I dunno. I havent had it yet.

Its 1:30am as I sit in my hotel room. I should have been asleep hours ago, as I have three meetings tomorrow (well four). At 8am I have a phone call,  I need drive down from San Francisco to San Mateo to meet with Apture (I mention them only because they are now installed on my blog, and I think they are pretty interesting) by 10am, and then back to San Francisco for 1pm meeting. Not to mention the the dinner I am pretty excited about with Foodzie.

But this isnt a complaint post.

Earlier tonight I was watching Glee on the new Hulu desktop app. There was a point in the show where one teacher shows the Glee Club teacher a video of him performing in 1993.

“That was the greatest time of my life.”

Which got me thinking. What was my greatest time?

No answer found itself to the front of my brain, and it dawned on me.

I havent had a greatest time in my life…yet.

At first, this realization was followed by disappointment. Has it really been 37 years without a greatest moment? Does it mean my life has been boring and without merit?

But, quickly it hit me. I derive my drive from an intense desire to HAVE a greatest moment. I am comforted by knowing that my greatest moment is still out there.

Then I started to apply the concept to the friends around me. People that I am humbled to know:

Brad Feld: A very successful venture capitalist, what excites Brad about being an investor is helping people build the next big thing. Does he think every investment he (or Foundry Group) makes is in the next big thing? No, but watch where (and in whom) Brad invests his time…its a great indicator of what (and whom) he is excited about.

Frankly by definition being an investor is the belief that the greatest moment is still to be…

Gary Vaynerchuk: Gary wants to buy the New York Jets. Gary is going to be a dad soon. Gary, our generation’s Tony Robbins, is driven by passion and the desire to win. Ask Gary if he has had the greatest moment in his life, and he is liable to punch you in the mouth and yell “I want to own the NY Jets, dummy.”

Jason Fried: I met Jason at the BigOmaha conference after several failed attempted by Jeffrey Kalmikoff to connect us, and was literally awed by Jason’s mix of focus and adjustment when we talked about business ideas. He has a clear vision as to what works and how it works, but he is also quick to absorb data and guidance and apply it to his vision. I would almost be willing to bet dinner in Chicago that if you asked Jason what his greatest moment in life was, he wouldnt name it quickly. Im sure he is proud of 37signals and the work they have done, but I am also sure that he believes that 37signals will be a footnote to whatever he accomplishes in his life.

Jeffrey Kalmikoff: While I refuse to take free tshirts from Threadless, Jeffrey is still my friend. Did you know that Jeffrey used to be a pretty decent DJ? Or that he and Jake Nickell have spoken to MIT and Stanford and were on the cover of INC magazine? Probably not. Because those are things on the path to whatever it is that Jeffrey will one day achieve.

The list goes on and on.

What is it then? People that are focused on the future are more likely to be successful? That people who have had a “greatest moment” are doomed to look at the past?

Not sure thats it.

People who have had a greatest moment spend most of their lives trying to recreate that moment.

Their very motivation centers on the concept of re-experiencing that wonderful moment in time.  Therefore, failure hurts, because you have known true success.

On the other hand, people that have not had their greatest moment yet, are waiting for that moment.

Their motivation is focused on creating that moment. Knowing that the moment will come (and fear that it may never). Therefore failure is part of the process, because we have never known real success.

Maybe I am rambling because its now 2:30am and I can barely keep my eyes open, but chew on this:

If I have had my greatest moment, then I know the parameters that that moment exists in. Therefore, my drive is limited by that scope. I am comfortable working a job, or limiting what I think I can achieve, because I know that my success must occur in a similar way to how it did in the past.

But what if I add a bit of hope to my beliefs?

In hoping that the greatest moment in my life is yet to come, the scope of where my greatest moment lives becomes infinite. I become ok with change and error. I stop questioning my ability to achieve and I focus on what the success should be, because I have no idea where, when or how my success will manifest in the future; I just know it will.

My greatest moment in my life is coming and it will be amazing.

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I started this blog in the middle of 2007, and like all new bloggers, when January rolled around, I made a couple of predictions. I believed that 2008 was going to be The Year of Discovering and Searching Potential Friends.

It could have been because I was excited to be working at Lijit, and seeing the power of content discovery. Perhaps it was the explosion of FriendFeed and the buzz that SocialThing! was creating.

More likely, it was that I was re-joining an online community (and a real community in Boulder) and I wanted to meet new interesting people. (Its funny that nearly a year to the day, I sent that first #followfriday tweet, leveraging Twitter to accomplish just that task…)

Discovery has always been an important topic for me. I have always been in a testing mode, which my parents fostered as a kid. There was always one constant in my family, that being educated (be it through school or through interaction) was a requirement. And as I got older, my parents continually fostered the love of learning in my sisters and me.

Its no surprise that as the information on the web has increased, so have the discovery tools. Biggest one to date? Google. The search engine exists only because there are too many sites to bookmark anymore. As internet access continues to proliferate, more and more people come on line, and now rudimentary friend connect tools, like Facebook, have begun to take center stage.

Clearly, there is a need for the discovery of people and information online.

Yet, the internet has continued to evolve. Its is not just a facilitator of communication and information anymore. It now has added interactivity and activity to its bag of tricks. People not only want to find other people, or discovery interesting topics, but both interact and discover activity. Hence the growth of Twitter, a basic activity stream that has a search function. The hashtag adds a bit of categorization, but there is little intelligence or sophistication to Twitter.

Now we are here:

For information: use Google.

For friends: use Facebook.

For activity: use Twitter.

(This might be why I like Lijit. While it doesnt have the realtime aspect of Twitter or Facebook’s activity stream, it does allow you to find and discover information and activity from your friends. Sort of a way to simplify the combination of these services.)

It seems that what I was thinking about in January of 2008 has (sort of) come about. People are using tools like Facebook and Twitter much more as discovery tools for finding information and people.

Whats next?


Its easy to say that promotion already exists (shoot, I have been accused of self-promotion more than once). Sure, promotion in its most basic form exists, but all these tools allow us to see a new form of promotion begin to rise.

The #1 Fan Promoter.

Imagine tools that allow the best person to promote a specific piece of content or person (think indie bands, conferences, new authors, indie movies, etc.) to be discovered by the creator of that content.

In short order, imagine if a band, conference, film maker, author could find the one person in the world that was the best person to promote them?

The characteristics of this #1 fan would be similar across all genres: He would be passionate. He would be trusted. She would be influential. She would feel some ownership of and empowerment by the content.

Lately, this concept of attaching discovery to promotion has gotten me thinking.

There are two companies that I am informally advising that are tackling this issue. EventVue, a 2007 Techstars company, lives in the world of conferences. They focus on helping conference organizers grow their conferences in interesting ways.

Think about it: Whats the #1 reason you usually attend a conference? Because someone you trust and consider influential told you that it would be worth the time and expense.

The other company is The Next Big Sound, a 2009 Techstars company. Personally, they are currently my favorite music site. Rather than just being a site where artists can upload their music and then people thumb up / thumb down the music, The Next Big Sound gives users (what they call moguls) the ability to “discover” and “promote” music.

Think about it: Whats the #1 way you find new music? You ask someone you trust and has influence over you. What if that same person was someone who gained the reputation of breaking new music? Wouldnt you go to them again and again?

Traditional media calls this Word of Mouth.

We have seen what the internet has done in redefining Searching, Friend Discovery and Activity Monitoring. We have seen what the internet has done in revolutionizing Interaction and Communication.

What’s it going to do to traditional word of mouth?

I am a #1 fan of learning that.

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I apparently am on a tear with blog posts. This is my third today. I have one more in my head, but I think I will hold it for another day.

I was having lunch with my friend Tom Chikoore of FiltrBox last Monday. Tom is a CTO and has an unique view of the world (which he displays on his blog now and again. Post more Tom!)

At Web 2.0 Expo, which I was lucky to attend as a blog partner, there was a session entitled: Finding Influence: Design Patterns for Smarter Crowds, put on by Gregor Hochmuth.

Here is the slide deck:

As I watched the first dozen or so slides go by (its 101 slides – mostly single sentences or pictures) I kept thinking to myself “Thats Lijit!”

You see, at Lijit we are spending a lot of time thinking about influence and trust. How do people discover and filter content now that there are billions upon billions of pages out on the web? I have done a couple speaking engagements where I discuss just this fact.

Take a moment to check out Gregor’s presentation. Take a moment to check out mine. Take a moment to think about how you personally are influenced.

Tom’s company, Filtrbox focuses on discovery and filtering data and delivering that data to its end users. So, you can imagine based on his work, our work at Lijit, and my discussion of this particular session at Web2.0 Expo, that the top of influence was a lively one.

Most people look at audience size as the measure of influence. For example, for these folks, the number of twitter followers is paramount in that discussion. Have 60,000 twitter followers? You are more influenctial that someone with 10,000 followers. For some, that is the single measure.

But as Gregor stated in his presentation, and as Tom and I have found through our respective companies, Audience size is really just the ability to distribute a message. Nothing more. Its the message itself that is the true measure of influence.

Our discussion shifted to my decision to keep a (version) of kosher.

“Are there any kosher resturants in Boulder,” Tom asked.

“Hell if I know,” I responded.

“Who do you ask about that?”

Which brought another measure of influence to light. If I needed an answer to a specific question, who would I ask?

For each person, that selection changes. Meaning, for each person, they potentially trust a different person to provide the answer. Each person is actually self-selecting the person they are most influenced by around that specific subject or topic.

In terms of recommendations, Google fails. Google takes the tact that there is a single right answer for every question.

For example, the search for “boulder kosher resturant” returns:

boulder-kosher* the first result goes to a dead link.

Clearly, Google has not figured out how to trump the face-to-face recommendations that occur between people. What Lijit’s take on problem? The answer depends on the publisher. There might be many answers.

What’s Filtrbox’s answer? Through “filters” the end user can whittle down the information to a consumable size, and select the best answer.

(BTW – there are no kosher resturants in Boulder. At least as far as everyone and every tool I know tells me).

Another thought about audience. Its not just the size of your audience but the your ability to effect the actions of your audience that truly is an indicator of influence. If you look at twitter, and if you ask your followers to do something (say, retweet a post), what percentage of them actually do it?

If say Chris Brogan, with his 61,600 followers got 250 of them to retweet (a 0.41% success rate) who he be more influential than if Brad Feld with his 4,954 followers got 25 to retweet (a 0.50% success rate)?

The best example of influence is when one person asked for a recommendation from another that they trust. (Influence locally)

The best use of influence is the ability to get a large number of people to test, try, use, believe, not believe, hate, avoid something (Evangelize globally).

A true influential has the following components: a large audience, that they have a positive effect on, and who is trusted by that audience to provide the right answer/direction.

After all that, I suppose the question becomes: how do you become an influential?

There appears to be a clear path:

  1. 1) be trustworthy;
  2. 2) be right;
  3. 3) be available;
  4. 4) be dependable;
  5. 5) be consistent;
  6. 6) be transparent;
  7. 7) be a listener;
  8. 8) be a doer;
  9. 9) be a giver;
  10. 10) influence locally; evangelize globally
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