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Storytelling and the Laws of the Jungle | Yossi Ghinsberg

By cmiadmin | Apr 23, 2015 | Comments Off

Interview with Yossi Ghinsberg by Speaking.com

 

https://youtu.be/o5nOL7Vdmyo

International bestselling author of Jungle, (over one million copies sold), a true story of survival against all odds in the Amazon rainforest, Yossi Ghinsberg is one of the most celebrated inspirational speakers of our time.

SPEAKING.COM: Why do you think storytelling is such an important aspect of the human experience?

GHINSBERG: I am a natural storyteller and I was never trained. The body language, the tone, the vocabulary, the timing, and the silence – all these emerge naturally. This is my gift and talent, and my calling as well. People respond to a good storyteller in a way that is much different than good lecturers or presenters. People in general don’t like to listen; they have stories and voices inside their heads they would rather listen to. When ideas are presented they tend to judge them, oppose them and quickly get bored by them.

Good storytelling is different, as it instantly turns adults into children. They lean forward, are attentive and absorbed. They not only listen but also actually feel the story inside themselves, processing their own emotions with their full attention.

In this optimal state the ideas and insights presented are far more effectively received as they are not encountering objection and boredom. Instead they are like seeds sowed on fertile grounds, ideas that will live and grow. There is no question that the value is many times greater when a good storyteller takes the audiences on such a journey.

SPEAKING.COM: What is “corporate spirituality” and why is it important?

GHINSBERG: It is a term that is attributed to what people perceive. I do not adhere to any spiritual practice that ends with an ‘Ism.’ Yet I have found that life is a spiritual experience. I have experienced the miraculous and been touched by the mystery and grace of life. I have studied all philosophies and religions in my pursuit of wisdom, yet I never became a disciple of any. I found enlightenment in nature itself and that had consequential impact on my understanding of life, and my conduct.

The principles of corporate spirituality are simple yet deep and powerful. In essence they are seeing oneness and the futility of separation. Understanding that a company is an eco-system, our planet is an ecosystem and that ecosystems adhere to the following spiritual principals: we are all interrelated, we are all interconnected, and we are all interdependent. Such principals mean we are a family and that we all have to take care of each other for any of us to thrive. But this doesn’t conflict with profits and increased returns to shareholders. On the contrary, the economic rewards are much greater with corporate spirituality. It makes greater profits.

We are not good managers. We have pillaged the planet, raped the lands, despoiled the waterways, depleted the seas, contaminated the atmospheres – all because of our notion of separation from nature and a lack of understanding that hurting nature is in effect hurting ourselves.

SPEAKING.COM: What are three of the most important “laws of the jungle” and how do they apply to daily life?

GHINSBERG: Each of the laws contain all the rest of them so I cannot judge which is the most important; however, the most basic ones are:

If you want to be human be a beast first: it is opposed to the very popular belief that we are not a superior species positioned here to rule and exploit nature. Instead, we acknowledge that we are also an animal. The notion that we are an integral part of nature and part of the family of all life is a colossal paradigm shift. It opposes the monotheistic notion that we humans were appointed to rule, exploit and manage the world of flora and fauna. We are not good managers. We have pillaged the planet, raped the lands, despoiled the waterways, depleted the seas, contaminated the atmospheres – all because of our notion of separation from nature and a lack of understanding that hurting nature is in effect hurting ourselves.

The second law of the jungle is be the music not the conductor: it explores the possibility that we are here to play an important role rather than manage, with an attitude of harmony through specialization. Each species is thus like a musician in a symphony, a valid and indispensable part of the most amazing artistic creation ever made, and while humanity can play the first fiddle there is no need to be the conductor.

The third law is the seasons always change: understanding the transient nature of existence brings deep wisdom and the discovery of equanimity. Everything is moving, so passing phenomena is best experienced without too much attachment. Objecting and clinging to phenomena is a futile yet common approach. This principle leads to acceptance and contentment, and at its highest level it is this principle that is the gateway to enlightenment.

I want to inspire people to dream without the hindrance of self-limiting beliefs and/or limiting cultural conditioning.

SPEAKING.COM: How can people and organizations welcome and adapt to change?

GHINSBERG: Change is difficult because on the one hand time is the most real and precious resource we have and it passes without stopping. It is rarely acknowledged and valued in this way. On the other hand time can only be experienced as now, an eternal moment from which we cannot escape. So understanding both the fleeting and ever present nature of time is tricky.

Understanding the nature of time and the role of change can be instrumental to individuals and organizations in adjusting attitudes, releasing attachments, being fully present and engaged and hence first to take the right action to adapt and proceed.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some ways in which people can overcome adversity and keep their dreams alive?

GHINSBERG: I touched on this issue earlier. The point is that sooner or later everyone experiences adversity during their journey. The dream is the most important aspect of life as it gives a person a sense of calling, a purpose without which life is quite shallow and empty. Without purpose it is hard to find true motivation to keep going. There’s a great danger, when adversity conflicts with the dream, that people will perceive the adversity as bad luck. They then become victims of it, they fail, their spirit breaks, they become subdued and never dare to dream again. They do not fulfill themselves or their potential.

On the other hand when we understand that adversity is there for a reason, that it provides the resistance that causes strength and growth, we may still have to go through some hardship and pain but we do not see ourselves as victims and let the adversity kill our dream. Instead we become stronger, smarter, and more creative. We shift, we move, we pivot to find a way, or we make one.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the successes your clients have achieved with your help?

GHINSBERG: I’ve worked around the globe with hundreds of companies, from round tables with a team of executives to auditoriums filled with thousands of people. I have hundreds of endorsement letters from clients and many anecdotes – some are most amazing.

A good example is the VP of a huge Australian corporation who quit his job after hearing me and took a sabbatical to tour the world. The company endorsement read: “we wanted you to inspire them but not that much!” It was a light-hearted statement and a year later the executive was back.

Other companies have created projects named the ‘Ghinsberg challenge.’ But most precious to me are the private letters I get from audience members who share with me how I touched their life. This is sacred, and intensely rewarding.
ON Speaking

SPEAKING.COM: What do you want people to learn from your presentations?

GHINSBERG: To be inspired to live life fully, to know that challenges are part of the path and that sometimes the bigger your vision the greater the resistance to it, but that this is part of the journey and not a reason to give up. I want to inspire people to dream without the hindrance of self-limiting beliefs and/or limiting cultural conditioning.

I’d like them to find the courage to revisit and reexamine some of their fundamental thoughts, beliefs and emotions by vicariously experiencing them rather than just intellectualizing and entertaining them. I’d like them to feel invigorated, to regain a spark in the eye and a spring in the knee, to know they, and no one else, is the protagonist of this life they are living, that their uniqueness is something they have to find, hone and shine on the world; that they are strong, worthy and beautiful.

I’d also like to challenge the paradigms they are trapped in and living by, and so expand their perception and the opportunities in their lives.

SPEAKING.COM: What kind of special prep work do you do prior to an event? How do you prepare for your speaking engagements?

GHINSBERG: I like to learn about the company or organization, and get an in-depth briefing from the relevant executives. I like to arrive on the scene as early as possible and get a feel for the place and audience. That way I can adapt more naturally to how the event rolls out. As to inner preparation, I take some notes to create a structure to fit the event, theme and timeframe.

I like to sit quietly and meditate on the event, so I can disconnect from other issues and be 100% present. I enjoy meditation, as I know inner balance is what is most valuable when I speak. It is not about what I say but how I am saying it. Audiences sense this and respond to it, knowing my presentation is real, alive and authentic.

I touch consciousness and empower the individual, expanding their capacity to deal with circumstances and leverage hidden opportunities they couldn’t see before.

SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particularly memorable speaking engagements or unusual situations arise while on the road?

GHINSBERG: So many it’s hard to choose just one. I had many adventures in exotic places like the deserts of Dubai and Oman. Most memorable are those events where I met people who touched my life, in places where I’ve made new friends for life. Yet the ultimate experience is to know I was of service to someone, touched them, alleviated their pain and inspired them. This is what makes my work such a humbling privilege.

SPEAKING.COM: Who are some of your favorite audiences?

GHINSBERG: I have no favorites, because every mind and heart that is wide open and allows me to come in with my stories and insights is showing a generosity and trust that I consider sacred, so I tread gingerly. So there are no preferences. In some places, like India, the culture is such that sometimes I get a standing ovation before I started speaking. It is always great fun to know the room is there ready for you, loving you and ready to be taken by you.

SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?

GHINSBERG: They all do, because my message is universal and I adapt very well to different audiences. My message is not specific to any industry, age or gender, nor do I teach a method to improve any particular department such as HR or Sales.

I touch consciousness and empower the individual, expanding their capacity to deal with circumstances and leverage hidden opportunities they couldn’t see before. I speak to all types of audiences around the world, though I usually speak in corporate environments to inspire and empower the individuals and the company.

SPEAKING.COM: What made you decide to start doing speaking engagements? What got you started?

GHINSBERG: I’m a storyteller. Addressing audiences is a gift I feel the calling to share, an innate need; there’s an aspect of me that only comes to fruition and life when I speak in front of audiences. I love this aspect of me that rises up. I’m in awe of it and the first to get inspired and listen to it. In a way I need my talks as much as my audiences – sometimes I feel I need it more. It is very aligning for me.

When you do what you are supposed to do, it feels naturally good, and that sense accompanies my speaking. What got me started is a story that needed telling: my experience surviving in the Amazon against all odds. It has inspired millions around the world in the form of books and a documentary series. Soon it will be a motion picture.

SPEAKING.COM: Which of your keynote topics are the most popular? How are your keynote presentations unique? Which of your keynote speeches do you enjoy the most and why?

GHINSBERG: The following are my topics:
‘The Power to Survive’ – Telling the story of my harrowing experience being alone in the Amazon and bare to the bone for weeks, isolated from society, deep in a hostile forest during the worst rainy season in a decade.

These circumstances caused me to discover that victimhood is a choice; adversity is something we all encounter and can deal with. I find that for the first time I can trust and rely upon myself. It is a powerful story of self-discovery, and vicariously takes people through the experience instead of just listening. In this deep space, where the audience and I are one and our emotions exposed, the insights and inspiration become cathartic and transformative, even life changing to many.

‘The Wevolution Revolution’ – The harrowing Amazonian survival story sets the background and deeply engages the audience. At that point I reveal the enlightened insights that transformed and changed my life forever.

I then tell the story of my return to the Amazon and the building of Chalalan, the most celebrated and award winning resort in the Bolivian Amazon, fully owned and operated by the most isolated Indigenous community.

It’s a real Cinderella story that shows that sometime the amateur can achieve more than the professional since their dream is not tainted with doubt and assumptions about what is not possible. Yet this story has far greater meaning, showing that the rainforest is an ecosystem that thrives on synergetic cooperation and that this is a metaphor for life on the planet as a whole. Core paradigms of scarcity as our reality and competition as the optimal way of dealing with it are revisited and challenged. Nature demonstrates that abundance is a better description of reality and that niche dominance and cooperation are more effective and more profitable.

I prefer the second topic as it takes my personal story far beyond self-discovery to actual global redemption, working towards the tipping point when the paradigm shifts and a new era begins–nothing less than that.

SPEAKING.COM: How much do case studies, personal stories and humor factor into the content of your keynote speeches?

GHINSBERG: I only tell my own stories. I have lived a rich, interesting and diverse life so the audience doesn’t get teachings I have learned but experiences I have lived. I open my heart and mind with complete devotion in a space of pure giving, sharing my life experiences.

All the content is original and personal, all the insights and messages are mine or internalized through life experience. My sense of humor is also authentic, because people react with laughter at various points when the intensity and the charge of the story require some relief.

 

This interview was originally published in the Speaking.com blog.

Lior Answers MSNBC’s Viewers' Questions

By cmiadmin | Apr 21, 2015 | Comments Off

If you're like most business people, you want to know how to more effectively hire the right employee, and how to more effectively use social media. MSNBC interviewed Lior Arussy for the answers to those common questions. Lior's the founder and president of Strativity Group (a global customer experience, research, and consulting firm) and the author of "Exceptionalize It!" In the interview he shares his expertise on best practices for hiring, how to identify the ideal client and the best approach for your social strategy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5woUyEhk7M

Building Better Business Relationships | Tim Sanders

By cmiadmin | Apr 16, 2015 | Comments Off

An Interview by Speaking.com with Tim Sanders

Tim Sanders, a former Yahoo! executive, uses his experience and business expertise, to help some of the biggest brands in the world as a corporate consultant. From Leadership Consulting to Strategic Marketing Consulting, Tim has helped clients explore new opportunities and develop new innovations to drive growth and maximize revenue.

SPEAKING.COM: Can you give us five tips for how to build better business relationships?

SANDERS:
1 – Listen more than you talk.
2 – When you can, teach others and share knowledge.
3 – Connect people with new contacts and expect nothing in return.
4 – Be thoughtful about the emotional experience others have as a result of our actions. Approach relationships from a design standpoint, to weed out pain points and whenever possible, deliver signature moments.
5 – Hug people, letting them know that you care about them as a person.

SPEAKING.COM: What is “emotional talent” and why is it an important leadership quality?

SANDERS: Emotional talent is your ability to manage your own emotions and respond generously to the emotions of others.

Leaders must “Define reality, then give hope,” according to Napoleon Bonaparte. To do this, a sense of emotional balance is required.

Followers stop listening to leaders that consistently produce negative emotions or ignore/judge their emotions. Dr. Daniel Goleman wrote that the emotional brain is 35 times more powerful than the logical brain – So leaders must seriously evaluate the Emotional Comp Plan they are offering talent.

SPEAKING.COM: How can organizations integrate employee experience design into leadership?

SANDERS: By segmenting the employee’s experience down to every transaction around the talent life cycle (hiring, onboarding, development, reward).

By observing the mood state with the same level of attention as one measures the profit and loss statements. After all, it’s the #1 way to predict future levels of service and innovation.

The answer to all your business challenges, be they talent acquisition or dealing with technology disruption, is LOVE. It’s the breakthrough strategy for leaders to forge powerful connections, drive innovation and spur collaboration.
SPEAKING.COM: What is one of the most important “7 Faces of Emotion” and how can it make leaders smarter?

SANDERS: When people are sad, they tip their heads. When they are surprised, most cover their mouth with their hand or bottom lip. Knowing the difference between the two can make you the smartest, most perceptive person in a meeting.

SPEAKING.COM: How can developing a more empathetic culture lead to a more customer-centric approach to selling and delivering?

SANDERS: People emulate a leader’s style when they serve customers. If you treat your talent’s feelings as facts instead of replying, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” when they experience negative emotions, they will do the same. This validation factor underlies both the greatest leaders and most effective service providers in the world.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the talent management trends you see emerging within the next ten years?

SANDERS:
• Finding ways to stretch and challenge the Millennials, who will ask for promotions when they really want a “harder level to play.”
• Restoring work life balance by cutting off the digital-leash that requires 24-7-365 attention to email and social media.
• Giving talent a sense of cause that’s deeply integrated into their roles.

ON Speaking
SPEAKING.COM:What do you want people to learn / take away from your presentations?

SANDERS: The answer to all your business challenges, be they talent acquisition or dealing with technology disruption, is LOVE. It’s the breakthrough strategy for leaders to forge powerful connections, drive innovation and spur collaboration.

Rapid problem solving is the only sustainable competitive advantage in business. It comes from the tendency of leaders to treat innovation as a team sport, put a process in place to drive collaboration and to recognize success in a big way.

Relationships are the foundation of our leadership quality and professional success. They are built through our generosity to others and specifically, our habit of sharing knowledge, generously networking and giving compassion and empathy to those in need.

SPEAKING.COM: How to you prepare for your speaking engagements?

SANDERS: I conduct multiple phone calls with meeting stakeholders to determine their meeting objectives, audience needs and goals for my talk. If possible, I conduct even more interviews with meeting attendees to deepen my understanding of what they want to take home from the conference.

My team and I conduct research to understand the industry, market or company I’m speaking for. We look at trends, threats, opportunities as well as psychological issues underpinning the bigger picture.

We comb tweets and posts from previous conferences to better understand the tone of the key influencers and how to engage them.

SPEAKING.COM: Have you had any particularly memorable speaking engagements / unusual situations arise while on the road?

SANDERS: My talk for the CIA (Leadership Academy) was unique in that I was told that most outsiders and specifically non-intelligence community experts aren’t well received by this group. We rolled up our sleeves, did our research and won the group over with actionable advice, peppered with my out-of-their-box perspective about relationship building and what it can do for intelligence gathering and resource getting.

I think that’s the purpose of an outside professional speaker: To validate the agenda and perspective of inside leaders.
SPEAKING.COM: Who are some of your favorite audiences?

SANDERS: My favorite audiences are those who come to events seeking actionable advice and wanting something greater in their professional lives. I’m especially drawn to those that serve others, such as health care or financial service professionals.

SPEAKING.COM: What types of audiences would most benefit from your message?

SANDERS: Those dealing with change, disruption, complexity and fractured relationships. They are ripe for my key takeaways. These days, as I’m writing a book on Team Work and One Company, I’m looking to talk to cultures where leaders are looking for more cross-department collaboration.

SPEAKING.COM: What inspired you to start doing speaking engagements? What got you started?

SANDERS: I’ve been a speaker since I joined the debate team in the 8th grade. I was national collegiate extemporaneous speaking champion my freshman year of college and won several national debate championships. Whenever I could, I’d volunteer to speak at industry events while working at broadcast.com and yahoo.

When my first book came out in 2002 (Love is the Killer App: How To Win Business and Influence Friends), it was featured on the cover of Fast Company. When I got to work the week after it hit the newsstands, my voice mail was full of messages from speaker bureaus —
because their clients were asking them to book me for their next event.

Once I started to perform on the lecture circuit, I knew it was my calling. Since I’m a loyal business partner to speaker bureaus, they’ve reciprocated by giving the almost 800 engagements since then.

SPEAKING.COM: Which of your keynote speeches do you, and your audiences, enjoy the most and why?

SANDERS:

  • Love Is the Killer App: How To Win Business and Influence Friends
  • The Power Of Great Relationships
  • Sales Genius Is a Team Sport
  • Lead Your Teams To Collaborate, Co-Create and Win!

Speaking on Love and generosity is my favorite thing. It’s a unique message that validates so many nice-smart people who need to understand that they are successful because of their intelligent giving nature and not despite it.

SPEAKING.COM: What are some of the successes you’ve helped clients make?

SANDERS: I’ve helped associations find new charters, based on audience feedback to their member education services. I’ve helped companies rally around senior leaders, who have been preaching my message (unsuccessfully), but through our event, we tipped the balance to acceptance. By the way, I think that’s the purpose of an outside professional speaker: To validate the agenda and perspective of inside leaders.

SPEAKING.COM: How much do case studies, personal stories and or humor factor into your keynote speech content?

SANDERS: Every talk has several case studies that lead to action items for the audience to seize. In some situations, we find ones just for the talk; and in others I cross-pollinate industries with “out-of-their-market” examples.

I love to share personal stories, so long as they lead to a takeaway. I like to talk about my relationships at work and at home, to illustrate the value of deep listening, mentorship, generosity and showing empathy.

And I like to make fun of myself, and things we all do that make us crazy.

This interview was originally published in the Speaking.com blog

Learn More about Tim Here

Leadership Tips in SELF Magazine from Robyn Benincasa

By cmiadmin | Apr 16, 2015 | Comments Off

SELF-Made Woman Who Inspires

The founder of Project Athena, a non-profit that helps women overcome life-altering medical setbacks, shares some major motivation tips with us.

By Madeline Buxton

When Robyn Benincasa, a life-long athlete and firefighter based in San Diego, had to undergo major surgery, she was inspired to start a non-profit organization, dubbed Project Athena, that would help other women experiencing medical setbacks regain physical prowess. Launched in 2009, Project Athena has helped over 150 women who’ve survived various medical maladies—think cancer, brain surgery—and have helped these ladies take on bucket-list-style adventures. The non-profit covers all of its beneficiaries’ expenses, like coaching and equipment, and has sponsored everything from a trek across the Grand Canyon to a climb up the San Jacinto Mountains. Benincasa spoke with us about her daily life as a full-time firefighter, why she doesn’t consider running Project Athena a “job” and what the keys are to really being a good leader.

A Good Leader Always… “Focuses on inspiring the people around her versus impressing them.”

Why I Love Volunteering… “I love helping people discover how strong they are, and what great leaders and teammates they can be. I’m lucky and grateful that I get to do that almost every day.”

On Achieving Work-Life Balance… “I always tell people that I haven’t worked a day in years. I actually have two full-time jobs, as a firefighter and as a motivational speaker, but neither of them feels like work because I love them both so much. My part-time, volunteer job of running the operations and adventures of the Project Athena Foundation is the icing on the cake. It all works because I’m surrounded by the best team in the world.”

On My To-Do List… “Clean, consolidate and reorganize my house! There’s half packed and unpacked bags and suitcases everywhere. I’d rather travel than have a nice house, so scaling down and reorganizing has been on my to-do list for a couple of years now.”

In My Purse Is… “I don’t own a purse, but I have a backpack that has my entire life in it! We call it the Intergalactic Headquarters for the World Class Teams and the Project Athena Foundation. Inside you’ll always find dental floss, a Think Thin or other protein bar, my iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, power cords, and, yes, an old school Franklin day planner. I love my paper calendar!”

My Daily Workout… “I use my indoor Kayak ERG machine and do intervals while watching sports on my iPad, go to workout classes at Orangetheory or run the stairs at the beach in Cardiff.”

The Most Influential Book I’ve Read… “The Catcher in the Rye. It was the first time I realized that everyone is weird and weird is pretty normal. In fact, the statement ‘people are weird’ is something I say just about every day. And it’s true—we all are. And it’s OK!”

The Last Thing I Do Before Bed… “Kiss my dog, Valentine—and my fiancé, Jeff, who has been my foundation and most awesome support system for the last sixteen years. We met in the fire academy.”

 

To learn more about Robyn Benincasa and her role as a leader check out her page here

The Two Most Important Days of Your Life | Ty Bennett

By cmiadmin | Apr 16, 2015 | Comments Off

New Book By Ty Bennett

Ty Bennett, in collaboration with Don Yaeger and Chad Hymas, has written a new fable about The Two Most Important Days of Your Life. The book tells the story of Coach Michael Coleman. One week before he gives the commencement address at Thompson High School’s graduation, Coach Coleman is asked to speak at the funeral of one of his former students who tragically took his own life. The funeral and subsequent encounters lead Coach Coleman to discovering what life is really about and to sharing a message at graduation that everyone needs to hear.

Watch the Video Trailer:

 

 

Learn More about Ty Bennett 

Lior Arussy | New Edition of Exceptionalize It!

By cmiadmin | Apr 10, 2015 | Comments Off

Why is exceptionalism so important now? Thee answer is quite simple. You have no other choice. Meeting expectations is no longer sufficient. Doing your job is not a reason to keep you as an employee. Customers expect exceptional experiences. Managers demand exceptional performance. And ultimately, your commitment to excellence requires it. This is a manifesto of how to rise up to the exceptional performance within organizations and us as individuals. It is a wake-up call to stop accepting mediocrity and average performance. And yes, these pages will be a mirror that may reveal an inconvenient truth. While respecting your achievements to date, staying relevant requires you to constantly examine the simple question: Are You Exceptional?

Tim Sanders | Quality Over Quantity

By cmiadmin | Apr 10, 2015 | Comments Off

Stop Being Medium Quality Maximum Quantity

Too many <entrepreneurial> people I know are constantly multi-tasking in their careers.

Sure, when Benjamin Franklin endorsed pursuing "a network of enterprises," he was promoting career and interest diversity.  It was good for our creative thinking.  But he emphasized they be "networked" with each other.

Lately, I've wondered if our constant spreading out of business ventures is good for our level of quality.  Some have a career consulting, supplanted by writing, overlaid with blogging, and then they develop myriad products on top of that.  The result?  A thinner voice and less you can sink your teeth into.

I've taken a new approach lately: My projects must feed each other to remain on my calendar. Since I've started writing my next book (more on that later), you might have noticed that I've stopped blogging.  In fact, this is just a short break from my singular focus on the book to tell you I'm alive and well...and that I'm trying a new tact in life by focusing on the book above all.

Sure, I still do my speaking engagements (which have either been about Love Is the Killer App principles or my new book subject).  But other ventures, not so much.

You should give this a try also. Look at your calendar or your To-Do list or your project list and ask yourself: Are they all connected to the point that work on one improves the quality of the other?

This is beyond time management.  It's about the quality of our work in a try-everything society.

Mike Walsh Interview with "The Manifesto"

By cmiadmin | Apr 09, 2015 | Comments Off

I N T E R V I E W   W I T H  M I K E   W A L S H

Interview by Michelle Sullivan

Photography Daniel Nadel

 

Mike Walsh is the CEO of global business consultancy, Tomorrow. His best-selling book FUTURETAINMENT won an award at the Art Director’s Club in New York. Based in Istanbul, he advises business leaders about thriving in the era of changing technology. 


How does one become a Futurist?

Mike: When I was 23, I set up a technology company and I was studying what consumers were doing in digital. This was in the late 90s; it was the first internet boom so I think that really got me started. I’ve never had a normal job since. Then about five or six years later I met one of the Murdoch’s in a bar and I ended up working for News Corp and that was in the newspaper business so I worked for them for a while in newspapers and then worked with them in television in Asia. I think when I was up in Asia that was the beginning, when I realized what my real path was. Long before the iPhone, long before a lot of the stuff we use every day I saw kids in China, Japan, Korea, living these incredible mobile lives and when I saw that I realized that this was really the future. So I quit, set up my own company, wrote a book and that’s how I would up becoming a futurist.

 

What’s your next book about?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this question of what the future of the company should be. It’s actually more interesting than it sounds, in that we design lots of things. We design products, we design brands and we even come up with amazing ideas for how we think businesses should work. So we take all of that important information and then we shove it into a 17th century construct. You can have the most disruptive idea for a new type of platform but then all the mechanisms of the business and the scale are the same. The HR Department’s the same, you still have Lawyers, you still have Accountants, Finance department. So I want to write a book about how you design a company for the 21st century.

 

Have you ever worked with any music companies?, do you have any experience on that level?

Music to me is fascinating because in some ways it was the first real crucible of the digital age; all of the most difficult issues were faced first by the music industry, it became a real litmus test for what has now happened in other industries, for example television and movies. So if you think about what’s changed in the music industry, we've sort of gone from a huge war of traditional music against consumers.

Consumers were the ones who disrupted the industry. They were the ones who said we’re interested in songs not albums, we want to change the business model of how we consume music and we don’t want to be told on how we listen or how we engage with it, and to some extent they ran ahead of where the industry was prepared to follow.

If you think about it, in media traditionally technology has been about incremental improvements in fidelity – so we went from AM to FM. Each advance in the music industry was about making quality, but the internet was actually a step backwards because suddenly people were willing to trade off high quality CD sound for dramatically worse MP3 quality tracks. They could have gone the other way. Remember super audio CD was the technology at the time that the music industry was really starting to push, because they made so much money when people upgraded from tapes to CDs. They felt ‘what’s the next thing’, you know? Can we get everybody now to replace their CD collection for better CDs – that’s what they would have liked. People did the completely unexpected. They were like OK, I’m actually happy listening to really crap sound now because I can have more freedom with how I listen to music. I can download it the minute I hear it, I can maybe even not pay for it, and so this changed the whole dynamics in the industry. That was a behavioral thing – that wasn't a technological thing, and what it forced the industry I think to do was after years of fighting it and denying it, they then embraced it and then realized that the economics in the industry changed. So for me the economics and the music industry are now about artists building direct connection with their fans and then commercializing that in new ways, whether it’s concerts or merchandise or other things. And that’s happened in the last 10 years.

So, one of the topics that we talk about incessantly in music is making money in music. What do you think is the next step in this process?

I mean in some ways this is what people have under-estimated. They thought these new tools would allow everyone to become a mega star. What they've actually done is made it harder, because now that everyone has access to the same technology that Madonna does, the same distribution models – the challenge is not actually producing an album or releasing an album, the challenge is getting anyone to pay attention to you. This has happened in every industry now from music to publishing, and in some ways it becomes a winner takes all game.

There’ll be fewer and fewer people who make mega star status because the chances of that happening are this – you either need lots of money behind you or you need to basically win the lottery. The good news is that there’ll be lots of people for whom music will become a cottage industry and they’ll be able to survive. It will be harder and harder for people to become mega famous.

I think it’s quite a complex question. To me it’s a question of survival. What is the new model for really commercializing your fans? This is the key question, and I think the starting point is you have to build yourself a direct relationship with the people who are interested with you; you have to own them, you have to actually be able to measure in concrete terms not just how many people follow you on Facebook or twitter or anything else, you've got to say 'I literally have a data base of this many people, and there are X number of things I can do to commercialism that relationship'. It’s not just selling music or concert tickets or a release, it’s selling yourself as a brand and more.

What is your position in the discussion of free content; whether free music degrades the value of it?

The real threat to all of this is that the pattern of consumption of music has changed. I even saw this years ago as I noticed that teenagers were not only not listening to stuff on CDs, they were listening to music on YouTube. So if you asked a kid to play you a song they’d go and load up YouTube and then use YouTube as their juke box, and it’s not because they want to watch the video, it’s because they like the experience of streaming. That’s why Spotify was so successful in Europe. It actually makes logical sense to kids that they don’t need to actually own it, they just need access to it. So this makes it really hard – because then what are you actually selling as a musician? Whatever you can earn relative to your stream rights is actually tiny compared to sales. It’s actually almost pointless. I think the idea of ownership is fast coming to an end. Even the iTunes model, I think, is in big, big trouble, digital downloads model is in big trouble.

 

So if we've move through a download phase, to a streaming phase, what comes after that?

Well I think what you then pay for is this – Let’s say brand X eventually has to own their own platform; so you literally become a member of their club, that’s how they commercialism it. So you pay x number of dollars a year and it’s all things Billy Joel, for example. You’ll get personalized messages from him, you’ll get invitations to his concerts, you’ll get updates of when he’s writing new material and basically pay a certain amount of money to enter his world. It’s loosely like following someone. I mean there’ll be degrees of following – when you just kind of vaguely paying attention to stuff; you listen to free songs and then there’s the deeper commercial premium following where you move deeper into their world. I think what artists will start to do is to draw people deeper into the fold. They’ll release lots of stuff out to the world and hope people will engage with them and then they’ll try to pull those people into a deeper relationship. There’s broader degrees of engagement and this is what’s happening in other industries – that you try and engage people with your material and then you bring them closer. There’s a lot of science behind how you do that.

TM

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