## The Impact Equation: New Book by Julien Smith and Chris Brogan

Yesterday was the official publication date of Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s new book, The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen, or Just Making Noise?

They are doing some cool promotion for the book; check it out on Julien’s site.  Meanwhile, I wanted to get out the word and give readers an early quick review, since I pre-ordered it and downloaded it to read yesterday.

It’s a very good book, first of all.  I have always had a lot of admiration for Julien and Chris, ever since meeting them at the Trust Summit in New York three years ago, shortly after their best-seller Trust Agents had come out.

This book reminds me why I like them so much, and why I get so much out of them every time I interact with them.

The Structure

Chris and Julien have an obvious flair for being cutting-edge social media communicators; so much so that it’s easy to overlook that they are serious subject matter masters. The subject they bite off here is pretty aggressive – how an individual can have an impact in today’s emerging business world.

This is a non-trivial book; it’s way beyond how-to, and will provoke your thinking on many dimensions, if you let it.

The book has a big picture structure:  think of two axes with “impact” on one dimension, and “plan” or “organization” on the other.

The “Impact” part of it I think of as coming mainly from Julien: they’ve got a very clever 5-part acronym (CREATE) which deconstructs the components of Impact. They are: Contrast, Articulation, Reach, Exposure, Trust, and Echo (echo).

Expressed as an equation, it is: I = C x (R + E + A + T + E).

Using an equation is a nifty idea (think the Trust Equation); it gets you thinking about relationships, magnitudes, and interactions. Very useful stuff.

The other dimension I think of as coming more from Chris: Goals, Ideas, Platform, and Network. Chris has a knack for organizing the world in Big-Picture, but very practical and provocative ways.

Making It Work For You

Just like Chris and Julien, these axes form a powerful combination. The book shows you how to think about your Impact in each of those critical areas (Goals, Ideas, Platform, Network).  And it’s  loaded with practical advice.

But that’s jacks for openers. What I really love about Julien and Chris (and I’m hardly alone in this) is that both are about as genuine, real, and sincere as you can get. Their whole approach to doing business reflects this. Their business strategy is a human business strategy.  The point of social media is to serve people, not vice versa.

And it works.  They are prime examples of it themselves, which is yet another reason the book is a delight.

I hope they sell a ton of books, they deserve it.

## How Presenters Can Deal With A.D.D. Audiences

Two things happened to me at the end of last week that gave me pause.

On day one, I gave a corporate seminar for about 40 people. On the following day, I was an attendee in a 200-person conference. (It feels great to occasionally be in the stadium seats, instead of down there with the lions).

In the first case, there was a very mild form of the seminar-business occupational hazard known as multi-tasking: desktops open, blackberries, Twitter, Facebook, email. It’s been getting worse for several years. I made my usual clever plea for paying attention, and got reasonably good compliance; though it did deteriorate during the day.

I find that doing workshops lately is a little tougher in some respects; it’s harder to get the audience to interact. They’re not leaving, they’re just slightly checked-out. It’s not just ADD—it’s ADOSO, as in “Attention Deficit—Oh! Shiny Object!” (Thanks @scobleizer)

In an attempt to control that behavior, I’m acutely aware that I’m stumbling these days in the no-man’s land between requesting, ordering, and pleading. When I’m doing keynotes, it’s fine; it’s the workshop scene that feels different.

On day two, I came in deliciously a minute late and sat down where I felt like—not my gig, time to relax and enjoy. It was a social media conference; they had a very large screen for slides, and next to it, a smaller one displaying ongoing real-time twitter notes (check it out at #bdi). Each presenter had about 20-25 minutes, including Q&A.

Pretty much everyone in the audience had their heads down looking at their newest super-lightweight portables, iPhones and Droids. When they looked up, it was often as not to look at the public tweet-screen. (Yes,I tweezed out a few tweets myself).

At first I cringed instinctively out of sympathy for the speakers. Until I noticed that they did not seem noticeably bothered by it at all. In fact, lots of speakers today are using Twitter as part of the real-time interaction. The line for open mics for Q&A was not empty, the questions were great, and the real-time twitter dialogue was on point.

The conference subject matter itself—like a Greek chorus—gave the meta-text of what I was seeing. Social CRM goes beyond seller-to-buyer dialogue to include buyer-to-buyer. The old line about one satisfied customer tells four but one dissatisfied customer tells 12—that’s history. They now tell 500,000, and do so instantly. The web is your new website. Inbound not outbound marketing.

In other words—the heads-down twittering was definitely multi-tasking, but that doesn’t mean there was no dialogue going on. In fact, there was a ton of dialogue.

More content per minute flowed through that room than if everyone had hung on every word a speaker said. One speaker is limited by the human ability to enunciate sounds rapidly, and—it’s only one speaker. We can all read much faster than someone can talk. Asynchronous one-off communication is bound to be less rich than everyone talking at once; it’s just that it’s harder to focus in the latter case.

There are 2 things you can say about all this. First, it’s not wrong, just different. There are deep intensive interactions with other human beings, and there are shallow, broad interactions with other human beings. We’re seeing a shift from the former to the latter–in terms of gross numbers at least.

There’s no right or wrong about this. What is important is the ability to go in either direction as the situation demands. And, there is a huge benefit. The involvement of others is exactly how you get collaboration. We are, at a large level, sacrificing some intimacy for the sake of collaboration.

It’s also true that, in a world where intimacy holds a smaller “share of relationship,” the ability to gain that intimacy will command a premium. It’s not gone, just more rare, and more valuable for its rarity.

The second point is simply, this is the future. Disapproval of the downside of social-babble has very little impact on whether it’s going to keep on happening. Our failure to approve of the downside simply keeps us from gaining the benefits of the inevitable upside.

Presenters, get used to it. The only relevant question is: how will you respond?

For starters, don’t stand there in front of the tsunami. But don’t just get out of the way, either. Grab your surfboard.

## Trust and Golf: How Neither Makes Sense

I’ve been reading Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

I was particularly struck by the way they told Robert Scoble‘s story (a success story, but not usually painted as a trust story).  They call Scoble one of the first trust agents ever on the World Wide Web.

Though hindsight is 20-20, many people watching Scoble’s moves at the time would have labeled him at best irreverent, irresponsible, and committed to career suicide … at worst a complete idiot. But looking at him through the lens of what it takes to become trustworthy, I’m siding with Brogan and Smith—what he did was brilliant.

## The Scoble Story

In 2004, Scoble, then a Microsoft employee, took to blogging about serious issues Microsoft and its end users were experiencing. He even candidly sung the praises of Firefox, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer competitor.

Not only did Scoble not get fired, he got readers. And Microsoft got business. Brogan and Smith report, “People began eating up everything he said. If his very next blog post had praised Notepad as ‘the best app ever,’ his readers probably would have said, ‘You’re so right!’”

Scoble attributes part of this phenomenon to something he learned when he helped run retail stores in the 1980’s. If he told a customer that a competitor had a better selection, they often came back and asked to do business with him anyway, “’cause I like you better.”  (Maybe he got it from the Macy’s Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street, who recommended competitor Gimbel’s on occasion).

## What’s Golf Got to Do with It?

One of the reasons trust is so hard to get a grip on is that it’s rife with paradox. For example, the thing we’re most afraid to say or do is precisely what will build the most trust. Or, in Scoble’s case, the best way to generate sales is to have the courage to be brutally honest about your product’s weaknesses and your competitor’s strengths.

Here’s the link to golf (pardon the pun): I am not a golfer. To me, the only logical way to get that tiny little ball to travel hundreds of yards off the first tee towards that tiny little cup is to hit it as hard as possible. If you’re a golfer, you just shook your head in dismay because you know what my strategy will yield: a nice left hook into a thick forest of trees.

Scoble came to be seen as someone who could be trusted because he knew that building trust is like a golf swing: hype your product and you hook the ball; be honest and land it square on the green.

## Golf Aside, Motives Matter

Leaving the golf metaphor behind for a moment, it’s important to remember that motives really do matter. Buyers have a sixth sense for manipulation. Had Scoble been talking trash about his products with the intention of closing deals, his strategy would have backfired. Which leads us to another paradox: the more you try to build trust with the intention of closing deals, the less deals you close.

## Trust Summit: October 23, New York City

I want to let you know of an upcoming event you might want to attend.

Chris and Julien are co-authors of the current best-selling book Trust Agents. David is my co-author, along with Rob Galford, of The Trusted Advisor.

I first met Chris and Julien as they were writing their book. I found them very engaging, and masters of new social media.

But what has really impressed me is their ability to apply new media technology in service to greater trust in business. They are walking role models in that regard – they walk the talk.

It was Chris’s idea to have this meeting, and I enthusiastically supported it.

We’re looking forward to a great breakfast with spirited dialogue between the four of us, but most importantly between us and you, 300 of our closest friends.

## CNBC and BusinessWeek.com: Teeing it Up

As long as we’re on the subject of marketing, let me offer you a couple of links,

First, my BusinessWeek.com article of earlier this week, titled Wall Street Run Amok: Why Harvard’s to Blame.

That intrigued the good folks at CNBC, who put me on October 7 with the header "Is Harvard to Blame?" Host Melissa Francis played up the Harvard angle with mock outrage, but it’s all in fun—and a pretty good (albeit fast) take on how we create business environments that nurture trust.

Both—I think—are good entrees to teeing up the broader issue of trust we’ll be discussing in New York.

Hope you can make it.