Building on the strategic minds in your organization


The Strategy Inside Everything

In each episode, we discuss events in pop-culture, business, fiction, sports - even politics to uncover the strategy behind the action.
Tap directly into the feed on Apple, Google and Stitcher.

Jeff Gibbard says Social is Miserable

Jeff Gibbard joins the show from the fighting city of Philadelphia to talk about why social media is such a tough place to enjoy oneself. 

Related links: 

Jeff's online dating consultancy is a real thing.
True Voice:
Trump's social guy:

[00:00:30] Adam Pierno: Welcome back to another episode of The Strategy Inside Everything. I'm a little bit turned upside down because our today's guest, Jeff Gibbard and I just did a Podcast, an episode of his show Shareable, which is an awesome podcast. I think you all should listen to it, you'll love it. I was the guest and now I'm the host, and I'm a little bit baffled about what role I'm supposed to be playing today. Welcome today, Jeff.

[00:00:56] Jeff Gibbard: Thank you so much for having me. It's funny, on our first season of Shareable, we did a segment called, Now You Do Me, where basically we invited our guests to become the host or after we had finished our episode, we would do kind of what we're doing right here. I would put you in the driver seat and I would be the guest. It's cool because it gave our audience a chance to get to know us as people. We're actually going to be bringing that back in season three, I think.

[00:01:20] Adam: You could just tag this episode on to the episode which just recorded and you'd just pretend we did that.

[00:01:26] Jeff: I love it. I'm totally fine with that.

[00:01:28] Adam: I'm really glad that Jeff could join us today. I know you're a busy guy. Jeff, you are the founder and chief strategist at True Voice Media. Can you tell people a little bit about how you got there and what you've done and what fires you up every day?

[00:01:48]Jeff: I was born a humble child on a farm.

[00:01:53] Adam: Was just going to say, a peanut farm right?

[00:01:54]Jeff: Yes, exactly. I spent most of my career just chasing one passion after another. I wanted to be a point guard for the Knicks, I wanted to be a famous film director like Stanley Goldberg or Mark Scorsese or Alfred Hitchcock. I wanted to travel halfway around the world, taking pictures of half naked woman in my early 20's. I basically kept chasing after the things I thought I want to do for my entire life. I started a personal chef service. When that fell through, I went back and got my MBA. I came out around the time where social media was really becoming a thing.

What I saw is that I was horribly out of place in my MBA. Everybody there was looking at spreadsheets and they were like, "Hooray, spreadsheets." I was like, "Scary." When I saw social media coming out, I was like, "Holy crap. There's this thing that nobody knows anything about, and it involves people and it involves technology. All I'm seeing right now is the ability to meet new people, grow your network, really be vulnerable, connect with people." All of that sort of good stuff, the Kumbaya of the early social days. I was like, "I'm going to make a business out of it. Create a career out of this."

It worked out. I went to a management consulting firm, did a brief little stint there. Went to a PR firm, an even briefer stint there and after they fired me, I started my own company. I'm not ashamed or upset about the firing, it's one of the best things that has ever happened in my career. It was 2010 and this PR firm thought, "We'll just hire somebody who knows about social media and the money is just going to pour right in." I mean, even now, it's 2017, 2018, this whole time period and people still have no idea what social media can be used for in the business.

Anyway, I started True Voice Media. The name of my company is something I'm probably the happiest about, because I believe that the proper way to use social media, not that there's a right way or a wrong way, but the highest ideal of what social could become for human beings and for business, is authentic and honest and open and true. When I started my business, we didn't do any social media management, it was all strategy and consulting and training. What I wanted was that the true voice of the business exists inside of the business. It's where they are self-aware and self-expressed and transparent with their outside audience.

I believe that they were expressing their true voice and we were dealing in media. That was 2011. We've been humming along since, building strategies for clients across virtually every industry. What my real obsession is and what I spend the most time thinking about and what gets me excited and jazzed to get out of bed is that, I love solving business problems and the toolkit that I just happen to know more about than a vast majority of people is social tools.

Not just the technologies of it but also the way in which people behave. I'm a constant student of people and the way that they make decisions, the way that their brains work as they relate to different stressors, fear of loss versus exciting over potential gain and all of those things. Science of influence from persuasion. I get really jazzed about walking into a really cool business that's trying to do something really awesome in the world, and figuring out how I can utilize the tools of social along with the way that people cave to get them where they want to be.

[00:05:18] Adam: The same things like me. There's something so nice about walking in as a third party or I guess a second party, and looking at the business and knowing, "All I can do is help." I have a totally outside opinion that is probably different from what these people have been chit-chatting about or obsessing about. Just my knowledge that can layer it on and make an impact on their business in a way that they just weren't able to look at it from that same perspective because they're inside the company.

[00:05:48] Jeff: That's absolutely my favorite thing if I-- I've been trying to get myself to do only four things in my career. From the point that I started this company, I said if I could only do these four things. One of them is strategy, because I love seeing that look in their eyes when they get it, when they see like, "Oh my God. That's actually brilliant. That would work. That would actually solve this problem."

[00:06:08] Adam: How much of your work is social media?

[00:06:14] Jeff: It's hard to say that because the beginning of every engagement with every client is strategy. We draw a line in the sand. We're like, "Look, if you don't do strategy with us, we don't really care to work with you." That could be a quick strategy session, but if we don't have time to sit and plan and question the client about their objectives and what they're trying to accomplish in the world and who are their audiences and all of that stuff, then we don't want any part of it. Is that social? Kind of, because we're gathering information in which to tell them what can they do using this universe of social media tools out there to accomplish whatever that business objective is.

The strategy portion is probably about 30% of our work, because the rest is then implementing that strategy and that all generally falls into social media. It's content marketing such as creating videos, photos, blog posts, emails, et cetera. Then creating content that is to be used specifically in social advertisements and then we work with a partner to do the social media management if we need it.

[00:07:12] Adam: Got it. Let's dive into today's topic. You are uniquely qualified to discuss this and this could read-- when you contact me and we talked about this topic, it could read like a hot take. We're going to dissect it so it is a lukewarm take, okay? Are you down? Are you ready to break this down?

[00:07:33] Jeff: Okay. I'm totally down. I'm very open to this.

[00:07:35] Adam: I am going to set up the topic and then I want you to knock it down maybe. Jeff's idea was, "What happened to social media and why did it turn into a cesspool of negativity?" I paraphrased that that's roughly what the topic was. I love that because my attitude on social media, personally and for brands, has shifted a lot just in the past year, maybe 18 months since the peak of the presidential cycle, the campaign cycle. I don't know if that's coincidence or what. Give me a little bit more from your point of view, Jeff, on what's happening in social and why you think it's just gone negative on us.

[00:08:24] Jeff: To a certain extent it's so funny this question, this whole idea depends on the day you asked me about it, but I think, part of me just feels like it is just in our nature as human beings to ruin everything.

[00:08:37] Adam: This is why we can't have nice things, right?

[00:08:39] Jeff: [laughs] This is why we can't have nice things. I feel like when I started out, I just saw so much opportunity and hope and promise in these technologies. I really, naively, believed that that would be the path that we would go down, but I think unfortunately all returns to dust to a certain extent. I think what we see is that when social started there was no money involved in the whole process. It was just free platforms where people connected with people.

Eventually, somebody's got to pay the piper. I think as these platforms inch towards monetization and businesses saw, "This is where our customers are spending time." they intruded in, they came in, they treated the organic platform as adds and then the platform said, "They're just advertising anyway. Why don't we let them pay for it?" Which then forced that crap into our feed. Then they built algorithms to keep us on there longer so that they can share more adds and as a result, we then began seeing more of the things that we interacted with, whether positive or negative.

It was sort of this self-perpetuating cycle, where you almost have a hard time escaping it without shutting down and starting from scratch, but then you feel the pain of the switching cost. As an example, when I sign onto my Facebook and I am laying in bed with my fiance on a Saturday morning and I'm looking at my Facebook and she's looking at hers. I looked at mine and I see everything crazy that Trump just did and I see everything that somebody who was accused of sexual harassment in the news just did. I see every online course that's trying to teach me how to use social media, which is funny. It's just an onslaught of negativity and awfulness and just everything that's wrong.

I will turn my head and I'll look at Erica's feed and she's got Ellen, America's Got Talent, puppy dogs, ice cream, how to make lasagna, everything in her feed is catered towards what she has reacted to. Thankfully, she has reacted to all of the wonderful things in life and it's all puppies and dogs and mine is just glib.

[00:10:40] Adam: One of the big critiques of most platforms and Snapchat broke the paradigm by not having the whole follower count. The big part of it is, when people joined Twitter, for example, they-- It seeds them with a certain amount of people to follow and usually, celebrities. If you just follow garbage, you get garbage out. If you don't follow people that are insightful or positive, you don't get positivity or insight. You could just end up with terrible content or pile-ons to just people that are having bad days.

[00:11:24] Jeff: It's interesting you brought that because I was hoping we would dip into this. One of the tragic things-- I understand why it happens. What the tragic things are the algorithms that try to provide us with what they think we want. I don't think that those algorithms are necessarily serving us always in the highest ideal way. You mentioned Twitter. When you just jump on Twitter as a newbie, they are going to have you follow Kardashian and comedians and the President and whoever.

The way I used Twitter, I basically have a list that I follow. I have all of the people that are followed but you have to earn your way into the list and the list is the only thing that I looked at. If you were a bad actor, you leave the list. I have control. Which is very different from the Facebook algorithm, the Instagram algorithm which are feeding you what it thinks you want. That's one of the big problems with social is that, as we've inched further and further along in making these legitimate business platforms, more and more we've removed the control away from that free user who of course is not the customer but the product.

[00:12:30] Adam: Even me, I'm just a user. Do I even understand how much impact that's having and how controlled what I'm seeing is and that, my first three posts are two-days old or three-days old. If you look at Instagram, it's a joke how dated and then an ad and then four-days-old, then another ad before I get to today's content which is why I used a lot of platform.

[00:12:53] Jeff: I don't think people know or even if they do, I just don't think they care. Part of what's happened on social media is that we've become conditioned to change. We've also become conditioned that we can't really affect that change. When Facebook switched over to timeline which I was actually fine with, I thought that was a blog-like design. It's an unfulfilled promise of what it could have been but that's besides the point.

When they switched over, people were outraged. When they introduced the newsfeed which they encrypt off from Twitter, people were outraged. It didn't matter how much people were outraged about any of the stuff, Facebook were still going to do what Facebook is going to do and that was that. You either you use a free platform or you don't. When Twitter changed to 280 characters, I was furious. Furious. If we look back, I was inconsolable and I was irrationally angry, tweeting jacket at 2:00 AM. I became Donald Trump at 3:00 AM, tweeting it out, whatever. I was that guy for Twitter.

[00:13:53] Adam: You became that personal?

[00:13:55] Jeff: Yes, I was. I was that upset about it because he had changed all that was near and dear to me. That 140 characters that I fell in love with. The platform that made me a better writer and a better communicator. He was changing. He was taking that from me. I don't even know where I was going at. Just ran out to a path of anger. Do we know, I guess, is the point.

Whenever Facebook would make the changes in the privacy settings without letting people know and all the things that they did, I would get upset about that, I didn't get upset because I was particularly upset. I would get upset on behalf of the people that don't know that they are being dragged along in this. I get upset for my mom who doesn't know how to use Facebook particularly well. She doesn't know that when she mistakenly tweets out her social security number like, "Hey, maybe that shouldn't be public." Those are the times where I would get upset.

I recently did a number of different interviews on NBC. I spoke with the Republican League and couple other different groups about the impact of fake news and all the stuff that happened during this previous presidential election. How widespread that was and what we can do about it and how we can combat it and all that stuff. When you actually look into it, the impact that that made is-- You cannot ignore it, basically. It clearly made an impact. It clearly touched a massive number of people.

In all of these platforms, there are so many factors currently competing that it makes it difficult to know what exactly is happening and what's impacting and why it's happening. Is it the algorithm? Is it something I clicked on? Is it something that I subscribed to? I didn't even remember becoming friends with that person. The systems have just gotten so complex that I just yearn for the early days of Twitter. It was a 140 characters and there were no ads. People are just connecting and talking.

[00:15:47] Adam: It was a simpler time.

[00:15:49] Jeff: Simpler time.

[00:15:51] Adam: I've really been enjoying the tightrope walk that Sheryl Sandberg is doing on her world tour of on one hand saying, advertisers keep dumping money in because our ads are highly effective and super targeted. Then, on the other side, the apology to where were they're like, "Well, we're not really sure that an ad served to a 100,000 very specific voters in a district would really be effective or have an impact."

It's such an interesting thing that nobody in the media has called out yet that they're talking out of both sides of their mouth and only one answer can be right. I've lobbied actually on Twitter that the Russian team that was doing those ads should win an Effie in 2017 because they absolutely--

[00:16:42] Jeff: Yes. I so agree with you.

[00:16:45] Adam: Do you know how many brands would be lining up to give them their account if they could do what they just did? It could turn around Friday's business.

[00:16:53] Jeff: I completely agree. You have to respect it. Did you read the article about Trump's social media manager-

[00:17:01] Adam: It's impressive.

[00:17:02] Jeff: - and the stuff he was doing? Yes. You have to be like, "Wow, I won't necessarily agree with every part of the [unintelligible 00:17:08]." I'd at least appreciate the thought that went into it.

[00:17:10] Adam: They used the platform to the extent that they were allowed to do it. They pushed all the right buttons and did it very precisely.

[00:17:22] Jeff: If I were to wrap up my thesis statement about this to a certain extent, it's about what is our objective? That's ultimately we haven't decided on a common objective. The one common objective that we have decided on, we cannot be surprised by this happening, and I'll explain. When I got into social, my objective was to help companies understand how these tools worked so that they can better appreciate their employees by hearing what they have to say.

Empowering them to be a voice of the customer and take ownership-- A voice of the company to take ownership in that voice to the customer. They could listen to the customers and appreciate and understand what they like and dislike about the product or service. They could hear them and appreciate them as an individual and care about them and take care of their shoes. They could better connect with the community around them and provide some social impact by being more connected to the communities around them by listening and connecting and engaging.

I wanted the Kumbaya, better world from using social. I saw the opportunities, I saw in recruiting, it was a way to better understand what the right company was for you so you don't waste as much money on bringing in the wrong people and turning them over and, yadda, yadda, yadda, all that happy good stuff. Everyone wins. Lot of wins. The objective of what the social platforms have developed into because they are public companies and they are trying to make quarterly earnings and revenue goals and they have piece investors and stakeholders and shareholders and all that, is that the actions that they take are in service of those goals.

Their goal is not to make the world a better place, their goal is to make more money. If along the way they happened to make the world a better place, well, that's cool. That's ultimately what's leading us down this path. Is that, if you say to Facebook, "Hey, you shouldn't have run these ads." Or, "You shouldn't have done this." Well, at the time, they just thought that they were just running ads probably. They didn't think about the fact they were coming from Russia or why or what. They're not manually reviewing them to self-serve ad platform.

They have been rewarded by the market for increasing their earnings every quarter. That's what they are rewarded for. How can we be surprised when they go about taking actions that are not going to stop serving that goal. If their goal is to create more profit, how can we hold them accountable for saying, "You probably should have not served all of these ads." I'm obviously not endorsing the fact that they ran these things. I'm just saying, I think that the system that you've put them in is part of the issue.

[00:19:53] Adam: Even in Zuckerberg's comment in, I believe, it was last month in November, he said, "We're going to look at our practices and see maybe if we should prioritize." I think he actually said the inverse, but the implication was less risk over more profit which to me means, "Hey, we're making money and we don't care what happens until Congress asks us really tough questions." Yikes.

[00:20:27] Jeff: Yes, exactly.

[00:20:31] Adam: I don't think it's all there.

[00:20:32] Jeff: Sorry, go ahead.

[00:20:33] Adam: There are systemic problems at the platform level, but even my feed with all the sexual harassment allegations and actual sexual harassment that are being reported that are true, it just seems my feed is so much more negative than it ever had. This is the peak negativity and that seems like it's rewarded in the news and algorithm world of all the social platforms, too.

[00:21:07] Jeff: I think there's a lot of things that are happening there. I think, one, the ubiquity of social media usage means that more of those things will be reported on. That's one factor. The second factor, I think, is that as more of those things are being reported, negativity is going to spread. It's not like-- We see on the other side, but another thing that-- Just to quickly comment on this before I move forward on the negativity piece of it. There's a lot of people that are sharing all these nonsensical motivational quotes and faux inspirational Pinterest boards and I find that crap to be just as irritating as the super negative stuff, and that gets shared pretty wildly.

I think we're polarizing to both degrees of gag or the all-famous which is just this so motivation but also--

[00:21:50] Adam: Can we pause on that because I absolutely agree? Like those quote cards from Zig Ziglar. Zig Ziglar must be an awesome guy. I don't know him personally. I'm sure he's a cool dude, but why don't we stop copy-pasting that dude's quotes and sharing them over a sunset picture? Everybody, just calm down. Get your own ideas. It drives me-- I mute you when I see that for sure immediately.

[00:22:19] Jeff: I'm going to give your podcast listeners a secret that nobody knows about yet. I have come up with a really great idea, I think, and you can tell me if you think it's terrible right now. You know how Stephen Colbert on the Colbert show was a parody of the Bill O'Reilly character and that was his schtick? I've decided that I'm going to create myself a parody character for myself that's an amalgam of social media douchebags and faux motivational speakers. The kind of project name for him is Jeffy G., a slight poke and jab at Gary V., but the idea would be I would have a persona that essentially endorses hustle culture to such an extent that it's obviously parody and satire.

Then also talks about social media in such a broad and overgeneralized way that it clearly gives no value and just perpetuates the social media douchebag cycle. This is the project I'm working on.

[00:23:14] Adam: The secret may be blown, but I'm worried that-

[00:23:18] Jeff: Yes, I think I just blew it.

[00:23:20] Adam: - people would have trouble discerning parody in that world.

[00:23:23] Jeff: Can I tell you I just posted on Instagram three posts right in a row. They were all obviously satire, and one of them was about hustle, one of them was a motivational quote, and the other was about social media. At least what it seemed to me, I did something completely hyperbolic so that people would know that I'm being satirical. People actually responded to me. Like, "Yeah, great post," and this and that, and some of it is bots, but somebody actually-- I had a thing that said, "Insert your motivational quote here." and it was over a picture of a mountain. Somebody actually posted a motivational quote in the comments.

[00:23:57] Adam: What's that again? You and I share a brain in that. What's worse to you, though? Is it worse-- Those things burn me out. I don't know why but if I'm just thumbing through my feed and I see one of those feeds that's like, "You can soar as high as an eagle if you dream it," or whatever those things are. Versus some terrible thing about a senator. They burn me out in equal measures even though--

[00:24:23] Jeff: But in very different ways, right? They're hitting different points of revulsion. When I see all of these people in power who are abusing their power and treating people with a lack of respect or even self-awareness about the situation, you look at that and you're like, "Well, that's terrible and these are people that are supposed to represent us be empowered and I'm sickened by it."

On the other side, what I actually get most grossed out in the motivation side of things and like the faux inspiration like, "I want to be a Tony Robbins," type thing, it's not so much the perpetrators, the people who are up there espousing all of this nonsense and telling you you can do it even though they no F-ing clue who you are. That's not the part that bothers me. What bothers me are the people that react to it. That's the thing that actually makes my stomach churn.

Is that there's someone who is so incapable of potentially motivating themself that they need to go on and just the most vanilla of motivation. It's like hanging motivational posters around your entire room. I'm not opposed to mantras or having things that focus you or having your values in front of you.

[00:25:31] Adam: Tony Robbins earned it. Go get it. I've watched his-- I've watched some of his videos. Interesting stuff and that's cool. Gary V. who you brought up, guy goes and gets it and does his thing and disagree or agree with what he says, it's fine. He's out there doing it, Hhe's living what he's talking about. That's cool. I guess what bothers me is people just copy-pasting what they're saying and putting it over a picture of Gary V. and somehow trying to align themselves.

Dude, don't do that. Stop doing that. I could just follow Gary V. and get the quotes and I could hear all about hustle. If I'm into that, that's great, and if you're not, mute him or unfollow him. It just drives me crazy when it's the same five people that just get quoted and quoted and quoted. It just makes me so sad.

[00:26:27] Jeff: We went from the negative to the full positive and all that kind of junk in between. I think one that we have more transparency than ever before so people are-- We're showing off more of the garbage and the good than ever before. Within that, the muck and the crap is going to spread more because we share in that misery. It's the same reason people watch reality shows is that you're watching tragedy unfolding and there's a certain catharsis in watching all that crap propagate throughout the web.

The third part which is I think is a net effect of the first two is that I think social media has changed our societal norms and changed the way that we interact with one another. Interestingly enough, I was having a conversation last night with my fiancee about a subject similar. I posted on Facebook and asked for some advice. I said, "Hey, does anybody know of a non-denominational ordained person that can marry in Pennsylvania?" We're looking for one of those people.

I got something like 60 responses, and what I said to Erica was that sometimes the reason I don't post on Facebook is I just don't want to deal with all of the aftermath that comes from that.

[00:27:37] Adam: You can't.

[00:27:39] Jeff: She's like, "Well, you could just ignore it." I was like, "No, that's the thing. I can't because I feel like if I ask a question and somebody provides me with an answer, they took their time and they tried to be thoughtful about me, I'm not just going to hit Like because I feel like if-- Imagine in life somebody come-- I'm in a room and I ask a question and somebody answered it, I just walked up and 'boop' their nose and said, "I like that." It would be weird as all hell. I think that in a social world, we have these structures, these technology, ways of interacting that I think causes us to behave in ways that we would never dream of in person.

Whole following thing, there's a fine parody video about that. I think what I look at is people are more apt-- Actually, here's a good example of it. There was a commercial that was done in part by Monica Lewinsky of all people, it was an anti-bullying campaign. Did you see that one? They took tweets and things that people said online and then they acted out like, "What if they were said in real life?"

[00:28:37] Adam: It's shocking.

[00:28:39] Jeff: It was horrifying to watch.

[00:28:39] Adam: Emily has done that too, the celebrity, where she has this coming in.

[00:28:42] Jeff: That's our stuff that just happens on the internet.

[00:28:46] Adam: Inside is so amazing that you would never ever do that in face to face conversation, but for some reason, you're a keyboard cowboy and you feel tough when you're--

[00:28:55] Jeff: Exactly. Then to go back to the whole sexual misconduct in the Russian ads and all the stuff is that the thing that I've come back to again and again and again is like, "What's our objective? What are we trying to do?" When I'm on social, I'm trying whenever possible to be generous, to be kind, to make new connections, to make new friends, to be supportive, all of those sort of good things.

When we share divisive political content or things that reinforce our pre-existing biases just so that we can be right in a conversation looking to drum up an argument, so behind our keyboards we can rip into someone and win the argument, which I am as guilty as anybody else. If you look at my Twitter, I'm terrible sometimes. For me, it's a release. It's like watching Jon Winkle, just go on Twitter and find somebody with an opposing view and rip into them. Just headshots constantly.

I think that's the thing. Without these tools, we probably wouldn't be doing those things. Now, what started out in the early days of social where even anonymous people were more respectful, and when Twitter introduced real name, people were like, "My real name is attached to that. I'm certainly not going to say the N word." Now you've got people on Facebook, they're like, "Hey, what's up? I'm a Nazi." And you're like, "Wow. We're at that point in history."

[00:30:12] Adam: I don't even know hot to engage with someone who's that far forward and that aggressive to just be like, "This is the swastika tattoo I have on my neck. Here I am." Shit. That's not part of my--

[00:30:27] Jeff: "Wow. That's a thing." Right? I think what is most upsetting to me when I wrote this topic and sent it into you and I was like, "What do you think?" I think to me the thing that's most jarring is the contrast between what I believed would happen with these tools versus what has happened. I thought that these tools would bring us together because we would no longer see race, creed, color, religion, et cetera.

We'd be able to focus around issues and find people with common interests. We'd be able to appreciate people and let them be vulnerable and be supportive, but I don't know, that apparently was a pipe dream because what we've done is the exact opposite. We've retreated to our interests groups and we have shunned out everyone else and we have this bubble that we consistently talk about where we don't listen to outside perspectives, and when we do, we just argue with it-

[00:31:14] Adam: Well, it's the same thing that's happening-

[00:31:14] Jeff: - and divide ourselves further part.

[00:31:16] Adam: - with news because it's a show, because it relies on ratings or subscribers. It's trying to hit an audience and you and I have talked about persona's in the past. They're creating content to reach those persona's that will pay to either support advertisers in the case of TV news or subscribe in the case of that New York Times that are trying to drive new digital subs.

We do that on our own even when I don't have profit on the line. I'm creating content for somebody when I'm posting something on Twitter or when you are. I guess the question is what can we do to pull people back? Is there a way or are we past a point of no return? Is there a way to start creating more bridges and get out of the self imposed filter bubbles that we've all built?

[00:32:11] Jeff: I think about this question a lot. I wish I had a simple direct answer for it because when I think about all the things that I would like social media to be and I think about that, if you expand into a mass audience, it becomes that milk toast motivational content. I believe that when people set their mind to things, they have a much better chance of accomplishing their goals. That doesn't fit as well onto an Instagram post as we're moving all the qualifying words from that instead of saying just set your dreams to it, you can accomplish anything.

I don't know if there's a way that we can just be better people. The advice would be just be better. Think more about what you post, be an example, bet the change you want to see in the world. I don't think that that approach is going to work because the system is designed actually to quiet that sort of behavior and instead amplify that which is grosser. You look at reality TV and the success that's had. It thrives on conflict and I don't watch any reality TV, I watch mostly superhero shows. It thrives on conflict and I think our social media channels generally thrive on that same conflict.

[00:33:24] Adam: Superhero shows also thrive on conflict.

[00:33:30] Jeff: They do but it's a different kind--

[00:33:31] Adam: I'm just being a smart ass.

[00:33:35] Jeff: They absolutely do. Yes. There's Nazi's right now in Flash and Arrow.

[00:33:38] Adam: Well, they're being smart. It's topical. Right?

[00:33:38] Jeff: It's crazy. I don't know what's happening.

[00:33:42] Adam: It's good writing.

[00:33:43] Jeff: It is topical. It's smart.

[00:33:46] Adam: I totally agree that people want to see conflict and they're getting that in spades on all of these social platforms but am I fueling it by liking it or by piling on and saying, "Well, your party also sucks or your guys should quit and not my guy should quit? Or can we tap out of it? Can we avoid it? Or this is the funnel we're heading down and we're all just circling the drain together?"

[00:34:14] Jeff: Here's what I would offer. I think if there is any solution to this, that there has to be some mechanism to reintroduce empathy and humanity back into it. The guy named Brian Fanzo who's big in the live streaming community, he recently posted a picture of himself wearing one of those oculus goggles and he said, "Augmente2d reality and virtual reality are going to reintroduce empathy into the future in a whole new way." Something like that. I'm paraphrasing.

At first I saw it and I was like, that's a little overblown buddy. In relation to your question, actually what we do need is something like that, where we can start to exist in spaces together in the same way that the things you would say behind a keyboard and not the things you're going to say to people face to face. I think what we need to do is find ourselves in places where we can respectfully disagree.

I told you before I went and I spoke to the Republican League. Interesting story about that is somebody recommended me to talk at an event. They didn't tell me what it was and they said, "You should meet my friend. He's got an event." I talk to this guy on the phone and he says, "I would love for you to come and talk about the Russians and fake news and all the things that are happening in social media." I was like, "That sounds awesome. How big is the crowd?" He told me how many. I was like, "Okay. Cool. Yes. Sounds like a good idea."

He was like, "Well, you're going to be speaking to the Republican League on Thursday." I was like, "The Republican League?" Because for anybody that knows me, I'm fairly left leaning and the idea of me speaking in front of a room full of republicans is almost laughable. That said, it was a major eye opening experience.

[00:35:46] Adam: That's what we don't experience, the chance to build a bridge and we never get the opportunity to [inaudible 00:35:51].

[00:35:55] Jeff: Honestly, I feel the experience of talking with that group changed me because I stopped seeing from through my keyboard lens and seeing them as an avatar of whatever the worst of that that's coming through my news feed that paints this persona for me of these horrible, horrible people doing horrible, horrible things. These were all very reasonable people that had a very reasonable dialogue with me and we found so much common ground that I was like, "Okay. Maybe I'm actually part of the problem as much as anybody else." I think it's that sitting down and face to face looking someone in the eye and having a conversation where you try to find common ground. They may pose progress.

[00:36:32] Adam: They're not evil. That's another thing that social and news outlets do. They're not looking to necessarily create division but they are looking to create content that appeals to one audience and creates a bad guy on the other side. It creates this image in your mind that the people watching that other channel are probably evil which is insane because you can go out and talk to the 90% of people in this country and have a pretty reasonable conversation even if you disagree. There are always exceptions, but if you just tune onto CNN or Fox News, it looks like everybody's got their knifes out and we're ready to go to war.

[00:37:17] Jeff: Conflict and contrast are central parts of storytelling. They're essential parts of marketing and branding. Coke and Pepsi, the best thing that they can do is create a rivalry because you get people to pick a side. Sometimes that can be used for really positive purposes. Other times, as we're seeing now at least in the political discourse in this country, it seems like we're getting more and more divided and we're forgetting about treating each other with respect and a common goal which I think was the original idea behind America.

I listen to a really interesting podcast recently. It's Sam Harris had a guy on. The podcast was called, What happened to Liberalism? It's not like an advocating for liberalism necessarily but it was talking about the tenants and the premises of liberalism and in it he talks about this idea of the citizen and bringing back that idea where we're all citizens and we're all marching towards a common goal. It gives us a new language to stop identifying as you're progressive, you're conservative, you're liberal, you're a nazi, whatever. I think that that's an important lesson for us to take from this is it is on us to be able to hold responsible about how we look at things.

[00:38:23] Adam: Yes and you can apply that to almost any conflict. We're all citizens as it relates to government here in the US. If you're in the UK, you're dealing with Brexit right now and that's just as thorny as what we're dealing with here if not more. I think a lot of issues on social that finding the bad guy and everybody piling on or we're drawing a line in the sand on every single freaking topic. It's making it exhausting sometimes to look at social media which was originally really positive and a way to disconnect. It's taken the fun out of it for sure.

[00:39:07] Jeff: I read a quote recently. It was something along the lines of, "We used to go the internet to escape from the real world, now we go to the real world to escape the internet."

[00:39:13] Adam: I think I saw that somewhere, too. I think it was a Coke card actually.


[00:39:20] Jeff: It might have been on Gary V.'s Instagram.

[00:39:21] Adam: No. It didn't blame either one of us. That's actually really smart. All right. Well, this has been a really good conversation. I have a feeling that you and I could probably go on for another three hours if we had a glass of whiskey in front us which I know you don't like Maker's Mark but you should.

[00:39:40] Jeff: It's totally cool. Well, listen, I think based on the two conversations we've now had, I have a second podcast that I haven't released yet called, The Jeff Gibbard Variety Show. It's where I just basically instead of having as much structure as I do in my other areas of podcasting and content, this is more just to talk about whatever I'm interested in, comic books, politics, relationships, whatever. What we'll have to do is get our respective bourbons, our different choices of them and we will virtually have a chat about whatever.

[00:40:08] Adam: Yes, me too. Hey, before you go, please tell the audience a little bit about where they can catch up with you, I want you to talk more about Shareable, which is your awesome podcast that I was lucky enough to guest on and tell them more about True Voice.

[00:40:25] Jeff: I’ve a lot of different things going on. The first of which I would say is that if you've got nowhere else, go to and that links out to just about everything else I do. I'm a professional speaker, I love to go around and talk to people about social media, social business, how they can change their organizations, content marketing, all that good stuff. That's my day-to-day job. I have a podcast called Shareable, which is a podcast about people and technology and how those two forces impact our lives. True Voice Media also has a podcast where we cover what is going on in social media and that actually leads me to my agency, it's called True voice Media.

You can find us everywhere on the web with True Voice Media. Then if you are interested in checking out the variety show which I have not yet launched, it's going to be at and we're going to be talking about all sorts of stuff there. I also have an online dating consultancy called HitchPhilly where I help-- I swear to God I do.

Basically, here is what happened, I was single and I do a lot of stuff. I met my fiancé on OkCupid and I got divorced in 2013 and I found myself dropped into the world of online dating. As an online marketer, I quickly realized they're functionally the same thing. I'm a product, I have a target audience or person that I'm trying to reach. They have certain features and benefits that they're looking for and I need to open up a sales discussion which leads to the possibility of a follow-up meeting. I basically designed a [unintelligible 00:41:47] around how to-- [laughter]

We can do this again, I'm fully cool with it. Yes, I'm totally cool with it. The idea was just helping people to design the avatar of what it is they're looking for and find that person. I used my own experience as proof that it works, my whole methodology. So that's all the things I do. Again, probably the best place to find me. Of all the content that I create, which I know I just gave you a whole bunch of things to do, but on is where I have my Day in the Life blog and that's my favorite place that I write or do anything. I talk a lot about fear, motivation, becoming an entrepreneur, being an entrepreneur, all those different things.

[00:42:28] Adam: That will include links to all of those things if square space allows that many characters, I will put them all in so you can find Jeff at all the topic that interest you the most, I do recommend Shareable. If you're in the Philly area and you're looking for a mate, definitely find his online dating consultancy. I would love to have a first-hand account of what that's all about. All right. Wrap.

[00:42:54] Jeff: Happy to talk about it more.

[00:42:54] Adam: This has been great. Thanks again, Jeff. I really appreciate it. All right. Thanks for listening, guys. 

[00:42:58] Jeff: Thanks for having me, Adam.


Adam Pierno