Glenn Llopis and Tom H. C. Anderson Discuss Earning Serendipity and Social Media Marketing

April 30, 2009
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One of our business partners, Juan Garcia of Brandiosity, recently introduced me to author and entrepreneurial thought leader and “Opportunity Expert”,  Glenn Llopis. I was intrigued when I heard the title of his new book ‘Earning Serendipity’ and then saw how he is using social media to evangelize it. I asked him a few questions about what Earning Serendipity means. I think it’s an important concept in business overall, and especially when it comes to networking, something which thanks to social networking software half of online Americans are now doing.

Tom: Glenn, What does Serendipity mean to you?

Glenn: Positive Happenstance. When good fortune comes your way, unexpectedly / uncontrollably

Tom: How did you decide to write this book, what kind of research was involved?

Glenn: My father had been telling me for years that I needed to write a book. I have had a unique professional career and personal life and my father felt that I could change a lot of lives if I shared my story with others. I certainly hope Earning Serendipity will inspire others to do the same.

Tom: You’ve outlined four major steps in earning serendipity, and following these steps help us assess opportunities, s

One of our business partners, Juan Garcia of Brandiosity, recently introduced me to author and entrepreneurial thought leader and “Opportunity Expert”,  Glenn Llopis. I was intrigued when I heard the title of his new book ‘Earning Serendipity’ and then saw how he is using social media to evangelize it. I asked him a few questions about what Earning Serendipity means. I think it’s an important concept in business overall, and especially when it comes to networking, something which thanks to social networking software half of online Americans are now doing.

Tom: Glenn, What does Serendipity mean to you?

Glenn: Positive Happenstance. When good fortune comes your way, unexpectedly / uncontrollably

Tom: How did you decide to write this book, what kind of research was involved?

Glenn: My father had been telling me for years that I needed to write a book. I have had a unique professional career and personal life and my father felt that I could change a lot of lives if I shared my story with others. I certainly hope Earning Serendipity will inspire others to do the same.

Tom: You’ve outlined four major steps in earning serendipity, and following these steps help us assess opportunities, situations and people as well as avoid potential landmines. Can you briefly explain these?

Glenn: We all have control over the path to prosperity. Progression along that path is the result of a rare combination of skills that you can develop and apply in your career, business, and life. These four skills are:

  • Seeing with circular vision: Broaden your observation beyond what you seek and beyond the obvious details before you, and enlarge your field of opportunities; search within conversations and adverse circumstances for possibilities.
  • Sowing entrepreneurial seeds: When good vision is met with consistent, hand-dirtying execution every day, the result is a stable, growing fortune; focus on proper timing and proper depth.
  • Growing seeds with the greatest potential: Learn how to recognize the most promising opportunities and give them the right amount of attention; don’t let the best opportunities wilt and don’t waste energy on opportunities with limited potential.
  • Sharing the harvest: Focus on meeting others’ needs to improve personal good fortune; make generosity part of your purpose, an integral part of the DNA of your career or company.

Tom:  How do people do this?

Glenn: Tom, I am teaching uncommonly common sense. People are doing at least 1 of the 4 skills every day; but they just don’t know that they do. My goal is to make people aware of the skills that they are good at and those that they need help with. The key is mastering your ability to identify which of the 4 skills you are proficient at – and then align yourself with others that are proficient with those skills that you are not. The hope is that over time, you will master them all. This is what I teach both individuals (to become better entrepreneurs and leaders) and organizations (to build a more powerful, purposeful and productive workplace environment).  

Tom: What do most of us do wrong?

Glenn: Individuals and Organizations don’t trust their brand. They are scared of making risk their best friend. To earn serendipity requires that you propel innovation and initiative by making risk your best friend. It requires that you think about creating new paradigms in the way you lead, manage and grow.   Earning Serendipity is about making the world a better place. Look at Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, Ingvar Kamprad, Jeff Bezos, Jim Sinegal – they reinvented industries by truly focusing on what many deemed as counter-intuitive – to mainstream thinking; and in the end they each made the world a better place during the process.

Tom: Can you give me some specific examples?

Glenn: In the book, I provide (4) case studies of some of the most popular brands in the world that have followed the principles of Earning Serendipity (Amazon, Costco, Google and IKEA). The following are a couple of examples:

1)  Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com): See with Circular Vision

Jeff Bezos saw the potential for online commerce before almost anyone. He created the online book retailing industry; and with his circular vision has gone on to develop several other complementary products and has elevated the Amazon brand to new heights. So sure was Bezos of this seed of opportunity he saw with the online book retailing industry that he gave up his lucrative New York job with a promising future (VP at Fitel). Is his sacrifice not often the difference maker between the man who sees opportunity but does not sow it’s seed – and the one who sees and makes whatever adjustments he must to sow the seed? Thank you Jeff Bezos for seeing and seizing the opportunity!

2)  Jim Sinegal (Costco.com):  Sowing Entrepreneurial Seeds

While it is true that Sol Price was the first sower of the warehouse club seed, we might say his protégé, Jim Sinegal, is the one responsible for experimenting with the original seed and sowing it in the deepest soil where the greatest growth was possible. While Price Club originally opened its doors to only business owners, memberships were soon offered to the general public to meet its great demand. Still, Sinegal remained keen to the notion that small businesses would play an important role in Costco’s perpetual harvest. He thus tailored his Sowing of the Costco seed to meet their needs. We might say the Costco entrepreneurial seed was Sown to help other entrepreneur’s Sow their own.  Is it not clear how Costco has continued to return an abundant harvest?  Proving that Wall Street can’t measure the success of enterprise in dollar and cents (oops, common sense that is).

The other 2 leaves are represented as follows:

3) Google (Growing the Seeds of Greatest Potential)

4) IKEA (Sharing the Harvest)
 
Tom: It seems several Serendipitous discoveries have been made in the field of science, Louis Pasteur’s famous quote comes to mind “Chance favors the prepared mind”. How does Earning Serendipity relate to scientific discoveries, if at all vs. other types of businesses and or everyday life?

Glenn: Clearly Science is the best area for proven serendipity. Viagra was discovered serendipitously, so was Sweet and Low, Velcro… But there’s also a lot of serendipity in personal relationships too, but no one has ever talked about it in business! But the irony is that most people live serendipity in business. Leaders of influence all understand it….

Tom: How does Earning Serendipity apply to larger firms vs. individuals?

Glenn: I like to teach the principles of Earning Serendipity in 2 different ways:

1)  Individuals (those that seek the quest of Entrepreneurship). That the 4 skills are the key to creating and sustaining momentum. As you know, momentum is the key to any business (start-up, small, medium or large). But the success factors of entrepreneurship reside within each of these 4 skills (or the 4 leaves of a clover as I refer to them). The ability to see, sow, grow and share opportunity uniformly.

2)  Organizations (those that seek growth and / or sustainability). I believe that today’s workplace culture requires a talent pool of seer’s, sower’s, grower’s and sharer’s. I am asked to teach corporate entrepreneurship classes to MBA students. This term “corporate entrepreneurship” is a bit counter-intuitive. In simple terms, it is defined as allowing people to think independently within a corporate structure. As defined, it has obvious limitations. While Fortune 500 companies are attempting to integrate the practice of corporate entrepreneurship, I believe it limits the art/science of discovery. I believe that corporations must truly start to allow the entrepreneurial mindset to take shape and flourish. The corporate culture must adopt an environment that allows its people (regardless of rank / title) to propel innovation and initiative. Everyone has something to offer, if giving the opportunity. The 4 skills I teach, provide concrete applications to how organizations can breed an entrepreneurial workplace culture without escaping the requirements of its shareholders. Again, if Amazon, Costco, Google and IKEA practice the 4 skills – why can’t other large organizations?

Tom: Can market researchers studying consumers behavior leverage Serendipity?

Glenn: Once organizations begin to support a workplace culture and standard operating procedures/protocols to earn serendipity, market researchers will eventually be able to study consumer behavior leveraging the know-how of earning serendipity. This is one of my goals.

Tom: Data mining, which we also sometimes engage in for clients is looking for patterns in data. Often times in data mining we do not know what we are looking for. This is probably why few companies, though vast amount of data are available to them, invest significantly in trying to find hidden nuggets of insights. Many companies do not wish to invest in finding something they do not yet know exists. So much of market research is focused on answering specific questions. Do you think Earning Serendipity applies to this field as well, if so how?

Glenn: Great question! Data mining is all about discovering patterns in data. Earning Serendipity is about discovering opportunity and making it matter in both business/society. When companies begin to create systems that are dependent upon earning serendipity (using the 4 skills), new discoveries in data mining will become much more valuable as insights won’t be hidden – so much as will the pattern of data becomes better understood. In other words, why the opportunities were seen and seized and why others were not.

Tom: Are there any large companies which seem to follow your principles? Which companies, if any would you refer to as Serendipiters?

Glenn: Amazon, Costco, Google, IKEA mentioned earlier, these companies and their founders are what I call Serendipiters. Serendipiters are socially-conscious individuals and organization that serve to inspire innovation and initiative and thus propel good fortune for both themselves and their communities. My goal is to discover and teach 5 million Serendipiters throughout the world in the next 3-5 years. I believe that being a Serendipiter has nothing to do with education, status or origin. It has to do with your passion, your desires and ability to trust your brand and create opportunity for the betterment of others. That is why the millennial generation will change the face of business and society.   

Tom: You’ve started a Serendipeter movement. It seems to me that new media including Social Networks may be especially useful in helping you get the word out about Earning Serendipity. Can you tell me a little about this? How if at all have you leveraged web2.0 tools to get the word out? I know you’ve leveraged YouTube, Facebook applications, Twitter etc. How successful has this effort been so far? What if anything have you learned so far?

Glenn:  The Serendipiter Movement is called “Serendipiters Wanted”. Our goal is to discovery and teach 5 million Serendipiters in the next 3-5 years…

Tom: Wow, 5 million, quite an ambitious goal. Curious, how did you come to that number?

Glenn: I felt it was attainable… through social networking and web2.0, five million people is not a lot… But I’m not trying to do it all through web2.0, but rather use it as a platform to reach people… people come up to me after conferences and ask to get involved and join my community…

The social networking tools and platforms that we are currently using include:

1.       Twitter:

a.       www.twitter.com/opportunityexpt

b.      www.twitter.com/earnserendipity

2.       Facebook:

a.       www.facebook.com/earningserendipity

b.      We are also hosting a Group titled: “Serendipiter’s Wanted” on Facebook and a Facebook Application called Earning Serendipity – Workplace Compatibility Quiz that measures whether your friends help or hinder your career development

3.       Blogs:   

a.       www.ThresherOnline.com

b.      www.glennllopisgroup.com/Glennsblog

4.       You Tube

a.       www.youtube.com/earningserendipity

b.      www.youtube.com/glennllopis

Tom: Any advice on how to leverage social networks to get the word out

Glenn: O yeah, that’s a whole other discussion, we can get into it if you want…

Tom: We’ve been working with building various social media tools and widgets such as applications on Facebook. First time trial is somewhat easy, we’re now trying to understand what makes for stickiness and what causes someone to return as well as to share with others. That’s a bit trickier.

Glenn: You know, I feel social media has become commoditized. And unless there’s a reason or a purpose behind it, it will be tough to get to first base. So if the reason that you are trying to do social networking is to get connected, I think that’s great, but people want to feel that you are share the same issues or are seeking the same opportunities as they are. So if you have a cause based purpose, then people are more inclined to want to connect with you online. And there are people who do that and are very successful with it.

Tom: We have some clients who are in the non-profit area and have pretty good causes but especially with youth we find it challenging to get them to care unless they see a specific personal benefit. How can you get them to buy in?

Glenn: As you know there is a certain way of communicating Online, and a lot of it is trial and error. You have to view the online world as a content sharing community. It’s the epitomy of you scratch my back I scratch yours. You have to enter the online world with an attitude of sharing. Those are the ground rules.

As you know social networks have now become more private in scope. Why? Because people are tired of creating these online platforms that everyone just wants to get onto sell sell sell, and it’s not about selling it’s about sharing. So now you’re seeing more closed and private forums where you have to get invited. That’s kind of the next wave, people are doing it now. But it’s really what are you doing for them.

What I love and what people forget is that social networking was created by Gen-Yers, and the millenials are about as philanthropic as it gets… GenY-ers built to software to connect people so that people could share. Most people don’t know that. They just think, man this is an opportunity for me to sell my service, and it’s not that people don’t have success with it, but that’s not what its purpose is. It’s purpose is to share. And this is my opinion, but that’s why those that create cause based platforms are the most successful.

Tom: Do you have any examples of that?

Glenn: Well sure, several. The reason MySpace started was all about the independent musician. Facebook became a platform for college students. I’ve been involved in the development of two social networks, one called reshapesociety.com  and it was all about bringing sanity back to humanity. and what we learned there is that a lot people over the age of 45 joined the platform because they felt guilty that they hadn’t been giving earlier in their lives. I was involved with one called lounge19.com that was all about connecting consumers with brand owners. And so when there’s a very specific cause, while you can’t expect to get everyone, if you build/shape the community right, it can be very very powerful. 

Link to original postTom H. C. Anderson – Anderson Analytics