Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

I can’t hide that I was eager to review The Whuffie Factor by Tara ‘missrogue‘ Hunt since I learned that the book was coming out earlier last year. I found Tara by some links that lead me to her blog and I couldn’t agree more with the ideas she expressed there, they were the validating point for ideas I was beginning to have about  Marketing and Economy.

My Copy of The Whuffie Factor

My Copy of The Whuffie Factor

In a previous post I did a study of Whuffie in a more anthropological and historical way comparing it to the reciprocity used in the Inca Empire. But that post was made from the dots I connected from Tara’s posts and other sources including Cory Doctorow’s book.

Finally a week ago, the book arrived in a amazon.com box and I was very happy to finally read it and maybe even post my own review, which I’m doing right now.

The Whuffie Factor is an amazing book, ok not a very quantitive way to express it, but if you read it you’ll understand the importance of those kind of words in saying what you think about something. Tara proposes the Whuffie theory in the first chapters which is basically how to establish a strategy and a course of action in building relationships with your community (costumers and non-costumers).

In the 1980s Michael Porter wrote the importance of strategy in doing business  and he has been proven right every single day since he published that book, today Tara publishes the importance of Whuffie in building a business and a personal brand from now on, and as Porter’s book this one will also prove to be true in the next century if not longer.

The book is very rich in examples about how to win and make others earn a great deal of Whuffie and it’s also divided in to the 5 key points needed to build Whuffie giving a special highlight to the points where it’s needed. This 300ish page book will be sucked up by your brain in a very few hours of reading it and it will give you an insight in what are the key actions to take in order to build a close relationship with your community. If you already think costumer is the first thing, it will show you how to engage in the conversation and if you’ve been skeptical about embracing social networking tools to leverage communication with your costumers, this book will show why it’s important and also show you a myriad of real cases where applying the 5 Whuffie Principles has led to succesful outcomes.

I could talk more in depth of the book, but my best advice is to read it, because no one can explain Whuffie better than Tara.

This blog post was written about 6 months ago and never published, while searching through old word documents I found it and felt it was the right time to publish it considering that Tara’s book is coming out April 21st. I have not read the book yet but for what I’ve read and conversed (specially on twitter) with Tara i must recommend this book as a must read for anyone interested in communities and social capital (which should be all of us).


With Tara Hunt’s book coming out soon (update: The Book is Already Out) , the social networks gaining users by millions every month and with communities becoming more close than ever, I thought it was accurate to mention some of the ancient forms of Whuffie and how they worked compared to now. Whuffie worked in the past, in some cultures is working right now and will definitely keep working in the future. The intention of this post is to show that The Whuffie factor has been key in some ancient systems and that it will be key in the coming years of this evolving system. Many other authors including Francis Fukuyama, Thomas Friendman and swedish Funksters Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom predicted a change was coming. Today, brains are more important than capital, because brains attract it and therefore relationships between brains will lead to the creation of new things. Whuffie will be the currency that tells us with who we can collaborate and who can collaborate with us.

Today Whuffie is being defined as: 

“The sum of the reputation, influence, bridging capital and bonding capital, access to ideas and talent, access to resources, potential access to further resources, saved up favors, accomplishments (resumes, awards, articles, etc.) and the Whuffie of those who you have relationships with.”(Tara Hunt)

 I think it’s time to welcome this new phase of the economy with a little bit of background history on how it was and how we are going back to a similar organization.The Reputation based economy has been the goal, but we don’t realize that many of the ancient cultures worked with similar systems. Today we have the Internet to help us accelerate the process, and maybe an iPhone app will count how many Whuffie you have.The Incas were one of those cultures. They lived in the Andes for about 200 years until they were conquered by Fransisco Pizarro around 1535. But, their culture comes from way before as the Inca Empire was formed by various smaller cultures that were conquered by a big culture based in the Cuzco area. Their economic system was based in reciprocity and redistribution of goods. 

How the Incas built Whuffie

Inca’s organized themselves in families or ayllus. These were considered the unit in which the reciprocity system was based. A family will perform some activity in benefit of another and then this beneficiary  family will owe them the same amount of time and effort. This system was based only in time and effort and not in products or “stuff”. With “stuff ” I mean corn, potatoes, pottery or artifacts. Today that will be iPhones, cars and computers. The exchange of products was part of the redistribution system and this was done with the emperor or Inca. Since the Inca didn’t work because of his Holy condition all the people will give some work to the Inca and the product of this work was the Inca’s contribution to the system. Once all the contributions were done they were redistributed according to the amounts given by each family. But, also the Inca didn’t worked because he was busy organizing and running the system, so politicians get this benefit as long as they make the system work. And I mean actually work! People will decide what is good or bad for them by giving good or bad reputation to the work of the other person. Politicians or lawmakers could be elected by the amount of Whuffie they had. In fact, this was not present in Inca society but it could be a great development.

So basically with the Inca economic system you had only as you worked for. There was no “riches” or capital as all of this was owned either by the state or the whole family. So if you worked better and faster and for longer you will have more people owe you some work. And when you needed something a person with the right skills from the beneficiary family will do it for you. (Isn’t that perfect I paint your wall and you help me plant my potatoes or give me some advice).

The Incas had no currency, they just had this very rudimentary instrument to record numbers which may have been hours worked by some family in favor of another or hours worked in favor of the Inca. So this was the currency.(There is still not certainty about this theory). This is where the Whuffie Counter iPhone app will kick in.

Now, we are in a economic system that is being ruled by whuffie. Whuffie is not the main currency yet, but it is taking an important place, specially in highly connected communities where people collaborate with each other every day. Your reputation is based on your accomplishments, so if you are a very good video editor or marketing specialist people will call you for you to use this skills on their favor (provided they did the same effort by putting their talents work for you). This will be reciprocity explained the Incas had. You  perform one hour in a Talk and then all the people benefiting with it will owe you an hour,or a fraction of an hour, of any other job you may need (like painting your house or taking the dog for a walk). Your Whuffie is based on how much you can contribute with other people and to the community in general. 

There is one more thing that Whuffie is and that was present in the Inca economy.Each family, according to the position of their land and the resources they had, produced a different product or had different tools to perform certain jobs. This will be the “access to resources, potential access to further resources”, you will be know as a rich family if you had many members. Since the unit was worked hours the more sons and daughters you had the most hours of work you could offer and the most work you could get done for you by others. Accumulated favors where the ones that permitted you to ask for help in building a house or a farm, so you accumulated them for when you needed them and you could achieve a bigger project. Today opposite to having lot’s of family members you will need to have lot’s of skills and many areas of expertise, or one good area where you can be excellent. For example, you need to be a marketing specialist, a good public speaker, a technology adviser, a good writer, etc. This many ways guarantee that you can build whuffie fast and at all times. 

The Next Economy or the Whuffie Based Economy

Cory Doctorow came with this idea of a “future” civilization working with Whuffie (again). Well, this was no future, in fact seems we are getting back to the basic form of economy the Incas used. Of course that there are lots of differences. The Incas were not exposed to 500 years of capitalist development as we have been and today, to get any kind of good you need to have money available either as cash or in your bank account. Unless you have some Whuffie (the reputation part) and companies will give you products to try so you can refer them to your numerous contacts. For services, sometimes you need the money and sometimes Whuffie will be more than enough. (Though i may be wrong here and you could use Whuffie to get some products too).

Reciprocity then it’s just like the Incas with only one difference. In the Inca’s time you could accumulate more “whuffie” or “inca whuffie” if you had a numerous family. But in today’s individualized society you rely on your talent, know-how and contacts (mainly in the form of having resources available). So today to have more Whuffie you need to perform a valuable service or job, know some scarce skill or be able to put together a non-easy to do combination of resources. Or as stated lines above have multiple skills.

So the conclusion is that we are going back to a old system that worked really well for the people in it. Since the Incas had many wars all the conquered cultures were forced to accept the system and, hence, lost some of their properties at first, but once integrated to the system the populations inside had peace between them and had plenty of resources to survive. Right now if you are talented, helpful, intelligent and have accomplished lots you are one of the Rich persons (talking in Inca terms). And right now we don’t need wars to get more people in the system, the idea that whuffie is necessary will make people look for way to integrate and collaborate.

Punishment.

Nowadays in this Whuffie system if you don’t give back a favor or if you lose your reputation because of receiving money to promote something that you don’t believe in. The punishment is that no one will listen to you or make you any kind of favor so you can “cash out” your Whuffie.  In the Inca’s time you were expelled from the  family and this meant that you where automatically poor because you only had your work to give and that was returned to you, if anybody needed that. Usually people wouldn’t take work from a single person because the things he was able to perform were limited.

Motivation

In Doctorow’s definition of Whuffie he says that it is the source of motivation to do work for others so you can receive back the same amount of effort. This motivation is for making only work that helps the community and that is really useful, since the community is the one that rates it as good or bad. This is a high improvement to the capitalism ubber älles system that was reining mainly in the 20th century. The reason is that for example we feel that transgenic foods or abusive use of petrol are bad we will rate the makers of this products as bad, and they will have no Whuffie so they will not be motivated to create this harmful products. In the Inca economy you needed to do what others asked for, so if there was a consensus on the harmfulness of certain activity it would be not performed in the community. This characteristic of the Whuffie and Inca systems is very important because if we were going to live in a Whuffie system any form of illegal activity will be avoided because it will reduce your reputation and you will not have access to any other service or product you may need.

However nowadays in this money based economy we still have people producing this harmful products and services because there is no community to stop them and because people accept what is imposed by big corporations because they still have the image of “power” or the need for their products. Gladly communities are beginning to understand that corporations and governments have Whuffie too and they are making protests or stop consuming products they believe are harmful for their healths (mental and physical) or the planet. There are lot’s of sustainable organic food associations making increasing sales with socially responsible products that assure the well being of the producers in developing countries.

Doctorow’s idea of a future civilization are not that crazy, we are heading there and in some cultures we come from them. Now we need to adapt them to a global status and that may take time. But, Whuffie will be king, maybe not immediately, but remember Tara Hunt’s words “it is getting harder to eat without it”.

This means that maybe the Whuffie economy is the real deal. Maybe humans were made to work in a Whuffie economy and if we seek in pure capitalist theory a perfect market should be working on Whuffie because money is no longer a motivation since all companies make no profit at all. Authors such as Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstrale said Karl Marx was right, that finally the power was going to the people, but in other form and with other process. I think Whuffie supports this theory since we’ve seen the Incas working in a culture where there was trade without people being richer or poorer than others. They had larger families so they could offer and get more work done, but they also had to feed more people. Talking about nowadays we see that suddenly people are becoming the main key in competition as resources are becoming “plain vanilla” the only thing left is Know-How, creativity and contacts and finally companies lose power to the people forming them. So that is the revolution of the working class. But if we are going to live in a Whuffie economy we should start teaming up in communities (like the ayllu of the Incas) in order to get the best experience out of it.

And then this communities will get richer in comparison with the ones that are not collaborating. The new Whuffie system will be based on the impact you make in the world.

So what does this means: Whether you are a business or a person you need to start serving the community and caring about them, because that is the only way you will succeed and built the components that will raise your Whuffie and if you do good to people, they will do good to you.

The Whuffie definition was extracted from a post by Tara Hunt and some of the concepts from Cory Doctorow’s book.

Economy has been the great subject these past weeks. The financial crisis has made us start to think if the model we’ve been pursuing was the correct one or if we should change to another one from now on. Many answers have came out from diverse people, to the ones proposing a closed market to develop all again, to other ones promoting capitalism with the adequate regulation, based on what Adam Smith proposed a little bit over 2 centuries ago.

In my opinion economy should keep going with the system we’ve been using, but based on a democracy and with close regulations in the places were markets can still fail because the distribution of information is not perfect.

But regardless of the macroeconomic results we will have this coming months I’m worried for the micro economic side of the matter. Microeconomics worry about what happens to us as individuals, so this is our personal state of affairs. How much money we earn, how much do we save, how much do we spend on cars and parties, etc. In the past years I’ve learned that Micro and Macro sometimes are not related. I’ve seen countries growing at 7% annually and yet not improving the quality of life of their people, so i wonder  if the opposite is also true.

In this rough times for Macroeconomics we for sure will have to cut off spending, some of us will lose our jobs (remember in macroeconomics losing your job will increase the rate from 4% to 4.000001%, but in Microeconomics it increases from 0% to 100%).   But life should not be that hard if we think we are capable of getting creative ideas. In this century brains are the ones that rule, so we need to dust them off and use them as much as we can. Some research shows that humans use just 5% of their brain capacity, in these times i guess we need to start trying to use 6, 7 or 8% so we can get and advantage.  Brains are dominating because talented people can build companies and millions of dollars in just a couple of years with ideas and the correct resources.

Back in the 19th century minds followed capital, now it’s the other way round. So in this times of crisis things aren’t that bad. We can’t lose it all, but we have our brains. We can come out with outstanding ideas to make new companies, associations or work clubs to produce nice ideas that will make our life easier. For example, Google has done this and followed a traditional business model. On the other hand Co-Working is doing another revolution and a business model, but with a amazing mission make people who work alone collaborate in a friendly environment.  And people are still creating new things. iPhone Apps are increasing in the itunes store, from loan calculators to tax paymentd widgets. Creativity is all around we just need to let the fear go out and start to think.

So if you feel this crisis is going to be bad, forget that! Start thinking in new ideas of how to improve the quality of life without increasing the cost to the people. How to make life easier with a marginal cost or how to help people collaborate to come out with new ideas and you will do well for sure. In this crisis we need to usea our processing power to   get out of it.

Economy is not based in capital or it’s based on BRAINS. And we all have one. So there is no excuse.     

Blogged with the Flock Browser

So continuing with my previous post about fear I will like to remember a bit of my junior classes at college about the SWOT analysis you have to do for your business or organization. I do a SWOT analysis for almost everything, I think I’ve interiorized the importance of the idea and i want to share how this process can help us focus a bit more on the important things in these times when economy  suggests we do that. 

Strenghts

This are the things you have that make you rock. Every person in the world has at least one strength that makes them rock, every company has one and everything has one too. The first thing a business needs to do these days is ask themselves What makes us rock? What makes users come here everyday? What makes users watch every episode? What makes users post comments? or whatever your result measures are. 

Strengths are things people notice that makes them want your product instead of the one made by anybody else.  Strenghts are the resources you have inside, are the things you can work to improve. 

In this times we need to look to the strenghts and make them more powerful than ever starting with people. In the 21st century we all know brains are the most valuable asset so we need to start developing those in ways we’ve not done it before. That is our main strength, we could lose our computer, servers, HQ offices, or even our house, but we don’t lose the brains.

 

Weaknesses 

This are the things we suck at. It’s a very politically incorrect way of saying it, but we definitely are not doing enough to change our weaknesses into strenghts or neutral features. A weakness is a thing that will make users go away from  to other people’s product or service. In the times of recession we need to value every user we have so we need to take all of our time monitoring what weaknesses we have. The best way to do this is to accept all the feedback we can, read it and act quickly to solve any problems. If you solve users problems they will most likely love you. I know i will love a company that solves my problems easily or that adapts to serve my needs. 

You are allowed to have lot’s of weaknesses the only one you are not allowed to have is : lack of communication with your users.

 

So far all this has been written over and over again and all entrepreneurs know that they need to focus on their Strenghts and Weaknesses.

Opportunities and Threats 

Right now we have lot’s of threats and many people fail to see the opportunities blinded by fear. In my last post i talked about how fear may lead people to act in ways that will cause damage to themselves and to others. On this times of economic crisis what will bring an edge to us is focusing on the Opportunities, more than on the threats. Of course we need to focus on threats, our future depends on what we do to keep them away from us. But this times bring endless opportunities. Stocks go lower and lower as people sell, advisors rate some stocks on the “SELL” list, the truth is that when you are selling somebody else is buying and it may be Warren Buffet, he understands that when the market goes down he has an opportunity to buy.

Remember a bear market brings opportunities for investors and for businesses to start focusing on markets that they didn’t saw in the first place. So i suggest you do a postive check on the world outside to see who might be interested in your product or a variation of it, what companies that may add some know-how to your organization are on sale and for low prices or what skills are being needed that you had and thought will never use. 

 

SWOT all together

Finally if you are focusing on keeping the inside lean you will be able to react quickly to opportunities. Remember this is the theory they teach in every business school, in every first day at work or in every book about business. 

My intention here is to remember that the theory may work well this time. Stop focusing or entering in panic because markets are going down and start to focus on what  Strenghts you have that will make everyone keep coming to you, look at what people want from you that you are not offering (opportunities), on what other people are failing to achieve so you can do that (others people weaknesses are also opportunities) and finally focus on eliminating everything that makes you weak and a potential victim. 

So if you need to take a habit these days take the one of SWOTing all you see. Starting for yourself or your business to the pet shop (you can find opportunities there). It may seem like a time taking process, but in time you will do it naturally.

Ok so if my title brought you to read this it means I’m good at making titles. The point here is I haven’t studied any writing I just write and try to get better as I do it. That’s how my education process works in Social Media, Whuffie, Love, Video Editing, Web Design, Video Direction, Public Speaking and many more things i really love. So basically all my education or at least 75% of it occurs outside of actual schools or classes. 

There is a person I really admire for all that she is doing and without what we will call a Formal Education(which is not education, mostly), but I’m sure she is  educated in Marketing and Tech as she loves this subjects (plus some coding). She is Calley Nye who just launched TechNewsLA. This is to show that no matter what type of education you get, if you love something you’ll be excellent at it. Period. And there are many more, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates for example.

 

Standarized Results

Standarized Results

A while ago i posted about the talk given by Sir Ken Robinson on the TED Conference about education producing people smart enough to do tests, but not prepeared to go out in real world and share their talents. Today, while I was catching up with all the blogs i usually read I came across a blog post by Tara Hunt (2 actually, and yes Tara Hunt again, she is making change in thought, at least in mine). Tara talked about incentives in the education system. So the system gives money to the schools that get good test results on the standarized tests, so teachers give incentives to kids with good grades on the standarized tests and finally we get standarized kids. All people learn test taking skills more than actual information or a theory of knowledge and a thought pattern to follow. I thank i did the IB program at high school because it thought me how to think in a different way than if i had taken the SAT’s. I have to thank the IB program and many people need to thank life or work to teach them this things or maybe their parents. No matter how we got to learn to think, maybe it was for a school’s good teacher, IT WAS NOT BECAUSE OF THE INCENTIVES GIVEN BY THE GOVERNMENT. 

 

Ok so this happens in all countries. Not only in the US, it happend here too. Sir Ken Robinson talks about how standarized tests kill our creativity and make us don’t develop our talent. We can agree in that everyone of us is a different person, hence we have different skills and talents and different ways of working them out. I think that since the educations system is failing to deliver a proper talent education we need to come up with an idea that will develop the talent people have inside. 

In the first place there should be a culture of just do it. I mean if you think you are talented at something don’t listen to voices let you down and tell you your tests are the most important thing. Just dedicate time to what you love and you’ll be succesful. That is a must. Look at me I’m blogging probably not for much people to read. I’m happy if one person reads this, just one. But the fact is that I’m getting better, so this is part of my education. I do it this way because my business program doesn’t include a writing class. So i just teach myself how to write.

So as I write because i love it. People should just do the things they love. For a moment think in someone that loves Surfing. We happen to have a former world champion of surrf, Sofia Mulanovich, she dedicated to surf and stopped giving a focus to standarized education finally she got to be World Champ in 2004. The system is not working so i came up with an idea.

Why not give incentives to art and extra curricular activities development (Ok now that i think it it was Tara’s idea). But it was a good one and I support it. We need to let standarized tests as Plain Vanilla and then start putting the chocolate on. Let’s give money to schools that produce the most outstanding papers on literature, the most perfect blogs, the best teams at sports, the best art demonstrations, the best video productions, the best history essays, the best business projects via something like Junior Achievement.

Finally we need to create thinkers not test takers, Thinkers are the ones making this world great. Thank god there is people still teaching this, at home, school, alternate programs, work, life, the street, twitter or anywhere else.