Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Show of Hands: Age-Old Leadership and the 21st Century #UsGuys

"I am constant as the northern star, of whose true-fix'd and resting quality, there is no fellow in the firmament." –Julius Caesar, from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
  1. A Show of Hands: A Leadership by Example Experiment
  2. One Sign Makes Two: The Value of Constant Signal Demonstrated by Real Estate Marketing
  3. Social Media Transparency: A New Movement of Leadership by Example
  4. Social Media for Business: Adam Singer v. the New York Times 
  5. Of the Real and the Virtual: Marketing What is Unique
  6. Conclusion: Bringing it Back to Leadership by Example in the 21st Century

    A Show of Hands: A Leadership by Example Experiment

    Fairhaven High School
     My junior year in high school, I attended a leadership workshop on a regional level. In one of the workshop modules we devised a simple plan to demonstrate the power of Leadership by Example. We then challenged ourselves to return to our respective schools, put the plan in action, and see it work for ourselves. On behalf of Fairhaven High School, I pledged to carry out the plan.

    The next afternoon, I sat in English class. The whole class was silent and busy taking a vocabulary quiz. I finished earlier than my fellow students and this free time gave me the opportunity to execute Plan Leadership by Example. So I raised one hand and held it in the air.

    Ms. Harvey called upon me. I did not answer her. She called again and I may only have smirked. Gave her no other response, but kept my hand up. She looked back down at her work realizing I had no question to ask. The other students were still working on their quiz. As they were finishing, one by one heads were raising and looking around to see who else was done. My raised hand gained attention. So did the fact that I had no question, but seemed only to want my hand raised. Wasn't longer than a minute before someone, maybe guessing mine was a show of defiance or a show of silliness or a show of coolness but a show nonetheless, raised his hand too.

    One became two. Two became four. The first of us were adventurous maybe even mischievous playful boys and girls. Who knows all the behavioral make-ups of the first few to try a new thing? The rest of them though, lifting their heads and seeing more than a few hands held high in the air, and without a word of explanation from anyone, must have assumed that while they were concentrating on the quiz they had missed something important. And then it happened. A wildfire of hands rushed into the air. Every student in that classroom was accounted for by a Show of Hands. Ms. Harvey looked up from her work at the spectacle, then looked at me and asked again, "Yes?" All I said was, "Just testing."

    Julius Caesa

    The whole affair took less than three minutes to bring about. Now, I'm not Socrates or Caesar or Martin Luther King, Jr. But I felt like all the leaders of history that day when I led an entire classroom of 30 people to raise their hands without saying one word to any of them, but by providing a solid unwavering example of action they could easily recognize and follow.

    The demonstration was not about me in particular, for only a small percentage of the classroom knew I was the first instigator. But the demonstration was nonetheless about Leadership by Example, and how exactly it works. Illustrated here is the power of constant signaling which, like the North Star is accepted to be true, then trusted, then guided by.

    I saw this thing happen with my own eyes when I was only 17 years old. Though subject to much debate, how buzz marketing works is no mystery to me. I  consider this true:  

    Wildfire WANTS to occur, anywhere any time, but will hold out for the right instigation. To be a wildfire starter, try not to be its spark, be its pilot.

    One Sign Makes Two: The Value of a Constant Signal

    Of all the marketing tools for branding and lead generation, the single most effective tool at a real estate broker's disposal is a Property Sign Network.  Real Estate property signs generate fully 33% percent of inbound call volume. When deployed in concert throughout a city, county or state territory, signs create the sense that "You are everywhere." This sense is retained in the mind of your sign’s viewers and the message is passed along throughout their sphere of influence by word of mouth.

    A couple years back, I managed a residential rental division in Cambridge, MA. Property signs were a key element in that company’s sales marketing platform. Once I understood this element’s value, I made sure every rental agent was trained to pitch and close Sign Installation when securing listing agreements. One of my first year agents asked me at a sales meeting:

    "How do they work? How will these signs generate so many calls?"

    The Property Sign Network Story - I answered in three ways:
    1. Property signs are constant. A property sign is like a signal that pings constant and never quits pinging the marketplace its presence or reason for being present. And never ceases to rouse awareness from the marketplace.
    2. By each property sign you accomplish multiple marketing goals. With each one, you market a specific property, your company, your website which hosts other properties, and yourself—all day, all night. You hold your brand out for any and all to see. Those who do see are either interested for themselves or know someone who is.
    3. Property signs work in concert. One property sign alone does not register 33% call volume. But a network of property signs posted throughout a city, region or state, displaying the same brand and conversion point, i.e. a phone number, behaves like a never-tiring Show of Hands. With such a day and night signal a blare, neighbors see the sign 5 times or more a day and call or someone from their network calls. Passersby or drivers by, too, will the sign and 5 more like it down the road. They experience your reach and are impressed by the fact that many others trust you with their property value. They perceive the sense that "You are everywhere." This perception convinces them of your validity as well as your purpose.
    Fortunately, You don't always have to perform CBA
    The agent understood the value but was then dubious about how to achieve this concert effect.
     "How do you get all those signs then out there in the first place?"
    This question has some validity, because though it’s the most effective marketing solution, property signs are also sometimes the hardest to get approved by property owners.

    This obstacle largely concerns privacy protection. Property owners may, for several reasons, be shy to announce to their neighbors what the market status of their property is. But this concern is subject to a Cost-Benefit Analysis and as long as the benefits are proven to outweigh the cost, even the hermit's hermit checks the box for Sign Installation.

    To help this agent believe in the sign program, and be better able to pitch its benefits, I launched into the story of a young man sitting in his English class in small town in the mid-nineties. I told the Show of Hands Story. Then I correlated the classroom of hands to a network of property signs to explain precisely how the wildfire is achieved. The sign network utilizes the same marketing power to build itself as it does to advertise property. Lead generation and branding walk hand in hand.
    Only challenge the agent faces is getting the first couple signs up. To meet this challenge requires either good closing skills or the dedication to pitch 100 times in order to get 5 signs up and beaming. A requirement easily mollified by the genuine love one should have for presenting solutions to problems. A short matter of time before the "Wow, you guys are everywhere" branding factor kicks in. Then the agent no longer has to sell the owner on the sign. No longer has to tell of the benefits, for the benefits have now been shown. The signs can be pointed at.

    Network Marketing Conce

    New agent still had doubts. I pointed out how the amplification of all agents' collective activity helped each individual agent. That is, every agent in the company, 10-20 agents, making 3-5 sign pitches a day, meant at least 5-10 signs went up each week—guaranteed.

    After the first or second week, there’s Show of Hands explosion—BOOM! Every week after that, obtaining sign installation approval is significantly easier and easier and easier as the sign network grows and its signal amplifies and its true reach widens. (I bet you SM folks can now see the RL/SM correlation I’m driving at in this section =)

    We were in the tenth minute of this Q&A session. New agent was drawing breath for another question marked sentence. I cut in, smiling, and said "Just do it."  

    A week later, new agent came back to me simply to smile. The smile said everything in one moment what had taken me 10 minutes the week before to say. So I smiled back thinking, yes, a smile is a sign too. And one sign makes two.

    You're smiling now, aren't you?

    Social Media Transparency: A New Movement of Leadership by Example

    The Nine Choir of Angels (Gustave Dore)
    I am one of the Choir who sings Reminder Songs that Social Media and Real Life are one and the same. We draw distinction now between SM and RL because the season of SM tools and practices is still flowering. Someday soon there may be no need to distinguish between our online and offline activities. In the meanwhile, we can be and do better in The New using what worked in The Old.

    There are many of us right now working hard to translate Leadership concepts for 21st Century stage performance. The writers in my circle, #UsGuys we call ourselves, are mostly writing with business-use in mind.

    But the concepts we advance, I'm sure, apply across categories. Transparency is a concept that has turned into a movement. Transparency in Social Media is a constant Show of Hands. Send out your signal, steady and constant, and it will be seen, understood and followed. This is the age-old recipe for Leadership by Example and within Social Media it has found a place in the 21st Century.

    How Cute

    Therefore because this writing also concerns business-use of SM, I choose to correlate proven marketing strategy in Real Estate, i.e. the Property Sign Network, with Social Media engagement and content activity. This correlation aligns proven Old School strategy with 21st Century technology.

    At the heart of the Transparency Movement is the understanding of both the mysticism of Leadership by Example and the value of constant signaling. These understandings are also at the heart of Sign Network Marketing.

    Social Media for Business: Adam Singer v. the New York Times
    As I said, there are many writers within and beyond my circle who every day tackle subjects concerning Social Media, such as its business use. Some writers, I suppose are in better positions to tackle it correctly. And still other writers are merely in good positions to seem like they like they tackle it correctly. Take for instance this past week’s example of Adam Singer vs. New York Times.

    Singer makes a line by line effort to “correct” advice given by an SM Dumbfounded New York Times who flunked hard on the SM for Business exam in a recent article. In The Future Buzz, Singer writes:

    "Activating an audience doesn’t just happen when you have a new product, it happens slowly over time. But you need to put in the work first. As we have said time and time again, you need to build your community before you need them."

    Singer was responding to a New York Times-sponsored misconception about how SM Marketing works.

    Judging by the last month, I’ll probably be saying this a million times: if you are not getting it on SM that means you aren’t getting it in RL.  But fear not! All the doggies get the bones eventually.

    What Singer is telling the New York Times expert is similar to what I’ve written here: Branding and Lead Generation walk hand-in-hand. Singer’s writing on the subject is more from a “social perspective” and refers to relationships and community building. All I’m saying here is that from a “business perspective” that’s what we call branding.

    Branding/Lead Gen:
    Branded Thoughts Search for the Number
    And as for how to make SM Marketing work? Well, how did you make IRL Marketing work?  

    If we can agree for a moment that Marketing is tantamount to Thought Leadership, then we are only one step removed from understanding that Thought Leadership by Example is excellent SM Marketing Strategy. In which case, refer to the Show of Hands story, to the Property Sign Network story, and keep reading and maybe get Adam Singer to speak at your next event. (and if you do: let him know I referred you, would ya?!)

    Of the Real and the Virtual: Marketing What is Unique

    One ingredient in the Kool-aid real estate agents drink is that all real estate is unique. This acknowledgement sustains the validity of Bundle of Rights emphasized by Fee Simple Absolute.  Pick any spot on the map. The exact attributes of that particular location can be found nowhere else in the entire universe. To occupy and operate a unique position in time and space is sort of a big deal. If you examine the United States Constitution (and Constitutional Law), you'll find that the concern underlying the formation of government is real property.

    Article IV, Section 3:
    One example of this concern:
    “Congress is vested with the absolute right to designate the persons to whom real property belonging to the United States shall be transferred and to prescribe the conditions and mode of the transfer; and a state has no power to interfere with that right or to embarrass the exercise of it. Property owned by the United States is immune from taxation by the state or any of its subdivisions” from United States v. Bd. of Com'rs, 145 F.2d 329, 330

     That’s pretty powerful stuff, isn’t it? It goes to a Real Estate Broker’s head sometimes.

    Real people are unique too, hence a Bill of Rights (though seems like it was added almost as an after-thought, huh?) There are so many ways to view the wonder of life. One way is to reflect upon the dynamics of uniqueness as it pertains to real people owning and operating real property.

    Just think about it! All the wonderful Real things all the wonderful different kinds of Real people can do with all the wonderful Real places they own. This has been on our minds for how many centuries? Maybe only Bill O’Reilly knows.


    But now consider how in the mix is Virtual Property, such as websites, blogs, forums and discussion groups. Virtual property can be as valuable as real property. It is certainly as unique and fits more of the characteristics of real property than personal property. (And you hardly get taxed for it!)

    Take a look at 10,000 Toyota Camrys as they roll out fresh off the assembly line. The only difference between them is the VIN number. Look at 10,000 3-Family homes in New England and no two are the same. And 10,000 Blogs about Social Media, for instance, also not one is the same.

    In all ways, virtual property should be treated like real property—especially the marketing. A website or blog can be a home for your thoughts.

    Discussion groups and forums, dinner parties. And just as well as your home is a nest, it can also be a place of business. In passing now, it occurs to me that if you treat your place of business as your home and vice versa, each day and night will be harmonious no matter what challenge you face. 

    So if you choose to apply business sense to your SM Activity, remember then you are a Virtual Real Estate Owner and you are your own broker. To market your property with maximum effect, take a few pages out of the Real Estate Broker’s manual.

    Your SM activity becomes a Virtual Property Sign Network. Branding. Lead Generation. Referral Network. Organically grown and wholly virtuous. Every blog post, tweet, retweet, comment, and like leads eyes back to your handle and avatar, to your profile and bio, to your web space, business mission statement, product lines and service offerings.

    Just like the property signs of real estate marketing, your SM Activity is a constant patient signal that never gets tired, never drops its hand, waits only for the eyes to notice, waits only for like hands to rise along beside it.

    Conclusion: Bringing it Back to Leadership by Example in the 21st Century

    Leadership is the fiber of Transparency. Though we are now calling Leadership by Example behaviors a Transparency Movement, because we offer a constant unshielded window into our lives, interests and activities, essentially into our mind---the bedrock of Social Media Transparency is still a constant signaling effort, which is Leadership by Example.

    Our actions are transparent, viewable. How we behave is how we lead others to behave. Therefore we must well conduct ourselves in the creation of a healthy signal network. Well conduct in this regard is not just tending to our own content—this “not just promoting your own work” concept gets talked about often, but not often explained as it relates to Leadership. Such behavior would be transparent and set the wrong example. And then nothing good would come out of the process, no signal amplified by anyone, there would  be just a bunch of me-people. But if we tend well, to ourselves and to others, others will see and learn how we tend, follow and exemplify this right action as it reaches throughout their network own, and so on and so forth, yadda yadda yadda—till virtuously our good effort comes back to us. Every ping has an echo.

    Refer back to the Show of Hands story. The results of Leadership by Example are not meant to reflect upon the original leader. The results are meant to affect a sea change of attitude and behavior in the observers and convert them to participants. Observers encouraged to participate in a behavior that in itself is designed to further encourage other observers, are essentially amplifying the reach of the signal from the original leader. To follow this example, you thereby become part of the leadership.

    Look to your Klout score analytics for a groovy 21st Century display of the mechanics behind Leadership by Example.

    Now before I sign off—I’d like to stoke an important flame. Because this gets talked about often too, but often quickly forgotten.  If there is a downside to Transparency—it is that your network is now your Big Brother. Oopsssssssss…..don’t worry, that’s just dawning reality escaping the bubble. Don’t be afraid—Big Brother only watches because he has no legs. Play with the downside, the upside is worth it.

    1 comment:

    1. Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.


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