Friday, October 3, 2008


A bunch of us here in the office have started using Twitter as means of rapidly sharing and responding to ideas. Twitter is a social networking site where you post what you’re working on in 140 characters or less. The trend was started by our CMO as a means to create dialogue around our brand directly with our employees and customers. It breaks through a lot of the barriers that traditionally surround a C-level executive while creating a high degree of transparency and authenticity around our brand. There are ongoing arguments for and against this, as it challenges a lot of the traditional orthodoxies of business from both a competitive and legal sense. I think that it is rather visionary and is consistent with the role that we might expect an executive in a forward looking company to play.

Well, the trend started slowly, but recently hit a critical mass of users within my circle at work. This has led to unexpected experiences where my virtual world collides with my real world. In a recent incident, I posted on Twitter that I was naming a project after my favorite beer – the Surly Furious ( Later that day, I was involved in a hallway conversation, where a colleague commented that he liked my new naming convention. Since I hadn’t discussed the project with him, I was a bit confused. Thankfully, he went on to say that he could think of a dozen beers after which he’d name projects. I recognized what he was talking about and immediately knew how he had gained that information.

At that moment, I had a bit of an epiphany. I realized that in the new world of social networks, you are completely naked. You are vulnerable in a way that I’m not sure we could have imagined even just a few years ago. I’m not entirely sure of all the implications of this just yet. However, it does seem to me that in these forums you are subject to the ultimate market – the opinions and views of your peers and customers. I think this is where the transparency comes from. You just can’t hide anything, so you have to be completely honest and humble. By embracing this, it allows you to participate in the dialogue in a way that you cannot if you hide. I know that bearing yourself in this way, either as an individual or corporation, is not easy. It requires great courage and I applaud those who have it.

You can follow me on Twitter at

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