September 1, 2014

SPARKS: Moments Of Creation Vol. 5

Welcome to SPARKS. The sole purpose of this and every monthly issue is to celebrate dreamers who have taken bold action to move their dream from an idea to reality. My hope is that you'll find the inspiration you need to breathe life into your own dream. Your dream has the potential to change our world, and your own world without a doubt!

At the risk of sounding like a recording, I once again came across this month's featured guest on Twitter. (Good thing I opened a Twitter account! I can't believe how many wonderful people I'd never have had the opportunity to know!) Even though he's one of THE movers and shakers in the business social media realm, what first caught my attention about him was the open and friendly exchanges he shared with his followers.

He is the co-author of a brand new book  titled A World Gone Social (available for pre-order here ) and the co-founder of one of the top sites for business related topics on the web. I'm really excited to introduce you to:


"Leadership is not an accomplishment you check off your daily to-dos. At the heart of leadership is the omnipresent, bold belief that influence, relationships, dialogue and faith in people call forward our best leadership abilities." -Ted Coiné

I love this quote I found in a post from 2013. You get the idea that Ted is serious about leadership and what he's leading at the moment is a movement to bring awareness to businesses that to be profitable means remembering where it all starts and ends - with people and relationships. I hope you catch his vision in his answers to the questions below.

 How did the idea for Switch and Shift come about? 

 I’ve been an author and professional speaker since 2005. I launched my first blog in 2006 or so. Speakers blog to build an audience of potential clients, to demonstrate thought-leadership… this is a very well-trodden path by now. Meanwhile, Shawn Murphy has been a full-time consultant for most of his career; he’s blogged for exactly the same reason as me.

At some point we met on Twitter because we’re both passionate about promoting the Human Side of Business, the notion that because profits only come through the work of people (employees) and the patronage of people (customers), any company that wants success needs to treat these constituencies with respect. Sounds simple and perhaps even obvious, but one look at the business press will show you, most leaders haven’t caught on to this idea yet, and even those who have often are unclear on how to run their companies in a more enlightened, human-centric, and thus profitable way.

Already-long story short, Shawn was running a guest series on his blog, and he invited me to contribute. It was a very positive experience for me, for Shawn, and for his readers (and for my followers, who discovered Shawn’s blog through my promotion of the series). Even though he’s a consultant in California and I’m a speaker based in Florida, through social – and eventually the phone, then Skype – Shawn and I became friends.

At some point in there, I pitched him on the idea of starting a blog together. I figured I had a few hundred readers a month, and he had a few hundred more than me; together, maybe our co-blog would reach a thousand or so people a month. I thought it was an obvious yes, but it took him eight months to agree (I love to tease him about that!) But he did, and the result is Switch and Shift’s first blog post going live January 1, 2012.

We’ve grown steadily since, as the word continues to get out that there’s a home for this movement we call the Human Side of Business. In 2013 we earned the second most socially shared leadership blog on the web. In 2014, we’ll pass one million unique visitors for the year, and our reader survey confirms that these are highly educated, affluent people in leadership positions within their companies, so exactly the audience we’re writing for: the people who can bring change to their organizations right now, today.

Somehow, without intending to at all, we’ve gone from a humble co-blog to something of a media outlet. Most of that credit, without any question, goes to our guest contributors and especially our core thought leaders, our League of Extraordinary Thinkers. The talent who have found Switch and Shift and made it their home is beyond anything we could have imagined or hoped for. But the talent we have is attracting more top experts in business leadership, from CEOs to bestselling authors to well-recognized professors, famous speakers… it’s truly humbling to find myself in with this group!

How did you know when it was time to launch your dream?

I started my first (successful) business in 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11, when I lost my job and started teaching English to immigrants in our living room. In four years we were valued at $10 million – all of which started by just doing, not by having this grand vision.

My writing and speaking career, yes, those were entirely purposeful: I researched what topic would be in demand that I had some expertise in, I wrote three hours a day for months while still running my school. I wrote a book only because I knew it would earn me demand as a speaker, not as its own end. I gave 35 speeches at Toastmasters over a year and a half before I ever charged a cent for my first gig. So yes, launching my speaking career was intentional. Looking back over everything I’ve done since 2001, though, that is the only thing that was premeditated.

My social media notoriety? Absolutely not! If you had told me in 2009, when I signed up for Twitter, that I’d be ranked top 20, then top 10 in the world by Forbes magazine for my social influence in two short years, I’d have laughed in your face! That just happened.

And Switch and Shift, going from a little co-blog to the hub of a movement with a million people so far considering us their home base on the web…? If I ever claim to be some visionary genius who saw this in the stars and plotted the whole thing out carefully (or even at all), please show me this interview. It just happened.

But it happened because we started. That is the key to success in any endeavor. First, start. Second, experiment and change continually. Third, don’t stop. No matter what the endeavor, that’s how one achieves success.

What's been most rewarding for you personally?

The recognition is very fleeting. The thing that has lasted is all the deep friendships I’m making along the way. Shawn and our third partner, Mark Babbitt, are two of my best friends in the whole world by now. Mark’s also my co-author on A World Gone Social, that’s how much I admire his brain and enjoy his company. Many of our Leaguers have become good friends by now, as has our Senior Editor, Beth Nicoletto. Same with the people I interview for The Human Side TV, many of our guest contributors, and quite a number of the brilliant, thought-provoking readers who comment on the site, or who “speak” with me first on social, then sometimes by email, then phone, etc. It’s the human connections I’ve made that are most rewarding, hands down!

          What challenges have you faced?

Yikes, what challenges haven’t we faced? Without question, it’s being too slow to “monetize” our site. I hate that word, by the way. It sounds too transactional, too “What’s in it for me?” But cash flow problems can make any startup uncomfortable, so there’s nothing unique to us.

 Complete this statement: If I had it all to do over again, I'd...

Start Switch and Shift Consulting in 2012. Instead, we’re launching it in the later half of 2014 – as I write this, in fact. Duh, what were we thinking? Our tight inner circle includes some of the most well-regarded, seasoned consultants in the world, including Shawn and Mark. We’re just bringing all this expertise together under one umbrella now? Shame on us!  

Where would you like to see Switch and Shift head in the future? I noticed in a recent post you mentioned "teaching it to run."        

As stewards of this home for the Human Side of Business, it is our responsibility to not allow our own limitations limit the success and reach of this organization. We take this very seriously. There are millions of unhappy workers and under-performing, Industrial Age organizations out there that need actionable inspiration right now. Who are we to feel daunted by the task of speeding and soothing the birth of the Social Age, our term for the more human-centric replacement of old school management assumptions and practices?
What advice would you give to someone who has a dream but hasn't pulled the trigger yet? 

If the dream is to do something more rewarding, but you don’t know what, that’s the very first thing you must do: choose a direction. Until you do that, nothing else can help you. You must know where you want to go. (I also recommend knowing why you want to go there, but I’ll leave that up to you. Sometimes figuring that out comes later).

If your dream includes a specific endeavor? Then follow the three simple (though not easy) steps from question number 2, above:

Experiment and adjust continually
Don’t stop

My favorite success quote is from British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “The secret to success is constancy of purpose.” Remember, you don’t lose until you give up. 

Thanks Ted for your time and insights. I'm looking forward to reading 
A World Gone Social! 
If you haven't had a chance to visit Switch & Shift, I suggest you check it out. There are wonderful insights there!

You can contact Ted at:

Ted Coiné
Chairman & Founder
c: 239-207-6508
t: @tedcoine

Ted Coiné

Ted Coiné

Keynote speaker. Author of A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive. Three-time CEO. Chairman and Founder of Switch and Shift. Ted Coiné is one of the most influential business experts on the Web, top-ranked by Forbes, Inc., SAP Business Innovation, and Huffington Post for his leadership, customer experience, and social media influence. Ted consults with owners, CEOs and boards of directors on making their companies more competitive by making them more human-focused. He and his family live in Naples, Florida.

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