Tuesday, June 10, 2008

BeenUp2

Invariably a conversation begins with, So, whatcha been up to? It's a good, extemporaneous test to gauge what's important to you, or what is top of mind. MySpace and FaceBook exist for this reason ... communities of people instantaneously keep track of what they and their friends are up to. Though I'm a member of neither, I think I get it: You can engaged in real-time communication with multiple people, an open window into your life and the lives of your friends.

I've been up to investing a mass of energy into The New California 100, a first of its kind event. We are convening and honoring the top-100 established companies in the Great Central Valley, showcasing 40 cool growth companies to a gaggle of private equity investors, and honoring the inaugural class of New California Hall of Fame members, seven Valley business legends. As events go, it's quite entrepreneurial ... coalescing the audiences, naming the top-100, creating and honoring the Hall of Fame. Should be fun, and it all goes down Tuesday, June 17.

What you've been up to also speaks to what you care about. I wrote a few months ago about the necessity -- when you're building a company or chartering a cause -- of getting people to care (about what you've been up to!), of creating relevance and stoking resonance about what you're doing. An excerpt:

What is relevance? To me, it’s getting people to care by generating value and interest and demand and intrigue and inspiration. It’s about creating and stoking a bonfire, one with ever-growing visibility and a desirability to participate. It's encapsulated in one of The Cluetrain Manifesto's theses: Companies that do not belong to a community of discourse will die. It’s hands down the paramount challenge CEOs face.

Relevance matters only in the minds of your constituents; it’s their perception, period, that counts. And, all stakeholders count: Customers, prospects, partners, shareholders, employees, analysts, competitors … your entire ecosystem. It’s doing something – a lot of things – to edge people to the front of their chair, to raise an eyebrow, to engage a phone call, to elicit an, “I’ve gotta do something -- invest, buy, partner, work, lead, support – with this company," action.

Fostering relevance is an (check that: the) ante to success. The rest – the blocking and tackling of business – is easy and boring. If you’re not relevant – if you can’t get key constituencies to care – move on. Treading water in an empty pool is painful for all involved.
My thinking was shallow; I missed a key point. It's not enough to get people (and yourself) to care. You also need to connect such interest to a stake (or outcome). As your level of care/commitment (emotional, physical, and professional involvement) increases, so too must your potential reward. If the latter does not follow suit, you're primed to either be disappointed or abort your efforts entirely. This is not worth it.

Back to my inspiration for this post: BeenUp2. Check it out, poke around, have some fun. I was introduced to the company a few weeks ago -- my first social network! -- and I think I'm hooked. Snap a photo with your phone and email it to BeenUp2 with a description; yesterday it was my kids lounging before school, today a shot of the remodeled hole in our house at sunrise. Instantly, it's shared with the community. People can see, absorb and comment on what you're up to.

BeenUp2's founders are cool and they have built a fun, simple and effective tool (check that: community!). The community (members are mushrooming) cares and procures instant gratification, and the company's business model is tantalizingly, Web 2.0y tasty.

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