Entrepreneurs, Executives, Influencers and Success: 3 Ways to Deal with the Dark Side

Loneliness and depression affect everyone in all walks of life. Successful people are more prone to it and this piece provides practical, tangible measures to minimize the impact of the dark side.

Mark Suster, a venture capitalist at Upfront Ventures, believes that success breeds loneliness. It can be a depressogen and in some studies the rate of depression in successful people is higher than 1 in 3.

Mark identifies four reasons success can be a lonely place:
1) the expectations don’t stop – they get higher
2) there is so much more at stake and so many more livelihoods and legacies that you plan for
3) it is only a heartbeat away from failure and the press love a rise and fall story
4) you find yourself surrounded by a bubble and often a bubble with vested interests in your actions.

This holds true for successful people in all walks of life, but I’d like to focus in on three groups:-
* entrepreneurs,
* fast-track executives, and
*social media influencers.

All three can get thrust into the spotlight of success with far more impetus than other groups and are therefore susceptible to the sudden onset of loneliness and depression, with no experience in how to identify or cope with it.

One moment Jim was a struggling entrepreneur. His mother kept yelling at him to get a real job. His friends told him that he was crazy. The next moment his company was valued at over a billion dollars and some guy he’d only ever previously seen on the cover of magazines was thrusting a very, very big check into his hands. He spent six months mastering golf and travelling the world. Deep down he began to feel more and more hollow inside. He was becoming detached from his former entrepreneurial self and didn’t know how to identify himself anymore.

Fast-track Executives
Greg was on the executive fast-track within a Fortune 500 company. There was a constant pressure of work on him. He was taking big jumps up the corporate ladder and the higher he got the lonelier he became. He eventually made it to CEO, but this was short-lived. He was replaced eighteen months later when the board decided to bunker down on what had worked in the past rather than exploring new opportunities. He was extremely disappointed and went into an irrevocable downward spiral.

Social Media Influencers
Helen shot to prominence when she attracted a huge following on her YouTube channel. She received a six figure sum just to place a popular motor vehicle in the background of one of her Instagram photos. However, the industry began to wear her down. While the going was good she did great, but as she started to stumble it became really tough for her.

What can you do to deal with the dark side?

1. Embark on quest-centered therapy

Before you start any form of therapy or very early on in your therapy sessions, figure out with your coach or psychotherapist, what you want to achieve, for example being at peace with yourself.

And then embark on a quest to achieve this goal, marking your journey towards peace with myriad small wins. As you progress you will get better at achieving results that progress you towards fulfilling your quest.

2. Explore the dark

Your life exists as a narrative, a story arc with a past, present and future. In order to truly achieve well-being you need to delve into parts of your past and present that you may feel much trepidation about. There may be dark times when your arc dipped low and this darkness cannot be avoided. It must be explored as it leads to the third point.

3. Tackle the triggers

Loneliness is often exacerbated by triggers. Things happen in your life that for most people would be viewed as slightly negative, but you view them as off-the-charts negative. Having explored the dark you become aware why these things have such an effect on you. You can identify very early on, even before the trigger starts having an accentuated impact on you, that it is there and you can act.

You can put in place methods you’ve worked out with your coach or therapist to combat the downward spiral into depression, you can blast away the negative thought processes and the self-sabotage well in advance of them taking control of you and launching you into a days-long relapse.

Three Years On: Liberating Corporations Through Social Business

Well here we are, three years to the day  since I made the call that social business as an industry was birthed.

What do you think, was I right? Are you still trapped in your inbox? Are you still tied to a structured database? Do you know what other teams in your organisation are doing? Yes – there is still a long way to go before all organisations embrace social business, but some sure have.

The industry is maturing – look at the recent acquisitions – Yammer, Buddy Media etc, but it still has a long growth curve ahead of it.

It’s great to see how some people have become absolute evangelists for the social business approach. Take Luis Suarez at IBM – his company heavily relies on email as its primary communications system, still using Lotus Notes. Yet he took the bold step almost four years ago and freed himself from his inbox. Here is his story, what’s yours?



Goal Oriented Curation: The Next Big Thing In Social Media

Elad Gil has an excellent post which maps out the evolution of social media from long-form (blogging) to push-button (short form tweeting, retweeting and news feeds) through to structured curation (interest sets or boards).

As you may know I’ve been a big fan if curation for a number of years (see the 2009 Seggr Report) and the rise of curation sites such as Pinterest, Snip.It and Fab.com are validation that this is a growing area.

I particularly agree with David King’s point (as highlighted by Elad) that structured curation is not only creating a major point of differentiation for Pinterest et al, but is also blocking the big short formers like Facebook from swallowing their curations.

Elad titles his post How Pinterest Will Transform the Web in 2012: Social Content Curation As The Next Big Thing and he may well be right. But I’d like to posit that the really, really interesting area is one step beyond social curation. Social media for social’s sake is fast becoming passé. Social media needs to find a purpose and do so fast. So here is my prediction: goal-oriented curation is the killer app for social media.

In some respects Pinterest is a precursor to goal-oriented curation, but I’d argue that is does not go far enough. Just over the horizon sites like StyleSays are pointing the way.

StyleSays sees itself as “Pinterest for fashion and beauty products”. A user gets to save items into wish lists from any online store and then share those with friends who they trust and ultimately influence, in much the same way they would do when out shopping together in the bricks and mortar retail environment.

But let’s go one step further. I believe a really interesting application of goal-oriented curation awaits within the health and wellness arena. I can see how a well crafted site could both curate and influence positive behavioural change. A “Pinterest for health and wellness” may just be the next big thing!


No Joke: How to Earn $1 million in less than 2 weeks

Louis CK has proven that people are willing to pay for quality content, even if it is available freely.

The comedian put out a video of his latest performance at $5 a pop via his website. He then used social media to market it and whammo – in 12 days he amassed a whopping $1 million.

Story via Mashable.

Twitter is on Fire

Sorry folks, I’ve been rather busy over the past few months and unfortunately things I love doing like blogging have taken something of a back seat.

I am finding that Twitter continues to be a good stand in though so if you don’t already follow me on there please do – @metarand.

Speaking of Twitter, I love this office sign:

Four People Is All It Takes To Change The World

I have a huge amount of respect for Robert Scoble. His intellect, his dedication to his task of curating trends and his personable approach make him a stand out in the Silicon Valley community…, no wider than that: globally!

That’s why I wanted to share with you his talk at Stanford University last month. In it he talks about how people like Scott Monty are humanizing the brands they work with, how new Zappos employees are forced to tweet to connect them to their brand and the concept of doubling pennies.

He finishes in true Scoble style with an understated truism – we all have a burning desire not to connect with thousands of ‘friends’ that we hardly know, but with just four people, the right four people…and that is all it takes to change the world, just four connected, passionate people.

Connect the dots – the right four people who have cracked the formula for building doubling pennies – an extremely powerful combination.

Definitely worth watching:

Globalizing Game Mechanics, Foursquare At A Time

At Seggr, we are both huge fans of game mechanics and the way in which Foursquare has embraced  their uncanny ability to tap into our deepest human needs and grow community. As the Foursquare user community explodes globally, so too are we finding that brands are starting to recognize Foursquare as a thought leader in bringing them deeper engagement via the use of funware.

Jennifer Van Grove has captured the essence of the way in which Foursquare is leading the charge in this arena. Her Mashable post is titled 5 Ways Foursquare is Changing the World, and in it she sets out how this location-based service is playing out in the real world.

The five key points that she makes are:

1. Social Media as Currency –  customer loyalty, as she points out, is stuck ina pre-digital plastic quagmire of cards and anachronistic point tallying. However, Forsquare’s check-in model is leading to social media being treated as a currency and we predict a major shake up of loyalty systems.

2.  Gaming social activity –  thanks to Foursquare, Twitters initial “what are you doing” has morphed into “who has the most interesting life“.  Foursquare mandates that you check into physical places, which means that your friends can be notified not only what you are doing, but also where you are doing it. Exponentially,  this maps out into significant benefits for those who participate as well as the economy as a whole and for individual businesses.

3.  Localized brand loyalty –  Jennifer points out that Foursquare is redefining what it means to be a regular:

…mayor-only rewards are cropping up everywhere Foursquare is played (which is now nearly everywhere) and they’re creating customer loyalty battles that are good for regulars and great for businesses…. Foursquare has found a way to make being a regular at your favorite pizza joint mean something tangible.

4. Personalizing place –  businesses are able to engage with their ” socially-active customers” at a much deeper level through services like Foursquare, while also using this engagement as a way to market themselves more widely. As Jennifer points out this two-way street builds community “on a whole new level”. Expect to see a healthy growth curve over the next 18 months in the number of people who can be defined as being socially-active. Consider as a benchmark where we were at in this respect circa mid 2007 and you’ll see how more social, more transparent people have already become.

5.   Verticalized game mechanics –  universities should all see themselves as ” more than classrooms and buildings…(as) an interconnected community of people, ideas and experiences, and (and should) actively (pursue) ways to enhance those connections.”

Jennifer is quoting (above) Perry Hewitt, Harvard University’s Director of Digital Communications. They have pulled a campus-based game based on Foursquare as a way to build connections between students, staff and other members of the broader Harvard community.

It looks like 2010 will be the year that game mechanics  is elevated beyond being seen as purely consumer-based gimmickry.