never know who is reading your mind. =)
  • Eat every meal with lots of people, even people you don’t know.
  • Stretch. Grow. Drink lots of water. And breathe.
  • Dance every day. And dance like you mean it. Till you sweat.


What qualities make someone a good community manager?

Got a great question today in my inbox, “what qualities make someone a good community manager?

First, I can not promote the title community manager, because I do not believe the role is to manage the community. I don’t think the title is fair to the professional or to the community.

So, I can only promote titles like,

Community Architect A product centric person who designs and creates the spaces for communities to gather in and go about their life and work together

Community Curator A content centric person who is a good story teller, and can draw out great stories and examples from the community to reflect back to itself.

Community Cultivator A person who cares about rules and procedures and knows when to break them… the person who plants questions and content, moderates conversations, and mediates relationships.

Some of the qualities necessary for these roles are:

  • Compassion – you must love people in all their shapes and cultures and proclivities
  • Empathy – able to step in the shoes and head of anyone within the community, or outside the community
  • Strong Character – able to roll with the punches, dodge attacks, and defend community guidelines
  • Decider – gotta just make decisions quickly, communicate clearly, and keep moving

I probably need to add a hundred more, but these keep floating to the top.

Never Say Thanks

A friend in the community space asked me a great question this morning, and I realized I have never written about this.

Why do you say, “A community manager should never use the word, ‘thanks'”?

In my experience, when someone reaches out to a company, they are most often already in a place where they feel unheard or misunderstood. So, when they read your text based reply (where it is very difficult to express tone and emotion), their baseline assumption is that you will be dismissive or annoyed. So, in that context, it is almost impossible not to hear ‘thanks’ as “ugh, yeah, thanks a lot, whatever” but it is much harder to hear ‘thank you’ as anything but “I thank you for your question/idea/input”.

It might just be stupid semantics. But, it is one of those little rules I live by for the sake of the other.

Do you have any little rules like that?