The Forgotten Art of Research

Photo cred: Troy Holden

Research.

It’s an art.  One that we practice for many years, but forcefully forget.

It’s something that was drilled into us since the first day of school.  If we wanted to learn something, we had to read about it in a boring, overpriced textbook.  We would then have to take a test, write a paper, or do something to prove that we actually did the research.

It sucked.

It sucked so much that the second that diploma is handed to you, you feel a huge sigh of relief knowing that you’ll never be forced to study again.  You can now spend the rest of your days reading what you want, and learn by doing.

Research is still valuable long after you graduate but you avoid it because it feels like homework.

The professionals and entrepreneurs that really go far are the ones taking in as much information as possible related to their topic.  If you want to be great at your job, you have to research the crap out of it.  Read books, blog posts, case studies…do anything you can to make yourself more savvy and get an edge.

BUT…relying on blogs or twitter to learn everything won’t cut it.

Bloggers don’t dig deep enough…and twitter lacks any depth whatsoever.  Google the term “research”.  The number 1 result is Wikipedia.  Wikipedia is the cliff notes for the cliff notes.  They can all be great research tools but will only teach you so much.

Don’t forget about research.  It takes time and commitment.  It’s not easy to find the right information.  In the end though, it will pay off.

When was the last time you really researched something?  Has the art of research been forgotten?

If you have any good research tools or practices, share them in the comments.

How Long Until Truthful Information Becomes Worthless?

Photo cred: Diego Sevilla Ruiz

Hypothetical situation: You trust me. I post an article somewhere. Your trust for me then translates to trust in the content I’m sharing, and so you trust that the article is credible. Then you share it, your readers trust you…rinse, and repeat.

Safe to say this happens often?

Today, credibility in content is determined by who and how many share it. As credibility becomes increasingly determined by sharability the value of the truth is driven downward.

Look at it from a basic economic perspective. As the supply of information increases, the price of information decreases. Supply is at an all time high, price is at an all time low. As the price of information decreases, the resources used to provide quality information becomes unaffordable. If consumers don’t pay for information, suppliers can’t invest any money to ensure its credibility.

Truthful information has never faced the competition it faces today. As citizen journalism grows as a primary source for information, the need for investigative journalism as a paid alternative decreases.

Bloggers do not have to write truthful content. In fact, many of the most successful (popular) blogs focus on SEO and on writing successful copy in order to drive ad revenue, product and affiliate sales. Their “success” in driving traffic then translates to credibility in the eyes of the reader. If a blogger gets a ton of traffic, they must be credible, right?

They’re writing to get more people to come to their site, with absolutely no check on honesty.

Truthful content still exists, but is often buried under google pages of the popular stuff. Even if you refused to take information at face value, and choose to dig deeper in search of the truth, chances are you won’t find it.

As you become more reliant on social networks to determine what information is worthy of reading, you play into a system that has minimal consideration for credibility.

Where honesty should reign supreme, popularity now drives authority and credibility.

How much longer until truthful information becomes completely worthless?

You’re Being Cliché

Odd one out
The Nonconformist

Do you hate being called cliché? Do buzzwords piss you off? Do you avoid certain discussions just because they’re cliche?

Maybe, just maybe, you even look down on people who you consider to be cliché or that uses buzzwords?

I think we all do to some extent…but why do we do it?  Is it a smart move (professionally) to avoid “clichés” or do we just do it because we find it to be embarrassing to fall into a cliché?

If you’re not using buzzwords just because you don’t want to be cliché, you’re missing the point.  The point isn’t the wording or definitions.  It’s what they actually represent. It’s the concept, or idea behind them. If you disagree with the concept behind the cliché, then that’s fine…but don’t avoid it simply because it’s cliché.

If you’re getting caught up in not looking “cliché” by avoiding buzz words, you’re probably missing opportunities.

There’s a reason that things are considered cliché.  It’s because they make sense, they’re popular and they’re widely accepted. As a professional, wouldn’t you want to tap into that?

I’ve said it many times before, but I learn a lot of my life lessons from South Park.  In the episode, “You Got F’d in the A“, Stan tries to recruit some kids to join his dance crew.  He reaches out to the goth kids for help…

Stan: Please, you guys, our whole town’s reputation is at stake! Will any of you do it?
Red Bang Goth: I’m not doin’ it. Being in a dance group is totally conformist.
Henrietta: Yeah. I’m not conforming to some dance-off regulations.
Little Goth: I’m not doin’ it either. I’m the biggest nonconformist of all.
Tall Goth: I’m such a nonconformist that I’m not going to conform with the rest of you. Okay, I’ll do it.

So, in summary… if you’re avoiding clichés just because they’re clichés, then you’re being pretty cliché.  Make your own decisions. Don’t approve, or disapprove of something simply because of it’s popularity.

Thoughts?

Social Media is a Good Distraction

I don’t know about you, but I’ve wasted countless hours back in the good ol days of highschool, playing One Slime…as well as candystand mini golf and the other simple games that weren’t blocked by the school.

Now don’t try to tell me that employees weren’t wasting their time playing stupid games too.

Distractions on the internet have existed as long as the internet.

Today, our distraction is social media.  In college, I couldn’t go through a single day without checking up on facebook.  Today, if I go a day without twitter, I start to get dizzy and forget where I am.

Not so bad though if you ask me.  Compared to spending hours trying to beat that damn “Big Blue Boss” and his evil minion, the “Psycho Slime”, spending time throughout the day connecting with friends and strangers, sharing valuable or entertaining content, and spreading ideas seems like a big step in the right direction.

Perhaps companies shouldn’t be looking to eliminate the distraction that is social media.  By distraction standards, social media is a blessing.  Perhaps they should start looking into how they can use it to help the company.

pwned.

NEW: The u30pro Digest

u30pro

#u30pro is a weekly twitter chat (Thursdays at 7pm est) started by Lauren Fernandez and David Spinks that covers topics and issues facing young professionals.

We started the chat at the end of August.  It’s been truly amazing so far and hearing how much everyone enjoys the chats really makes us love hosting them that much more.

We love the idea that young professionals can
have a place to discuss issues that they’re facing, and that we can bring in more experienced professionals to shed some light from the other end of the spectrum.

We’d like to continue to build out the chat and grow the community that is forming around it.  So we decided to launch the u30pro digest!

Once you subscribe, every week we’ll send out a digest of the best blog posts from young professionals in the #u30pro community.  We will also feature a U30 Pro.  You can sign up using the form below.

To subscribe CLICK here.


This is very much a work in progress as we are looking to make u30pro as valuable as possible.  We will continue to build out the chat, this weekly digest, and stay tuned for more updates!

If you’d like to submit blogs to be considered for inclusion in the weekly digest, you can comment here, email it to u30pro [at] gmail [dot] com or DM it on twitter to @u30pro.

Mentor Monday: Arik Hanson talks about the changing nature of mentoring.

Business mentors have been around since the beginning of business.  Like many other aspects of business, while the concept of mentorship remains the same, new developments in tools and technology allow us to practice these concepts in new, and possibly more efficient ways.

This mentor Monday, I am honored to have a guest video post from Arik Hanson, a mentor of mine.  In this video, he shares some thoughts on recent trends in the way professionals build mentor relationships, and how mentors and mentees interact.

Enjoy!

View all Mentor Monday posts.

Personal Branding from 9-5

clockAt last night’s #u30pro chat we asked the participants to share professional obstacles that they’ve been facing, and then turned it over to the chat to discuss how to overcome these obstacles.

The final obstacle that we discussed left me with a few questions. It was about using twitter while in the office.  This person’s superior asked them not to.

This question forced the young pros that were participating to take a hard look at themselves in the mirror.  Few who have worked in an office can honestly say they’ve never peeked at their facebook, or twitter once in a while.

Then Meghan Butler brought up the “advantage of personal branding” for the company.  That’s to say that to build your personal brand benefits the company, and so it should be alright to do it on company time.

Now I’ve spoken about the battle between your personal brand and your company’s brand before.  In that post I said that your company’s brand should take priority over your personal brand.

This is different though.  It’s about company time.  Should employees be allowed to spend time building their personal brand, while they’re on the clock?  Should they be allowed to use social networks at all?

EDIT: To add to the conversation, Dan Schawbel just tweeted about a research report claiming “24% of employees have been disciplined at work because of social networking”.