My friend Stephanie Rudat recently invited me to present a keynote at the first International Youth Conference and Festival in Pakistan, next week as it happens!

The event seems incredible – it runs over three days and will be bringing together a fantastic group of people who’ll be talking about media, community, change and people. I can’t wait. What’s even better is I’ll be meeting a few people who engage here and with Like Minds.

I’m also really excited about what I’m talking on. It’s not going to be three points with a few slides – it’s the lessons of my life told through my experiences and the experiences of others. And as is the spirit of this ongoing between this conversation between friends, I’m sharing my notes to form the talk and share the ideas with you.

Here’s a minimized version:

1. Seek to be interested, not interesting

– I wanted to be like the christian celebrities, who were just like media celebrities – another form of extremism – complete misrepresentation of life
– At 16 I did evening Bible school at the same time as school studies – I had the letter, but letter kills – it is the spirit that gives life. I wanted to be interesting, and did not seek to be interested. i didn’t seek to understand people. No tolerance.
– At 19 I started a youth charity called Feedback. Its purpose was to reach young people, so you’d expect to see coca cola and a disco, but we served coffee and listened to jazz – what I wanted, not what others wanted!
– When you seek to be interesting rather than interested you don’t see things from others points of view. You don’t appreciate the value that God has placed in others – in every living person.
– So I was reading about building rapport and I learnt that you should talk to people about their favourite subjects – themselves! And in talking to people about them, not me, I began to see this value.
– we talk about telling stories in media and branding – but the best stories are the stories of those who have used our services to enrich their own lives. This is social proof. Examples. Like Rosa Parks – the best story of oppression was the one from an average woman who did an exceptional thing.

2. Put all the kids in the show

– We had ran a hip hop event with just over 100 people and now turned to running a battle of the bands. Whereas before we had 1 or 2 bands play, we had 5 bands scheduled that night. We also  had designed some really cool flyers that told people how to get involved. Come the event, we had 300 people. The bands had brought all their fans, and whats more, the fyers had made their way all around the city and we had bands calling us to play.
– I learnt that night what all school teachers know: that if you put all the kids in the show, all the parents come to see them perform. And I learnt that if you create room for people to get involved around what they are passionate about – and give them the tools to spread that message to others – they will both get involved and they’ll spread the message to others.
– We soon had a team of 40 young volunteers and two paid staff, and every Friday we would train these kids in media, event planning, cooking, etc. The thing about longevity for community is you must provide a platform that enables others to realise their lives. Participation through enablement.
– It was at the same time that we started using a brand new service – myspace – to find bands and promote our events and scatter our message, and that we also built a forum on our website to allow people to talk and discuss amongst each other inbetween the events that also enabled us to listen in on conversations and crowd source more participation.

3. The idea virus

– Unfortunately Feedback died because I started a Christian television programme. I couldn’t focus on both. Whilst it is biggest regret of my life that it died, Feedback had taught me valuable lessons, and even in its death it taught me something else: the community you find around innovation and niches is far more powerful than the ‘community’ you get from 50,000 viewers. Don’t trade innovation for duplication. Focus on tight knit communities.
– The TV programme whilst well produced was an expensive mistake and the worst year of my life, with no fruit at the end of it. I went in search of employment as the recession came, which I didn’t get, and so then turned to consulting. The third book I read as I first embarked upon ‘business’ was the Idea Virus by Seth Godin.
– The idea virus is that sneezers (influencers) will sneeze our idea viruses onto others. Suddenly I understood why Feedback was successful – we had sneezers who sneezed our idea virus. And if you want word OF mouth, you have to give the sneezers the words FOR mouth, which is what our flyers did off-line and myspace did online. Vision, slogans, social proof.
– Sneezers are translators and they are filters. They translate your message into other people’s languages (motivations) and they also filter who it will and wont go to. It doesn’t matter if try to pass on the mumps if what you have is the measles – you’ll pass on the measles regardless.
– Sneezers also need paying. Not money, but respect, relationship, recognition, reward, resources, etc. There are levels to which I put the kids in the show – the influences get the main roles or their pick of the parts – and their parents get the best seats.
– There’s a number of things to consider too about the hives of people that sneezers will spread a message too – frequency, strength, vibrancy – but the main thing to nail with all of this is passion. Passion spreads by itself, but when you give passion a megaphone, it becomes epidemic.

4. Raising action

– The first Like Minds conference was designed to show off what I could do to the local businesses because they wouldn’t bring me on as a consultant. Of course, it became far, far bigger.
– People were passionate about social media, so the first Like Minds conference wasn’t just about social media, social media was the life blood of our conference. I put all the kids in the show, I worked the idea virus, but what made it all work was the passion. 200 ppl in 6 weeks, no advertising. You have to get the passion right.
– It took off on Twitter because Twitter likes to talk about Twitter. Facebook is for reaching family. Platforms and tech will auto filter – find the right platforms for the right hives.
– What I also learnt was, that in the same way we used myspace to push our message and then our forum to pull those together who responded, we need to scatter and gather. Most people think of social media as a way to spread your message, but it must also pull people together. Scatter and gather.
– Scattering is about awareness but gathering is about action. The negative of social proof is told in the story of Kitty Genovese – if everyone is doing it, no one is doing it. And again, it is through platform that we help people take action.
– The future is not in massive communities. It is in using platforms where people are, and working with smaller communities, and the groups of people within those communities, through a process of scatter, gather, matter.
– And to do this, we must be interested.

Your Leading Thoughts

  • What can you add / take away from this? Please bring your valuable feedback so I can ensure we impart the most value to the people listening.
  • Can you think of a good title for this presentation?

Archived Comments

  • Anonymous

    We are THRILLED to have you participate, Scott. You are a wise, generous soul – everyone you encounter is inspired simply by you being yourself.

  • / Scott Gould

    : )

    I was talking it through with Robin Dickinson last night. It’s going to be amazing – can’t wait.

  • Armando Duran

    Hi Scott, The event you will be speaking at seems incredible in deed! I think that youth is the near future and youth is the hope we have for creating a better world in which we live.

    Here are some thoughts that I had as I read your post:

    I like what you say about appreciating “the value that God has placed in others”. This is something that we have to be aware because in this busy world in which we live sometimes its hard to stop and listen, and care for others. So I think that to be interesting sounds to me more of an ego thing that denotes some selfishness and to be interested would be to show compassion and that we actually care.

    The idea virus makes me think about that one video by Seth Godin himself at TED about being remarkable, when there is a genuine good idea, it will spread, but I think that even spreading an idea is not the point as it would be to explode the value of that idea no matter how popular it becomes, the important thing is that its something new and something that brings value to others, if it spreads that is the result of how good it is.

    A few years ago I read on a book titled: “Dialogue” that these days is rare that people gather to have new ideas, normally people gather to talk about the past, about their every day drama, etc. I have practiced myself this recently and it has been quite a good experience to try to have only new ideas, it has been like exercising the muscles of creativity and I have realized that that limitation is what shuts down creativity and creativity should always be present in our lives.