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Please Read Dave Eggers: The Circle

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In a world where everyone sees everything…

If you’ve ever wondered where complete transparency might lead—as I have—consider reading Dave Eggers’ excellent novel The Circle.

Don't worry--no one's watching.

Don’t worry–no one’s watching.

Mr. Eggers has created a very comfortable world (for some) of deep collaboration, where everything is provided to those lucky enough to work for the Circle. The Circle, the corporation at the center of the story, looks more than a bit like our most celebrated high-tech companies brimming with smarts, cash and outsized ambition. Think Google or Apple or what Microsoft once was—and then add in a cast of characters each with an overweening and boundary-less high EQ—and you’ve got a world that is totally supportive—as long as you move in the same direction. The novel traces the story of Mae Holland as she “zings” (tweets) and “smiles” (likes) her way from outsider to the inner circle.05212014-TheCircle-9780345807298_p0_v2_s260x420

The story gets uncomfortable at times, especially when it shows the intent behind the use of social media and the social pressures applied. Especially when you start to recognize product placement on a very, very personal level.

Mr. Eggers has me rethinking my eagerness for employees up and down the corporate ladder to use their outside voice. I’ve been advocating, among my clients and when teaching Social Media Marketing, that helping employees reveal their work to interested outsiders is a move toward a new kind of marketing that looks less like selling and more like a conversation among interested parties. I still think that is a good move, but Mr. Eggers has explored the boundaries of that notion, and it is a bit, well, totalitarian.

I will consider using The Circle as a supplemental text for my next class on Social Media marketing. Well-written and consistently engaging, Mr. Eggers’ book is well worth your time.


Image Credit: Kirk Livingston, just before a recitation of photography rules within a non-public spaceWatching-3-05212014

Get More Aha’s Per Hour (Dummy’s Guide to Conversation #17)

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Dance + Sit + Open = Insight

Who doesn’t crave that sudden influx of insight, the aha?

It is the aha that helps us turn a corner, change a behavior, or to finally, effectively, say “No!” to a persistent bad habit. The aha is a change of mind/heart where we suddenly have insight into a persistent question and then realize we can do things differently. And we will, starting now.


Over the weekend Henry wondered aloud how to have more aha-moments. I speculated that generating more aha’s starts with a dance of definition (DGtC #4) and moves to sitting with the question (DGtC #5). Both the dance and the sitting force the troubling question or decision toward the surface—like a bubble rising slowly through a thick malted milk. And then as we take the vulnerable move of voicing our vexation (DGtC #9 and #10) and then wait (DGtC #8), that is precisely when we are most prone to experience an aha moment. That’s because we are searching and listening. And the next conversation may just connect the dots.

Getting more aha’s per hour means living openly with our questions as well as asking them of the people around us. Insights flow from conversations, often unbeknownst to the conversation partners.

What vexation will you voice today?


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

May 5, 2014 at 8:28 am

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