Two days ago, a group of really smart people put on the smartest event ever: The Influencer Project: The Shortest Marketing Conference Ever. The whole point was to get a bunch of gurus to give tips about how to make sure you stand out in the blog-o-, tweet-o-, whatever-o-spheres.
Why was it smart?
1) it was free (well, if you still consider giving someone your email address as free) 2) each of the 60 speakers had a 60-second limit so the whole thing only lasted an hour 3) if you have to distill all of your knowledge into a 60-second soundbite, it's got to be GOOD, right?
I'm about halfway through listening to the MP3 of the event (the fact that they made this available for free, too, would be smart thing #4, actually) and so far, it's awesome. As advertised. I'm a super-satisfied customer.
One of the tidbits that hit home with me was from Loren Feldman of 1938 Media. I didn't know anything about Loren before I heard him speak, but am a total fan now (his WTF Wednesdays, an homage, surely, to master WTFer comedian Mark Maron, are priceless).
Anyway, Loren said something like this in his 60 seconds:
When you put yourself out in the digital space, you have to take a stand about who you are. You have two choices:
1) You can be totally transparent/brutally honest in how you communicate and risk pissing people off; or 2) You can be the totally nice person whose only goal is to make friends and to never ruffle any feathers.
He says either route works, but you have to choose. Because when you do a mashup of the two routes, you get into trouble.
This sooooo hit home for me, both in my own tip-toe-y efforts to get some of that "influence" everybody wants and with the clients I work with. So many people/companies have been programmed to water things down so as to appeal to the broadest range of people possible. And that works, to a degree (e.g. Mama's Family, Starbucks, Wal-Mart). But how good can you feel at the end of the day that what you're doing is making the world the tiniest bit better? Not so much, I would imagine.
The lovely and amazing Catherine Caine had a blog post just yesterday that was inspirational in this regard. She wrote a refreshingly honest review of Charlie Gilkey's new book, The Unconventional Guide to Freelancing. She took a stand in her own cheerful, truthful, "how could you ever get mad at this smart-and-funny chick?" way. Even Charlie himself gave her a pat on the back for the review.
I'm going to heed Loren's advice. And help my clients heed it as well.