Influence in the new world!

“So are you influential?”. She asked me. Over dinner. We were finishing, thankfully. She had been pointed to this by someone and she couldn’t believe it all.

A long conversation ensued and that set me thinking about influence. What it was, and more importantly what it meant to me.
If you look at Influence as the capacity to shape someone elses thought / action / way of working etc etc, that sits pretty much what I think too. Influence during the ages has come with birth, physical prowess, thought, power etc.

In the digital age, as with everything else, influence and what it means to be ‘influential’ is getting (re)shaped. Brian Solis put this report out on the rise of ‘Digital Influence’ and that resonated with me.

In my mind, at the centre of it all is this spectre of being able to and willing to SHARE. This propensity perhaps is the single largest factor that shapes influence or rather, has the potential to alter the scales substantially.

Essentially, if you do are aware of a few aspects about any topic (which any person with a job and a salary usually is ) and if you know a few others who know more or less about the same topic ( which again, most people do), you have the power to share.

The question is more about the willingness to share the same with the rest of the world who may (or may not) need it. To some of us the sharing comes naturally. To put key aspects of our work and life on to the public stream of conversation, and to most willingly connect people.

To several others, “sharing” needs to be cultivated in the modern digital way. In all my conversations with several senior leaders in various organisations the ‘sharing’ doesn’t happen for want of intent, but more a fear of ‘how it will be read’ and the associated ‘fears’.
One way of working around this is to “Work Out Aloud”. John Stepper in this blogpost outlines the essentials lucidly.

Steve Boyd’s posts here and here are important perspectives that you may want to consider.  Every so many times, “lack of time” is cited as reason. I don’t doubt that people are busy, but thats no reason for getting ready to work differently and connect in the modern day world. To be able to share.

Last week, over an interaction Thiagi talked about building course content on the go, in another context : “Learning to build the plane even as I am flying it” he said. It immediately struck me, that perhaps thats the perfect metaphor for the ways of working of several of the projects that we have completed. Projects that got done, simply because of the connection to very generous people who didn’t hesitate to share!

The key aspect of this is to weave it into work. Make sharing, asking and bouncing of ideas on digital and other platforms as the new normal of working! That statement is from personal experience.

The benefits are enormous. The collective learning, inclusion and most importantly effective knowledge management will get benefits many times the quantum of the effort required.

Here are five aspects to remember if you are still thinking about jumping in and writing. Or tweeting. Atleast, this is what worked for me.

a. Share your dilemmas. Ask for help. You may not get any right away, but eventually you will
b. Help people with dilemmas, people who explicitly ask. Infact, do this as step 1
c. Remember you don’t need to have all answers. A ‘point of view’ will do and if you could point in the direction of people who have a point or two, will be equally treasured
d. There is nothing called a right opportunity. Get started somewhere. Generosity begets generosity and gradually a virtuous cycle of sharing and connecting ensues
e. Most importantly, play with it! Sometimes you get the results you wanted in a jiffy. Many other times you are left clutching an empty conversation. But then, there isn’t anything called an ‘empty conversation’!


Listening to Harsha Bhogle !

I had an opportunity to listen to Harsha Bhogle at a conference. And it was an insightful discussion. Harsha threw open the floor to questions in sometime, and as much as i marveled at the spontaneity and ease of his answers, i couldn’t help but notice the depth of some questions that came from the audience. Young minds and their passion exhibited best through and innate understanding of cricket and its nuances.
I found this on ABC’s website : “Harsha is regarded as Indian cricket’s first non-player celebrity. He hosts television programs such as Harsha Online and Harsha Unplugged and refreshingly combines the talents of Oprah Winfrey and Richie Benaud in the roles of presenter, quizmaster, interviewer, panellist and commentator.” After listening to him, i cant help agree more !

The IIM-A grad metamorphising into the cricket commentator that we all know of, was quite insightful to understand. So were some of the vagaries of cricket,from somebody who is up-close and personal to the pitch of the game! As i sat listening to him respond & push the audience to think and keep the conversation relevant to context, i couldn’t help but notice that Harsh has grown & evolved as well.

He talked of Ravi Shastri as somebody who grew into a commentator. I would imagine that Harsha himself has unlearnt and relearnt quite a few things to be where he is : a household name in Indian cricket. Yet not surrounded by talks of retirement or the odd controversy that seems to invariably tag players!

When asked about some of the best times and people that he had worked with, he talked about his liking of working with people who ‘provoke’ him, that caused him to be ‘on gaurd’ and ‘better prepared’ ! Naturally, its the aussies that he loves working with ! And it is ‘earnest’ cricketers like Anil Kumble that he admires quite a bit.

To me, the most enjoyable parts of his presentation were the quips that flew like a water from half closed hose pipe ! Some his and some quoted. Here are a few :

‘Bowling to Azhar would be like bowling to a revolving door. You never knew where the ball was going to be despatched to’

Laxman treats the ball with a certain degree of kindness. A kindness that the bat talks through a friendly caressing of the ball, to the boundary !

Sehwag’s reported comment : “Am playing the ball. Not the bowler’ If you dont grow, your standing actually comes down !

Shane Warne comes up with lines on his SMS that he perhaps cant come up with a ball !

McGrath’s reported comment after turning up, tired for a game : “I dont have petrol in the tank. I am running on fumes”

The learning was metaphorical. And extremely relevant and impactful ! Some parts of the interaction with him stay with me. Here is a small sprinking.

  • Humility wins & how the real champions are proud of who they play for, yet very humble.
  • Champions staying respectful of the opposition, yet being fiercely competitive.
  • On how important it is set big targets and go towards them.
  • On how the real champions let their game do all the talking.
  • On why trying too hard sometimes can be our undoing.
  • And how different times require different leaders.

These are universal truths. But the fact that it came packaged in the guise of a chap who comments on a game that the nation follows, has impact. The fact that he has got me think and reflect on broad connects is in itself an indication that the pathway to learning has been well created.

The cherry on the cake was this quip, that cracked me up so much that i had a hard time stopping myself from rolling on the floor !

“Siddhu cant do commentary anymore, because in commentary you have to pause” !!!!

I am still laughing !