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Is Direct Message (DM) the new Email?

Have you seen any dinosaurs lately?

The central question in the life of dinosaurs before the cataclysm can be found in the food supply. Imagine being a Brachiosaurus; the length of two large school buses and the height of a four-story building. Think about changing market conditions. Consider the relationship between size and adaptability.

Picture what it was like being outpaced to the food supply by the competition, a Compsognathus; slightly larger than a chicken. Speed is critical to retaining and gaining market share.

Dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago. If all of Earth time from the very beginning of the dinosaurs to today were compressed into 365 days, the dinosaurs appeared January 1 and became extinct the third week of September. Technology sees a similar refresh cycle. Upgrade protection is important.

Business and supporting technology are cyclical. The Information Age has completed a full cycle: 60s-70s mainframes; 80s-90s servers; and 00s-10s Web. This current decade will be marked by cloud computing, context-aware computing, and the business impact of social media.

We are moving away from a world where IT is delivered to the business to one where IT is delivered through the business. Business Intelligence is the “intelligent business.” And Enterprise Transformation looks more like the “Transformational Enterprise.”

IT Enterprise consumption is being replaced with consumerization. Initial adoption has transferred to the citizen sector before attaching to Enterprise engagement. This trend will impact virtually every aspect of corporate life.

If you only remember one thing — today’s hyper-personalized data coalesces around mobility. It’s about anytime, anywhere. The “food source” is information. Those who get to the information first, and act on it quickly will gain a competitive advantage. It’s called survival.

Traditional email is yesterday’s technology. It’s time intensive. Business moves at light speed. Time is our most valuable resource. It’s finite and irreplaceable. Social media has confidently taught us that effective time management is best achieved when limiting all electronic communications to 140 characters.

The key to successful communication is to take an imaginative leap. The most effective communication clarifies rather than obscures. Communication presented in a simple format makes it more understandable. And the more understandable it is, the more credible it will be.

140 characters is the perfect length to achieve countless objectives. You are judged in seven seconds and your ideas are judged in thirty seconds. DM forces clear and concise communication. Say what you mean and mean what you say. It’s that simple.

Your first words are more important than your last. What you say first colors everything that follows. It will either cast a shadow over your purpose or provide a foundation under it. What you choose to leave out of your communication is just as important as what you choose to include.

As the Information Age continues to define and refine itself, it’s time to move away from traditional email and standardize on a 140 character platform. Whether the prevailing platform is Twitter, or “Twitter-like,” the concept of a Direct Message holds a lot of promise.

Email is to the lumbering Brachiosaurus what DM is to the nimble Compsognathus. Who gets to “information”… the food supply quicker? Lean is good. Less is more. Speed is everything.

Move beyond the status quo. Good enough never is. If you want to beat the competition, you must pursue a universal system of perfection. Relentlessly. If you don’t, they will.

The bottom line is this — if you don’t like change, you’re going to like extinction even less. It’s always about what customers need tomorrow, and how can you deliver it today? The ability to recognize technology trends and quickly adapt to its proper use plays a key role in answering that critical question.


Follow me on Twitter @johnanthonypain


Where We Stand Depends On Where We Sit

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” ~ Buddha

A picture of an old woman right? But can you see the young lady too?

The “Young Girl-Old Woman” is a famous perceptual illusion in which the brain switches between seeing a young girl and an old woman. The main takeaway is two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both are right. It’s not logical; it’s psychological.

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. Imagine how different your world is from everyone else’s. Think about the powerful conditioning effects of family, school, church, work environment, friends, associates, pop culture and social media.

Thoughts, feelings, and visualized imagery are the organizing principles of your experience. Everything you find in your world of expression has been created by you in the inner world of your mind, whether subconsciously or consciously. Learn the truth about the interaction of your conscious and subconscious minds.

Change external conditions by changing the cause. Most people try to change conditions and circumstances by working on those conditions and circumstances. They’re dead wrong. They fail to see conditions and circumstances flow from a cause.

To remove discord, confusion, lack, and limitations – remove the cause. That cause is the way you use your conscious mind, the thoughts and images you encourage in it. Change the cause and positive effect will follow.

The same is true in corporate cultures. The principles of right action and divine order ultimately govern fate. Healthy cultures are designed to instinctively remove discord and reinforce positive effects. The best cultures respect the people served, and every employee is held accountable to customers and each other. Believe in better. No excuses.

Walk into any Nordstrom and you will encounter some of the most loyal employees, which contributes to an unusually loyal customer base. When company chairman Bruce Nordstrom was asked who trains his people, his response was “their parents.” You can’t change character. Again, it’s about conditioning effects.

What was going through Steve Jobs’s mind that inspired him to create some of the most innovative products of our time? What conditioning effects influenced him to “see” things differently?

MP3 players were available long before the iPod. The problem was that Creative’s early device focused on technology. Steve’s “brain switched” and he was able to “see” an MP3 player that focused on people. He took that same MP3 technology and made it usable.

Creative and Apple both saw the same MP3 market opportunity. The two disagreed on how to focus that opportunity. And yet both were right to a greater or lesser degree. Once again, it’s not logical; it’s psychological.

Apple’s Q2 earnings are astonishing. These historic earnings were driven by focusing on the experience, not the technology. Jobs and his team “see” beyond products into the desires of customers. It’s not about the iPhone or the iPad; it’s about hassle-free, worry-free apps delivered through platforms that revolutionize how a person lives, works and experience his or her individual world. That’s extremely powerful.

The bottom line is this – lifelong perceptions shape our attitudes and behaviors. Step out of your perceptions and explore the vision of others on their terms. We all see things differently looking through the unique lens of experience. You are the sum total of your own thoughts. Change your perceptions and change your life.


Follow me on Twitter @johnanthonypain

Leadership: A Day with William Shakespeare…400 Years after Cordelia’s Silence

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Imagine William Shakespeare calling your office to schedule an appointment. Think about what it would be like to meet him. His feather pen dipped in ink, gliding across blank parchment.

Picture the mesmerizing moment he begins writing. Perhaps sensing your anxiety, Shakespeare writes down only two phrases: “King Lear” in small point, and “Cordelia’s Silence” in larger print.

Shakespeare frames the meeting with a brief rundown of Lear’s kingdom. The main takeaway: nothing is as it appears. Evil mimics good and good cloaks itself. In short, Lear is a tragedy.

The era of Lear reflects the decadence and political corruption of the Elizabethan and Jacobean court. Lear is insulated from reality and blinded by the flattery of those around him. He is arrogant, self-indulgent and angry.

It’s an uncanny resemblance to modern day government and business. In the aftermath of  Enron, Goldman Sachs and others, a walk down memory lane suggests one thing seems to always be missing: principles. Mark Twain puts it this way, “history does not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.”

A foolish King ousted by two evil daughters.

Cordelia is Lear’s favorite daughter. She is honorable, loyal, courageous and intolerant of hypocrisy. Cordelia is disinherited for refusing to make a false declaration of love for Lear. Consistency with the truth is her strongest quality. Lear sees in Cordelia his own positive traits.

Goneril is the eldest daughter. She’s evil, hypocritical, lecherous and materialistic. Above all else, she resents Cordelia. There’s one catch; she’s jealous of Regan too.

Regan is the more ruthless and vindictive of the two evil daughters. She is hypocritical, lustful, sadistic and greedy. And in lockstep cadence with Goneril, she absolutely loathes Cordelia.

Goneril and Regan share a common bond – hatred for Cordelia. A hate which is so blind, so dark, that love only makes it more violent. Not to be confused with a smidgen of positive feelings and genuine sisterly love for each other.

Lear brings suffering and death to himself and his family by disinheriting his virtuous daughter and dividing his kingdom between his two evil daughters. He is ruined by pride and self-importance worsened by sycophancy and excess. He squandered opportunity by failing on the most important leadership requirement: act with principles.

After a perfectly timed moment of  silence, Shakespeare looks up and asks — “What’s your succession plan?” An act designed to reinforce his earlier statement — “nothing is as it appears.”

400 years after Cordelia’s Silence, the echo is still deafening.

Cordelia represents honesty and courage. She is the mirror that shows up the duplicity of her sisters public speeches. Her “Nothing” response at the division of Lear’s kingdom is timeless.

If you remember only one thing, uncompromising integrity matters. It matters in life, politics and business. The bottom line is: actions speak louder than words.

The descriptor “uncompromising” is just as important as “integrity”. People, governments and companies are judged not when times are good or the decisions are easy. What differentiates a person acting on principles from everyone else is the willingness to make tough decisions at tough times.

In light of the financial crisis, this is the era of integrity, of voluntarily going above and beyond federal guidelines, ethic codes, ground rules and moral obligations. It’s the era of continuous improvement and never settling for the status quo. No matter your past successes or failures, strive to do more… and do it better.

Lear’s division of his kingdom was a foolish abdication of responsibility. Accountability means those in power answering to those who put them there. It’s about making things right when they go wrong. It’s about never, ever making the same mistake twice. If you do not make perfection your standard, you’re going to get beat by someone who does.

Lear failed to protect himself. A small circle seems safest. Isolation exposes you to more danger than it protects you from. It cuts off valuable information and you become an easy target. This is true of individuals, governments and businesses. The age of social media underscores this point.

Flattery is treacherous. Lear could not get enough of it. He surrounded himself with sycophants who told him what he wanted to hear. Not what he needed to know. Effective leaders recognize – it’s not what’s said that important, it’s what’s not said that’s essential. Best case, too much of any good thing loses its value. It also stirs up suspicions. Worst case, you lose a kingdom.

Leadership: “If” and “But”… Small Words with Big Meanings

“Life is a continual distraction which does not even allow us to reflect on that from which we are distracted” ~ Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka’s “Up in the Gallery,” is a short story. The complete narrative is written in two paragraphs, using only 368 words. The truth behind it cannot be missed.

In short, the visitor “Up in the Gallery” wanted to save the equestrienne from the ringmaster and the crowds but realized that he could not do it alone. Instead, he sat where he was and cried about his helplessness.

Kafka’s raison d’être is about the truth. His ambiguous parables and stories provide exercises for the brain that begin to prepare it for that moment in time when we are faced with the truth, so that we will be able to recognize it.

By design, Kafka opens his story with the word “If” …

“If” is the language of uncertainty. Meaning a requirement or stipulation must be met in order to precede somewhere else. In computer science, the construct: “if-then-else” is a basic concept common across many programming languages. It’s conditional. The important takeaway is “uncertainty.”

Again – by design, Kafka’s closing paragraph begins with the word “But” …

“But” is the language of contrary. In Kafka’s world, the visitor in the gallery recognizes the violent truth that the unconscious audience applauds. And yet, “puts his face on the railing and, sinking into the final march as if into a difficult dream, weeps, without realizing it.”

In modern day politics and business, many recognize this syndrome as: “going along to get along.” And that’s the nexus of Kafka’s message.

Global citizens most want long-term security, stability and predictability. Uncertainty and contrarian beliefs undermine these desires.

There is no such thing as an idle word.

Leaders and managers across all sectors and industries may want to consider eliminating the words “if” and “but” from their vocabulary.

When starting out a sentence with the word “If” – it’s important to consider exactly what it means. It clearly implies that you do not believe yourself whatever it is you are about to say or do. So, why should others?

Likewise, beginning any sentence with the word “But” contradicts whatever you just said. And it creates a mixed message. Others will be confused.

Above all else, say what you mean and mean what you say. Consistency matters.

Up in the Gallery – the complete narrative…


Leadership: A Day in the Life of Plato’s Cave

“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” ~ Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is a story about consciousness. It’s about truth, and it’s about deception. It’s about how the mind interacts with the world. It’s about you. And it’s about me.

Close your eyes to imagine a world of no objects and no sun. Think about what it would be like being held captive since childhood, chained at the legs and neck, never allowed to move your head. Your existence is concentrated on the line of vision directly before you. This is the reality of the shadow world.

In Plato’s cave, prisoners may see their own shadow. Perhaps even the shadows of one another. But mostly, they see shadows of objects that are projected on the wall in front of them.

The ghost of Socrates might say these inmates are “feeling about in the darkness, they cannot distinguish the cause from the condition.” To these men, the truth is nothing more than shadows of the images. Forever mistaking and misnaming what their eyes are seeing and their mind believing.

The prisoners are unaware that behind them is the higher degree of reality of the fire and the statues that are casting the shadows. Still further up is the steep and rugged passage out of the cave to the upper world. A prisoner who follows this path will encounter the world of real objects and the sun.

Free will offers differing levels of mind awareness. Some choose a path to enlightenment. Others prefer unconsciousness to consciousness. The truth can be unpleasant. It’s safe to retreat to what’s familiar. The truth is a choice.

Our capacity to choose truth over shadows changes constantly with our practice of life. Each step in life which increases self-confidence, integrity, courage and conviction also increases our capacity to make distinctions between reality and shadows. The principles of right action and divine order govern life.

One of the most striking facts about the human condition is the paradox of not being able to see our own face, only the faces of others. And yet, the face is the most identifiable part of our existence. Mirrors distort. They characterize shadows. It’s reasonable to conclude we can only see parts of our true identity in the faces of the company we keep.

Plato, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Kafka and many others spoke to the dual nature of reality. One is temporary, and resides in the moment. The other is permanent and lies beyond this one. This point is particularly noteworthy in our dealings with others. People of the lie tend to live in the moment. Nothing else seems to matter. It should.

Emanuel Kant suggests a supposed right to lie. To which, Friedrich Nietzsche complains: “the problem is not that you lied to me, but that I no longer believe you.” Personal level deception holds no promise. Corrupt and compromised relationships reflect lies.

Deception does have its place in the world of politics and business. Sun-tzu recommends the use of “expendable spies” to spread disinformation. It’s effective. And it’s important on matters such as national security and corporate survival.

Speed to market is the ultimate competitive weapon. Deception can get you there. At best, the lifespan of spies and other forms of covert activities are time limited. When the scam is uncovered, spies are terminated. That’s the deal.

If you remember only one thing, Plato’s Cave is about leadership.

The bottom line is: Leaders know the difference between reality and shadows. They have the ability to see the challenge, and the solution, from every angle. Assumptions are justified. Others are persuaded to take a leap of faith. Implementation focuses on interpersonal dynamics and power and influence and building social networks. Feedback effects and longer-term consequences are measured.

Truth is the single highest value in a person’s belief system. In a world of claims, assertions, declarations, and affirmations, there is only one truth. Find it, articulate it, and never, ever take it for granted.

The law of life is the law of belief. Once you uncover the truth, never believe the shadows again.


Follow me on Twitter @johnanthonypain

Zeus, Prometheus, Pandora, Epimetheus and 21st Century Lessons

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana

In the Olympian order, Zeus reigns in absolute power over the dethroned gods of ancient Greece. Zeus is the god of the invading Achaeans who destroyed the matriarchal world of the Earth Mother, of Demeter and of Hera. Prometheus is the son of Earth and of Ocean and is a threat to the static order established by Zeus.

Zeus is the master of life rather than its giver. He tolerates man and man’s world, but only barely.

In short, Prometheus steals fire from Zeus for use by common man. Zeus revenges himself on Prometheus by driving a stake through his heart. But Zeus also exacts revenge upon mankind: how? By sending Pandora, for in her “everything is good but her heart.”

Epimetheus, the brother of Prometheus, receives woman as a gift from Zeus and does not wake up to the true nature of the gift until it’s too late. Then he remembers what Prometheus had told him: never accept any gifts from the gods.

The 21st century lesson is about the complex interplay of government, business and citizen sectors. In the information age, the potential potency of these interlocking pillars determines worldwide and regional degrees of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) readiness. The global Internet economy is everyone’s concern.

Moreover, this ancient myth is about power, economics, policy, genuine common sense and business skills.

Lord Acton wrote “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I agree. Fire has alternative uses: from preserving life to causing death. Turning inputs into outputs is the heart of economic policies and systems. Consequences matter more than intentions. And it’s a safe bet to never accept gifts.