The Impact Equation is a new book by two of my friends, Julien Smith and Chris Brogan. I’ve purchased 10 copies myself to give away here, so if you are interested in a copy, please read on for details.
Chris and Julien have spent a lot of time meeting people across the globe, and talking about the impact of new digital platforms on our lives. Julien has largely focused on encouraging folks to take risks and go beyond their comfort zones to reach new levels of personal and professional satisfaction, perhaps best exemplified by his free e-book, The Flinch. Julien has personally convinced me to do things like try the Paleo Diet and get healthier (I’m down 20 lbs) as well as encouraging me (verging on double daring, actually) to take a new look at ideas that I’ve never quite understood with a more open and empathetic eye. Chris has done an amazing job in helping businesses realize that the relationships it has with customers are more complex than a single, transactional exchange, and instead, by leveraging the human to human component, businesses and dare I say, corporations, can become more like people. (Although I am still waiting for my new “friend” on Facebook, Pottery Barn, to come babysit or drop by for tea- I think I’m going to have a long wait ahead of me.)
Their latest work together promises to be another great collaboration. By analyzing how messages spread and how people transform their individual passions to a bigger audience, Chris and Julien have come up with an equation that you can use to help benchmark your own projects and identify which areas may need to be boosted in order to take the spread of your ideas to a new audience and new level.
I’m about half way through the book so far, and one of the most interesting points is something I know well- why are some brilliant people, top in their field, less well known than, say, the Kardashians? (Not the example Chris and Julien use, by the way…) The equation in the Impact Equation helps explain where some of these folks fall down, and many of them just have not yet developed a platform where they can reach out to people outside their own field and help make them care.
For example, there are folks like Dr. Bob Brooks, Dr. Russell Barkley and Rick LaVoie who are huge and well known in the LD and education world, and as much good stuff as they do, including TV appearances near their homes, etc. they aren’t as widely read or known as “What to Expect when You’re Expecting” or “Dr. Spock”. Why is that? Well, maybe they have a platform problem, yet it would be hard for me to say to someone like Dr. Barkley, who has spent his career doing ground-breaking research on ADHD and how to most effectively treat kids with ADHD, other learning disabilities and psychiatric issues that he should be blogging more. He has a website, newsletter, and many academic books and more parent-oriented books to his name. Is taking time out of his schedule to build a platform online the highest and most effective use of his time, for him or for all of us at large? Maybe not.
However, what might be effective in spreading the word farther than those already familiar with his work would be to have someone in his organization (or simply part of his fan base) to help spread his message for him, and hopefully in a way so more people will hear what he has done and believe what he has found. Now that every business and individual has the power, with very little additional education or training, to have their own media platform, capable of reaching everyone with a computer or mobile device, that’s true. But just because everyone can, should they?
I think that’s the question we need to ask ourselves when we look at the Impact Equation. For individuals, it creates a strong template for spreading your ideas further and looking to what parts of your efforts might need a little more (or less) attention. I think the more important question, ultimately, is how do you form a stronger or simply more effective network to spread your ideas to those that matter most.
I think we’re entering an age where we have to take more of a 360 degree look at what we’re doing. For example, I’m giving a talk in a few weeks at a school about my book on differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all students. As part of that talk, I’ll have my usual slide deck, but I’m also creating a playlist of videos that can act as illustrations of points I’ve made and “further reading/watching” on my YouTube Channel. I’m creating handouts that will have the take home points on it, a list of resources and websites to visit, and some bonus material that did not make it into the printed book. This process makes sure that the value of my presentation starts before I ever arrive and can live on afterwards, enhancing the value of having me come speak in the first place. While I know not everyone in America may care as much about education and how to reach every kid as I do, I can make sure the information I have is curated, aggregated and accessible to extend my reach through online channels.
Everyone has different goals. We can all spread our ideas farther than just sharing them at the supper table, remaining frustrated that they are not implemented beyond our doorsteps. But I also think the ultimate power of persuasion in the marketplace of ideas requires that folks maximize their own time and value, and develop guilds to help spread the word for them. We don’t need every brilliant person blogging and shooting video and spending time being self-promotional. We need many of those people to do their jobs, deliver babies, work on the cure for cancer, defend the innocent, and more. But I think the lesson we need is to deputize our own networks of contacts, online and off, to help spread the word of the great stuff we do, whether or not it comes with mass applause, public acclaim or metrics. Sometimes, it’s worth doing good work just because it matters.
The Impact Equation is a really interesting read and can help you take a new look at what you are doing in getting your ideas out there and implemented. Just realize that sometimes, finding proxies to help you with spreading the word may be more worth your while than always doing the heavy lifting yourself, unless you have endless time to spare. Otherwise, please go and do your best work first. We need that, too.
If you are interested in reading the Impact Equation, I have 9 hardcover copies to give away. (I’m keeping one, obviously). Please leave a comment at the bottom of this post and share it out on a social network of your choice, with a link back to this review. I will take all the comments and pick nine at random for all those submitted by November 6, and then contact you and send you a book – US or Canada -But for those commenters overseas, if you are in the group selected, I’ll buy you an iBook or Kindle copy of the Impact Equation instead.
Thanks and looking forward to your feedback!