Happy New Year. Welcome to 2017. I’ve decided to create a blog. This is a relatively sudden inspiration (nothing like being a latecomer), but I do have some reasoning behind the choice.
First, I find that I have a need or desire to communicate, but I also find that the vast majority of my communications, certainly over the last year, have been reactive or responsive to comments or posts on other’s social media. I tried very hard to not use my own social media timelines or pages for political or societal commentary – but I was as active as my temper and frustrations allowed me to be on other people’s comments or posts.
As with many of you, I found 2016 to be highly polarized and highly frustrating. Our ability to simply discuss – publicly – things we might have differing opinions about, devolved into partisanship, accusation and anger. I include myself, and I am not proud of it. I have built a career out of being a pretty good communicator. I pride myself on my ability to read audiences and markets, and to craft compelling messaging and story narratives to support my opinions, based on facts.
I also pride myself on being somewhat provocative – not for the sake of controversy, but to illuminate a point or position. Anyone who has worked with me professionally knows that I prefer to push the envelope to near-uncomfortable with my marketing – a firm belief grounded in the idea that anything I (or my team) does should “move the needle”. I want my work to create a visceral reaction. In my professional work, I prefer to have someone challenge a premise, or to provoke discourse – because that allows discussion, and surfaces opportunities.
One of my mantras is “I want people to love it or to hate it, I don’t want anything in-between”. If anyone says to me (about any deliverable such as visuals, collateral, content, etc.) that “it’s okay”, I feel as if I have failed. “It’s okay” is a signal that I didn’t create the emotional tension needed to get to the underlying pains that I am trying to suss out.
Unfortunately, I’ve applied that professional way of thinking (because it’s embedded in my pysche, I suppose) to the way I interact with others on newsworthy topics and I have now recognized a disconnection.
I believe that the reactive and immediate nature of the social platforms themselves, combined with the short form communication vehicles (140 characters, memes, etc.) force reducing deep ideas into too-easily digested form, and those mediums are challenging for me. I am so in-tune with words, semantics, meanings and reactions that I try to engage in dialogues (and I try to understand opposing views and positions), but that effort (unlike in my business discussions), tends to rapidly devolve into arguments and name calling.
In business, people have opinions, some of which are very well entrenched and of which they can, at times, be quite defensive. But in business contexts people also tend to listen and to consider ideas that can have a material impact for, or on, them. Sometimes that impact is solely for the good of their company, sometimes it is good for them personally, for their careers. In perfect scenarios, I can help someone make a thoughtful business decision that also has a very positive impact on their career.
In business scenarios, rarely do people argue face-to-face. A prospect might leave a meeting, or an attendee might leave a conference presentation, thinking I am a complete idiot and that my premise is flawed, but I’ve never had one call me on it directly. Certainly not with vitriol or animus. They consider my opinion, they determine if it is reasonable, or that it even makes sense, and they act – either in agreement with my premise, or they disagree and take no action at all. They consider me as the source, or perhaps as a subject matter expert. Considering the success I’ve had in doing what I do, I’ve had far more agreement than disagreement.
This realization is really what has driven me to start this blog. I feel a need to express myself. Hopefully, someone will want to read my thoughts. Frankly, I think I need to write them more for me than for the reader – I need to express them, whether anyone reads them or not. It’s who I am, it’s what I do. It’s not going to be about marketing, or politics, or sports, in particular. It’s going to be about whatever seems meaningful to me, or that I feel a need to express my thoughts on. That said, those topics will probably fuel most of it – because those are things I am most passionate about.
Let me know what you think. As you can see, I do love to discourse.