The Right Stuff

There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.”  (opening to the movie The Right Stuff)

When you approach the sound barrier there is a sudden increase in aerodynamic drag and the plane buffets around.  For Chuck Yeager, and the others, it must have been some experience.  It was a change they wanted, but I’ll bet there were some too frightened to push through.  Change can feel dangerous.  Some of the test pilots of the 50’s thought you couldn’t send someone into space and back without being “spam in a can.”

We’re feeling the bumps, jinks, and aerodynamic drag of seismic changes in media, driven by an even bigger change in generations.  It’s uncomfortable, disruptive and even frightening.  The world, as we baby boomers knew it, is evolving but that’s no worse than what the Greatest Generation, who fought in World War II, had to adapt to with us.  Funny, they thought Boomers would be the end of America, but here we are. Things will change, but at the same time the world will go on.

We all have our areas where change seems impossible, there’s nothing wrong or unusual with that, unless it freezes us into inaction. Change is happening all around us every day. The key is the response to change – how we humans handle the change. There are basically three responses: we fool ourselves and ignore or refuse change, we can adapt to change, or we can be one of those rare people who get ahead of and lead change.

The question we should be answering is not about change, it should be how we’ll adapt to change, or maybe even lead change.

Ridiculously In Charge!

Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.” Robert Louis Stevenson

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I’ve been reading Boundaries For Leaders by Henry Cloud, great book about growing a culture of leadership.  In it, he talks about a leader he was talking to who was complaining about the culture around him.  Cloud kept asking questions about why these things were happening, which led the leader to realize the culture was up to him! Finally, the leader was in charge…ridiculously in charge.

Leaders and managers spend a lot of time complaining about how their workplace operates without ever realizing that they are the ones who can fix it.  I won’t give you all the details of the book, but two of the principles that will allow you to be ridiculously in charge are what you create and what you allow.

What you create is based on what you aspire to see, the culture you create (intentional or not), the goals you set, the strategy you employ and the leadership you demonstrate. These are usually the things we want.

What you allow are the things you don’t want to happen, but seem to anyway.  It’s the things that happen because you don’t work against them.  If you never say anything to people about coming to work late, they will come to work late.  If you allow people to snipe at each other, sniping will grow as a tactic.

Of the two, what gets the least attention is what you allow.  All those irritating things that happen – that you actually allow to happen – that you can’t understand.  The things you don’t really want to deal with, because it’ll be too tough or complicated.  Also, the things that you do yourself that only become irritating when it happens back to you.

This is one of the easiest to understand books about leadership that I’ve ever seen. Don’t expect to breeze through it, some parts are more difficult than others.  You’ll also want to go slow enough give yourself time to absorb it.

One reason I love it is because it challenged me, but then gave me simple, doable answers.  We can all improve our leadership skills, even if we’re only leading ourselves. This could be one of the biggest answers to a challenge you’ll find this year.

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.