Yesterday at Social Media @ the Beach, a local SM event in Hampton Roads, listening to the Keynote speaker, Jeff Turner, was like listening to an old friend. Actually one of my best friends…my Dad!
Let me explain. My father has always been one of my mentors. I’m lucky. Not only is my father a great dad, and a successful business man, but he also was a mentor and coach to groups of CEO’s for over a decade while working with an organization called Vistage. The predecessor to Tech, Vistage is an international group of business coaches focused on providing innovative ideas to its CEO members.
He still mentors fledgling business owners on a voluntary basis through the Emerging Technology Center in Baltimore and The Business Incubator in Montgomery County. Because of my father’s commitment to helping others, I’ve always had access to great motivational speakers, tools and ideas which he’s generously share with me. Long ago, when I was at a crossroads in my life, one of my epiphanies happened when he handed me a values exercise. My father helped me see a simple truth with a values exercise similar to the one Jeff Turner gave to the group yesterday.
A decade ago I was having a difficult time with what should have been one of the most amazing jobs in the world…diving in an exotic local. I found that no matter what you do, if you don’t share the same values as those you interact with, you will find a difficult road to success. The shared activity was diving in tropical reefs, but the values of those I worked with were so disparately different from my own. Whether it’s in relationships, business, or in life, values are the root of your being.
Even today my father starts out with his new clients or business start-ups by giving them a values exercise worksheet. Yesterday I had an “ah-ha” moment as Jeff related social media and building online communities to this same values proposition. Jeff explained that values drive shared experiences and thus social media is value driven. When talking about your brand: who you are and what you deliver, overtime will reveal your values. You can’t hide your values, they are who you are.
One of Jeff’s slides broke it down so perfectly. His diagram showed that shared vision and values lead to creating community awareness. Within that community you have interaction and shared interests which then results in engagement and participation. These are conversation starters around shared visions and values which create a community affinity. This is the essence of social media.
In social media, no matter how many platforms you use — blogging, tweeting, facebook…whatever you choose — if you are being authentic you are going to paint the same picture across all platforms and present a consistent message. Jeff’s words resonated with me because this is a philosophy I’ve embraced for over a decade thanks to my father’s teachings.
Personally my experience is that when you surround yourself with people who have shared values it lifts you up, possibilities are endless, ideas are exchanged and an innate positive energy flows through the interaction. When you are at cross purposes with others, and values are different there can be misunderstanding and wasted energy. Given the choice (And you always have a choice) it’s more productive to align yourself in the positive environment of shared values than to bang your head against the wall.
Just as both Jeff and my father are advocates of a simple exercise, I suggest it for anyone trying to decide their way forward. Years ago I found a quite place with pen and paper (ironically the exact conditions Jeff suggested) and really went deep within. Think about who you are and the words that define you. Jeff provided 3 simple steps (Simple but not always easy) Identify, define and explain. The more clearly and completely you do this the better you will understand yourself and what makes you tick. This can only be beneficial in building your online community.
Thank you Jeff Turner for re-energizing me with some truths that I had the privilege to learn years ago. Learning is always key, and reinforcing lessons is essential in shaping your knowledge. Listening to Jeff was like listening to an old friend because it’s apparent that we share many of the same values!