Epiphany (def): a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
Many of us have had these monumental life-changing moments of discovery. Sometimes they come in the form of a higher level of understanding, consciousness, or other moments of clarity. I can honestly say that I've had a couple of these instances in my life, and I consider myself lucky. But the one that I feel is best serving for today's marketplace, for the difficulties and challenges we are all facing in the world today, came to fruition in the one of the most unlikely places for authenticity and delivered by a hipster in a suit with a microphone.
In a previous life, I served as Director of Career Development for a Prudential affiliate here in Chicago. Yearly the Prudential franchises all get together at their national convention for a week long celebration of top producers and branding hoopla. 2005's celebration, at the pinnacle of real estate's glory day, was held in Las Vegas. Somewhere near the end of the convention, in a morning keynote session filled with hung-over agents, (and just as many empty chairs), I met someone that would change my life forever. I had never heard of him before and hadn't read his books, but the message that was delivered was timely, embraceable, and (in retrospect) a precursor to where we are today. The moderator introduced him as the Chief Solutions Officer, (CSO), of Yahoo! and here began my life as influenced by Mr. Tim Sanders.
A skinny guy in an ultra modern suit took the stage, began his presentation, and I was mesmerized. For the next 45 minutes I didn't take notes, I didn't write or check emails... I sat and listened, hanging on every word. He didn't talk about marketing strategies, direct mail, or lead capture. Tim simply preached a message of social karma he referred to as "Love, the Killer App." and from that moment on, I considered myself a Lovecat.
The three steps to becoming a "Lovecat" and instituting a campaign of "biz love" into your career are as follows:
1. Share your network with those you connect with
2. Share your knowledge with everyone who might benefit
3. Share your compassion with those that need it
Tim went on to use examples of this new mindset, tell stories of "Lovecat Achievement", and read exerpts from his two books, "Love is the Killer App." and his newly released (at the time), "The Likeability Factor". Each point he made was crystal clear, almost as if reminding me of something I already knew, yet forgotten or locked away deep inside. And maybe that was it... maybe it was simply professional reinforcement. someone accomplished and respected in the "new" business world that simply said to everyone listening, "It's ok to be a nice guy/girl. And not only is it ok, but you will be more successful in business and in life by being a giving, sharing and caring individual."
I ordered both books from Amazon as soon as we got home from Las Vegas and literally devoured them many times over. I highlighted, made notes in the margin, dog-eared pages, and clipped excerpts for my presentations. My "new agent" training began to include an entire section on "Releasing your Inner Lovecat". I ordered copies of "Love is the Killer App." in bulk, began writing notes to people I knew or met inside the cover, and giving them out at random. I reorganized my reading behavior so that I could become a resource to those around me at work and in life. Networking events became quests to distribute new found knowledge and share insight with others. I was more than an advocate, more than a fan, I was a prophet for "biz-love" and I have never turned back.
The Lovecat, Social Media and Karma
I've always thought that real estate is the perfect industry for a "Lovecat". From the first days of training, agents are taught to cultivate their sphere of influence, ask for referrals, and continually add to their database. Unfortunately most training programs are focused on the acquisition of contacts and not the engagement of them. As 1000watt Consulting so brilliantly pointed out in their video, "I Am Not A Lead", we refer to our circle of influence as leads, contacts, and databases. We capture them, drip on them, and bombard them with the N.A.R. mantra that it's always a "Great Time to Buy". Even now with the evolution of Social Media/Networks, coaches charge hundreds of dollars to attend seminars and webinars geared at adding more and more people to your <insert social network here> "friends".
But those who are really using this wonderful new technology correctly are different, and it struck me about a month ago when I was re-reading "Love is the Killer App" for the hundredth time. "Sanders predicted this 5 years ago." Back before Facebook was more than a college network, before Twitter was a concept, before Web 2.0... the "Lovecat" mentality was changing the REAL world and how people interacted with one another. Think about it. Isn't this what the mentality of the Social Web is all about?
1. Share your network - (#followfriday, LinkedIn introductions, Facebook Friending)
2. Share your knowledge (Twitter link sharing, RSS, blogging, etc.)
3. Share your compassion (genuine interaction, collaboration, help)
The lines that once divided life and business are forever erased. My favorite analogy is that our parents were actually part timers in the workforce compared to us today. We are being forced, whether you like it or not, to embrace a genuinely authentic brand that carries into both our personal and professional lives. And as we adapt to emerging technologies and spread our network of influence further each day, the Lovecat mentality becomes all the more important for one reason if nothing else.
"We as people (both providers and consumers) don't have the time or desire to affiliate with those not providing value to our lives in one way or another."
This is no difference from one industry to another today. Online or off, we have come to expect value from those that we choose to associate with in one way or another. Value might not be the correct term for what we are sharing today, and so I suggest we use a Sanders-ism presented throughout his books, "Biz Love".
"Biz-Love" is defined by Tim as a relationship where "I promote your growth intelligently in a win-win sort of way. Biz Love could be mentoring an employee in a way that not only promotes the employee’s personal growth, but increases the value of that employee to the company. Another example of Biz Love could be bringing customers or partners together to increase the size of their network, their capacity, and their growth."
The question becomes, "How are you showing and sharing your biz-love with your network?
"Biz-Love" The Only Differentiation in a Commoditized World
"Biz Love" isn't just THE way to personally run your business, it also serves as THE true differentiator in a world overwhelmed with choice as Jack Trout discusses in, "Differentiate or Die". That almost every element of life has become a commodity, is something we can see in business or walking through our local grocer. True differentiation has become so few and far between, that when something actually STANDS OUT, it becomes more than a brand, more than a product/service, it becomes a movement. And when I think about brands that have achieved this "movement" status, every single one of them... EVERY ONE... operates from this Lovecat principle. Think about it...
DELL - facebook videos on how to use social media (sharing their knowledge) Amazon - if we don't carry it we'll introduce you to someone who does (sharing their network) Southwest - have an emergency and need to change your flight? no problem (sharing their compassion)
I would argue that every business or brand that TRULY stands out to you today is capitalizing on providing their network, associates, clients and the general public with an incredibly high quotient of "Biz-Love". I might also suggest that this mentality could possibly be the only true differentiator left. Service and Quality have become run-of-the-mill expectations. Price can be a factor, but cannot be considered a differentiator. Your "Social Karma", "Biz Love" or "Network Value Quotient" are true differentiators that will set you apart from those around you, ascend you (and your business) to another level, while building a network, or movement, of raving influential fans.
Life, Likeability, and Lovecats
Probably one of the most important, yet underestimated, outcomes of operating from a position of abundance rather than scarcity, is it's effect on life as a whole. So many, including some of my best friends like Rob Hahn, spend so much time trying to calculate the metrics behind what I call a Social Karma Initiative, that they tend miss the big picture influence.
Human beings are emotional creatures. We all have certain needs in our lives. The need to be loved. The need to be heard. The need to be understood. We are also, (whether we admit it or not) ego-driven in both our lives and business. By approaching life as a "Lovecat", we are able to feed these human desires and in doing so, live life in a happier, more content, positive state. In his book, "The Likeablity Factor", Tim discusses a study that shows that people who were categorized as "more likeable " typically had better relationships, were more successful, lived longer, and judged their overall quality of life HIGHER than those "less-likeable".
In today's world of financial insecurity, job instability and crisis it's hard to see the forest from the trees. We tend to focus on "right here right now" results rather than long-term influential goals. Something like "Social Karma" or "Biz-Love" seems trite while contemplating next months mortgage, a looming car payment, or if we'll have a job next quarter. But think about this... From the network that you currently have, "who is doing better in life?" The Lovecat or the person living in scarcity?" Take it a step further. "From those in your network... who would you recommend if a business opportunity arose?" Again, I'm assuming that the first person you thought of fit into the definition of a Lovecat. Likeability and the Social Karma you provide to those around you make you memorable, enjoyable, and indespensible in our overly chaotic world.
The world as we know it is forever changed and we must change with it. And where I believe, and can see in my own life, that the "Lovecat", "Biz Love", and "Likeablity" are absolute MUSTS to compete in business today, they are far from the silver bullet. They are principals to set for yourself and your business. Most importantly, they are a set of values that each and every one of us can put into place tomorrow for they are inherently grained into our DNA as human beings.
And so my challenge to you, regardless of your position or industry, is to purchase "Love is the Killer App", devour it, share it with everyone around you, and join me as a "Lovecat" in the world.
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