Dreaming In SoHo

“No one is less ready for tomorrow than the person who holds the most rigid beliefs about what tomorrow will contain.” — Watts Wacker, Jim Taylor and Howard Means, The Visionary’s Handbook: Ten Paradoxes That Will Shape the Future of Your Business

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Recently I was at the Crosby Conference, put on by Pip Coburn, in the SoHo area of New York, where the conversations were unlike anything I’ve done before.  We discussed whether Facebook has an ethical responsibility to fairness in the news since so many people are now using Facebook for news, or whether we’re in a post-fact world, where you believe what syncs with your beliefs.  And those were the simple ideas.  It was amazing.

The discussions are all future oriented and held at a very high level.  A lot of what we talked about had to do with the uncertainty in today’s world and the future.

But I can’t help myself.  So when one of the students mentioned that she got her news from iHeart Media, I had to know more.  I asked what iHeart meant to her, she explained it was a music and social media platform.  Then, when I asked if she was aware that iHeart had radio stations in New York, she paused, looked confused, and said, “I don’t really listen to radio.”

It was by no means the biggest implication from the conference, but it was a little reminder of the uncertainty in our future.  It also helped me realize how little time we spend on thinking about the bigger implications in our lives.  We’re locked into a radio’s dead versus radio’s fine battle that only keeps us focused on the wrong thing.  I guess it’s simpler than addressing the issues and easier to kick the can down the road, but it’s not a solution.

Then again, maybe that student was another outlier, an anomaly in the future of the medium we all love, and when we wake up everything will be fine.

The Start of the Christmas Season

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking. -Albert Einstein

We celebrated the start of the Christmas season in my house by watching Miracle on 34th Sreet.  Well, also because we were recently in New York and visited Macy’s.  Still, how can you not love a movie that ends up with Santa being set free?  At a pivotal point in the movie the post office drops off bags and bags of letters to Santa.  Most remember all those letters dropped on the judge’s bench, but just before that there’s a scene at the post office with people sorting the mail by hand. I love the way they’d flip the letters up to be whisked away by the technology of the day.

Of course, the mail isn’t sorted by hand now, as the post office heads toward something called “Network Rationalization.”  The job shown in the movie doesn’t exist anymore. Technology changed the way the mail was handled.  That happens, even to the point, we don’t even think about the “old jobs” that were eliminated.

Typically we look at, and complain about, change that happens to us, in our generation, but if we did look at the past we’d see all these instances where change happened, and life moved forward.  The world didn’t explode or freeze in time.  It marched on, continually changing, being embraced by some, and tolerated by most.

Social Media Needs To Be Social

The Relationship Era doesn’t mean using social media and other channels to advertise or publicize or otherwise dictate your message; it means finding areas of common interest and values within to forge conversation and common causes.” – Bob Garfield

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After a recent summit designed to gain the perceptions of very savvy, successful, Millennials, there was, as you’d expect, a lot of talk about social media.  Their comments were interesting, but even more interesting were the questions asked by the audience, primarily radio people.

We think the goal of social media is to promote our stations.  Millennials think social media is for opening a line of communication with each other.  That’s quite a difference in perspective.

So here is my observation: We’re using social media as a way to promote to those boomers and X’ers listening to our stations.  That has zero impact on Millennials, and maybe minimal impact on the generations in our audience.  What I see is many stations trying to act or sound Millennial in their social media.

Social media is bound by interests, which in turn is bound by community.  We’re in an amazing world where like-minded people can join around a concept, idea or cause without the help of any “official” organization.  We should want to be involved where the listener is, how the listener is. Promoting what your morning show said this morning isn’t social, it’s hype. Thinking non-digital natives can build an effort to unite Millennials is a pipe dream.  And we all know that pipe dreams are fantastic hopes or plans that are generally regarded as being nearly impossible to achieve.

Social media is content, and very rarely is compelling content a promotion to listen to our own product.

The illusion of fact

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”  – Daniel J. Boorstin

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Along with the digital age, and the growth of search engines, has come a time when “knowledge” seems to be a click away.  You can learn, you can fact check, you can generate ideas.  There’s been concern that people are not “thinking” as much as they were, or aren’t as discerning.  If I can find it on the Internet, it must be true.

But the reality is that everything on the Internet has some sort of bias. First of all, the ones at the top of the search are paid advertising, and those right below that are there because they are “popular.”  You can find something to back up your opinion as fact very easily.  But is it the truth?

What stops you from knowing the truth is thinking that you already have the truth.  You stop seeking the truth.  And you create your own reality, which is fine if you share that reality with a lot of people, and you can control that reality to your benefit.

But it still doesn’t make it the truth.

A “Fixer Upper” For Your Station

“The most seductive thing about art is the personality of the artist himself.” – Paul Cezanne

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You’ve probably heard of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” where husband and wife Chip and Johanna Gaines rehab houses in the Waco, TX area. There’s a lot of talk about the show, how talented Johanna is…and how crazy Chip is.  That’s true, but what really makes it work is the stark differentiation between the two hosts. Dare I say role definition?
Two people who are exactly alike, or even closely alike, rarely generate the kind of passion seen on “Fixer Upper.” She’s smart, creative and more of a “driver,” he’s a total expressive, and a lovable clown. If it were just Johanna or just Chip it would wear out quickly. But that’ll never happen since both people are uniquely different, yet oddly compatible.
So how about your team shows? Are they similar in personality and approach, or do they create stark differentiation? By stark I mean…well you’ll just have to see the show and how much they play up on the differentiation. They stand out from each other, and the result is a ton of entertainment.  Even “serial” entertainment, where they’ll want to come back day after day.

It’s the personality of the two of them that creates the “art” that’s made them so successful.

P.S.  Yes, I know part of the show is fake, but the two people in it are very real.