Passion, Relationships and Thought Leadership

Back in the bad old days of blogging, the way to get attention was simple. Flame someone long enough and hard enough and they would take notice and respond in comments, or otherwise. Bloggers realized their power for change and took their platforms seriously, calling into question media accounts in politics, public relations nightmares such as Edelman’s Walmart stunt and other such things.

On this blog, I’ve taken this tack in the past flaming my friend Duncan Riley and earning my place, for a time, in the Google hierarchy as #3 for “How to be a whore”.

Yes, I was ranked #3 for how to be a whore. Classy, as always.

With my platform, I took HP to task for jerking a customer around and turned around a PR disaster into an amazing demonstration of customer service in the social web world.

I took to Twitter and established a “personal brand”, whatever that is, for being a no-bullshit czar and calling people to task when they were presenting stories or thoughts in a way that I felt was disingenuous.

For whatever hard-nosed approaches I took to relationships in the web world, I also encouraged and linked to and cited those who I felt were thought leaders. I shared blog posts in Google Reader and FriendFeed and linked people prolifically on Twitter.

The world still operates in much the same way online as it does in any other area of life. Business, politics, technology, personal relationships – they are all the same. You will never agree with everyone else, nor should you. If everyone looked at the world the same way, we’d live in a very boring world.

When it comes to passion, it is the thing that drives people to be better than what they would otherwise be. It makes them thought leaders and brings about change. Always.

The things is, the change is sometimes good and bad and that’s where passion gets you into trouble. When passion drives you to be unbending and, for lack of a better word, bigoted or dogmatic, then passion runs the risk of getting in the way and interfering.

Truth is, particularly in the blogosphere where everyone has a voice and everyone can potentially affect dramatic change, is that passion often has to be tempered in favor of relationship. Passion may drive you to make sweeping accusations, or lump different groups of people into the same bucket with the premise that “you know what I mean”.

This is harmful. Very, very harmful. This destroys relationships, and relationships are the balance.

Relationships looks at the world and say, “what you and I are together is more important and more powerful than what you and I are apart.”

In the Great Depression (and by the way, I have a bunch of Great Depression stories coming soon), the United States entered what can only be described as a period of long winter. During that winter, people could not rely on their government, their businesses, their ways of life. All they had was each other. Families hunkered down with families. Friends built deeper relationships. All they had was each other, and those relationships formed a core foundation for the generation that would come. To this day, that generation is known as the Greatest Generation.

Passion fuels the fire, drive and ambition and is the catalyst for so many great things in history. Passion is also the catalyst for the greatest failures in history.

Thought leaders are the ones who know how to tap into passion to accelerate their goals, but know when to tap the brake and fall back on relationships to enhance their goals.

Be careful not to sacrifice relationships on the altar of passion.

Hints at an $800 Apple laptop, Bloggers Report, Stock up 4 points

It was quite interesting to watch the market swing yesterday. Apple (AAPL) took a 20% hit on the market last week when it was expected that consumer spending on “bling” would be reduced. “Bling” stocks like Apple, Starbucks (SBUX) and other companies representing consumers “living the life” mentalities tanked with futures projections.

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And then yesterday came. Duncan Riley had an exclusive reporting the imminent release of an $800 laptop from Apple, the first sub-$1000 machine ever in the line of Apple products. From there, well read blogs like VentureBeat, MacRumors and Gizmodo – to name just a few – ran with the story.

Later in the day, Engadget reported an October 14th event where Apple would announce their new laptop line. Former Engadget editor, Ryan Block, 9 to 5 Mac and Digital Daily – again, to only name a few – ran with the story.

The result was fascinating. The DJIA is currently down over 300 points indicating yet another bloodbath on Wall Street. However, Apple stock is through the roof, up almost 5 points at this moment.

I am in no way suggesting people should go about trying to manipulate the market by creating stories or otherwise fabricating false positive pressure on the market. That is a crime. However, it’s important for blogger to recognize their ability to affect the market for the positive or negative.

And the pressure remains on the top-tier bloggers to use that power wisely and recognize that their words matter. If ever there was a “responsibility” at the feet of these bloggers, it is now.

You Don't have to be an Environmentalist to Have Green Habits

You don’t have to believe to be green

Here’s some interesting facts you won’t read in your local newspaper: the world has stopped warming. Data from all four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA’s GISS, UAH, RSS) released in February this year show that the world cooled between 0.65-0.75C in 2007.

The trend isn’t new. If we take the global average temperature from 2001, the trend is downwards. In the 1730’s, Europe underwent a period of rapid warming similar to the one recorded in the lead up to 2001. There is a lack of activity on the sun that some are suggesting could be the start of a Maunder Minimum.

Every time you hear people on television say that there are only a handful of manmade global climate change skeptics, you might be interested to note that the number in the United States alone includes 31,000 scientists – 9,000 with doctorate degrees in atmospheric science, climatology, Earth science, environment and other specialties. The list includes 9,021 Ph.D.s, 6,961 at the master’s level, 2,240 medical doctors and 12,850 carrying a bachelor of science or equivalent academic degree.

I could spend hours trying to convince many of you that the idea of man made global warming is flawed, and no matter what the facts, you will probably never change your mind. Believers in cults rarely do. But ultimately what you believe doesn’t matter, because you don’t have to believe to be green.

Oil

We’ve switched from leaded fuel to unleaded, and yet the pollution keeps on being pumped out. Whether air quality is related to global warming or not makes no difference as no one wants to breathe smog.

Then there’s a pure economic side. As gas has surged past $4 a gallon in the United States, the cost of filling a car has skyrocketed. Even if the price settles down in the short term, the price will only increase over the long term as global demand increases and global supply diminishes. The concept of peak oil is open to debate as to when we’ll run out, but we know oil is a finite resource.

We can make a difference now. Smaller cars, greener cars. Electric vehicles are readily available today, and some diesel vehicles coming out of Europe offer extraordinary milage. Smaller cars offer great savings as well, and do you really need an SUV to go to the local supermarket?

I drive a 2003 3 door Toyota Echo with a 4 cyclinder, 1.3 liter engine. I don’t know what the imperial conversion is, but it does 4.1lts/ 100 kms. [Editors Note: That would be a whopping 57 miles/gallon, but is also the manufacturer's numbers.] I do so little driving now that I fill it up only once a month. When we purchased the car I was driving 200kms (about 130 miles) a day at a time where gas was half the price it is today, because even then we knew that we didn’t want to spend a growing chunk of our incomes on filling the car.

Reducing your gas consumption is both good for the environment and saves you money.

Plastic bags

Plastic is made from petroleum products, so in some ways this relates to the need to get off of oil. But from a green viewpoint there’s nothing hard about taking your own bags to the supermarket, and most places sell green friendly, reusable bags for a small cost. When we do get plastic bags, we keep them and reuse them later. One person doing so doesn’t make a huge difference, but imagine if we all did it.

Recycling

Recycling, depending on where you live can be a bit of a joke, and there were reports in Australia last year that recycled materials were being dumped because no one would take them. Even if that is true, that a portion of the materials you recycle are used is a start, and technology is increasingly delivering better ways of recycling just about anything you can think of. Chances are that next ream of paper you buy, or newspaper you read, will have at least part recycled paper. Recycling reduces pollution through reduced use of resources and by reducing the amount of rubbish dumped in landfills.

Water

Many experts now think that the wars of the future will be over water. We have lot of salt water, but fresh water is a scare resource, and much like oil will increase in price as demand outstrips supply. Here in Australia, water is THE number one environmental issue, and where I live currently you can’t water your lawn or even wash your car (you can wash your car at a car wash, but the car washes themselves have strict recycling and environmental restrictions).

There are plenty of things you can do to save water. Don’t plant a lawn, or if you have one add a soil wetting agent so the need for regular watering is reduced. Put a water saver into your shower that reduces the flow of water, or install a dual flush toilet (which are now compulsory in all new Australian homes). Not only is saving water good for the environment, it can be good for your back pocket as well.

Use public transport

Better than reducing the size of your car is giving up your car completely, or where possible. Mass transit systems worldwide are experiencing a boom in use as oil prices have gone up, but Governments will only invest more into these systems when even more people switch. If you’re commuting, can you drive to a local train station and catch a train? Is there a local bus, or tram you can use? Every car off the road cuts down on oil use and pollution, and helps deliver a better environment. It will also save you money.

* Photo credit: Richard Giles