My December 2008 letter was titled “Inspiration Under $20.” I find myself writing about something similar this month.
Quietly, even under the radar I have noticed the increased focus and intense interest in motivational quotes. This phenomenon is most prevalent in social media.
First, we should probably go over what I mean by social media. Social media is the term used to categorize websites and internet applications for people simply to interact with each other. The premier and most common of the social media or synonymously, social networking, sites is Facebook. LinkedIn and Twitter, in my mind, round out the top three social media sites. I do not use Facebook but am active on both LinkedIn and Twitter.
LinkedIn is focused on business networking. It is an important tool for anyone looking for a new position. You basically put your resume on your linked in site and begin building your network which is basically inviting friends and colleagues. People in your network are called connections. You can search for people or companies. When you do, LinkedIn lists your connections that either work/worked for that company or are connected to the person you are searching for.
My LinkedIn profile can be found at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markgavoor
Let’s say Joe and I worked together at the XYZ Company. I probably would remember that relationship. But, I might have forgotten that Joe worked for ABC, Inc. a company I am interested in networking into. LinkedIn will also point out whom in Joe’s network or the network of his connections works for has also worked for ABC. If I am searching for a person, I will know if Joe or any of his connections are connected to the person I am searching for. It is very cool and very effective.
LinkedIn has many other bells and whistles that are very useful. There are groups where people of like interests, professions, alumni of the same university, and alumni of the same company can post discussion questions and jobs. One can import their directories from Gmail and Yahoo. LinkedIn is a great networking tool for business people. I often call it Facebook for adults or Facebook for grown-ups.
Twitter is a different animal. It’s value is not really intuitive. When I first heard about twitter, it was explained as a way to share what you are doing or thinking right now in 140 characters or less. The postings are called “tweets” and they indeed have to be 140 characters or less.
If the 140 character figure sounds familiar, it is the same character limit on cell phone texting. So, in another perspective, twitter is a way to broadcast texts. Who do you broadcast texts too? Your followers of course! There are three classes of members from your perspective on twitter. First, are your followers, these are users that have found or sought you ought and decided to follow you. By following, they get all of your tweets. The second class of twitter members is the people you are following. These are folks you have sought out or found and decided that you would like to see their tweets. The third class are all the remainder of the twitter members who you do not follow and who do not follow you.
This is all easy to understand and comprehend but the question is why? Why spend time tweeting and reading tweets. OK, it might be interesting at first to either broadcast what you are doing right now and read the same from others. But there is a limit to how much of the following you can read or write:
- What a rough get up this morning
- It is a beautiful day.
- I am on my third cup of coffee and attacking my to-do list.
- My boss is a total jerk.
- Hey y’all going for a jog.
- Good nite
Many smart people, including one of the smartest, my partner Ara Surenian, told me that twitter was the next great business building and networking tool. I did not see it. But, I played with it, read about it, and will admit that I still didn’t get it. I was not alone, many young people on the cutting edge of technology and social media in general were not getting it either. I polled my children, nieces, nephews, students, and found that the youth who text like breathing and have forgotten more about smart phones and apps than I will ever hope to learn, just did not understand twitter. As a result, they were not members.
So, why was I still futzing around with it? I came to realize in reading the tweets of others that it is a way in 140 characters or less to drive traffic to your website and blogs. It is a way to show expertise and share information… and drive traffic to your website. The more traffic on your website, the greater the inquiries and interest which lead to new business.
What does all this have to with motivation?
It all began on August 13, 2009 in the depths of the recession. A rather simple question was posted in the TopLinkedIn Group of open networkers I had just joined. The question was posted by Todd Gasparik from Orange, CA. The question was: “What is your favorite motivational quote?”
I was the fourth person to respond. I had a couple quotes which I shared. Here is my full response:
Great discussion topic!
1. "Knowing never equals doing" - Mariah Smith
2. "Whether You Think You Can or Can't,
You're Right"--Henry Ford
As I said, I was the fourth respondent. As of 10:10 pm October 20, 2010 there have been 4,494 more postings on this discussion and an average of over 10 a day for fourteen months. That is the most I have seen on LinkedIn.
When it hit 100 on the next day, which to me at that time was a record, I reached out to Todd. We became part of each other’s network and exchanged e-mails trying to figure out why this discussion took off so. I even tried to see if I could replicate Todd’s success by posting what I thought were interesting and provocative. On August 20, 2009, I posted a discussion question: “Do you think the recession is over?” I got 51 comments in two days which actually is decent but nowhere the popularity of Todd’s. Then my discussion just stopped.
Every day more quotes come in, some of them very good, some lame, many duplicates, and duplicates attributed to different luminaries. I copied my favorites from this discussion and others I had collected over the years, printed them all out on one sheet of paper, laminated it, and carry it in my briefcase.
In this same year while Todd’s germinal discussion was growing, a few groups dedicated solely to quotes started on LinkedIn. I joined two of them: Quotivate and Online Motivator. There is a discussion in Online Motivator that asks “What is your favourite quote of all time?” It has 47 comments in 5 months. The same question on Quotivate has generated 2,892 responses in 6 months.
On twitter, the number of tweets containing quotes has also mushroomed. Quotes are perfect for twitter. Many of the best quotes are short and definitely under the requisite 140 characters. Furthermore, most of the quotes that come my way via twitter are indeed motivational, inspirational, and sometimes funny. There are several members on are dedicated entirely to tweeting quotes. Some of those I follow along with their latest tweet at the time of this writing are:
- Motivational Quotes @AncientProverbs
“Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan.” -English proverbs
- Tom @allgreatquotes
"A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed." - Henrik Ibsen
- Charmine Shing @profitablequote
“To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
- Motivational Quotes @Sports_Greats
“A true friend sees the good in everything, and brings out the best in the worst of things.” -Sasha Azevedo
- Wisdomalive @wisdomalive
“The path to self-fulfillment is a journey, not a competition.”
- Steve Keating CSE @LeadToday
“If you aren't fired with enthusiasm you will be fired with enthusiasm.” - Vince Lombardi
- Mark Clemens @NeverTheTwains
“Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody.” - Mark Twain
- Tom Ziglar @TomZiglar
“If you don't see yourself as a winner, then you cannot perform as a winner.” - Zig Ziglar
- Great Minds Quotes @GreatestQuotes
“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” ~ Henry Ford
This is but a quick snapshot of the offering on twitter. Obviously, every quote tweeted is not a potential life changer. I do not relate to all the above quotes. I do like the Ben Franklin and Henry Ford quotes though.
I cannot even compare them to an old German proverb I read in the past few weeks ago. I am not sure where I actually read this quote but I wrote it in my notebook. It could have been any of the above mentioned twitter feeds or the LinkedIn discussions.
Start sewing and God will
supply the thread.
This is just a lovely quote to me. It applies directly to personal weakness. I procrastinate about many different tasks and projects. I wish that procrastination were an Olympic sport. I could have been a gold medalist… assuming I could overcome the gravity of procrastination and actually fill out the entry forms.
This quote is similar to the Chinese proverb from Confucius:
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
This quote does not resonate in the same way. I know that a journey or large task must start with a single step and many additional steps must follow. This I get. I know how to do something like a journey. It is a matter of either doing it or not doing it. That is a matter of choice and self discipline.
My issue is a little different especially when the task at hand is new to me. It does not even have to be a complicated or lengthy task. Often, I do not how to solve the entire problem. If I question my skills, the paralysis then sets like concrete. Yet, if I just jump into it and take that first step and start sewing, God indeed supplies the thread.
Of course, both quotes are very similar. They both say, just start. The German proverb addresses my particular procrastination and paralysis. Start sewing, God will provide the thread. Beautiful. It gives me the confidence I need. The proverb resonated when I first read because it immediately made sense based on a few very recent examples in my own work.
There has to be an economic component as to why quotes are so popular. People are worried. They are worrying about the jobs, their savings, our country, and the future. The Great Recession lingers longer and the recovery much more shallow than anyone wants or expected. There is a collective feeling that when all is said and done, we will be something less than we were before. This is referred to as the “New Normal.” With all of this malaise, it is quite helpful to read inspirational and motivational quotes.
When I was a schoolboy, there was a book people went to when they needed a quote. It was Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. It was in every library but required more effort than most people wanted to put into it digging out quotes to use in a speech or presentation.
With the internet, it just became easier. There are websites dedicated to quotations that facilitate searching by author or subject. Google “quotations” and you will find The Quotations Page, quoteland.com, the 10th edition of John Bartlett’s book, and many more.
Whatever the reason, there are a lot of quotations flying around these days. They are easy to post, tweet, and re-tweet. They are usually more eloquent than anything most people can write. People do not have to buy a book but pick and choose those that really resonate with them.
Not only are the quotes meaningful, inspirational, and motivating but they are mostly quoted from successful people that are well known to all. That provides an even added punch to the value of the quote be it on the laminated card one carries, for use in presentations, or to finish off a monthly letter to friends and family.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- I run long on the road, before I dance under the lights – Muhammed Ali
- Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas A. Edison
- When you are walking through hell... walk fast!! – Armenian Proverb
- A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. – Gen. George S. Patton
- Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. – Emerson
- You have all the time there is.
- Whether you think you can or think you can't... You're right. – Henry Ford
- I am not upset by events but rather by the way I view them. - Epictetus
- The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what we want for what we want at the moment.
- You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. – Wayne Gretzky