Reflection on Immunity to Change

Desire and motivation aren’t enough to see change through.  Therefore, it is best to first understand what you seek to change and then determine your desire to fully commit to implementing it.  I understand that change does not happen overnight, it requires serious dedication.  Yet and still, in my experience, I know it is easy to fall off track and lose sight of the goal.  At times I am consciously aware of what I need to do yet I lack motivation to continue to implement the change I started to pursue.  My actions become inconsistent and/or I psyche myself out.  Eventfully, though, I realize I do not have to begin my transformation in a drastic manner, I can revamp my approach and start with baby steps—Kaizen.

This particularly correlates with how I feel about the mannerisms I am trying to change.  For the most part, I consider myself to be a well-rounded individual who understands we all encompass unique differences.  However, in knowing myself, I accept that I am not and will never be perfect.  Thus, I am continually working towards becoming a better person.  I admit that I need to be a better listener, have better control of my emotions, and even become a better delegator.  Conversely, my “one big thing” is control issues.

I was already aware of my areas of weakness, nevertheless, Kegan and Lahey helped put the significance of my weaknesses into a perspective I had never considered.  I was content simply knowing that there were a few things I needed to work on.  I did not want to think about every aspect of my faults—it makes me feel uneasy.  It truly is a slap in the face once you realize you are unconsciously blocking your own path to success.  With that being said, I appreciate the self discoveries that spawned from reading “Immunity to Change.”  Not only am I aware of my faults and consequences they may cause, now I am also aware that I have the ability to create a game plan by using an immunity map to overcome every obstacle blocking my path to success.

Elvis, the Magna Carta and Random Dinosaurs.

I first saw this video at a marketing conference.

There are a lot of agency-created videos out there that give good overviews of the impact of social media, but I tend to think this one is the most vibrant. My favorite statistic in it is how if Wikipedia were made into a book, it would be 2.25 MILLION pages long.  Two and a quarter MILLION pages.  That’s insane.  Who would read that? Can you imagine trying to purchase that book at Barnes and Noble? More importantly, who would want to purchase that book?

When I was little I used to tag along grocery shopping with my mom after school on Thursdays.  One day I noticed a big display of book along the main aisle.  These weren’t just any books, these were thick and shiny, hard-back Encyclopedias with fancy scripted writing and gold-tinted pages.  From the first moment I saw them, I was in love.  I remember begging my mom to buy them.  I might have even cried (in my defense, I was probably about 8!)  I think they were on C or D by that time, so it took some wearing down of my poor mother before she caved in and bought the first part of the set.  The trick was that they were released slowly, every two weeks, by the store.  For months I would happily accompany her on a boring round of errands because I knew at the end we’d end up at Albertsons and I’d get to buy the newest release.

Oh how I loved those books.  I would spend hours pouring over the pages and browsing all the random entries like the Dromaeosaurus, knickers,  Montana, seaweed, or the War of 1812.  Sometimes my sister and I would try to look up the naughtiest thing we could think of, like “boobies” or “sex”.  We were eight and six, after all.  But mostly I would pick up a random letter, stop at a random page, and just skim.  Eventually – like all toys – I grew tired of them and moved on to more glamorous playthings like My Little Pony and Cabbage Patch Kids.  But for years they remained a staple in our house, sitting quiet yet proudly in our living room shelves collecting dust.  In a way it was comforting to me, knowing that they were still there, with all of their secrets and mysteries waiting patiently inside.  After all, who knew when I might need to know the diameter of a softball (3.5-3.8″), how many number one singles Elvis had (14), or when the Magna Carta was issueed (1215).

But back to Wikipedia.  I guess you can say I have a soft spot for it – just like those hard-back Encyclopedias of my youth.  While it’s not rimmed in fake gold ink, it still (to me) feels like a magical place where you can find the answer to just about anything.  And while I would never buy the hard-bound copy (because let’s be realistic, how would I ever get that in my car?) I will admit to browsing it from time to time, with no specific goal in mind.

Speaking of, did you know that Rhode Island, the smallest state, has a larger population than Alaska, the largest state?  Well, now you do.  Thanks, Wikipedia.

Finding Your Key Players and Other “Billionaire Pleasures”

by Reinel Campa, MAOM Student + Video Producer

In the video below, an amazing East Coast indie she-musician goddess, Joan Wasser, talks about her creative process. Joan as Police Woman (as she calls herself) is an inspiration, a muse, a mentor. Her cool style and relaxed demeanor are interesting and familiar. In the video she describes how she directs her musical project to a certain point and then lets the ‘experts’ she trusts be themselves with it. She doesn’t even let her musicians hear her work beforehand. She’s not controlling them, she is trusting them.

I see the way I work represented in her style. As a video producer, I always accepted that I wasn’t strong in all areas and tried to work with others to my advantage. I still want that — to be able to do just one thing strongly and work collaboratively with others. I like when no one feels controlled; we all trust one another.

This reminds me of one actual experience: the making of “Billionaire Pleasures.” We thought this 24-hour film contest at work was intended to help certain individuals get along, but it turned into a revelation. We actually worked well together when we wanted to! (AND MADE AWESOME VIDEOS!)

Our team won that day. Credit is due to the hilarious and daring script by Scott Chema, but ultimately, I think our team won because we trusted each other and collaborated.

  • With that team, I took risks: I did a ‘sexy’ scene with Scott, even though I was hesitant. Actually, everyone took a risk by sharing roles. For each scene, one person would act, one person would shoot, and one person direct, and then we would switch. It could’ve gone terribly wrong, but… it didn’t. Not at all.
  • I trusted my gut: After our first meeting, we had a lot to do, so I assigned tasks to everyone. An hour later, we had props, locations, cast assignments, and a typed-out script, scene by scene. From then on, anything anyone suggested was a good enough option for me!
  • And I was myself: I was suddenly empowered by my team to think about the stuff I was good at and cared about because they were there to pick up the slack. I was being creative.

I think finding these ‘key players’ in your life is an essential goal. We look for these people in our personal lives, our work lives… the better you are at it, I think the more success, happiness, and well being you will have.

In the last couple of years I have been working on creating that dynamic with my family because, well, family stays family. Now that it’s time to find a career, identifying my key players for work is a must. Because if I can recreate the feeling that “Billionaire Pleasures” gave me, I will feel that I have made it “there.”

Guest Blogger Reinel Campa is a student in the M.A. in Organizational Management program at Antioch University Los Angeles. For the last five years she has produced video content for live music performances, behind the scenes coverage, red carpet premieres, and original show concepts. You can read more of Reinel’s work on her blog, Night and Rei.

Q-the-A: And That Means What? Fun With Figures…

by Freddy J. Nager, Associate Professor + Managing Editor of The Antidote

So I’m reading an article in Inc., my favorite magazine for advice on entrepreneurial matters, when I found this statement about one company’s social media campaign:

“So far, about 7 percent of Step2’s customers have registered on the company’s website with their Facebook IDs, and of those who have, more than half of them have shared product reviews with their Facebook friends. In the past year, traffic from Facebook has increased 135 percent and revenue from Facebook visitors has nearly tripled.”

Impressive, right? Based on these figures, Inc. readers should just rush out to integrate Facebook into their websites.

So what’s the problem here? (As my students know, one of my favorite business questions is “so what?”)

The statement provides some tasty figures — but not all the figures that a manager needs to make a judgment about the campaign. All those percentages can be misleading if we don’t know the actual numbers they’re based on. For example, a traffic increase of 135% sounds amazing… but it could mean that traffic went from 20 people to 47 over the entire year. For a lot of retailers, that increase in traffic wouldn’t mean much. (My local Starbucks probably serves that many customers in about 20 minutes.)

Given that traffic, what else would we want to know? Here’s a short list for starters:

  • How many of those visitors from Facebook are NEW customers? If they’re just existing customers coming through a different entry way, the company doesn’t gain much.
  • What are the customers doing on the site once they visit? Are they reading articles, rating products, or best of all, buying something? Or, worse, are they filing complaints, posting spam, trying to sell something, or spying for the company’s competitors?
  • If they are buying stuff, how much are they spending? The article states that revenue has nearly tripled, but that could mean it went from, say, $2 to $5.
  • What was the cost of the Facebook program? Did the company pay someone to do it? If the company’s owners did the work themselves, how much time was spent on this instead of on product development, customer service, or other activities that could also make money?

The article doesn’t say. That’s unusual for Inc., which usually provides the critical underlying details, but that only proves that even trusted sources occasionally need to be questioned. Well, at least 135% of the time.

Freddy J. Nager teaches courses in social media, entrepreneurship and marketing at AULA. The founder of agency Atomic Tango LLC, Freddy has over two decades of professional experience in marketing and media, including 17 online. He previously worked for music label MCA Records and major ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and served such clients as Nissan & Infiniti, the NFL on Fox, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, National Lampoon and numerous startups. He holds a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Southern California.

No Exit: Why Exit Strategies Can Be Bad For Business

by Freddy J. Nager, MAOM Associate Faculty & Entrepreneurial Advisor
In a business plan the “exit strategy” describes how the entrepreneur intends to unload her business in, say, five to ten years. Common options include going public on the stock market or selling the business to someone else.

Even if you want to run your business for life, you’ll have difficulty attracting financing if you don’t cite an exit strategy, since the investors aren’t giving you their money out of benevolence — they want returns (and many happy ones at that).

So you do what you have to do to appease the finance gods. (Though considering what’s happened on Wall Street over the past few years, should we still be doing their bidding?) After all, there’s no harm in saying you’ll pull an IPO or sell your company to Google in the distant future — right?

Except that your investors will likely hold you to it.

Now, even investors know that long-term projections in a business plan are nearly as fictitious as the term “affordable housing.” Plans often change. The problem arises when a single-minded obsession with an exit strategy overrides all commitment to building a profitable business.

As depicted in my satirical article, Lemons 2.0: If Everything were Run like a Dotcom, many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs forgot the other integral part of their business plan called “the revenue model.” I knew one company that was so eager to get bought out, they launched a publicity campaign even before their product was even finished.

From Feast to Famine
These entrepreneurs all salivated like pitbulls in a sausage factory when Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion before the video site even turned a profit. Consequently, hundreds of start-ups launched with no realistic revenue model but, rather, an eye on having some mega-corporation snap them up.

Then the recession struck all this corporate matrimony like a bucket of cold water, and some of those mega-corps started looking for saviors of their own. Yahoops. Consequently, many of those exit-oriented start-ups beceme bottom-ups, landing in the TechCrunch Deadpool, with most people not knowing they ever existed.

Consider these links that Wikipedia provides for “Exit Strategy”:

Iraq Study Group Report
Pyrrhic victory
No-win situation
Total U.S. Withdrawal in the Vietnam War

Not exactly inspiring, huh?

An Alternative To Investors And Exit Plans

SRC Holdings, an American manufacturing conglomerate, emphasizes profitability, thinks through all contingencies, and has never laid a single employee off. The Inc. magazine interview with SRC CEO Jack Stack is a must-read for entrepreneurs who are serious about running a business. You won’t find any obsession with exit strategies here — indeed, the company remains privately held after 26 years, with ownership firmly in the hands of its employees.

The Verdict
So should you have an exit strategy? Yes, if you invade another country or enter a PhD program.

If you absolutely need to entice and appease investors, then put an exit strategy in your business plan; but before buying your first Aeron chair, engrave these words into the front door of your spanking new office:

“To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”

Keep repeating these words to yourself and to all your partners and employees. Sure, marriage vows may not hold a lot of weight in these here parts, but they’ll at least have you thinking in the right direction — and not towards the nearest escape.

Guest Blogger Freddy J. Nager teaches courses in social media, entrepreneurship and marketing at AULA. The founder of agency Atomic Tango LLC, Freddy has over two decades of professional experience in marketing and media, including 17 online. He previously worked for music label MCA Records and major ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and served such clients as Nissan & Infiniti, the NFL on Fox, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, National Lampoon and numerous startups. He holds a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Southern California

Welcome to The Antidote, the Cure for the Common Business Blog

The Antidote features musings and memos on management, business and organizational life by the Antioch University Los Angeles community, including professors, students, alumni, administrators and hopefully YOU.

The content is as diverse as its creators, from serious articles to satirical videos, all served up fresh weekly. In true Antioch tradition, The Antidote will experiment, test the edges and occasionally plunge headfirst into the foray. We hope you’ll savor a lot of it and suspect you’ll abhor some of it.

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