I have just sent out invitations to a small group of people from my LinkedIn account. This is not intended to promote LinkedIn (as if they needed that). Instead, I'm promoting my friends and colleagues, who are the most interesting, amazing people I've met (or, in a few cases, I've been wanting to meet).
I've asked the group to answer questions along these lines, so I can shape an interview with them that I guarantee will be fascinating. I answer the questions myself below, but expect that my colleagues will easily outpace my answers.
Breaking news: I'll have two colleague profiles up at the end of next week, and another two at the end of next week.
First batch: One is a successful pharmaceutical executive who runs marathons and meets up with me in Barcelona, Florence and -- well, wherever we can. He was in my TRIUM EMBA class (2006). The other is a global executive focusing on managing non-profits. A great guy, he worked with me in the International Section of the American Society of Association Executives, where we both advised members on globalization concerns.
Second batch: A consultant and thought-leader in Social CRM, a father of three, and a colleague of mine at the CRM Association of America. And, a venture capital guy whose background, intelligence and hobbies keep you on your toes!
1. How do you know me?
How do I know myself? Usually I see myself most poignantly when reflected in my mistakes, most surprisingly when reflected in my relationships, and most rarely when I succeed. I have written a lot of articles, so many that I sometimes find them by accident on the Web; just reading back through them helps me know myself. Sometimes, I'm actually interesting, it turns out!
2. What kind of impact do you want to make through your work?
Customer experience management includes developing customer strategies using cognitive science. I call that part, "Creating an emotionally intelligent enterprise." It's a marriage of science, art, management and analytics. The risk: companies will use this "emotional intelligence" to manipulate customers. The opportunity: companies will see that their customers will rebel if they are manipulated, so companies have an obligation to actually run a decent, values-based organization that delivers relevant products and services to human beings - not just "customers" or "consumers".
3. What's the most beautiful or exciting thing you have done or produced?
I composed, arranged and conducted a show a couple of decades ago with an extraordinary orchestra and world-class performers. That was pretty close to amazing. I also worked with some teams to create some stunning marketing and communications materials. For a friend I recorded some jazz duo work with Dave Wundrow on bass that turned out well. I produced an album for a fellow pianist in Nashville several years ago and I snuck in to record "You Are Too Beautiful" (one take). But the most exciting thing I have done, something that has had a deep personal and professional impact, is to undergo the suffering, thrilling experience of the TRIUM executive MBA program. It's not about the MBA, it's about the profound changes ahead, and the new friends I made. I can crash on a couch in Australia, stay with friends in Paris, throw together an intimate party in Shanghai. That's amazing.
4. If you work best in small groups, tell me about a small group you've worked with successfully, how people contributed to the work, and the product of that work.
I'm working with YourMusicOn right now. My best work ever has been while working with the CEO, Daniele Calabrese. I also greatly enjoyed the TRIUM final term project, a turnaround plan for a major Russian insurance company - a company that was identified as a takeover target by a member of my group, purchased, and, in fact, turned around. A huge, multi-million-dollar success story.
5. If you work best in large groups, tell me about the secrets to getting these groups to work together, and describe a memorable product of that work.
Leadership is hard. It's really difficult to manage large groups that are isolated geographically, which I do more frequently because the Internet makes it seem possible to manage large teams. It's possible, but not easy. All I can provide is advice based on hard lessons learned.
6. Talk about any or all of these that matter to you: exercise, music, art, travel, friends, weekends, your inspirations, your pet peeves.
I love, even need, to work out regularly. I wish someone had told me when I was young that being "athletic" was more about spiritual well-being than sweating, falling, ripping, tearing, and so on.
Music is essential to me. I played jazz piano six nights a week when I was building a computer company twenty years ago. I love Bill Evans; listening to his "Beautiful Love" recording takes me back to the time when I was 14 years old, lying on a dirt-colored, well-vacuumed carpet in my living room with that recording playing inches from my ears.
7. What's the biggest threat to the world today?
Overpopulation. The other major issues flow from this: energy, food supply, GMO, green tech, mass migrations, water management, the indebtedness of developing countries.
8. What's the greatest hope for our world today?
The Internet, combined with ethical global citizens. The Internet is our planet's nervous system now. It can communicate the sickness of the planet, and the successes of our remediation, instantly. If we can see things better, faster, that's great; if we can learn how to fix problems better, faster, then we may have a chance to pull this off. We must not be remembered as the species who pillaged this amazing world.
9. Do you have a favorite TED video?
JJ Abrams' mystery box.
10. Books or movies that influenced you before you turned 20; between 20 and 30; most recently.
Before I was 20: Asimov's science books, his guides to the Bible, Don Juan, and Shakespeare; John Brunner's apocalpytic novels; Sherlock Holmes; A Separate Peace; the movies Jaws, Harry & Walter Go to New York, the Love Bug, Gone with the Wind; The Wizard of Oz.
Between 20 and 30: Everything (EVERYTHING) I read at Davidson College, with a special shout out to Plato, Aristotle, Erich Fromm, Dostoevsky, Chinua Achebe, Descartes, James Joyce, Soren Kierkegaard; A Different Drum (Scott Peck); the movies The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Truffaut's Day for Night, Jaws (again), The Exorcist.
Most recently: What's the use? I'm voracious. I'll create a section on my site for an Amazon list. Stay tuned. (But rest assured, Jaws remains one of my favorite movies even today.)
11. Name one of my LinkedIn™ contacts you'd most like to meet.
Jerome Guilbert. That doesn't really count, as I've met him twice already in Paris. But every time, he strikes me as playing the same role that I aspire to play. Think back to your Joseph Campbell hero's journey: along the way, the hero meets a special person, someone with magic powers and knowledge. With that person, the hero finds his way, using that special knowledge when it is needed to make right what was wrong, to escape, or to return home to his true love. Jerome is that kind of guy.