I keep saying this - you have to follow up with the people you meet and magic will happen.
Pretty much every time I am on a stage I mention the weird “law of following up” - I can guarantee you that only around 10% of the people I (or someone else at the conference) meet will ever follow up. This stuns me - you meet someone interesting at a conference or in a social setting and you miss the one opportunity to turn a chance encounter into a lasting relationship.
Up to this day I don’t have a good answer as to why this happens - the best I’ve come up with so far centers around the notion that people feel they don’t necessarily have anything to say or contribute in a follow up conversation. That’s BS! Here’s the deal - even if you have nothing to say/contribute at this particular moment in time, just be nice and ask to stay in touch. That’s the first step towards a relationship.
Today you are functioning in the context of your environment. You are your network. So better start building. And follow up for christ sake! :)
This week I had the amazing opportunity to speak at TEDx Orange Coast about one of my deep rooted passions - the participation culture, chaords and the principles which allow people from all around the world to connect, share, collaborate and contribute to make things better.
While the wonderful folks at TEDx are preparing the video of my talk, here is the full speech plus the slides I shared on stage.
It is important to note that I am merely the storyteller and literally stand on the shoulders of giants. My work is based on the amazing and visionary writing and actions of Dee Hock (founder of VISA), the thoughtful and inspiring leadership and work of John Lilly (Mozilla’s former CEO and currently partner at Greylock VC) and Dia Bondi, the best speaker coach the world has seen. Thank you!
Let me ask you a question. Do you recognize this logo? Did you buy your TED ticket using one of these? Do you have one of these?
Did you know that per year VISA processes 4.4 Trillion Dollar in payments, handles 64 Billion transactions and operates in well over 200 countries.
Do you think VISA is a financial institution employing more than 20,000 people worldwide?
In truth, VISA is an established, trusted global company that until just a few years ago, employed only 3,000 people in 21 offices across 13 countries. Strangely small for the impact they’ve had all over the world.
They’ve had that impact through delivering their service using an intricate web of a small core and a vast network of tens of thousands of connected local banks. A model of connected but sometimes distant nodes agreeing on core principles and yet fiercly competing for customers.
A model that functions in something VISA’s CEO Dee Hock named a “chaord” — the unity of chaos and order.
VISA’s model was prophetic. It was developed and proven nearly 40 years ago and right around the same time the Internet was born. And, when mapped, these two systems are nearly identical in their structure. Grown separately, but a reflection of each other.
Enter the age of participation. The action of taking part.
Germinating and growing on and through the Internet, the participation culture is its own “chaord” with a set of rules unique to itself.
It’s decentralized, open and inclusive — and not controlled by a single gatekeeper. It connects talents and passions all over the world.
So how can we define the participation culture? Participation culture is a culture in which private persons (the public) do not act merely as consumers, but also as contributors or producers.
Last year a Stanford professor opened his entrepreneurship course to the world. He invited students to not only listen to his lessons but also to openly share and collaborate through an online platform.
Literally thousands of students from all over the world joined this call — often coming from places far away from Stanford’s campus and from walks of life which would never be able to attend this institution.
These students not only learned how to be entrepreneurs — but became entrepreneurs. And went on to create dozens of companies which set out to change the world for the better.
These students were nodes interacting with distant nodes.
Today Stanford opens up more and more of its courses — instigating change all over the world.
But there’re more — and all without permissions granted by a gate keeper: The 99% movement, the Arab spring, fashion and sporting good manufacturing practices changed for human good, food handling, consumer product safety, child education, higher education, encyclopedias, flash mobs, crowd funding, micro loans - even car design or superbowl commercials… those who participate are the ones who begin to make the decisions — from politics to how our food is grown.
But it’s not only about revolt, only about political revolution. Like we saw from the Stanford class, it’s about participating in making things “better”. Solving problems that we’re compelled to solve, it’s about coming together and truly collaborating. But this kind of working together, participating requires us to show up ready to play but it’s rules.
To participate in a “chaord” we must tolerate that tension between chaos and order. For some of us that’s easy, for other’s it’s hard, and for some — it’s just plain confusing. So, let me share with you the “rules” of the system and help you engage. Whether you’re an organization, a single human or a cause — and either to participate or to attract participation.
Here we go:
Rule #1 — Make something magnitudes better than the status quo. Build superior products — as mediocrity is boring and exhausting.
People will participate when the stakes are high and the vision is clear and ambitious.
Nobody roots for something which is only marginally better. So be bold.
Rule #2 — People can’t just feel empowered, they must be empowered. That means that the decision-making process must be pushed to the edges. Allow people to make decisions. And allow the nodes in your system to route around the structure. Sounds simple and obvious but to some it’s a real switch: Nodes don’t ask permission.
Rule #3 — Allow participation and participate. Be open about your decision making process, allow people to participate and become part of it. If you let this happen, you turn outsiders, supporters and bystanders into committed insiders.
This is how you grow organizations build on the principle of participation.
Rule #4 — Treat and expect to be treated as a community of citizens. They are you — and you become them. This is the essence of participation.
It is these four simple mechanics which, when combined with the power of technology and networks will turn into unprecedented opportunity.
Adopting these principles is hard. If it’s not what we grew up in, it can take some letting go to engage in a meaningful way. And as we’ve all experienced one time or another in our lives, letting go of something to make room for something else, is a cornerstone of transformation.
So what do we have to let go of to lean into this participation culture - to leverage our own passion and the talents and passion of other nodes far across the world or right next door?
First, let go of command and control, it dies in the face of the participation culture. It can not survive.
Second, let go of perfection. Don’t wait for something to be perfect before we share. Set the vision, the big hairy audacious goal, and let participation happen.
Let go of hierarchy. This is a tough one — because it means that YOU are the one to grant permission and WE are fully empowered to insert ourselves and act on the vision or change we believe in. WE act on it. WE are the ones to work on the HOW the problem gets solved. There is no one to ask, no one to give you a key, no one who says you are either in or out. And, no one to take the “blame”. No king to behead if things don’t go as planned.
Let go and you’ll be nurturing and accelerating the evolution of new way of being.
Let me leave you with these last thoughts:
The participation culture is here. It is thriving, growing, emerging.
And like the Internet, it is connecting people and movements in a way we haven’t seen before.
Soon there will be too many examples to point to. Too many to say it is the exception, instead, it is my belief that it will be the rule.
So, today we have a choice to say “yes” to it and lean in, or say “not yet” and be dragged into this new way of being.
A global society of humans connected in a “chaord” participating, empowered and validated by hearing our own voice in this new world.
Yesterday I had the great honor and pleasure to present (on a very high level) Mozilla’s approach to Open Innovation and the lessons we learned along the way at the OPTIMIZING INNOVATION conference in New York City.
It was a fun experience talking to a group of absolutely amazing innovation practitioners from such amazing companies as KRAFT Food, Danone, DHL, Goodyear or Mattel. I definitely learned a lot and gained some very valuable insights into the innovation process at huge companies.
Here’s my deck:
This summer I spent a week mentoring the awe-inspiring startups at The Unreasonable Institute in Boulder, CO. During this time I toyed with the idea to create a mentor network of some of Silicon Valley brightest and match them up with social enterprises and budding social entrepreneurs. The aim is to help, accelerate, open our networks, inspire and provide hands-on support.
Jane and I have been doing this for a while now - literally from our kitchen table, working with such wonderful organizations such as Aunt Bertha, CASH Music, Goldie Blox and One Leap. Now is the time to give this effort more structure and prepare it for scale.
So it is with great pleasure and pride that Jane and I are launching Mentor for Good! Check out the website, help us spread the word, refer your friends to us if they do something amazing and want to change the world and get involved.
This is the first step along a long journey.
The German business magazine WirtschaftsWoche (essentially the German Businessweek) recently published a list of their 100 Internet thought leaders (the German headline is “Welche Menschen die deutsche Internetwirtschaft bewegen”).
They kindly added me to their list at position 55 - which was surprising (especially given that I haven’t spent pretty much any time in Germany for the last couple of years). But there you have it.
I feel honored. Thank you!
Come gather ‘round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.
The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.
Head over to Fast Company to read my article on “5 Lessons For Using Open Innovation To Maximize The Wisdom Of The Crowd” - it’s one of my better ones (I think). :)
And please know - I wouldn’t have been able to write this article if not for the superior work of some of the smartest people I know. I couldn’t give them credit in my article, so I do it here:
John Lilly, who essentially developed the framework I lay out in the article. Watch his amazing talk about the “7 Lessons from Mozilla” at Wordcamp 2009, read his blog and follow him on Twitter. He’s one of the smartest and nicest people I know.
Asa Dotzler, who taught me Mozilla. His intuitive understanding of community and what it means to be a Mozillian formed my thinking about the power of being an open organization. You should read his blog and follow him on Twitter - he’s smart and outspoken.
Mitchell Baker, who keeps pushing me to think about what’s important, why it matters and how we can make it better - in the open. Every time I become comfortable with where I am and what I think I know, I sit down with her. She continues to challenge me in the very best possible way. Read her blog and follow her on Twitter if you want to understand Mozilla on a fundamental level.
Karim Lakhani, Eric von Hippel and Kevin Boudreau, who are way out there when it comes to think about open innovation and from whom I have learned so much. I wish I could spent more time in their proximity.
The whole Mozilla community which taught me The Mozilla Way.
I stand on the shoulders of giants.
My dear friends at Pollenizer recently asked me if I could write a guest post on their blog discussing the lessons we learned at Mozilla, which are particularly interesting for entrepreneurs and startups.
Head over to the Pollenizer site for the article and do let me know what you think of it!
Last week I was invited to speak at Stanford’s E-Bootcamp event about… myself. The invitation to the event read:
The event will feature 100 of the best entrepreneurial students around the world and over 50 of the most successful and inspiring Silicon Valley leaders. As an E-Bootcamp speaker, you will share your personal story and entrepreneurial spirit with our student participants. You will give two 20 minute presentations to two different groups of 10 students, leaving 10 minutes each for questions and answers with time for transitions. I believe the students will be excited to learn about your personal experience and insights from having worked at Mozilla and other startups.
It was an intriguing and interesting experience. Usually, even if I talk about my career and the lessons I learned along the way, I weave this into a broader discussion about some aspects of creating and running a business.
I decided to do a quick screencast to record the talk - probably it’s interesting for you. You can find the slides on Scribd as well.