Consumers are beginning in a very real sense to own our brands and participate in their creation… we need to begin to learn to let go.
Favorite compliment : You are bold. Favorite criticism: You are intense. Favorite obsession: What's next? Founder : http://axlagency.com
Consumers are beginning in a very real sense to own our brands and participate in their creation… we need to begin to learn to let go.
When you explore the sharing economy, there is a feeling that what people call a trend is actually the opposite. The sharing economy is based on some of our most instinctive behaviors which are more primal than our cultural structures or habits. Its actual rise though is made possible by technology. The digital revolution created the perfect context to connect us to people and organize offline trust-based communities enabled by online networks.
That said I love to believe the rapid adoption is more related to its natural fit with who we are and want to be than the purely logical and down to earth recession argument. The sharing economy is based on trust, community and cooperation. These values are nothing new. But the interconnected world brings them back into our lives. The unknown becomes a playground of discovery. Others become a new connection I share interests with. The digital shift just gives us the permission and opportunity to rely on others again, to reinvent our community.
The temptation to ignore the world is less and less viable. The desire to go towards others is what brings us to life. Living an exciting experience without being able to share it in any way is not as joyful. Even in solitary travel, it is when you come back that you realize how it changed you. The interactions with others gives it meaning.
“Sharing with” is our nature and what keeps us “moving on”.
“natural selection favored people who needed people. Humans are vastly more social than most other mammals, even most primates, and to develop what neuroscientists call our social brain, we had to be good at cooperating.”
Even if some of us can be defined as introvert or solitary, we cannot survive without the others. You do not need to like a big gathering to grow from human interactions. Loneliness can be a needed moment but never a permanent choice. It actually even kills us, litteraly.
Cooperation is the behavior that allowed us to survive. I believe that any innovation is actually deeply rooted in a very instinctive behavior. The experiences or products I become addicted to are always the ones I do not overthink, but live, that I do not analyze, but love. That’s the magic : it feels obvious, like an evidence and quickly we can’t remember what our lives were like “before”. Only an innovation based on our human nature can do that. Twitter, Facebook were a revolution but it is called social media for a good reason: it just pushed the button of who we are, a social animal. Deborah Schultz affirms “Technology changes, humans don’t”. Spot on.
That is the strength of the sharing economy, its roots in our identity and that is and why we cannot call it a trend anymore. It is a revolution.
The sharing economy is not only about “access” to new things, from a car to a room or a free desk. IT is about access to others. Internet connects us to millions of people instantly but do we really know them as asks Seth Godin:
“Today, like it or not, despite the fact that we continue to segregate the places we choose to live by politics and race, the online social network is anti-gerrymandered. Connect with enough people and you can’t help but bump into something outside your worldview.”
The sharing economy seems to go a step further by not only creating connections but community. You have a real chance to know someone you had no clue even existed just a few hours or days earlier. An avatar or profile becomes someone that created an empowering or unique experience. A stranger can create more value than a friend. If the sharing economy starts with a personal need, its growth and resonance are driven by the inherent sociability it implies while empowering individuals. More you share, more you grow as a person. From access to the others, you build a feeling of who they are. Empathy offers us a true sense of purpose as beautifully described by David Foster Wallace in his 2005 commencement speech “This Is Water”:
“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.
That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the “rat race,” the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.”
This market’s existence that relies on this value seems not only relevant to the digital shift we are experiencing but to who we are as human beings, period. This resonance does not only create a new economy, it brings meaning to our life. And freedom.
You can never go back from that.
First there was the wait. Then came the tension. Is it going to be good, or even, who knows, better? Did they evolve? But have stayed the same?
Finally, the creation, followed very quickly by pure delight. Yes, it was not only good, after ten years without a new album, but it was awesome. The miracle happened, the spectacular demonstration of love you receive when you do not disappoint people that were already crazy about you. But I am not sure Daft Punk was expecting what they got after just releasing one song.
A creator shows their love to their audience by giving through their art. Every good song or book feels like a token of affection, every lyric that resonates becomes a bond between you and them. That’s the magic of any personal emotion that becomes a universal one. And in return? We bought, applauded and sometimes even screamed. That was our way of showing how deep our love went. But today, ten years after the first Daft Punk album, the context has changed.
The music industry was one of the first to experience the digital shift right. Napster, its collapse, the fight of the labels, piracy, the laws to kill it, iTunes and the iPod thrown into the mix, the cordiale entente that succeeded the war. Yes, the industry experienced a dramatic evolution, and the listeners empowered by the digital revolution changed the rules by destroying them. The industry hated the change but artists have had to embrace what is happening with this shift: a new relationship, a true exchange.
Your audience does not only listen but composes, your fans do not only applaud but explore their creativity. I am wondering what makes Daft Punk smile the most: breaking a record on Spotify or listening day after day to stunning new covers they inspire?
The internet has become our place of experimentation, and the creators have discovered what used to be an audience wants to be more. The new medium has invited us to express ourselves. It creates a certain feeling of intimacy we could not imagine with artists. We used to see them on big TV shows, as an event, and now we let ourselves go wild with millions of fans when discovering a performance at a festival, or listening on Rdio to the new track as much as we want. An industry is dead but music is more alive than ever.
Our relationship with music is emotional. But the collaborative dimension the internet gives to it added something essential. To feel that a song resonates strongly not only for you but for millions on a daily basis is not the same as waiting for a concert once every three years to share with thousands of fans. We now have the permission to let it belong to us and let our love express itself all the time.
Artists that accept this new deal will be the digital artists. We comment, we criticize, we share, we listen infinitely, we help people discover about our new or ancient loves or we do our own covers. It becomes so natural for us to make the best of the internet. Share what we love to say who we are. Talent is not so common, having access to even one unexpected artist is valuable. Each time I hear an amazing cover, or I discover on Soundcloud a contest to create the best remix of one of the latest songs from Phoenix “Trying To Be Cool”, it makes me feel lucky to live in an era that allows us to share our passions and to be inspired by a song. Surprises are a big ingredient of a successful relationship.
It implies also respect on both side of the table. When you love someone, you respect them and want to make it last forever. The digital artists that will embrace the new medium and conversation as much as we do will not be stolen. Am I naive? Maybe, but I want to be sure that the ones that give me so much will receive in return. Not only money, but a sign that I want this fulfilling interaction to continue, that I want to keep them in my life. I will buy their music, I will go to the concerts. I do not know for the music industry, but I know artists have a place to create an unprecedented relationship with their audience if we meet at the same place with the right mindset. In a recent interview Daft Punk talked about the essence of their new album:
“This album is about technology going towards humanity, in a world where humanity is going towards technology”
Spot on. Humanity is being expressed like crazy through and thanks to technology with millions of individuals.
Artists did not have this new playground for fans to show their love and passion ten years ago. Not only to connect with us but to express themselves. By express I do not mean having a Twitter account but more to share their music. Before the internet the path was well known: studio, release, promotion and concerts. Today you can do whatever you want. The internet could also be their playground and allow us to find some secret surprising pearls, like your favorite band playing acoustic in Paris on a tour bus. I wish more artists would be truly jumping into the digital era and using it to experiment. I do not want to see what could have been done 15 years ago just translated to digital form. I want the singers and bands we love not only to “use” the internet because they have to but because they want to. Like us, it will give them a new space of expression and an infinite platform to exchange and connect with us through their art. I have this dream to see Daft Punk make a cover of Liztomania. Yes, why not? The artists of the digital era do not have to stay in an ivory tower to get our respect. They just have to deserve it by being freakily awesome and genuine. Do not go on the internet if you do not like it. I enjoy having access to more interviews, articles, and videos because of the internet, but it was already the case 10 years ago. If you want to exchange or imagine with us even more, do not hesitate. I love what Kelli Anderson, artist and designer, said during a Creative Mornings New York:
“The Web is a really fertile ground for experimentation because it is rapidly becoming the format that we spend most of the time staring at”.
We do not have the monopoly of finding inspiration there. Everybody, famous artists included, can as well. If this playground can also allows us to discover the stars of tomorrow. Not by jury on The Voice, but again by acknowledged artists supporting the ones who deserve it on the platform we belong to and can interact with.
I love this statement from Tom Peters : “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”
Daft Punk or Phoenix have already done a great job by inspiring more passionate amateurs to be vulnerable enough to offer their own vision and unique talent in a song. But the real empowerment will be to see some of the good ones become the object of our affection.
The internet changed our relationship to artists, especially musicians. What about the opposite? Leaders of the 21th century will have a lot in common with artists affirms John Maeda. Fitting with the digital shift, artists collaborate, know how to communicate and learn how to learn together according to John:
“Whether they explicitly acknowledge themselves as leaders or not, artists often move others to follow them(…) They do it through the skills that are inherent in their work as professional “inspirers” and provocateurs.”
Daft Punk’s recent collaborator, Pharrell Williams is a perfect illustration of the artist as a new leadership figure in the digital area, experimenting and highlighting creators he believes in with his specific vision and skills while inspiring people to cultivate their uniqueness to impact society. I can not wait to see more artists being force of change.
We’ve come too far to give up who we are
So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars
When you bring together two hundred individuals passionate about a same belief for two days, you will spark inspiring collaborations while empowering each individual. If this common passion is sharing, it seems the effects are multiplied.
This is exactly what Lisa Gansky achieved with The Mesh. Lisa is one of the pioneers of the sharing economy movement and the author of the book The Mesh. She had the powerful idea to gather her community in San Francisco for two days. The intimate vibes of the event could not make us forget that the sharing economy rises and goes way beyond the actors directly involved. Many of them were present from Etsy to Airbnb without forgetting the open source organizations such as Mozilla. But the sharing economy is not a bunch of small utopian companies that, as David against Goliath, are engaged in a fight against the system.
It will just be the new normal soon. The sharing economy is not a system, it is a vision, that has already proven itself with very successful experiments and is now raising curiosity from a large range of industries.
Big corporations were actually represented as well. The presence of names like Deloitte and Walmart illustrates that the mindset is spreading. What we love to call the sharing economy has true impact, as Robin Chase demonstrated during her keynote by sharing the important implications of a service like Zipcar on traffic and pollution.
But beyond the facts, its resonance is fascinating. Sometimes, I just feel this denomination limits the scope of what we are talking about. We are not only talking about economical exchanges and transactions to deal with the recession and to find monetary support. It is a shift that allows human beings to not only define themselves as consumers but participants, not only as owners but givers, to impact their community locally and globally. The companies represent a new mindset but also an unexpected empowerment for us, the beneficiaries, on both side of the table.
It’s intense and emotional to hear the stories of doers such as Phil Cooley from Ponyride or from Antonin Léonard and the Ouishare organization. They talk about humanizing our lives through shared experiences we would never have thought about just a few years ago. Clay Shirky affirms that “a revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new tools. It happens when society adopts new behaviors.”
The sharing economy is changing our way of living and consuming. The tools are key but are just a means. The digital revolution coincides with the rise of the sharing economy as it makes it easier, amplifying our connected life but also our instinctive need to share. Steven Johnson, author of Future Perfect reminded us why the digital phenomenon and the Internet are linked to the sharing economy. Humanity is defined by our capacity to create connections, finding our tribes and leveraging the community or in other words sharing. The digital age has just created a new instance of this primordial human behavior.
Seth Godin, best selling author and meaningful observer of our times inspired the audience by describing what is the most engaging about the sharing movement: its narrative. Seth looked at us proclaiming he has no doubt “that everybody in this room will succeed. But the real question is will you matter?”.
Airbnb, Etsy, Carpooling, Blablacar and hundreds of others matter. They create value in our life. Once you have done that, you cannot go back.
Like the digital shift, the sharing economy is not a trend that will disappear. People on a whole will be empowered, not just a small group of meaningful entrepreneurs. Even if, like with most disruptive movements, it may start with them.
During the whole conference I couldn’t help myself from thinking of this quote from Margaret Mead that many of us know and should always keep in mind during doubtful times and when the world seems too big and too screwed up to change:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
We know this is just the beginning.
We do music, we do books, we do magazines, we do online, we do mobile, we do television, we do film. We do what everyone else does. We do it weirder, and we do it younger, and we do it in a different way and in a different voice
Vice is such a disruptive media company.
the most important 10 years for media may be the ones in front of us. I believe we’re about to see a wave of content companies being created that stand on the shoulders of the blogs and new media properties that came before. Unlike many of those that started as hobbies, many of these will be run by professionals and funded by VCs
In just one minute, more than 204 million emails are sent. Amazon rings up about $83,000 in sales. Around 20 million photos are viewed and 3,000 uploaded on Flickr. At least 6 million Facebook pages are viewed around the world. And more than 61,000 hours of music are played on Pandora while more than 1.3 million video clips are watched on YouTube.
It’s pretty easy to hate SxSW. It seems so hard to find the signal, to make sense of what looks like a business conference. But there are always secret paths to fight the obvious. I love to say that SxSW is what you make of it. If you think free tacos are the best these three days have to offer, you will find it. If you believe that running from a sponsored party to another will feed your mind and your network, just do it. You will come back your pockets full of business cards and expect your startup will grow like never from here. You will probably be wrong.
I love to imagine many of us gather in Austin once a year to find more meaning. And I have to say, this year, I felt it more than ever. SxSW has two key factors that still makes it attractive to me: its intensity and its ability to surprise me. The unexpected happens and I live for it. It could be five minutes of inspiration during an exhausting day, a discussion between two disappointing panels or even an idea that emerges after three days of incubation. This moment of grace in the middle of the chaos only occurs if your focus is on being fed, not with free tacos, but with knowledge. Like on the Internet, I am eternally starving for good content, different points of views, challenging opinions. I don’t act differently at SxSW. And here as well, it demands an effort or at least an intention but it is worth it.
SxSW is full of marketers and opportunists but is also a gathering of people thinking the world and what it could be. If you come with the focus on exploring this question and what you want to be or what your impact could be, you will live a different experience.
I will never be more impressed by a demo of futuristic glasses than by a man like Elon Musk. He makes his vision to bring 80 000 people to Mars sound like a tangible dream and captivates us talking about reusable rockets. The tools are nothing without the right mindset and values driving their creations. The 3D printers, the hardware star of this edition, could be a revolution empowering a nation of makers, or a dangerous machine to replicate guns faster than we blink. The same goes for the Internet. That’s why I love the sessions where incredible speakers inspire us to bring out the best of ourselves. It is way more empowering that the new gadgets of the year.
We need stories and inspiring men and women to drive innovation. Elon Musk’s keynote reminded me that the more a story is personal, the more its reach becomes universal. Real revolution doesn’t start with technology, but in our minds and what we decide to do with this new digital context. Tina Roth Eisenberg shared with passion her story of being a designer and how she empowers herself while encouraging communities of knowledge all over of the world with The Creative Mornings. Scott Belsky from the Behance network offered his vision of “the creative meritocracy” where the best talents get visibility and a chance to become change makers. Brian Chesky explained very clearly what kind of future the “sharing economy” could design, a future where avoiding waste of resources could totally change our lifestyle and our urban habits. That’s why I come to SxSW. To hear stories that resonate so strongly it immediately broadens your horizons or totally challenges a conviction you had just hours before.
I was so pleased to see that the “Science of Storytelling” session was full, with a very focused audience. Plato said “Those who tell the stories rule the world.” And according to our human nature, it will always stay that way. If you can not create a narrative for your idea, you will never create a movement behind it. If you don’t have character to deliver it and incarnate the faith supporting a disruptive change, you will become just a hot trend. The kind many are looking for in Austin, thinking they are returning home having understood what is coming next. No dear SxSw breakers, space is not “hot again” because you could find 20 panels on the program. Elon Musk just shared his vision with us. The story is strong, so disruptive, we were ready to embrace it immediately.
Instead of focusing on the hot apps or topics of this edition, instead of being obsessed with the tools, you should have a look at the ones using them, us. The tools or a list of hot topics will not make you or your company relevant. If you have the mindset needed for the next chapter, you will be indispensable anyway. You will be the figures of change, necessary during our actual transition, to prepare the foundation and drawing the big picture.
It’s very personal but from what I felt this year the spirit of change is incarnated by personalities who values their community, sharing with mindfulness, responsible behavior regarding climate change, purpose before profit, fighting fear of the unknown by reinventing ourselves and old systems that failed, creative skills and liberal arts, not only technological talent, intuition and humanrithm to empower big data.
To conclude his keynote, Elon Musk answered to “what was your biggest mistake?”. He took a long pause and said “the biggest in general I’ve made and am trying to correct, is that I put too much weight on talent and not personality. It actually matters whether someone has a good heart.”
I left SxSW trying to focus on what makes mine sing. I try to forget the mediocrity and the fakeness of some interactions. I prefer to remember what makes this edition a meaningful moment for me: the relationships with amazing people reenforced by an intense context, the dots that connect when you were not expecting it anymore, the deep conversations I had in the middle of the chaos, that make them even more special, and the stories I heard on stage that will not drive only inspiration but the next crucial step: