About six months ago, my daily commute became a lot shorter as I started to split my time between my headquarters and an office closer to my home. The benefits have included more productivity and lower stress. However, I don’t get that windshield time to let my mind run wild for two hours a day like I used to. Today, I had that opportunity. And this thought came crashing over me.
I’ve figured it out! No. Not the meaning of life. The real impact of social media on business.
I was listening to John Mayer’s song No Such Thing. There’s a line in that song – “they love to tell you, stay inside the lines”. And that’s when it hit me. Social media is in the process of smashing traditional corporate culture. The journey is not yet complete, by any means. But, PERSONALITY has been removed from the list of seven dirty words you can’t say on t.v. And, STUFFY and CORPORATE JARGON have been nominated to take its place.
Customers and younger generations of workers are demanding the change. Social media is the platform for, what is I think you’d agree, is a quantum shift in corporate culture. Without social media, the individual’s voice would not have the amplification to influence and put the corporate PR bully in its place. Companies are now starting to realize that they either need to be real, or face retribution. By breaking down the veil, social media is also making companies pay attention to social responsibility. And, if they try to fake it, social media gives anyone the vehicle to call “B.S.”
Seth Godin wrote a best selling book about the new realities of being weird.
My brother-in-law was telling me a story about a recent corporate event he attended where the keynote speaker dropped the F-bomb three times during a 20 minute speech. Is that a bit too much for some? Does that still make the suits in the corner office cringe? For the most part, probably. But, 10 years ago, it would have also likely resulted in this speaker being labeled as a lunatic. And probably resulting in his firing. Now, whether you agree with the use of the actual word or not isn’t really the point. The point is there is now a permanent place for this type of expression in the corporate setting. And, not just in the far-flung recesses of the enterprise. In the board room.
Why should I care? Well, I’ve never been one who’s always stayed inside the lines. For the first twenty years of my career, that had a profound impact on the path upon which I ended up. Consulting was a vehicle for me to succeed in the corporate world while being a bit…non-conformist. Now, non-conformity has made its way inside the corporate walls. Opportunities are now wide-spread inside corporate America for those that have a need at their core to express their individuality. Instead of having to sand the sides of my peg, the hole has now changed shape.
I think this quote from Seth’s book sums it up for me.
“When we consider that who we pay the most, whom we seek to hire, whom we applaud, follow, emulate and idolize are society’s outliers, the weird ones, why is it that, from the earliest age, we try to force our children to the middle? To get them to conform. Do these adults get there by being normal students in school then magically transform themselves into Yo-Yo Ma or Richard Branson? Hardly.”
So, the real impact of social media on business? We don’t have to do that any more to our kids.
Now if we can only get our politicians to get on the bus…