Find your voice and get your story straight
For love or money? Finding a recipe for success.

For love or money? Finding a recipe for success.

A blog post in five short acts.

Act 1 : The Right Kind Of Investment

Rarely has so much profundity been packed into so few characters.

There’s a whole career’s worth of learning in that tweet if you know how to interpret and act upon it.

For example:

If you are an operating company board director there are two types of board meeting when the PLC guys are in attendance. Both types of meeting are succinctly summarised in that tweet.

For example:

If your job includes people management, or if you are concerned with company culture, that tweet succinctly summarises the difference between Tiggers and Eeyores.

Operating company management, done well, is essentially an exercise in securing emotional investment from above and below.

Act 2 : Work As Fun.

Stephen Fry talking about things he wished he had known aged 18. At 2 minutes 45 seconds there is a section where he talks about the importance of work being fun. He quotes Noel Coward as having said “Work is more fun than fun”.  Then he says this…

If you can say of the work that you do that it’s more fun than fun then you’re in the right place. Most of us, of course, don’t have that all the time. But every time you look in the bathroom mirror in the morning, if you can say is my work more fun than fun or is it treading water? Is it just getting me to a wage packet that allows me to go out to bars and buy things? If that’s it then that’s a bit of a treadmill I think. And everyone has it in them to express themselves, that fundamental thing that they know they are inside. That rather beautiful, afraid person.

My eldest daughter turns 16 next month. I see my biggest job as a parent as being to encourage her to think about and find a definition of success that will help her express the beautiful person that she is most every day of her life. That definition can change over time but there should be more, and more important, dimensions to it than money or status.

Act 3 : The Milk Of Human Kindness

I had the extreme good fortune to sit next to and chat with a London 2012 Gamesmaker at an Edinburgh Book Festival event. She was probably in her sixties but she had the energy, enthusiasm, and joie de vivre of someone a third of her age.

In fact she was radiant.

All because of her experience as an Olympic volunteer.

She, and thousands like her, gave generously of their time.

They gave without expectation of anything in return.

And yet they got so much.

I was moved by our chance encounter to explore the conversation around the Gamesmaker hashtag.

And I put together this Storify compilation as a tribute to a group of people who were emotionally invested and who wanted to contribute. In spades.

If you watch the Stephen Fry clip in full his primary conclusion is that kindness and generosity are the keys to fulfilment.

And I find that the internet is a great enabler in this respect.

Small, random acts of kindness happen in front of me every day on Twitter.

Big, collective, technology-enabled acts of kindness happen every month.

And, even at work, where the internet is employed as a means to commercial ends, there is a kind of kindness.

“What’s in it for them?” (the people we wish to influence) is a fundamental issue for digital communication strategy. Successful digital strategy is genuinely concerned with the value delivered to the human beings on the receiving end.

Care is as important as code.

Act 4 : Moved To Move Mountains

Jim Thornton was moved by London 2012 to create something much bigger and more beautiful than a quick and dirty piece of Storify curation.

This Wondrous Isle is actually an exercise in social content curation. But there is nothing quick or dirty about it.

You simply must read this Huffington Post article in which he describes the inspiration behind and the execution of the idea.

Here’s an excerpt.

The 2012 Opening ceremony lit up the world, then lit the torch for an Olympic games in which the athletes themselves emphasized all the virtues of hard work, team ethic, community, family, humility and excellence that were celebrated in the opening ceremony.

It made me more happy and proud and optimistic than anything I could ever remember. It represented all of the things which make me proud to be British, and none of the things that make me ashamed.

So just as Danny Boyle gave us a very personal gift, the memory of which will last a lifetime, I’d like to give him a personal gift in a similar vein from all of us. A book containing photographs of each person’s interpretation of what makes this isle wondrous to them…

… It’s a daunting task we’ve set ourselves, but we like to think that if Danny Boyle showed us anything, he showed us there’s no limit to what we can achieve if we put our minds to it.

This Wondrous Isle is one of this month’s big, collective, internet-enabled acts of kindness. It’s a collective expression of emotional investment in an idea.

Bringing this all back to work again, there is nothing more rewarding than an idea that captures the imagination of lots of people.

It happened to me/us recently, when hundreds of people voluntarily called themselves a Fanny on Twitter, and had a laugh doing so.

Capturing the imagination is the essence of our job. And it doesn’t happen, at scale, very often.

Act 5 : For Love Or Money (Hackers Are Doing It For Themselves)

Steve Wozniak at the Turing Festival

Steve Wozniak still has a puppyish enthusiasm for solving problems and making stuff.

In Edinburgh for the Turing Festival he talked about love being far more important than money as a motivating force in any field of human endeavour.

He talked about when he was working to miniaturise a disk drive, reducing it to a size much smaller than had previously been thought possible. He worked almost non-stop for three days to achieve it. But he did it for love and his own sense of satisfaction.

I did it in three days because I was doing it for myself. It would have taken six months if you had paid me to do it.

I got the strong impression that, despite his obvious wealth and success, Mr Wozniak would be at his happiest with a problem to solve and a soldering iron in his hand.

I’ve tagged this post FUN, KINDNESS, LOVE, IMAGINATION and MAKING.

Not a bad recipe for success.



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