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Aaron Howard

Aaron is a leader, technologist, musician and horse person with 25 years experience in starting, growing and monetizing successful businesses. While it would not be unusual to find Aaron in the middle of Montana every October with his wife Marianne riding horses every day and enjoying the "truly big sky", it is always a possibility that he is online. Aaron’s passion for new technologies such as social media is contagious and its been said that after a day with Aaron you will find yourself tweeting, posting, blogging, searching and roaming the web for an opportunity to be part of his vision. His most recent passion focuses on driving growth through the winning combination of leadership and emerging technologies. Learn more about Aaron and growth here at

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UberVU – Your Social Conversations Monitor (via Blonde2.0)

A couple of weeks ago I read this on Blonde2.0, a blog I always enjoy reading by a truly talented founder and CEO of a consultancy firm “helping brands use social media tools such as social networks, the blogosphere, and social software, most effectively in order to create brand awareness, an online buzz, recruit employees or achieve any other goal online.” This article features UberVU a novel and simple way to monitor social conversations. Let us know what you think and be sure to pop over to Blonde2.0!

As a social media agency, it’s important for us to always be up to date on what people are saying on the Web regarding the brands we represent. I was introduced to UberVU at SeedCamp Paris last year, by their founder Vladimir Oane. UberVU collects all the conversations happening around your brand from blogging platforms, microblogging, social news sites, forums and social networks, and makes music by stringing it all together in a highly intuitive interface. Some of the sites that UberVU covers:

UberVU includes simple graphic indicators in their insights to give you an overall view of the kind of buzz or “the sentiment” your brand is generating in the social sphere. Basically you now have the tools to determine at a glance whether people love you; find you about as pleasant as a bad rash; or somewhere in-between. The question remains whether UberVU can pick up on the subtleties of syntax – meaning, do they understand sarcasm, metaphors, short hand and the like. Especially in the communist world of 140 characters for all twitterers regardless of class or station, the ability, or lack thereof, to pick up on such things can make a big difference in the size of the discrepancy between assumed public brand sentiment and reality. This is why UberVU wants to get smarter and is now asking users to help train its sentiment meter. If you ever find a mention in your stream which was incorrectly assessed by their sentiment measurement feature, you can now “teach” it otherwise.

UberVU’s services are divided into a few categories:

Data Collection

The way UberVU works is very easy. You just pick your search term and voila, you will receive all this information either by going to the site or signing up for email alerts. You can decide how often you’ll receive alerts regarding new mentions about your search term/s.

And now look out James Bond, I believe we have ourselves a corporate espionage feature. UberVU allows you to keep track of  the sentiment around your competitors and see exactly how it compares to your own; where are they stronger; where are their weak points – Perhaps the 3.0 version will feature an ejector seat where you can launch the competition out of their desk chair and into the roof of their startup garage, if you get the urge.


You will receive all the reports and charts that you ever dreamed of. The uberVU charts are interactive – you can drill down to specific days or zoom out as much as you want. You can filter information by platform (i.e. twitter, Facebook), language, location and even sentiment.


You can reply to people’s comments right from UberVU. UberVU also offers translations for mentions because not all mentions will be in your native language. All mentions can be translated into your language of choice, or even filtered to arrive directly in your own language, allowing you to respond to tweets, posts and comments immediately without having to cut and paste to a third party translator. The significance? You can now have conversations with foreigners. Not correspondence, conversations.

Exporting Data

UberVU also includes seamless report making features for charts, PDF’s and the like. Reports like this can really come in handy when you want to show others in your company some of these beautiful analytics.

UberVu recently unveiled three new features; Geolocation, Share Of Voice (SOV) and the Daily Sentiment Breakdown:

Geolocation allows you to see exactly where in the world people are talking about your brand and provides you with a very cool visual heat map:

SOV shows you specifically on which platforms your brand is being talked about the most (i.e Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc).

Daily Sentiment Breakdown is really an add-on of UberVU’s core sentiment feature, only now the results can be broken down across a 24 hour period. What this allows for is the tracking of specific daily initiatives so that users can make incremental adjustments to the tone and direction of campaign strategy – slowly turning that frown upside-down.

In a world that’s trying to assess social media’s ROI, there is no specific platform yet which provides a complete, comprehensive measurement tool. However, I have to say that UberVU is one of the best tools out there right now. For anyone managing a social media campaign, both third party and in-house, there are a couple of social media conversation monitoring services – the most expensive of them being Radian6 and the cheapest of them being Google Alerts, which is free. There’s also an Israeli solution called Tracx. However, for the relatively small price UberVU costs, it is able to provide as comprehensive and insightful a solution as you’ll find out there at the moment.  Stay tuned for more cool features coming from them soon.

This post was originally published onThe Next Web on September 8th.


What President Obama Can Learn From Steve Jobs

We just had to repost this article. Leadership is complicated. Managing in the NOW requires a thorough understanding of the Social Ecosystem. Take a look and thank you Business Insider.

The sunlight of summer has begun it’s annual transition to equinox, and we are all reviving the pulse of the work-year.

The President has returned from Martha’s Vineyard to face what will surely be a challenging fall.  It’s mid-term election season and the mood of the voting public is downright ornery.

ODS (Obama Disappointment Syndrome) a growing wave of depression, has created a huge anti-incumbent wave.  ”Throw ‘em all out!” seems to be the mantra of the season.

In the last couple of weeks the number of negative op-eds on the President from both sides of the aisle have grown considerably.  The mildest theme seems to be “he is too smart to be in touch with the people,” or “we just don’t know who you are or what you really are about Mr. President.”  The really challenging ones drift into the inevitable issues of racism.

I have long held that the most qualified people to be in government are business folk.  Not just Billionaires like Mayor Bloomberg, but anyone who has successfully run anything, been responsible for making payrolls, paying back loans, paying bills on time, navigating through good times and bad.  Most important: balancing a budget.  But the reality is most people who have these credentials are too smart to get sucked into the dysfunction of the public sector. Nor will they submit themselves to the relentless intrusion and scrutiny of the press.  So what’s the next best thing for the “beleaguered” President?  Take some lessons from the guys who know how to really get things done. And who better than the best CEO in the Universe: Steve Jobs.

So Mr. President, in an effort to help you succeed, herewith is a new playbook for your consideration:

1. You have to make other people cool. Being cool got you elected because it made people feel cool electing you. But then nothing much else happened. You thought healthcare would be the cool thing but dramatically misread your audience.  Steve makes millions of people cool, it is his most amazing talent.  Buy an iPhone and you are cool.  But if you don’t have a job, you have no chance of being cool.  And the Healthcare plan? No one is cool with it (outside of DC).

2. Get citizens to voluntarily pay more taxes.
Apple has been doing this for years.  Customers happily fork over a big premium for their products. They will even camp overnight outside an Apple store to have the privilege of doing it first.  We have a huge debt problem. In Europe everyone pays a VAT (Value Added Tax). Apple has a CAT (Coolness Added Tax).  Watch and learn Barack.  You just have to figure out what it is the Federal Government does that’s cool, or useful, or is of particular benefit to anyone.

3. Replace Congress with a Genius Bar. The current spin is that the Republicans are obstructionist.  But if there are Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, how could that possibly prevent you from bringing “Change we can believe in?”  The answer is that Congress just isn’t smart enough.  Sure these are fine, well-intentioned people but we need really super-smart folks to fix our dysfunctional system.  Steve Jobs figured out that even people savvy enough to buy Apple products were going to have problems now and then, and he wasn’t going to subject them to someone you’d find working at the Division of Motor Vehicles.  He recruited an army of Geniuses.  So why not forget about political party affiliations and just support the election of Geniuses.

4. Wear the same outfit every day. I know it sounds trite but you probably have figured out it takes a lot of brain cycles to be POTUS.  Why waste any time trying to pick out a slick Armani and matching tie (or arguing with the First Lady about HER selection).  Steve’s turtleneck and jeans thing has worked for 30 years now because it sends a simple clear message “all I care about is making insanely great products.” You could be transmitting “all I care about is improving your life, making a better America.”

5. You can’t be afraid of pissing people off. Probably your biggest Freshman error has been to try and make everyone happy.  Yes you passed a Healthcare bill but it didn’t take on the tough issues (Tort reform, insurance rate controls).  You decided we needed to “surge” in Afghanistan but also announced we’d only do it for a little while, so as not to over-irritate all of the antiwar constituency who voted you into office.  Steve Jobs takes on the tough issues. He decided that Adobe’s Flash, one of the most widely used media formats on the Internet, sucks and that was that. iPhone and iPad don’t support it.  So I can’t view half of the stuff on the WWW on my iPad; but I still have one.  Take a real stand on something President Obama and live with the fact that to be effective you are going to make some people angry.  As long as there are more happy people then angry people you’ll have a second term.

6. Vision without execution is nothing. We elected you because you understood how frustrated we were with DC Dysfunction.  You had a vision for “not a Red America or Blue America but a United States of America.”  You said you would bring change to Washington.  True you never said you’d make DC “Insanely Great” or “Magical” but you presented your campaign vision with compelling Jobsian conviction.  Yet, the partisan aisles are wider than ever.  No one seems to want to solve problems, they are just obsessed with maintaining or regaining their majority.  Steve Jobs has a saying: “there are two types of people in the world: those who have shipped products and those who haven’t.”  Steve has shipped more Innovative products over the last 30 years than any other tech executive.  The lesson here?  Get rid of all of the professors, policy wonks, career bureaucrats, and Chicago thugs and convince some real capitalist operational executives to come work for you (even if you hate the way we smell).

7. Build a little intrigue. Tell us something big is coming.  Set a date for a big presentation.  Leak a little here and there to tease.  Cut all the deals behind the scenes so Congress backs you. Then get on stage and tell us all about our shiny new Healthcare Widget.  We won’t mind what’s missing because we’ll know it’s just 1.0 and your bound to have a bunch of improvements next year and it will be much cheaper too.

8. Make us USA Fanboys.
Right after the election it was fun to be an American again, especially while traveling abroad.  Europeans in particular were not Bush fans and we took a big hit in our image.  Electing you made the World feel good.  But the bloom has quickly faded. No one can figure out what you really stand for.  We are straddled with debt, and seem to be losing our innovative edge. We can’t even give our kids a decent education.  Apple went through bad times prior to Steve Job’s comeback.  It lost it’s Mojo.  But Steve returned with laser like focus. The company’s back was against the wall and he put forth a simple proposition. He said they would only do two things and had to make them spectacular to survive.  He thew away all of the previously bloated, PC-like Macs and introduced the first iMac and iBook. They were a hit.  That led to iPod.  Which led to iPhone.  Which led to legions of proud Apple Fans. And most important huge financial success.  All due respect President Obama, we need to focus on innovation and education.  If we are not giving our children the best and nurturing our innate Yankee ingenuity, we will never create jobs and return to prosperity. It’s hard to feel patriotic pride when your house is being repossessed.

9. When all else fails. Blame it on us stupid Americans.  We just don’t get it.  We don’t need to access our iTunes library on more than five computers.  Calls dropping on our brand new iPhone4?  We are holding it the wrong way!  Go to the Genius bar and Apple will give you a rubber and show you how to practice safe iPhone4.  Mr. President, Yes you can to bring change to Washington, but everyone else is going to have to want to change too.  If they won’t play ball, make it crystal clear that they are the morons and send them to a Genius Bar for help.  Well actually looks like the voters are going to do that for you in November.

The final lesson is that passion and persistence against all adversity will pay off.  After all of the adoration bestowed during the campaign, it must be horrible to have to endure the current spate of negative press.  But hey, Steve was summarily thrown out of his own company, thrashed around for a bunch of years trying to get NeXT to be something. Perhaps it was a dose of humility that helped polish his edges a bit but he never lost his passion or focus.  His return and turnaround of Apple is now epic.  And the story is really just beginning.  So President Barack Obama, can you turn it around and become an epic President? One for the history books? Take a lesson from Apple. It’s all about Jobs.


10 Things Obama Must Do In 10 Weeks (via CNN)

I found this article to be amazing in terms of it’s application to any “CEO” who is stuck.  President Obama used the Social Ecosystem to his advantage during the election. He even used the principles of Managing in the NOW. It’s time for him to get back at it! Thank you CNN.

(CNN) — President Obama is facing criticism that his message has gone off track at a crucial time for his party and administration. With the midterm elections just 10 weeks away, the president’s approval ratings are at their lowest. Analysts are predicting big wins for Republicans in November.

Ten weeks is an eternity in politics, and Republican and Democratic strategists say there are some key things Obama can do in the final stretch to restore the confidence of the American people and minimize expected losses for his party.

1. Simplify the message

Candidate Obama inspired voters in the 2008 election with a simple message of hope and change. Halfway through his term, the president now faces the complex reality of governing.

Despite the administration’s full plate, strategists say Obama needs to return to the focus and discipline that helped him win the presidency.

“That means less Professor Obama, more President Obama. It means fewer distinctions and shorter paragraphs,” said David Morey, a communications expert who advised Obama’s 2008 campaign.

“What should the message be? There should be three messages: Jobs, jobs, jobs,” he added.

Christopher Arterton, professor of political management at George Washington University, advised Obama to drop the soaring rhetoric and focus on more low-level policy stops.

“It’s a question of every day doing something on the economy and making sure that the news headlines are related to that,” he said.

2. Channel Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan, known as the “great communicator,”put communications front-and-center, Morey said.

“He focused and simplified the message. He communicated it. He built a consensus. He defined America’s role in the world, and that’s the challenge here,” he said.

Once Obama has honed his message, he should take it directly to the people in news conferences, said Morey, vice chairman of the Core Strategy Group.

“Nobody was better at that. I’m not sure why somebody with that intellect and those communications talents should be so tightly scripted.”

3. Propagandize the truth

“There is a great hunger for leaders who can rise above the political pettiness and tell the truth,” Morey said, pointing to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as an example.

Christie, a Republican, defeated Democrat Gov. Jon Corzine last year, becoming the first Republican governor of the state since 1997.

Since then, Christie has slashed the state’s budget and proved he doesn’t answer to his party alone. So far, the voters like him for it. A Quinnipiac survey released last week shows 61 percent of independents approve of how he’s handling his job.

A governor who tests GOP strategy

4. Go on the offense

“With barely an exception, the administration should stop equivocating, parsing and reacting,” Morey said.

In an era of 24/7 analysis on the television and online, it’s easy for a president to get caught up in the day-to-day distractions and mudslinging.

When sideshow issues pop up, the president must rise above them.

“I think it’s time to do the thing he does in 2008 better than any candidate I’ve ever seen — transcend,” Morey said.

“Ignore your opponents, ignore cable TV, ignore the extreme left and right. And play your game. Fight your fight for this election.”

5. Put up a fight

“This election, for better or for worse, depends on how hard the president fights between now and Election Day,” former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The president sets the tone, Dean said, “and for the president to be out there fighting, as he has been for the last two or three weeks, and sounding like Harry Truman, people love that stuff. They want to see a fighter. They want to see strength in their leaders, and I think President Obama is showing that strength.”

Despite the president’s low job-approval ratings, polls show most people like him personally. And, Arterton notes, Obama’s fundraising ability is a big boost for Democratic candidates.

6. Be positive

The American people want to hear what Obama is for instead of what he’s against, said Ron Christie, a Republican strategist who worked in the Bush administration from 2001 to 2004.

Disenchantment with Washington is high, and voters are looking to be inspiredinstead of angered.

“Stress why your vision, your leadership, your policies will benefit the American people and why the American people should have trust and confidence in your policies and positions,” said Christie, founder of the communications firm Christie Strategies.

“If they do that, that could minimize some of the expected losses. If they don’t, I think people will tune it out. I think people will recognize more of the same, and I think Democrats will be severely punished at the polls.”

7. Look to the future, not the past

Obamalikes to point the finger at Republicans and the Bush administration for “driving the economy into a ditch.”

While that can be part of his message, it shouldn’t be the whole thing, Morey said.

“Elections ultimately are about the future, not the past. The Democratic Party is going to have to get onto the future jobs-centric growth plan,” he said. “They can start with a question of the past, but boy, that’s not a way to win an election, and it’s certainly not a way to govern once you win an election.”

8. Pay attention to independents

It’s necessary to fire up thebase,but the independents are the ones with the power to swing the election.

“You are going to have your Republicans that support the Republican candidates. You are going to have the Democrats that support the Democratic candidates. The question really becomes what is the mood of the independents,” Christie said.

A Gallup poll released last month showed independents are leaning toward Republican candidates by a 12-point margin.

“The current snapshot has a clear message: Democrats should be afraid, very afraid,” John Avlon wrote in a column for

9. Be prepared for Election Day …

The party in power usually loses seats in midterm elections. The question this year is, “How many?”

If Democrats lose control of the House — or if their majority is just weakened — Obama should be prepared to do what President Bush and President Clinton did when their parties suffered big losses. They took responsibility and showed a willingness to reach across the aisle.

In 1994, Republicans took back control of the House and Senate for the first time in more than 40 years, picking up 40 seats in the House and eight in the Senate.

“I’m the president. I’m the leader of the efforts that we have made in the last two years, and to whatever extent we didn’t do what the people wanted us to do or they were not aware of what we had done, I must certainly bear my share of responsibility,” Clinton said the following day.

Twelve years later, when Democrats took back both chambers, Bush admitted his disappointment and said, “The message yesterday was clear: The American people want their leaders in Washington to set aside partisan differences.”

Whatever happens at the polls, Obama will need to digest the message from the public and adapt accordingly.

“President Obama has to heed the message that voters send him,” Christie said. “He’s not the Democratic president or the Republican president — he is the president of the American people.”

10. … but don’t stop at November

“This is the most important election in American history because it’s the next election, which is always true,” Arterton said.

Though a lot has changed since Obama was elected, he’s not even halfway through his term. The midterms are important, but no matter what the outcome, Obama will still be president for another two years, and it’s up to him to get the public focused on the future of the country and not politics.

“The best CEOs are able to get people looking beyond their quarterly earnings and even their annual performances,” Morey said.

“He needs to get people looking beyond the daily, monthly polling and even beyond this midterm election.”


Congrats to Brenna for the Spo…

Congrats to Brenna for the Spotlight!


8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Biz

I just had to repost this great article from Don Rainey via Entrepreneurial Corner.  Great read! Of course, the Homer Simpson/Letterman Top Ten was too good to resist.

In the world of startups, success or failure can be hard to consistently predict. One thing that’s sure, however, is that anyone who starts a business is changed by the process. The continual challenges of meeting the opportunities and issues that arise make it fun and always interesting. I think it is why many people continue to start businesses regardless of the (easier) alternatives presented by employment for somebody else.

Having started a few businesses in my life, I view some of the lessons of the experience as intuitive and others much less so. Given the time and money involved in learning these lessons, none could be characterized as cheap.

They all changed my worldview, though. And they all changed me as a person. I’m glad I learned these lessons, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish that I knew them originally.

Here are the eight things I wish I knew when I started my first business.

1. Things take longer than you ever imagine – Everything that involves people, resources, tasks and coordination takes longer than you ever think it should take to get done. It isn’t about developing patience, as patience doesn’t really help you keep driving things forward. It is about being realistic in your planning and management.

2. Items that do succeed tend to do so quickly – I have seen more successes — products, projects, employees, etc. — start strongly than slowly. The great salesperson or employee is great from the first day. The strong employees contribute immediately. The product that is going to be a hit gets strong, initial reactions from customers.

3. People will let you down – This will happen in ways you can’t even imagine when you start out. It can range from inattentiveness and laziness to fraud and theft. You’ll see it all from the people you meet along the way.  Your faith in people or belief in them can be a dangerous thing. As Pres. Reagan put it, “Trust, but verify.” Blind faith will get your butt kicked again and again. Love and reward your employees, but don’t have too much confidence in them.

4. Good employees are really hard to find – A solid worker isn’t just difficult to find, he or she is really difficult to find. And they’re the first ones to leave. The truth is that 10 percent of the world is competent – and you’re looking for that 10 percent in every hire.

It’s hard to do consistently. And that’s why organizations that do it with frequency have such strong reputations. If you want to build a business predicated largely on finding, getting and keeping quality employees to succeed, you should understand that premise will be your greatest risk. Finding a market and profitably selling to it (usually the greatest risks) will take a back seat. Better yet, pursue a business that needs some reasonable percentage of employees to be really good.

5. Your bad employees rarely quit – For one thing, poor performers aren’t really all that motivated to look, as that might involve actual performance. For another, no one else is likely to recruit them. Your marginal and weak employees are with you for life unless you move proactively. In many years of running businesses, the only time this wasn’t true was during the dot-com bubble. At that time, every idiot could get a 15 percent to 20 percent raise here in Northern Virginia by changing jobs. And they did. Aside from that blessed time, weak employees are your most “loyal.”

6. You will be lucky and unlucky -In the fullness of time, you will be assuredly lucky and unlucky. And sometimes, things that appear to be bad luck will turn out to be good — the weak salesperson who turned down your job offer — or vice versa. You will have ups and downs, and you will win or lose things that you don’t deserve to win or lose. You will be unlucky and lucky, you just may never know when.

7. Avoid the myth and misery of sunk cost – See the item above about succeeding quickly. Don’t chain yourself to the anchors you lovingly create in pursuit of success. If it isn’t working for you or the business, let it go. Understand that it isn’t good money after bad money, it is all bad money. Fire that salesperson, let that manager go, stop selling that product, get used to moving on. You’ll make a lot of decisions in running a business. Accept that not all of them will be right.

8. Fill the pipe, always fill the pipe – The difference between good times and bad times is often reflected in how many of the opportunities, customers, etc. end up closing successfully. In good times, more deals close from a normal opportunity pipeline. In bad times, less deals close from the pipeline. So, fill the pipeline of opportunities, and always look to add to the pipeline.   Deals don’t close for a million reasons. Your only defense is to fill the pipe.


Defrosting The Fear Freezer

How to Get Rid of Fear as the Dominant Management Force?

The following article was written by John Bernard, Chairman and CEO of Mass Ingenuity. John is writing a book called Managing in the NOW that focuses on how to create a competitive advantage during the next business revolution. The Social Ecosystem is a critical part of making things happen, both NOW and in the future. That’s why we are all working closely with John Moore as he guides the evolving Social Ecosystem. I’ve worked with John for 8 years and he has a lot to say about management, leadership and the NOW System of Management. Here’s what John recently said about fear. We’d love to hear your thoughts too!

One of the nasty little realities of organizational life is that fear plays a predominant if not dominant role in controlling behavior. While it is tempting to say that fear is the natural order of things organizational, the reality is we pay a huge price by using it in terms of creativity and agility. Fear freezes our people’s creativity and engagement.

Deeply seated in our beliefs about the need for fear is a belief about the nature of human beings, a set of beliefs that are politically incorrect to mention. But if we are going to tackle fear, we need to get at why we use it, how we use it and what options do we have if we choose to move away from it.

The use of fear as the dominant force for guiding behavior is based on this belief: if our employees don’t fear job loss or some form of punishment, they will not do what we expect of them.

In more descriptive detail it looks like this:

  • If we don’t punish people for being late they will be late
  • If we don’t monitor their break time they will take advantage of us
  • If we let them take personal phone calls they will talk on the phone all day
  • If we let them surf the web they’ll spend the day on Facebook
  • If we don’t monitor their work they’ll do sloppy work
  • If we don’t stay on top of them they won’t get much done
  • If we let them talk to co-workers they’ll socialize all day long

To summarize, if we really believe fear is necessary to have a productive workforce, than we must believe that human beings are basically lazy, irresponsible creatures. Human nature is such that we can’t treat our employees like responsible adults, because they act like children.

You are probably bristling at this description and wanting to assure me that you are more enlightened than this. And the reality is you probably are.

I am not making this point as strongly as I am to try and put leaders down, I am saying it so painfully plainly because I think we need to reexamine how we lead and manage people.

Fear means we believe the people who work for us are not responsible adults, and yet evidence to the contrary is everywhere you look. I have met machinists who are scoutmasters, meter readers who are elders of their churches, pressmen who serve as county commissioners and letter carriers who are talented and prolific poets.

I am not saying there are not lazy people, because they are—but they represent a very small minority of our workforce. But the average every day worker in our organizations is anything but lazy. Follow them home and learn about their lives and you’ll find they’re great parents, reliable and generous neighbors, creative problem solvers and productive citizens.

If all this is true, then why do we use fear to drive behavior in our organizations? And why do even some of the best organizations still have a lot of fear in them?

Fear is a natural state in a world of hierarchy, in part because the people over us in our organization have one big, frightening stick: they can fire us and throw our lives into economic turmoil. So one driver of fear is our dependence upon our organizations for a paycheck that results in things we need: food, clothing, shelter, education, etc. This fear will always be there to some degree or another because we all worry about making ends meet.

But the other source of fear, the source we can address, is the fear created by how we run our organizations. Fear is driven by doubt. Doubt causes us to hesitate. When I don’t understand how things work I am at constant risk of stepping on an unsuspected landmine. That being the case, I keep my head down and don’t question things that don’t seem to make sense and I certainly would not make creative suggestions. I just do my job.

Fear based in doubt and confusion can be eliminated—or at the very least significantly reduced. And to be competitive, it’s essential we do everything we can to drive it out.

To eliminate fear, I suggest you make the following things VERY clear to everyone who works for you:

  1. Where the organization is going (it’s vision, goals, strategies)
  2. What you are counting on them to do (count means, measures that are clear)
  3. How to effectively solve problems they see (pick a common problem solving method and teach it to everyone)

We can never fully eliminate fear because it is part of the human condition, but we can defrost a huge portion of the fear freezer. That’s one of management’s most important jobs.

We pay a heavy price in terms of creativity and agility with fear, but we don’t have to if we remove the core doubts our people have about the organization and their role in it.


Leadership Lessons From Jeff Dunham!?

Art truly does imitate life.

Oops … We are getting a bit crazy again. What could we possibly learn about leadership, managing in the NOW, and the Social Ecosystem from Jeff Dunham? Well, let start with some facts.

via Wikipedia: “Jeff Dunham has been called “America’s favorite comedian” by, and according to the concert industry publication Pollstar, he is the top-grossing standup act in North America, and is among the most successful acts in Europe as well. As of March 2009, he has sold over four million DVDs, an additional 7 million dollars in merchandise sales,[5] and received more than 350 million hits on YouTube (his introduction of Achmed the Dead Terrorist in Spark of Insanity is the ninth most watched YouTube video ever),[1] making him one of the most-viewed entertainers of all time. Spark of Insanity received the best reviews of any DVD on in 2008, and A Very Special Christmas Special was the most-watched telecast in Comedy Central history, with its DVD going quadruple platinum (selling over 400,000) in its first two weeks.[6] ranked Dunham as the third highest paid comedian in the United States behind Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock,[5] and reported that he was one of the highest earning comics from June 2008 to June 2009, earning approximately $30 million during that period.[7]

Well there you go! A “bidnessman”. And how did he do it you ask? Simple. He did it by understanding his customer and what they want (even need!). Then Jeff used every form of social media he could access to build a following. He did it NOW … meaning fast. He used the Social Ecosystem to manage his business in the NOW. Great job Jeff.

Enjoy the video folks …


NOW: The Mother Of All Processes

We live in a complex world and we work in complex organizations. Whether your organization is small, medium, large or huge, understanding how it all works is no small task. Regardless of its size, the simple reality is the performance of any organization is largely driven by its management system. Ironically, it is rare to see an organization even acknowledge it has a management system. However, this is the “mother of all processes” and until an organization takes conscious control of that system, it will have little control over its performance.

A management system is a collection of processes understood by every employee that focuses the organization and drives it to achieve specific desired results. It creates the priorities, establishes targets, clarifies accountability, allocates and aligns all resources, reviews progress, initiates adjustments and interventions when performance is below target, and drives improvement in all routine work. An effective and disciplined management system ensures the routine work of the organization is delivered with increasing quality and decreasing costs, and that strategic initiatives are effectively executed so they deliver the expected results.

Download the full article, The Mother of All Processes: Part One to learn more about this important key to the NOW System of Management.


The NOW System of Management

Welcome back to The Periscope Group! We’ve been heads for the last couple of weeks working on the system of management now called … wait for it … NOW. Why NOW? Because everything we do is happening NOW. So, for the foreseeable future we will be talking about managing in the NOW and how that relates to customers, employees, leadership, growth and a host of business concerns.

The convergence of social media, cloud computing and the millennial workforce is creating a revolution that will redefine how we compete for the next decade. The new standard for action is instantaneous; everything is happening in a time called NOW. Every opportunity and every problem that is not resolved in the NOW is lost.

Additionally, we will continue to syndicate with John Moore and The Lab. John is moving forward with the Social Ecosystem, a concept we support and need as part of the NOW system of management. Here’s what John says about the Social Ecosystem: (via John Moore) “The Social Ecosystem provides a structure within which all types of organizations live and interact.  This ecosystem is open and inclusive of both public and private organizations and remains independent of geography and language.”

Stay tuned!


Transparency … (via John Moore)

As many of you know, we are heavily involved with installing a system of management (NOW System). The topic of transparency threads throughout this system and often invokes intense debates between leaders. In any case, John Moore’s article is excellent. Please take a look!

(via John Moore) Transparency sounds like a great goal, a key attribute that people point to when they discuss the benefits of social media and nearly every social+ framework.  Why wouldn’t transparency make sense, the concept makes us think of pulling aside the curtain (picture the Wizard of Oz), eliminating hidden deals, hidden agendas, working purely for the goals stated.

It sounds a little Utopian, in fact….  Aldous Huxley would be excited to see it taking up so much of our time, so much of our thinking….

The problem with transparency, of course, is how far does an organization need to take the concept and what does it really mean when applied to any given function?

Well, first off, the key for any organization is to meet their defined goals, deliver information/value where and when needed.  In fact, each organizational goal will require a different degree of “transparency” ranging from completely open to completely closed. Each can be right for a given organizational goal at a given time.

The key for success within The Social Ecosystem (or any of the components of the overall Ecosystem), is to focus on organizational goals first, define strategies and tactics second.  The strategies and tactics will lead you to the level of transparency required.  As always, let common sense organizational strategies lead your way, not buzz words.