Being Human

Much of what I’ve written about recently really are about this: Being human. I just didn’t realize it until now.

Last week, I had the good fortune to present at Pecha Kucha Winnipeg with a group of excellent speakers and a fantastic audience. My talk was entitled 3 Ways to Make Work More Human, and like many presentations had the effect of focusing several strands of thought percolating in my mind over the past while.

I often say that “marketers ruin everything,” despite the fact that, for lack of a better term, I myself am a marketer. But I think this is exactly what I mean: marketers tend to dehumanize us to get the best results, and that isn’t going to last much longer.

It’s likely why I also often proclaim that marketing is dead. People are tired of being treated like numbers or products or audiences. We’re all looking to feel a little more human in the interactive age. We’re not “hits” or “touchpoints” or even “users.” We’re people.

Erica wrote a nice post today, where she said:

I’ve met so many people on Twitter that I consider my ambient friends, but sometimes find my stream a fast and lonely place. Whoever’s there at the moment are the only people that “matter”, and conversations and connections evaporate. If you’re quiet for a day, no one seems to notice you’re gone. It reminds me of the sheer quantity & speed of humanity on a New York sidewalk.

So it’s nice—and surprisingly surprising—to just say ‘hi’ sometimes.

Why do I want 800 million bloggers to replace 800 million Facebook users? Because bloggers are humans. They tell stories. They connect us in ways that “liking” only emulates.

This is what Occupy is all about. It’s what the web has been all about, and with any luck will continue to be.

So why am I a marketer then? Because I want to destroy marketing and replace it with something more human. Oddly enough, I also happen to think that such an approach is also way more effective now than traditional methods

Instead of increasing mindshare or locking people into a platform so that they can turn human behaviour into a commodity and sell it to the highest bidder, marketers in the future should be looking to help people become more human. The new marketing is about creating genuine human experiences.

Instead of focussing on the numbers, we should aim to create serendipity.

We’re coming to a point where people are content to follow their passion and make enough money to keep it going and to live happily. Some of the most successful businesses these days are just tiny, bringing a tiny breath of human experience to the people around them. They are profoundly human endeavours that don’t need to scale to some enormous size, they just want to do what they do and scale as needed in an organic—and human—way.

Much of my work is centred on this principle. My approach has always been about organically connecting people to other people. Humanity is sustainable; ever-increasing profit with no other goal is not.

In addition to Erica, I’d like to give a shout out to Matt Wiebe, Brian Reich, Ian Stewart and Dave Winer for being particularly human recently (even if I do disagree with Brian’s comments about #OWS—his book is thinking in the right direction). There are way more, but those five have been writing and engaging in projects in a particularly human way recently. Without them, I don’t think this post could have been written.

I intend to keep promoting bloggers and projects and businesses here that do just that. Let me know if you have any more great examples.

10 Responses to ‘Being Human’

  1. “Because I want to destroy marketing and replace it with something more human.” That reminds me of my favorite line from the Bikram yoga dialogue, that I tend to apply to my life as much as I do in yoga: “The only way out is through.” I love that you’re changing the face of traditional marketing. I love feeling like a person instead of a drone reading a magazine. When I worked for lululemon, that was my favorite thing about the company and their marketing – there WAS no traditional marketing or advertising for the company. Originally, they worked really hard to ensure that every guest (not customer) felt like more than their potential purchases.

    Wonderful post, well written, great to read.

  2. Thanks Becca. I think there’s a real shift taking place, and it’s hard to know exactly where things are headed. What I do know is that we all want to feel a little more “like a person instead of a drone reading a magazine.” Your blog is great by the way. I enjoy the personality, even if I don’t have a keen interest in women’s fashion. :D

  3. I was in the audience at Pecha Kucha and really enjoyed your presentation. The shift towards bringing genuine human experiences to the forefront of all that we do is such a necessary initiative. I couldn’t agree more with your approach. Refreshing. Bravo.

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  5. Thanks for the good words, David. A decade ago I might have thought of myself as a marketer. It’s true things are different now, but definitely a community builder. Way more meaningful. –Sorry I was traveling during your talk. Consider a rerun, or recording a version for this site!

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