As time has gone on, I have only become more convinced that this is what I’m really good at, that this is really what I have to offer.
I’m a translator, and, like most translators, I spend my time straddling two different worlds. Hopping from one sphere to another, listening for common themes and for different ways to tell each other’s stories.
Chris wrote part of his newsletter this week on how to talk to the “senior team” about blogging and social media. This is a topic that I care about deeply.
YOU’VE come to accept that blogging and social media are cool. You believe that Facebook has business value, and that Twitter, used correctly, might be the greatest idea in the universe to build customer relationships. But how will you convince the powers that be of all this? Connect to their state of mind, their words, and to your existing practices. (Italics mine)
That’s the key, right there. Connect to their state of mind.
Why should any of us want to spend our precious time learning about accounting, and economics, and finance, and traditional marketing principles? Isn’t all this new stuff much, much cooler?
So we can speak the language of the decision makers. Honestly. They don’t really have the time of day for us unless we do.
And it’s not enough to just toss around the occasional buzzword or acronym, like ROI or SCR or whatever else people are muttering this week. To get deep, heartfelt buy-in, you need to have a deep understanding of what makes businesses and large organizations RUN. And, perhaps more importantly, what sends them running the other way.
But wait, I work at a nonprofit, right? Things are so much softer and fuzzier in nonprofits, right?
Get this: instead of only having to convince one CEO of the value of social media, I have a team of — that’s right — THIRTY Board Members (most are VPs or CEOs in banking, insurance, education, finance, real estate, etc.) to win over, on every single newfangled idea of mine.
Thirty. Every single one of them operating from a business point of view. Every single one of them very good at what they do.
So, rather than spend my time and theirs trying to get them to see my side of the story, I’m going to invest some serious time trying to figure out theirs. Because it turns out that their way of seeing things is a lot more common, a lot more pervasive, and in fact holds a lot more water in this world, than mine.
As Chris points out,
Businesses WANT to be innovative, but that costs money, involves risk, and rarely pans out.
Businesses and business leaders aren’t deliberately setting out to be killjoys, after all. They would love to be a step ahead of the field, and to stand out in a positive way. But there’s always that real chance that they might stand out in a bad way as a result of your brilliant social media idea, and that tends to be really very off-putting. And can you blame them? Who really wants to be on the list?
What I love doing more than anything else is teaching. And by teaching I don’t mean that I get to stand up at the front of the room and tell you all what I think is true. It means doing tons of research, digesting it all, finding the patterns, and then talking to a community about it in a way that resonates with THEM.
If I don’t speak your language — and understand your culture in a deep, meaningful way — then I’ve got a pretty slim chance of success.
I already know how I think. It’s how YOU think that interests me.