Embracing Technology & Social Media

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Head’s Up to Those Who Eschew Social Media – 

and a Specific, Transitional Warning to Those, Just Entering the Workforce.

While building and then navigating one’s transition or expansion from Social Media as Bonding Platform to Social Media as Networking Tool; it will serve one to keep in mind the full nature, features and ramifications of each and every platform into which one ventures and maintains a presence.

I am a fervent believer in the value of embracing social media, and to those Professionals out there older than 50…or 40…I say this; learn it, know it, use it…or risk the very real possibility of being perceived as irrelevant, outdated and out of step…

It’s work, yes; frankly, it has become part of our job – for many, this has happened while looking the other way, being busy on Other Priorities – and, the longer this catch-up is put off, the greater will be that very job. If left too long, catching up will not be possible. My admonishment is to not put this off.

I get it when, as I hear from many of my peers, the prospect of wading-in to the perceived maelstrom of social media platforms and pathways seems daunting: so much so that I see it often dismissed as irrelevant and unnecessary.

Beware this POV; it will come around and bite you in the butt.

As I’ve posited, before: the simple reality is that, year by year, the decision makers in our industries are becoming younger and younger; connected with and agile in the navigation and use of social media…and they have inherent, critical opinions about those who eschew or simply cannot utilize these platforms. We “elders” need to meet, network and work with these people on their communicative terms, as ours must evolve.

You gotta keep up.

Recently, I encountered a man for whom I have the deepest respect – this man is brilliantly creative and an icon in our industries – and mentioned, in passing, FaceBook. “Oh, I don’t ‘do’ FaceBook,” he says…

Frankly, this particular guy can probably afford to ignore FB. He is of a stature and reputation that he probably doesn’t need to market beyond his already strong and powerful network of professional relationships and clients, and that’s great…enviable, in some respects.

I dare say that most of us are not in that position. Social media is where The Conversation is Taking Place, and we who want to be a part of that conversation must participate in that conversation where it is happening. This means being willing and aggressive about learning the in’s and out’s of the various platforms, assessing which of them can best serve our specific and general goals and objectives…drive business, spread the word, expand visibility…for our own needs and mission; then, jumping-in.

The first thing I do upon meeting – or scheduling a meeting – with a new business associate or Contact is:

  • Google ‘em,
  • Look ‘em up on FB,
  • Check to see if they have their own domain,
  • And Twitter feed,
  • Check out their email address (“aol” shrieks “irrelevant” – just sayin’…)

…with the intent of gauging awareness of how the world is currently working.

Granted; we aren’t teens with hours of free time on our hands to post, pin, tumbl, vine, flip, tweet, path and share every minuscule moment of our lives to our pals. That’s not what is called-for. Selectivity and specificity is key in boarding the social media rocket but, once boarded, full commitment is paramount.

In my own sphere of work and professional relationships, currently (and, any more, I pretty much always say, “currently…”), I am actively present on FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter, I publish this blog and follow a host of others, participate in a number of smaller, networking groups specific to certain areas of my industries and sniff around on Tumblr and, more recently, Vine. This list is by no means comprehensive; but these are the avenues I see as most relevant to me and what I do in the current context.

FaceBook – imperative. One can share a photo of lunch if that’s important to One; but that’s not the primary focus, any longer. A few things my own FB presence does, primarily;

  • it allows me to keep in touch and reconnect with friends and business associates from all over the world. People who’s business cards I may have lost become newly reach-able.
  • I can share photos and previews of shows on which I am working; expanding the potential audience for that show.
  • It is a great spot for locating unique resource anywhere in the world.
  • ‘Tis a tremendous outreach tool for Casting Calls.
  • Scanning through, I am able to see what is interesting to others; this serves me when writing or creating experience,
  • I’m able to, thanks for my scores of twenty-somethings with whom I’ve been fortunate to come to know and befriend through my stints of teaching workshops at Apple, see and hear things that might not otherwise come to my attention: this has expanded my taste and experience in music, most especially, and through that is a window into huge segments of audience I must reach in other contexts.
  • Sharing blog posts – my own or those of others I follow – expands readership and concomitant visibility.

And, if you need a good restaurant in Abu Dhabi or a Dry Cleaners in Hong Kong, y’nevah know…

Just a note on the above, too: one must be authentically present in these forums. The necessary depth of culture absorption can’t come from simply observing; one must participate to truly get it all. This can’t be faked, and it can’t be “digested” and fed to you by a Marketer unless you are also familiar with the milieu.

Twitter – the single most powerful marketing tool in the world. The thing about Twitter is that it must be used to be of value. One cannot simply sign up and launch a campaign. It is the network of professionals and friends with whom one connects that brings value to one’s own twitter feed. The value of twitter is in the number of people who see what you share, like and retweet it to their own network. The exponential visibility of what one shares on Twitter is magnificent in scope.

As long ago as 2011; the top 300 tweeters had a combined first-pass audience of half a BILLION followers.

Great value in Twitter lies in the ease of sharing information. I share the links to this blog via Twitter. With a simple tap, those who see, read and like my stuff can and do re-tweet it to their networks in seconds…often with a few of their own endorsing words attached. Readership expands exponentially, and through that easy approbation my audience grows.

A key component: participation. Retweeting tells the people whom you are retweeting that you like what they are doing and are sharing it. Doing your friends and peers the respectful favor of retweeting what you like both shows them you support their work and shows their own networks that they endorse you. Retweeting your respected peers is part of the deal; it isn’t a one-way thing.

LinkedIn – the Professional “FaceBook”

  • Far less chatter
  • Focused on business, business-related discussions, Best Practices
  • More of a structured environment
  • Networking & Professional job- and resource-seeking
  • Highlighting trends, methodologies, discoveries in specific areas of business, across the spectrum of industries.

These are, imho, the three “biggies” for current virtual participation. There are scores more, the rest of which can be useful, depending on what’s needed. New ones will come and many of them will go as some reveal themselves to be more gimmick than value; but, I offer we keep our eyes on ‘em all, then adopt what proves of value while jettisoning those which have outlived their value or usefulness.

As an aside; I’ve found that Flipboard is an exceptional tool for keeping track of and expanding one’s relevant network. Great filters and an exceptionally intuitive set of algorithms that, I’d say, offer worthwhile value.

Some of these technologies will go the way of the Answering Machine. I suggest the occasional virtual housecleaning; don’t collect or “hoard” technological tools.

Second to Lastly, on this, take a look at how information is gathered and shared and how decisions are made. I offer that the day the Conference Call becomes history cannot come soon enough. Skype and Google Hangout (and myriad others) can handle face-to-face, realtime conference calls of small groups of people with multichannel audio so that people don’t inadvertently cut one another off when conversations overlap. Holding meetings in this context also cuts down on “multitasking” by the non-speakers when what is called-for is focus on the issue on the table.

Such meetings can be shorter; they will be more productive.

The Road from FB to LinkedIn

Be on guard against the Overshare.

Last week, a brilliant young person with whom I am in communication posted a personal revelation on FaceBook about a problem with an employee at work and a realization s/he was having with respect to how this was going to need to be handled. It was an honest Share, best voiced among friends. There was enough oblique information contained in the post, however, that anyone close to this poster or any co-worker could probably readily deduce the identity of the recalcitrant employee.

This would be a great way to alert the problem employee to the fact of the problem and the imminent addressing thereof. Further, ‘tis a great way to escalate the intensity of subsequent conversations with said employee; having alerted the entire team to the problem and causing the subject of the post to Lose Face.

Remember: Not all your FaceBook Friends are actually your FRIENDS. Don’t share anything you wouldn’t want shared with someone else. The level of security with which one might have been (un)concerned when dishing the algebra teacher in junior high becomes a great deal more important and volatile when one is in the actual work force.

Discretion being the better part of valor, keep your cards close to your chest and don’t share that stuff on FB.

That being said; it is highly likely that one can find a conversation taking place on LinkedIn that addresses the very problem before you, without you having to share anything that could undermine your purpose.

As you evolve your professional life and make the expansion into the sphere of LinkedIn and professional groups and blogs, my suggestion is to be completely liberal with honesty, and circumspect with candor.

Not everything need be shared.

Lastly, in my most recent post I shared an anecdote about an experience I had in conversation with a great young student in the context of memory and assumption. Remember, I said that the memory can often prove to be faulty when remembering and that it’s always a good idea to check facts? Well, my memory got the anecdote wrong.

That student wasn’t reading the blog because he’d already downloaded the book; not the other way around, as I’d “remembered.” He had assumed, actually, something pretty fantastic; that by downloading the book, he would be automatically receiving post-by-post updates to it on his iPad. With that assumption, there was logic to him not subscribing to the blog. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Apple eBooks.

But what a great concept, yes? Hello, Apple? How great would that be, for successive blog posts to be automatically formatted and downloaded to owners of an eBook?

So, first I must apologize for and acknowledge the inaccuracy of my memory of our conversation and, second, must thank said Student for calling it to my attention.

I now have a call in to the Retirement Home…


Download “imho” free for iPad from iTunes or the Bookstore on iPad.

“Hey, what about…?”

I was approached by a student at a conference a few weeks back who told me how much he enjoys reading “imho” and that he looks forward to every post. He then asked, “…but how do you apply your techniques to dark rides and installations?”

The question surprised me. (I thought I’d made that clear…) It seems obvious to me that these tenets apply to all Experience. (Exploration of Assumption, Kile…) So, I asked him if he’d downloaded the book; to which he responded that he had not, as he thought it was probably all the same stuff (Assumption!). I held myself back from questioning him as to how he thought a book that was published a year ago would hold the same information as the blog he reads, every week…besides,I suppose that there are writers out there who do seem to say the same things, over and over.

(If ever I… / …then, shoot me.)


So, I addressed both of these, thusly…

First, about the book. If you haven’t downloaded it and do own an iPad, download it. It’s free. Articulated and explained in that book are the five, key tenets of creating Compelling Experience:

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 4.16.47 PMThere is quite a bit more in the eBook; all of it foundational to pretty much everything that has been and will continue to be written and discussed in this space since original publication. In successive posts I often refer to one or more of the five tenets, and explore the myriad applications of them across contexts as I continue to encounter and build Experience, myself.

Check it out!

Turning to the above encounter with this student, then. I’ll say at the outset that he is terrifically sharp; inquisitive, highly intelligent, creative. But, he missed the very first of the Tenets in assuming anything.

Take note: pretty much anything is worth a look before rejection over assuming one already knows what’s there. Even – especially – with documents, venues, drawings, reports of one’s own past projects, anything that may have been seen or studied, before: Assume Not.

The human mind is a feisty partner; prone to hiding details and sometimes even changing things in our memory, just to mess with us.

Always look.

The nominal resources expended in the quick google search or scrolling through a document or whatever the source of the memory material might be will very likely pay off, more often than not, in the recovery of a lost detail or – who knows – discovery of something new to add to your arsenal of artistry.

You know what else, unexpected, can happen? This has happened to me when doing this very exercise…sometimes midway through development of a particular project. All the ideas, concepts, approaches, resources and even artists that perhaps didn’t fit the original concept or make the budget cut for that previous thing and had since been forgotten are suddenly reconnected as synapses grown dusty come to life and revivify the memory. “Oh, YEAH,” one has been known to cry, “…remember that guy who did that thing…?” and this new Experiential project suddenly gets a huge boost from the excitement of rediscovery.

Y’never know. Take a look.

Finally, to the actual question. Each and every one of these tenets is absolutely applicable to the custom, immersive experience of the Dark Ride. In fact; from one perspective, it becomes even easier to manage and manipulate audience expectation when every, single facet of the Experience is to be created by you and your team. When the entire experience is under your control, start to finish the panoply of stimuli that will create the Experience broadens, significantly. It may not be not less work, mind you, and probably more; as every, single one of those fantastic facets must be designed, built and paid-for, taking much more time, money, effort and people.

At the end, though, a well-crafted Dark Ride Experience will suspend disbelief from the first moments and take your audience on a fantastic journey…while they are, of course, being Comfortably Disoriented throughout.

It is actually equally difficult if not more so to create Experience in a pre-existing venue or retrofitted theatre; there, one is dealing with set parameters of an actual, physical “box” that may even carry it’s own legacy of preconception around which one must work to erase. Fortunately for the Type A’s, there is no dearth of Challenge in this business.

And while you are at Not Assuming Anything; embrace the concept that no matter how much one knows, one probably doesn’t know Everything (well, except for that one client; you know the one…). I offer that keeping this awareness close keeps one open to suggestion, option, opportunity.

We all simply never know where the Next Good Idea will come from…or came from and gets remembered…



Seriously: download the free eBook, “imho” for iPad from the iTunes Store; available in 38 countries. Thanks for readin’…

Making Your Point versus…

National Day Panorama

Two, brief points to make… First, a quiz.

#1. The Long View


A few days ago, I was standing on a sidewalk in a local neighborhood, chatting with a friend and deciding where to go for dinner. As we were speaking, a police cruiser pulled up behind a vehicle that was double-parked in front of the row of restaurants where we were standing.

The officer didn’t do anything, just sat in his car…it looked as though he was catching up on paperwork; but, of course, I don’t know for sure. After about ten minutes, as my friend and I were getting underway and crossing the street for our dinner destination, the pizza delivery guy responsible for the illegally parked vehicle exited of the pizzeria with his pizzas for delivery.

As he opened the hatch of his car, the officer tapped on his horn, lightly, and said, “Sir, your car is parked illegally…”

Question: What did the Pizza Delivery Guy do? Did he…

  1. Say, “I’m sorry, officer, I didn’t mean to take so much time picking up these pizzas. I won’t do it, again. Thank you!” …and drive away? Or, did he…
  2. Say, “Geez man, cut me a break! I’m just trying to earn a living, here, man. Why you pigs gotta harass me?”

Ready with your answer?

You got it: B. (And those were his exact words.)

Whereupon, the cop got out of his car, closed the door, leaned in through the window to grab his ticket book and began walking up the street toward the Man of the Cooling Pizzas.

My sense is that, had Delivery Guy gone for Option A, no ticket would have been written. Thus, herein lies today’s metaphor. On the heels of “It’s Easier to Apologize Than to Ask Permission” comes “Weighing the Value of Making a Point versus Realizing One’s Goal.”

Okay, Delivery Guy was out of line; yet, even when a point you may wish to make is valid, even when you are right, it’s never a bad idea to assess and be aware of the ramifications of taking a particular stand as might affect your project, production or deadlines.

Whether it’s another town, another state, another country or simply another union leader; best to keep one’s eye on the overall goal when negotiating one’s way to Production.

When being treated disrespectfully or condescendingly, when some bureaucrat, official or Relative of the Client is throwing weight around or simply being obstructive; remember that this is most likely not personal…this person probably treats everyone this way.

So, the choice is

  1. To attempt to enlighten this person to the waste that negativity and obstructionism engenders, to the value of you and your team and the importance of your own priorities and deadlines…and fail. Or
  2. To be aware of all those things, yourself; keep them to yourself and find the best way to most easily navigate your path to successful production…sometimes acquiescing to what you may believe is beneath you or acceding to some requirement that seems ridiculous (I say “seems,” as the fact is that you may not actually have all the pertinent facts…see “Exploration of Assumption”). After all, really, who’s gonna know and what’s it gonna matter? Frankly, when the bowing and scraping results in a show going up on time and coming in under budget, who’s gonna care that you had an Obsequious Moment or two in insuring that success.

Fortunately, as a Westerner, I am not as culture-bound to the concept of saving face. In fact, having the sensitivity to that very powerful cultural dynamic has more than once informed my own actions in the face of what may seem Ridiculous. Giving the guy across the table the sense that he has won something can only help you, down the line. It’s not personal to you; but it may be very personal to your Obstructor.

Have a slow fuse and, as I believe I’ve mentioned previously, take your time in reacting or responding. Consider all variables and possible results and take the path of least resistance and best possible result.

Save the sarcasm and vitriol for the Cast Party, an illustrative anecdote in a future conference presentation, some time later. Avoid losing by Winning.

#2 Information as currency

While I do appreciate the philosophy and fact that Information is Power, I extrapolate from that that the more people on my team in possession of that Information, the more Powerful my team becomes. So, I share.

Many a time will come when a manager, client or executive will be encountered who considers Information to only have value when only s/he has it. There are people who withhold information until they deem you need it…usually shortly after irrevocable and costly decisions have been made that would have been made differently had said Information been made available, up front. (I know; wtf!)

Ergo, my position is generally to share as much as possible, when it’s possible. Share with your team how you are making your decisions, early on. Give them a sense of parameter, client idiosyncrasy, possible roadblocks and eventualities that may materialize down the line and they will be more trusting of your judgement when the pace ramps up and decisions have to be made and actions taken more quickly…they will be a team willing to trust, as they’ve been trusted.

The added advantages to this is that

  1. The way is paved for ad hoc delegation of responsibility. An informed assistant can make better on-the-spot decisions if s/he has the information…information there will not likely be time to communicate when delegating in situ. And,
  2. When a situation arises that calls for rapid exploration of options and concomitant decision-making; the information-sharer is more likely to be surrounded with an informed team, capable of making recommendations from disparate perspectives, thus increasing the likelihood of the best possible solution being found and implemented.

Granted, there will always be things that need to be kept confidential or situations that would require expansive, laboriously-told backstory to catch-up. One cannot share everything. I simply offer that it is likely more productive on several levels to eschew hoarding; share what can be shared.


“imho” is also the title of the free eBook, available for iPad (not iPhone, sorry) from the Apple iBooks Store, containing the first 20 posts of this blog and the foundational bases for the methodologies and approaches to creating compelling experience that are cited and applied throughout this blog.