Are You Ready to Race to the Future?

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Palm Zire - Hotsync no more!Do you remember the Palm Pilot? Billed as a “PDA” – a personal digital assistant, it was a phone with an address book, could read your writing and translate it into text and it could even do basic emailing if you worked it hard enough. In many ways it was ahead of its time.

Since that time I have had all kinds of phones – from functional mobile phones to various BlackBerry devices and iPhones. And each device has been a marked improvement on its predecessor. These devices are not just add-ons to the way we live anymore – they are part and parcel of our lives. And when we leave them behind, lose them or find ourselves out of coverage, it’s as though we have lost a limb. A really useful, vital limb.

But the most amazing thing about these devices is not the technology. It’s the changes in behaviour that have seeped into our lives driven by the technology. Think about it:

When we discover a new place for a weekend away, we …

We don’t just absorb the ambience, take a moment to write a letter or postcard to send to family and friends and open a celebratory bottle of sparkling. We check-in or claim the space on Foursquare and Facebook. We take a photo of the view, capture the latitude and longitude on our GPS and share the image via Instagram. That then gets pushed to Twitter. We make an update via social networks, take another snap of that cold glass of sparkling wine and let our friends know that we wish they were with us. Then we wait for responses – Likes, tips from other friends who have checked-in nearby and suggestions for delicious nearby takeaway. Meanwhile the sun sets (more photos, skyburn this time, you know you love it), another glass is poured and we feel warm knowing that even when we’re on the edge of civilisation that we are still connected. Sometimes, shock horror, the wifi drops out causing a moment of anguish (hashtag #firstworldproblems). But a quick router reset puts the world to right.

The thing is, that we are not only always-connected, it is almost a precondition for pleasure. Our personal compass has become gamified, socialised and part of a connected, data-driven personal empire. It’s like slide night at Aunty Pat’s – just on a grand scale. The question is how far can you go? How close can we get to the edge of a digital network. And if we step beyond, is our authentic experience real if it is not reported?

We race ever faster towards the future, but are we prepared for it? Have we thought our participation through – from an environmental, economic and ethical point of view? Have we considered the energy required to power this lifestyle? And what education do we need and what should be delivered to the coming generations? And what role does entrepreneurship play?

These “Six Es” form the theme of the Creative Innovation 2013 Asia Pacific conference. Held in Melbourne, 27-29 November, it features over 40 global leaders, innovators and thinkers. It’s your chance to join big and small business, entrepreneurs, educators, creative and government leaders,
emerging talent and leading thinkers from around the World, Asia and Australia.

Book any early bird tickets for Ci2013 before 15 September and save up to $615. And be sure to use the code E6 to secure a further 10% discount.

Palm Zire - Hotsync no more!Creative Commons License Ian Lamont via Compfight

Vibewire’s fastBREAK – Lies

Each month, Vibewire, in conjunction with the Powerhouse Museum, hosts a fascinating and always illuminating event that showcases innovators and the ideas, passions and personal motivations that inspire them. Each person is asked to share the personal story – the WHY, not the WHAT or the HOW. In a way – fastBREAK is like a TEDtalks for young people.

In July, the topic for the month was “lies”. Why do we lie and what does it say about us and our world. This topic was explored by

  • Hannah Law, social media director with Switched On Media
  • Tim Burrowes, journalist extraordinaire and driving force behind Mumbrella
  • Simon Cant, innovation consultant at CANTT
  • Jack Hilton, magician known as the Great Hiltini
  • Dev Singh, entrepreneur and marketing strategist at Sketchpad Ideas

As always, it was a brilliant morning, with Sydney’s art and business communities mingling in the Powerhouse Museum’s fantastic Boiler Room, nourished and inspired by the BlackStar Pastry’s inventive deliciousness.

fastBREAK happens on the lasts Friday of every month from 7:45am. Everyone is welcome – and if you’ve never come, we’d love to see you there in September. Put it into your diary today!

Vibewire’s fastBREAK – like TEDtalks for young people

At Vibewire, where I serve as honorary president, we have a vision of inclusion and leadership for young people. We say it’s about ensuring young people participate in the “conversations that matter”.

A great example of this is our monthly fastBREAK event (last Friday of every month). It showcases the passions, ideas and often very personal motivations that inspire our young artists and innovators. Produced in partnership with the Powerhouse Museum, fastBREAK has become a vital event in Sydney’s cultural life – connecting young artists, innovators and entrepreneurs with like minds from the government, business and creative industries sectors.

Last month we had a stellar line up of speakers:

  • Luke Geary, managing partner of Salvos Legal
  • Annalie Killian, director of innovation at AMP
  • Nic Newling, youth mental health advocate with Bite Back
  • Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney
  • Marita Cheng, inventor and Young Australian of the Year

You can watch last month’s speakers in action using the playlist below (it will take about 30 minutes all-in-all). Or better yet, come along to the next event live. You’ll leave inspired, well-fed (thanks to the Black Star Pastry folks) and feeling part of a vibrant community. I hope to see you there!

An Enchanting Business Book

I read a lot of business books. Not as many as my friend, Drew McLellan (who seems to be a reading machine), but quite a lot.  I read them because they give me thinking time away from the computer – and because they force me to think in a sustained way, about a topic for an extended period. In this way, books remain – for me at least – an important way of continuously learning.

I once heard that the average American reads a book a year. Amazingly, Australia seems to care so little about books we don’t do studies of this kind (so I have no comparable figures)! I try to read a book a month (sometimes more). In five years time, that other person will have read five books. I’ll have read 60. That makes a huge difference.

Despite the books that I read, and despite the fact that they are written by brilliant people, most business books fail to capture me. I’m always looking for that little something extra in the writing. I’m looking for a little enchantment. The enterpreneur’s entrepreneur, Guy Kawasaki, understands this – and in his new book, The Art of Enchantment: How to Woo, Influence and Persuade, he had me from the first line -  a quote from economist John Maynard Keynes:

The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.

This is a business book that not only instructs – it does what it says on the label – it enchants. The book constantly challenges us by taking a turn when the road ahead seems straight. I often think of this as a way to “surprise and delight” people – but enchantment goes deeper. Where '”surprise and delight” hovers on the surface – as the effect – enchantment is that fundamental transformation that takes place in a person. It changes our hearts first and then our minds.

But how does this happen?

Guy takes observations of the business landscape, overlays them with analysis and then provides a step-by-step explanation of how enchantment can be used in each of these business scenarios. He explains how to enchant your employees, your boss – or anyone you come in contact with. The book shows the steps you can take to look deeply and act deeply – to create change and make it last. After all, you can’t make someone do something – they have to want to do it. The key to this, of course, is Enchantment. Use it wisely.

enchantment-infographic

For Startups: From Zero to Brand in 48 Hours

The energy around a startup, whether it is technology related or focused on social enterpreneurship, is invigorating. Even a simple question to the founder will elicit a torrent of words about the idea, the business model and how far they are from launch. The passion is palpable and contagious.

But one of the challenges of any new business venture is reaching your audience – and once you have done that, to convert them to ongoing, loyal customers. This is easier said than done. For even the best, most innovative of offers can fall flat without the level of take-up that secures “critical mass”. And this is where marketing comes in (actually, if you are able to manage it, you will have a good marketing person involved in some way very early on).

Peter Corbett has put together this great presentation that leads you through the starting steps of brand building. Sure, you may need a marketing consultant to help you refine elements that you see here, but, clearly Peter’s presentation provides an accelerated framework for branding any new business.


Zero To Brand in 48 Hours from Peter Corbett on Vimeo.

Social Entrepreneurs at Vibewire

vibwire Running a startup business is a challenge. There are ideas to prioritise, investors to meet, technologies to implement and yes, even work to do. But what about budgets? What about planning? What about marketing? And is there somewhere that you can go to meet up with like-minded entrepreneurs? Yes, entrepreneurship can be an isolating experience.

But what happens if your efforts are not designed around a profit motive? What happens if the outcomes that you seek have a social or a change-oriented focus instead? This is the world of the social entrepreneur – a business that is “for more-than-profit”.

Here in Sydney, Vibewire provides residencies for young social entrepreneurs and creatives. Their sQuareOne space in Ultimo is an incubator where social entrepreneurs can come together, learn from each other and receive support from a small, but flourishing community. sQuare One offer scholarships and host workshops designed to kick-start your social business.

At the Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Opportunity even held at Vibewire, we heard speeches from Annie Le Cavalier, Janine Cahill, Jackie Ruddock and Anna Rose. Annie spoke about the changes underway with Vibewire, Janine discussed the role of vision and futures, Anna explained how she is working to have climate change recognised as a youth issue, and Jackie talked about the School for Social Entrepreneurs which is launching in March 2009.

If any of these activities sound interesting to you, contact the folks at Vibewire, or leave comments below and I will put you in touch.

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Social Media Jobs Australia

smj-logo There are some great social media thinkers here in Australia. More importantly, there are some great social media “doers”. And over the next few years I expect there to be a real demand for agencies who have real experience in this space and a NEED for professional and corporate marketers to understand how exactly you can integrate social media into your planning while delivering solid returns.

One thing that I do know, is that social media is about “connectors” … those people who are able to join the dots across different types of messaging, communication style and media. They are storytellers for a new age.

But how do you find these folks? Sure, you could look at Twitter. Or you could reach out to a blogger or two … but what if you are new to social media? What if you have a job that you need filled but don’t know where to look?

I may just have the answer for you.

SocialMediaJobs.com.au is a new site that I have setup to “connect the connectors”. The aim is to provide a meeting space for those with roles, with those looking for work. It will continue to evolve and grow … with specialised content on the SociaMediaJobs.com.au blog site designed especially for job seekers.

Both posting a job and applying for a job are FREE.

So what are you waiting for? Post your social media job now!

A Glimpse of the Future

A comment on my post about Twitter, Plurk and teens the other day really got me thinking. In the comment, Arthus Erea suggested that one of the driving factors for teens in their uptake of new technology is critical mass. Now, this is not surprising, but it is refreshing to hear it directly.

As Arthus says, community is king:

Community is the driving factor for my generation: we want to be where our friends are. That’s why *everyone* switches from MySpace to Facebook at roughly the same time (around 9th grade now). Sure, we knew Facebook was out there and was better than MySpace. But we don’t switch till there’s a critical mass (read: high school students) worthy of our attention.

So how does this play out? What is it that is going on in the lives of teens? What is this vision of community? What are they thinking and what does this hold for the futures of us all?

One of Arthus’ side projects (apart from school, blogging, photography, business and a plethora of other things) is Students 2.0. It is an inspiring insight into the thinking and passions of tomorrow’s business leaders:

For decades, students have been stuck in classrooms, behind desks, being told how and what to learn. For a time, when students were expected to become widgets for the vast machine of industry, this model of education was highly effective. However, we have now entered a new age: an age where thinking is more important than knowing, where thoughts out-do the facts. Borders are melting away; project teams collaborate across the globe and intelligence is being continually redefined. The world’s information is at our fingertips and anybody can publish their thoughts for virtually no cost.

Everywhere, we see changes: with how business operates, how people interact and how success is accomplished. There is unfortunately one place that remains unchanged, the place that could benefit most from the changes we see today… the classroom. The education system continues to “stay the course” upon a falling ship. Yet, the widgets within the machine are no longer content to grind away. Ideas are popping up everywhere, across the globe. Students are continually redefining their own lives and how they want to learn and interact

I will certainly be adding Students 2.0 to my reading list. Check it out, I am sure you will too.

Need Work?


Need Work?
Originally uploaded by Alistair Howard.

Matching job seekers with future employers must be challenging. Whenever I meet a recruiter I am always fascinated by them … they would require an interesting mix of skills, a dedication to sales and an ease with people that pushes, cajoles and encourages. They also need to be excellent networkers.

So it comes as no surprise to see Guy Kawasaki opening his own job board. But this is a job board with a difference. Guy puts his credentials out there for all to see right up-front — find out about his traffic, his audience demographic, and even get instant feedback from his audience via the comments. And, of course, Guy is hugely influential and could boast (should he want to) many leading business figures from the US and around the world, making this new job board an instant challenger in the recruitment market.

What I find quite fascinating (oh ok I know I am currently "fascinated" by sooo many things) is the way entrepreneurs such as Guy Kawasaki are using blogs to quickly spin-off and test new business ideas. The ones that are able to gain an immediate audience work, while others that fail simply disappear. It reminds me of the way TV channels promote their own shows … with good, connected and contextual linkage and targeted advertising. Now I am thinking "The Kawasaki Blog Reality TV Show" … starring … well you (and if you don't believe me, check a copy of TIME magazine — when do they ship to Australia?).