February 1, 2011
In October of 2008, I moved to Austin and starting working at Powered. Powered had been around for a long time, since 1999, but was just then embarking on its journey as a social media marketing company. Over three amazing and tumultuous years we succeeded in building one of the largest and most successful social-media-focused agencies in the world.
It was a fantastic learning experience as we worked through forging new client relationships, built great partnerships, and acquired three accomplished and like-minded companies to flesh out our vision for the capabilities the next-generation agency would possess. I worked alongside some amazing people, both inside and outside of our little company.
This past December, that world got even bigger as The Dachis Group acquired Powered as part of a vision that encompasses not only social media marketing (how companies talk with their customers) but also the use of social media to advance workforce collaboration and partner optimization. “Social Business” is truly a guidepost for how the companies of the future will function, and there are massive challenges that large companies must overcome to get there. The Dachis Group will no doubt be one of the companies that will lead the way.
For me, having helped to build something of which I am truly proud and seen it successfully off, it is time to move on to the next challenge. That’s why I’ve chosen to move from social media to mobile, and to a great start-up company here in Austin named Digby.
Advances in mobile platforms and mobile devices are some of the most exciting things happening in our technology culture today, and we are really just scratching the surface. Digby is a company that works with retailers specifically to create not only the mobile buying experience (“mobile commerce”) but is also pioneering the mobile in-store experience. I will be helping them with Product Marketing, shaping the future of that experience and working with them to be successful in bringing it to market.
I will miss my colleagues, clients, and partners from Powered, but I am enthusiastic about the great team at Digby and what I will get to build with them.
June 8, 2010
I don’t make any bones about admitting that I’m a big Apple fan. I’d be hard-pressed to name another company that I think has their approach to the marketplace and how to innovate for consumers so well thought out. I think this is particularly true in the portable device space (iPods, iPhones, iPads). I don’t own a Mac computer and still can’t make the economic argument for it, but in my opinion their portable devices rule the roost. And let’s be honest, for consumers at home, the future is devices. We are likely to find in the near future that the iPhone was never about the phone, it was about getting in your pocket.
As I followed the unveiling of their latest – the iPhone 4 – yesterday, I had to feel excited for users (despite the clear disadvantage of a remaining lock-in to AT&T) and sorry for handset competitors. I wonder what it would be like to have to compete against them in device space.
A likely comparison would be to how I feel when my dog Rio is able to escape the leash, which she has done a Houdini-like 7 or 8 times during her life (which breaks down to about once a year). Once free, she retreats to about 40 yards away and lingers, paying no apparent attention to me. This is just far enough away that if I break suddenly into a dead sprint I will get within 5 feet of catching her before she is able to escape again to another 40 yard cushion.
Over the past year or two, I feel like other manufacturers have been catching up, slowly but surely, to the iPhone. Apple, seemingly unaware, has been sniffing a few trees and loitering non-chalantly. Then the sudden leap forward comes. Competitors must again find themselves 40 yards away, out of breath, dreading the next phase of the chase.
March 4, 2009
Today at work we were discussing the prep for a big presentation next week, and getting into some pretty esoteric discussions (as we usually do) about how to communicate the vision and direction of our company.
One of the issues with what we do is that we are not only in the marketing world, but we are also in a subdomain of marketing (“social marketing,” or basically building communities online for marketing purposes). The social marketing world deals with a lot of pretty innovative web tools and a lot of specialized terminology that many people, even professional interactive marketers, don’t understand completely yet. In prepping for any presentation outside Powered’s four walls, we have to be cognizant of that. If we don’t constantly stay vigilant we run the risk of speaking in a language our audience can’t understand.
In more general terms, this is the “Nell” Effect, referring to the 1994 movie starring Jodie Foster that received mixed reviews like “Stunningly awful on almost every level.” But useful for a blog post!
In the movie, Jodie plays this woman who basically grows up in complete isolation from the world. As a result, she has invented her own language and built a completely unique world view. Neither of these translate to the world we know very well. Of course, in Hollywood fashion the movie tries to show us that our world view isn’t as beautiful as Nell’s, but Nell isn’t trying to make it in the private sector either.
I think we’ve all experienced the Nell Effect before, though, in various places where we’ve had an immersive, shared experience. When I graduated with my MBA, it was extremely difficult to get to where I was talking and writing like a normal person again – and not using terms like “sustainable competitive advantage” when talking about my favorite places to eat. Of course, my MBA classmates would know exactly what I was talking about!
While it’s important to internalize the learnings from each of these closed environments, you have to find new ways to express them once that environment has fallen away. When have you experienced the Nell Effect? Are there still traces of it in the way you talk, or the way that you write?