Monday, January 23, 2012

When Leadership is
Out of Touch

The news this past week has been filled with quite a bit of controversy—war as usual, an attempt to figure out how an ocean liner could run aground in 200 feet of water, Newt Gingrich insulting inner city kids by telling them they should get a job mopping floors, and the death of Blues legend Etta James and football coach Joe Paterno. But the one news item that affects us all, is SOPA PIPA.

For those of you who may not know what SOPA PIPA is, I give you one of the best videos on the matter by Clay Shirky on TED Talks entitled Why SOPA is a Bad Idea:

If you are paying attention to the bigger picture, our leadership is a bit out of touch.

Let me explain. When I was in college the first thing that was drilled into my head was copyright law—what was acceptable and what was not. So I get it when a bill like SOPA PIPA winds up in was pushed there by a few corporations that feel they are losing money. And for some that might be true. But for this article, let's take a trip down memory lane so we can fully grasp what this means.

Kiss Destroyer 1975 Casablanca Records
Original art is the property of
the Copyright holder.
If you are a Baby Boomer like me, (born from1946-1965) then you remember buying the latest record album by your favorite artist and running home to sit in the living room and listen to it. It was a big event.

One would sprawl out on the floor, rip open the clear plastic seal and pop the record onto your record player. Then, while the album was playing, absorb the cover art, the liner notes and the even more amazing artwork inside. My earliest memory of this teenage right of passage was for two albums: Kiss Destroyer and John Denver's An Evening with John Denver.

I know, some of you are saying "whhhhaaat?" (cue record scratch noise). Look, I have an eclectic taste in music — whether it is George Benson, Pat Metheny, Sting or even RUSH, I like the complexity of it all. But I digress.

Now remember taking all you favorite tunes of those albums—and only your favorites—and recording them onto a cassette tape to hand out to friends? Nobody gave you permission for this, and even if they told you this was illegal, you would still do it. In part because we all want to share the very things that made us happy. You weren't stealing, because no one was charging money, just sharing.

Under SOPA PIPA, sharing anything would become illegal

But here is the bigger picture...yes there are people out there who are actually crazy, believing everything should be free and in the public domain to be used by all of us. These are usually artistic types oblivious that that very idea is why they are broke all the time. Value must be placed on ones output. Period.

If you do not place a value on what you do, you will become slaves to those who do.

Taking someone's product, reverse engineering it and re-manufacturing it for resell it for one's financial gain is theft of intellectual property. The Fashion Industry is rife with this, yet the customer doesn't care as long as they can get a Louis Vuitton knockoff at half price.

So what is all the controversy on Internet Sharing. Isn't that stealing as well?

When someone on a blog such as this one writes a little about a subject and happens to use a photo from the front page of the Huffington Post, and links that picture, this creates cross-traffic, bringing that article to the top of webpage searches on the subject. The more people share the link and the photo on their sites the more people get interested in it as well. This creates a buzz and drives popularity. And creates traffic...which influences someone to buy.

The Internet also creates commerce for sectors and subjects that might not see the light of day. While companies that have been a around for years now get a chance to sell their stuff on another media channel. But the biggest game changer from the Internet is that it eliminates the middle man...bringing prices down. Try and shove another layer of handling fees and you will not be able to compete in Cyberspace. Just look at the low-low prices on Amazon. Why would anyone pay full price at a brick & mortar bookstore?

The Information Age is destroying old entrenched business models that have no place in a modern world. Imagine a hundred years ago the horse & buggy manufacturers going to Congress begging them to pass a law that would make anyone who bought one of those newfangled automobiles a criminal...punishable by 5 yrs in prison. That is what is at the heart of SOPA PIPA: control of an old, outdated business model. 

On SOPA PIPA: What we have is 20th Century Industrial Age
trained leadership attempting to pass legislation that
controls 21st Century Information Age habits...
out of touch with what is really going on.

The greatest influencer of sales is word of mouth conversations. These conversations were ALWAYS there since before recorded history. We shared our likes and dislikes before the "like" button existed.

e-Commerce is driven by word of mouth. If I click on the "like" button letting the world know that I really enjoy this certain something, hopefully enough people will click "like" as well...and suddenly we have a market of people who want to purchase the same product. The Internet drives traditional sales and marketing professionals crazy. WHY?

Well, for almost 100 years, marketing, sales and advertising was a one way conversation that many companies believed they controlled through marketing. The Internet revealed that people do whatever they feel like doing regardless of marketing. In other words, the illusion of control over a marketplace has been broken. And the biggest secret...that control never really existed in the first place.

I wonder how many albums were sold because of those mix tapes back in the 70s? People saying to another friend, "this is awesome!" Or how many of us emailed a few friends asking questions before we bought that first camcorder? Or shared a favorite recipe?

The Internet culture seems elusive the The Digital Immigrant...and well it should be: how can you sell to people you can't control? Stop trying to force people to buy and instead get them to "like" your stuff. If we like your stuff, we'll tell our "friends."

THAT is what drives sales in the Digital Age:
word of mouth.

Sure, there are people out there trying to resell stuff, getting rich by taking another persons property and reselling it as their own. THAT is what a redraft of SOPA PIPA should be targeting. But let's not lump those people in with citizens who want to share a picture or a cover story...or put their kids drawing of Mickey Mouse on a birthday cake. If SOPA PIPA had gone through as is this past week, it would have criminalized normal human behavior.

Thank you Napster for changing an entire industry by letting me pick the music, and only the music I like. I no longer have to be tortured by a record company who insists I buy an entire album of horrible songs just so I can get that one I like. But they didn't really give me that power, they created a technology to let me do what humans do all the time. iTunes, Sony serve up the content we want without forcing us to buy a bunch of junk we don' wonder Columbia House disappeared into the background (remember you could order 12 albums for a penny?). The market was changing and they didn't keep up.

Staying in touch with the habits of the marketplace is incredibly important in the Digital Age because things change fast. Just look at how many business sectors, government sectors and science have shifted completely...yet those working within those sectors may not be aware of it. The best example is our school system: we are using 20th Century teaching methods on 21st Century Learners who have been immersed in interactive educational platforms a.k.a. video games.

Listen to young people more to discover those changes. The Gen Y, Millennial, Gamer is on the cutting edge of technology and the habits it creates. Create opportunities for communication instead of confrontation. Gamers just do not think, operate or do things in the same way as let's say Boomers.

Now I wonder when lawmakers will realize they can't make people do anything just because there is a law?

Thanks for reading,

Brad Szollose

Brad is the award winning, international bestselling author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing The Way We Run Things ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

As a Baby Boomer, Brad grew up watching the original Star Trek series, secretly wishing he would be commanding a Constitution Class Starship in the not too distant future. Since that would take a while, Brad became a technology driven, creative director who co-founded one of the very first Internet Development Agencies during the Dot Com Boom—K2 Design. As a Web Pioneer, Brad was forced to invent a new management model that engaged the first wave of Digital Workers. Today, Brad helps Fortune 500 Companies close the Digital Divide by understanding it as a cultural divide—created by a new tech-savvy worker...and customer.

Mr. Szollose also writes a monthly column on business and marketing techniques that reach Generation Y for A Captured Mind Newsletter and is part of The Mind Capture Group faculty.

"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York

Leadership Lessons from a Web Pioneer.

The Art & Science of
Leading a 21st Century Workforce

Brad Szollose's (pronounced zol-us), is a globally recognized Leadership Development and Management Consultant who helps organizations dominate their industry by tapping into the treasure of a multi-generational workforce. 

He shares his management strategies within the pages of his award-winning, international bestseller Liquid Leadership...strategies that ignited his own company, K2 Design, beginning as a business idea in a coffee shop to a publicly traded company worth $26 Million in just 24 short months with an IPO on NASDAQ.

As a C-Level executive, his unique management model was awarded the Arthur Andersen NY Enterprise Award for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation Amongst Employees (the phrase Workforce Culture did not exist back then).

Today the world’s leading business publications seek out Brad’s insights on Millennials, and he has been featured in Forbes, Inc., The Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Advertising Age, The International Business Times, Le Journal du Dimanche and The Hindu Business Line to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances on CBS and other media outlets.

Since the year 2010, and the release of his award-winning international bestseller, Liquid Leadership, Brad has created customized training programs for The American Management Association, Tony Robbins Business Mastery Graduates and Liquidnet Holdings, as well as several dozen Fortune 500 companies to name just a few; preparing them for the next generation of business leaders.

Mr. Szollose is also a TEDXSpeaker, and his talk The Age of Radical Disruption, focuses on the impact video games and serious gaming has had on the work habits and behavior of Generation X & Millennials.

Brad’s programs have transformed a new generation of business leaders, helping them maximize their corporate culture, creativity, innovation, productivity and sales growth in the new Digital Age economy.

Brad's work will expose the secrets to managing a cross-generational workforce:

Brad is the author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Cross-Generational Management Strategies That Are Changing The Way We Run Things and the publisher for Journeys to Success: The Millennial Edition: 21 Millennial Authors share their personal journeys of failure and success…based on the success principles of Napoleon Hill.