I am pleased to let you all know that my newest book, Hip and Sage: Staying Smart, Cool, and Competitive in the Workplace, is out and available. Pick up your copy at Amazon.com here. I will be doing a bunch of talks about what it means to be hip and sage, so let me know if you would like me to speak at your organization. Here is a brief excerpt from the book.
My friend Leigh asked me what started my interest in and journey toward becoming (and staying) hip and sage. Here is the story I shared with her:
I attended a Fast Company magazine readers network meeting in late 2004. The small group of about eight professionals struck me as being smart, curious, and interesting. I sat near Lori, a sales consultant, and Curt, a “passion catalyst,” who were talking about their blogs (weblogs). I wondered what a blog was. I heard them use words and phrases such as permalinks, trackbacks, and Carnival of the Capitalists, as they discussed strategies for building blog readership.
As I listened, I began to panic because I had no idea what they were talking about. Lori and Curt were not techies-people for whom computer technology forms the center of their universe-they were business consultants. After about thirty minutes, I mustered the courage to reveal my ignorance and ask them about these terms. They were generous and spent the rest of the evening-about ninety minutes-mentoring me about the world of blogging. My mind bubbled over as ideas about how I might use blogging to build my consulting practice percolated. I needed to get caught up. After I got home from the Fast Company event, I created my ﬁrst blog and named it Management Craft (still going strong today at www.managementcraft.com). Within the ﬁrst week, I ﬁgured out what permalinks were and how to use them to link to posts on other blogs. Within two weeks, I was using trackbacks to notify other bloggers when I linked to their posts. Within three months, I hosted the Carnival of the Capitalists-a weekly event that lists and links to the best business blog posts from the previous week and that is hosted each week by a different blogger.
I am a red caboose Baby Boomer, born in the ﬁnal Boomer year: 1964. I blog, podcast, network online, text, deliver webinars, and have a video posted on YouTube. When young readers e-mail me or comment on my blog and tell me I am hip or cool, or that my post was awesome, I giggle with delight. My RSS feeds have thousands of daily subscribers and my blogs get more than a thousand hits from Google per day. If you don’t understand what all this means, you need not worry-you soon will.
Leigh says I am hip and sage, and I love hearing that, but hip is a moving target and we need to stay aware of and engaged in what’s happening now-how people are communicating and doing business this month. We don’t need to become super-geeks or learn to write HTML code, but we do need to know how to ﬁnd and reach out to our business partners, clients, peers, and employees. In the fall of 2004, I discovered blogging. Today, I have additional interests and questions. I’m not twittering-should I be twittering? One thing I know for sure-I have a need to feel relevant and to be able to communicate in ways that are both contemporary and effective.
Podcasts, iPods, YouTube, Flickr, live chats, texting, blogging, plogging, and vlogging. New technologies are changing the way we meet, talk, and learn. Multitasking, webcasts, unconferences, and streaming video are common tools for the younger generations. The workplace is changing in other ways too; there is greater interest in ﬂextime, telecommuting, freelancing, and virtual and cross-functional international teams. It’s nothing new that things are changing. Since the Industrial Revolution, business practices have lasted less than a geologic second. The phrase “ﬂavor of the month” migrated from conversation about ice cream to discussion about the latest buzzwords and management fads. We have seen many changes, but what’s different now is that we are the ones who need to keep up. We are the ones others might perceive as being rigid, averse to change, slow, or stuck in the past. When you have decades of experience weighing you down, change can be daunting and draining.
We Baby Boomers are now the ones who need to keep up.
Baby Boomers who learn to embrace workplace changes will ﬁnd they can contribute to their organizations and businesses in new and better ways. Millions will start new businesses, but only those who can compete in the new marketplace will be successful. Knowing about search engine optimization (SEO) is as fundamental to today’s businesses as being able to balance a checkbook.
Being hip and sage is an approach to business and career, and is not achieved by creating a blog or learning how to podcast. While it is important that we be able to communicate using the methods our employees and customers prefer, being hip is much more than this. Our hipness determines how well we connect and collaborate with younger generations. Hip and sage professionals will have a competitive advantage over their contemporaries who do not get hip. They challenge younger generations and raise the level of business for all the players in their markets.
Hip and Sage has been fun to write, although I have taken a few risks with obsolescence. Some of the examples I have shared about new technologies will have become out-of-date before ink hits this page. Who knows? We might not be twittering at all by the time you read these words. This is ﬁne, because it is the principles of hipness and sageness that are most important and useful. The book has several short chapters and a few long ones. The short chapters are conversation starters. They are appetizers to whet your interest for the information included in the long chapters. The short chapters tell stories and the longer chapters explain and illustrate the deﬁnitions of sageness and hipness. As noted earlier, I have included a glossary of terms in the “Resources” section-the ﬁrst time a term included in the glossary is used in the text, it will appear in bold. (There have been several instances already!) I interviewed a number of hip and sage professionals and have sprinkled several quotes from our conversations throughout the book. The Resources section of this book offers additional information about topics that support but that are tangential to the main creative arc that holds together Hip and Sage. In addition to the glossary, you will ﬁnd a primer on the generations and recommended books and information sources.
I enjoyed digging into the meaning of sageness and how we season and polish our lives so that we can be powerful mentors and role models for later generations. Hip and sage professionals are wonderful and varied creatures, brimming with useful knowledge and thirsting for continued learning. They are blazing new trails for ways to leave a business legacy-with their correctional shoes, titanium hips, and 160GB video iPods hooked to their belts.