What’s your coachability score?

January 6, 2011

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

The world is moving faster, powered by information.

Keep up by being coachable.

I know the U.S. has education issues. See Waiting for “Superman.”

But there have never been more quality teachers available.

On YouTube, on Twitter, we can take courses at the best institutions in the world.

One suggestion is to concern yourself not with how many are following you, but who you are following.

When I’m reading and notice a smart comment, I follow the source on Twitter and read what he or she is reading.

We can learn from everyone and we can now learn from the best.

And don’t forget to thank your teachers.

What’s your coachability score?



Are our Facebook profiles stealing our identities?

June 11, 2010

By Michael Mark, CEO/Creative Director @ NYCA

We tell our life story to the world and to ourselves. We think about it, we write it down, we share. This is my name, this is my job, this is my role, this is what I believe, this is something I like. And we think that’s us.

Asian. American. Minnesotan. Male. 34. Son. Brother. Husband. Father. Buddhist. Engineer. Failed architect. Successful entrepreneur. Lover of novels. Healthy. 329 friends on Facebook. Likes the Twins, ice fishing, golf, adidas originals, the Clash.

These can all be true but is this really anyone? The more we allow our minds to absorb the material and the external about us as who we are, the less we may be willing to explore further to find our own individual essences.

Narcissus by Caravaggio

This is easier to do now because of how we are “forced” to tell our stories these days.  All of the social networks have similar blanks, depending on the site’s focus: business, sports, religion, politics, family. The forms dictate the ends: a series of boxes for us to fill in with “ourselves.” They push and mold us to fit, and in that act we become homogenized and less true to our real self.

With all of our information kept on one page and viewed multiple times a day by our Facebook “friends,” Linked-In associates, all our subscriptions, etc., it seems like constantly looking in the mirror and saying, “Yes that’s me.”

But is it?

I have heard, “This is only my virtual self.” But do others see that? Do we really see that as we move from page to page, hypnotized by the repetition and familiarity?

With all the talk of privacy invasion – this is theft. Spiritual identity theft.  And it’s not Facebook but we who are the culprits! Whoever we are. (I have on my profile “I am funny,” so I added this.)

Seems this is the contemporary story of Narcissus. Instead of water reflecting our image, we get our digital reflection bouncing back in bits and pixels. Nowadays that information is instantly spread through our networks and so more untrue reflections of our false self are causing mass confusion.

The latest advancement in social technology is the “Like” button. Seems fine on the outside, but having my likes counted, monitored, and housed by Facebook and sometimes  distributed to marketers furthers the solidification of my false self. I can see that it will better help them be relevant in marketing to the “me” of my profile but, in the end, I don’t believe there can be a virtual self.

I should thank Facebook for making me ask, “Who am I?”

Now, as I ponder, I am wishing there was a multiple choice box to fill in.

Nah, I’d never fit.


Yesterday we interviewed a candidate and someone else showed up.

March 3, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @ NYCA

The senior writer had his site up in our conference room. Six of us walked in for our usual group probe. At NYCA, we surround candidates like Disney hyenas. “What was the strategy behind the creative? How did the work perform? What would you do now to make it better? What’s your work process with other departments? With clients? What are your thoughts on consumer generated content and also social media?” All that stuff.

Suddenly up popped an instant message from a Facebook friend: “Yo.” We all laughed; well, one of us didn’t – she was texting on her Blackberry and missed the moment. A causality of time shifting. The candidate’s instinct was to shut it off and get back to his pitch. “NO! Wait!” we said. “Tell him you’re in an interview.” The candidate good-naturedly followed the pack. We found out the fb-er was an art director in Chicago. “Ask him to tell us something about your work,” we dared. The Chicagoan im-ed back a cheeky, “Good or bad?” At our urging, the candidate wrote: “The truth.”

There was a sticky moment of tension, the kind you get when you’re on the verge of something that could go either way. We waited. “You’re a solid writer” came up. That’s it? Really? In an interview, you say “solid” about your fb friend? Maybe it’s easier to be honest or inconsiderate screen-to-screen than checking references on the phone? But what if it was a set up all along? What if the fb-er Chicago art director had raved – would that have influenced us more? More than if he’d said the same thing later on a call? What is the persuasion value of in-the-moment testimony? There are possibilities here to change the dynamic of the interview by bringing along a posse. The point is today you can.

The lines and boundaries are forever blurring. Editorial is really ads, ads show up as content, personal conversations are corporately sponsored, friends are purchased or bartered for, so why can’t intimate business meetings turn into a large social events on behalf of a business decision?

We went back and forth some more; it was just too novel to stop. We even started interviewing the art director. As for the writer, the intruder event didn’t appear to sway us one way or the other. This time.

It just shows how accessible we all are now. Even in the protected space of an interview we can be found. And perhaps be found out. We’ve all checked on candidates, future bosses, blind dates and companies through social networks before and after we meet. Guess now we can consider doing it as we meet. It’s a collision of the virtual and the real – though sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which.

I’ll never forget that interview and the writer’s work was pretty good too.


I trust you with my life

January 20, 2010

By Michael Mark, Creative Director/CEO @NYCA

I read that 40% of the people who get a diagnosis from their physician will doubt the doc if their social network friends question it. Now, I like second opinions like I do another slice of cream pie but will this undermine the medical attention one gets? How about when people start taking advice from their Facebook buddies and start exercising more than the doc wants and have a heart attack?

And if this happens with someone who has gone to medical school, what happens when you are buying light bulbs from the hardware store and ask your peeps what they think of the sales associate in overalls’ opinion that 60 watts is the way to go?

People trust other people because those people are like them. Comfort is healthy when not numbing. This is a new shift; it used to be comforting to know that the person you were being advised by was different from you. Doctors would wear lab coats to show they were medically superior and perhaps cleaner. These days, fewer physicians wear those coats. Overalls once showed that the hardware salesguy was more serious about his handcrafting; that’s why he had all those places for his tools on his jumper. Now he is either in a costume or seen as a bad dresser. Uniforms in stores are rarely seen and if you took off the associate’s name badge you couldn’t tell the customer from the patient from the tool guy from the doctor. They’re just people talking to people. This puts pressure on the information over pomp — which is a good thing for all advice takers.

Still, expertise needs to be questioned in order to be trusted. I still check the fine print on the diplomas when waiting in the examining room for the doctor.