A new home for the KaneCo Conversations blog

January 7, 2010

As of 1/1/10, we’ve moved the Kane Consulting blog from this wordpress address to our website.

You can find it (and our latest post) here.

If you’ve enjoyed reading the blog, we hope you’ll consider subscribing to an RSS feed from the new location.

Thanks for your support.


Authenticity ain’t pretty.

June 8, 2009

A number of years ago, I had a job working in a very small office.

Since I was young, spent most of my time there on the phone and had few co-workers, I decided to ditch the makeup routine and go to work “au natural.”

And nearly every day when I arrived at this job, my boss would invariably turn to me and say, “You look really tired this morning, Jen.”

Every day.

For months on end.

I always slept well the night before. I always came in showered, smartly dressed, perky and full of smiles. And still I kept wondering, “What is it about my appearance that suggests to this man that I am a haggard insomniac?”

Eventually, I informed my boss that telling a young woman that she looked like poo day after day wasn’t really a polite thing to do, and he quickly put the practice to rest.

Well THAT explains it.

Shortly thereafter, I met this man’s wife.

She was a well-manicured socialite with a giant rock on her hand and a mask of cosmetics covering her face.

Literally, it was a mask – her makeup had all been tattooed on.

Then, I kind of felt bad for my boss.

All along, I thought his behavior was about me looking abnormal, when in fact I had it totally backward. It was his perception of me that was the abnormal thing.

When this man rolled over each morning, he was greeted with perpetual ruby lips and kohl rimmed eyes – a vision of womanliness that would forever be immune to imperfection.

So when I walked in the office a few hours later with my puffy eyes, naked lips and yawns, I cracked his mirror right down the middle.

So where am I going with this?

I am reminded of this cracked-mirror phenomenon a lot lately when I’m talking to clients about social media.

After years of pushing out glossy marketing speak with the perception that audiences were sitting there like well coiffed mannequins just eating this stuff up, suddenly, some companies are hearing their consumers talk back to them.

And when they talk, they don’t sound like helpful brand evangelists participating in the world’s largest focus group.

They sound like ordinary humans.

Problem is, we humans are actually a cranky, rude, loony, witty, boring, sassy and sometimes terribly unruly bunch.

We swear. We get depressed. We fly off the handle. We gratuitously use the word “dude.” We throw our fickle love from social meme to social meme. We are authentically unpredictable.

Humans hate your marketing plan.

Humans don’t care about fitting into “user personas.” We don’t enter into dialogue with any thought to measurable outcomes. We don’t congregate to the social web to engage in a balanced banquet of conversations.

Instead, humans use the web as a raw and unruly buffet of ideas, opinions and discussion, and…

  • Sometimes the results leave us hungry for seconds.
  • Sometimes it make us wanna throw-up.
  • Sometimes it makes us laugh so hard that food comes right out of our noses.

And it’s all of these qualities that make the social web so attractive, amazing and challenging to navigate as a marketer.

Polished pitches and controlled messaging probably always will reign in marketing industry, just like some men will always prefer a Stepford wife with her beauty tattooed right on.

But as the social web becomes more powerful, it is my hope that authentic conversations – like authentic, unadorned faces – will get the respect they deserve.

Authenticity ain’t always pretty, folks, but there are great lessons we can learn if we can overcome our urge to prune, control and pretty it up whenever we come face-to-face with it.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll even learn to be a bit more authentic ourselves.


Authenticity ain't pretty.

June 8, 2009

A number of years ago, I had a job working in a very small office.

Since I was young, spent most of my time there on the phone and had few co-workers, I decided to ditch the makeup routine and go to work “au natural.”

And nearly every day when I arrived at this job, my boss would invariably turn to me and say, “You look really tired this morning, Jen.”

Every day.

For months on end.

I always slept well the night before. I always came in showered, smartly dressed, perky and full of smiles. And still I kept wondering, “What is it about my appearance that suggests to this man that I am a haggard insomniac?”

Eventually, I informed my boss that telling a young woman that she looked like poo day after day wasn’t really a polite thing to do, and he quickly put the practice to rest.

Well THAT explains it.

Shortly thereafter, I met this man’s wife.

She was a well-manicured socialite with a giant rock on her hand and a mask of cosmetics covering her face.

Literally, it was a mask – her makeup had all been tattooed on.

Then, I kind of felt bad for my boss.

All along, I thought his behavior was about me looking abnormal, when in fact I had it totally backward. It was his perception of me that was the abnormal thing.

When this man rolled over each morning, he was greeted with perpetual ruby lips and kohl rimmed eyes – a vision of womanliness that would forever be immune to imperfection.

So when I walked in the office a few hours later with my puffy eyes, naked lips and yawns, I cracked his mirror right down the middle.

So where am I going with this?

I am reminded of this cracked-mirror phenomenon a lot lately when I’m talking to clients about social media.

After years of pushing out glossy marketing speak with the perception that audiences were sitting there like well coiffed mannequins just eating this stuff up, suddenly, some companies are hearing their consumers talk back to them.

And when they talk, they don’t sound like helpful brand evangelists participating in the world’s largest focus group.

They sound like ordinary humans.

Problem is, we humans are actually a cranky, rude, loony, witty, boring, sassy and sometimes terribly unruly bunch.

We swear. We get depressed. We fly off the handle. We gratuitously use the word “dude.” We throw our fickle love from social meme to social meme. We are authentically unpredictable.

Humans hate your marketing plan.

Humans don’t care about fitting into “user personas.” We don’t enter into dialogue with any thought to measurable outcomes. We don’t congregate to the social web to engage in a balanced banquet of conversations.

Instead, humans use the web as a raw and unruly buffet of ideas, opinions and discussion, and…

  • Sometimes the results leave us hungry for seconds.
  • Sometimes it make us wanna throw-up.
  • Sometimes it makes us laugh so hard that food comes right out of our noses.

And it’s all of these qualities that make the social web so attractive, amazing and challenging to navigate as a marketer.

Polished pitches and controlled messaging probably always will reign in marketing industry, just like some men will always prefer a Stepford wife with her beauty tattooed right on.

But as the social web becomes more powerful, it is my hope that authentic conversations – like authentic, unadorned faces – will get the respect they deserve.

Authenticity ain’t always pretty, folks, but there are great lessons we can learn if we can overcome our urge to prune, control and pretty it up whenever we come face-to-face with it.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll even learn to be a bit more authentic ourselves.


The News From SXSW? We Love You.

March 16, 2009

There’s some big news floating around here in Austin at the SXSW Interactive Festival.

It’s not about products, applications or the newly anointed web celebrities swarming the place (although there is a fair amount of Ooo-ing and Ah-ing over them as well).

The big thing on people’s minds?

You.

…You, the user.
…You, the consumer.
…You, the person reading this post.
(And, for that matter, Me, the person writing it.)

It’s as if the whole industry reached a tipping point of channel, message and medium saturation, collectively took a step back and remembered, “oh yeah…. there are PEOPLE out there using all this stuff.”

Perhaps with interactive engagement becoming more ubiquitous, people are realizing that it’s becoming less and less relevant to have conversations about “us” and “them” and the technical “hows” of our interaction.

Perhaps the far more interesting topics are, “you” and “me” and the “whys?”

So instead of tech talk, the buzzwords I keep hearing at this conference are “experience,” “service,” “feedback” and the biggie…“happiness.”

(That’s right, we’re talking about happiness at an interactive conference.)

The whole thing is terribly inspiring, but also a wee bit utopian.

Because while people are engaging in these deep discussions about creating and “curating” (a very big buzzword here) user experiences, there are still a whole lotta people walking around here also wondering “how can I make some money doing this stuff?”

Perhaps the two are not mutually exclusive. But if they’re not, then I’d sure like to hear a presentation about that.


I Want My Golden Ticket at SXSW

March 14, 2009

It’s day one of my SXSW experience and I’ve got a lot on my mind.

(Chris Brogan’s great blog post about conferences yesterday added even more thoughts to the mix.)

  • What’s my pitch when I meet people?
  • Do I have enough business cards?
  • Is my phone charged?
  • Have I packed some cough drops? (I have a cold)
  • Do I have some hand sanitizer so I don’t shake hands and spread that cold like some modern-day Typhoid Mary?

But beyond these mundane topics, I’ve got some even bigger thoughts to contend with, like…

  • Why would people want to meet me?
  • What impression do I want to make on those people?
  • Is it possible for me to have friendly, genuine and empathetic networking experiences and still get my business noticed?

These last questions have been the topic of many coffee meetings with colleagues the past few months.

I want the keynote spot!

I want the keynote spot!

The people I’ve been talking to are smart and talented, but keeping finding that self-promo junkies – no matter what their experience level or skill set – seem to be getting all of the attention and all of the business lately. Like modern day “Veruca Salts” they have no compunction about standing in a crowded room and proclaiming, “Daddy, I want a goose that lays the golden egg!” *

And you know what? People give them that damn goose.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe that self-confidence is critical for success in life and certainly in business. But there is a vast difference between meeting someone, asking what they do and then genuinely listening with an open, interested mind, and meeting someone, launching into your promo spiel, leaving an opening for the obligatory spiel in return and then moving on.

But how come it seems that the later is more successful? And what if that’s a game that – so matter how well it works— is one that I’m just inherently uncomfortable playing? What if indeed, success rewards not just the brave, but also the vain?

As a born and bred “Charlie Bucket,” I’m not sure where this leaves me in the playing field and among a swarm on networkers milling this conference like this.

All I can do is keep plugging away with my eyes and heart open and (my mind turned up to “wicked productive”) with the belief that someday I will inherit my keys to the chocolate factory and Veruca will end up in the garbage shute where she belongs.

(If you thought I was going to say something about squirrels, you clearly are only familiar with the inferior Willy Wonka movie.)


We’re heading to Austin, TX for SXSW Interactive.

March 13, 2009

sxsw-meetme-badgeKane Consulting will be at the SXSW Interactive Festival where we’ll soak up all we can about the latest industry trends. We’ll capture and share our experience via blog, video, and Twitter, so stay tuned!

Are you going to be there? If so, we’d love to connect with you!


We're heading to Austin, TX for SXSW Interactive.

March 13, 2009

sxsw-meetme-badgeKane Consulting will be at the SXSW Interactive Festival where we’ll soak up all we can about the latest industry trends. We’ll capture and share our experience via blog, video, and Twitter, so stay tuned!

Are you going to be there? If so, we’d love to connect with you!