Sunday, May 2, 2010

How Does A Mindful Marketer Deal With New Challenges?

You can also watch this tip as a video on YouTube

I have taken on some interesting challenges and have had some interesting epiphanies related to the demise of inspiration in projects. In this post and related video I want to speak to my thought processes as a mindful marketer. The purpose is to describe the role of mindfulness in business, especially when dealing with challenges and changes. The post is discussed with reference to launching my new TV show AWEtv and how to promote your videos effectively.

Before I get into the how, I want to briefly touch upon what “mindful” means. First, a few definitions:

According to Jon Kabat Zinn, Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.

Thich Nhat Hahn says, “To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing.”

I like to describe mindfulness as a conscious awareness and non-judgmental acceptance of our thoughts, actions, and environment in the present moment. See Jan Frazier's Blog about insightful and profound writings on non judgmental observation.

A lot of research is being done on this construct in psychology. For purposes of this post I am looking at mindfulness as a multidimensional construct including observing, accepting without judgment, acting with awareness, and describing (Baer et al 2004). In addition, I add broader perspective.

I now discuss how each of these aspects of mindfulness played out in my new project of launching AWEtv.

I Observing:

This refers to the conscious awareness of what’s happening inside us and in our external environment. When starting a new project this is obviously a very good idea. Learning from our external environment is essential. Some of the resources I used to learn about promoting my new TV show on YouTube are:

1) Google: I always start any research with Google. I googled “viral marketing campaigns” and variances of this phrase.

2) Twitter/Hootsuite: I searched for conversations about viral campaigns on Twitter.

3) YouTube for dummies: This was not very useful as the information was really basic, like if you are just starting out.

4) Experts in my social networks: I spoke with my friends on Twitter and other social networks who have been producing videos or have engaged in viral marketing effectively. It was interesting to hear from the experts (e.g. Danny Brown) how long it took them to get where they are. It is certainly not an overnight thing.

5) YouTube Videos: I searched for videos on viral marketing and I also studied videos that have been viral successes. I tracked back their first comments (who was the first person to comment and how did they get to know about the videos) and found that it is generally people within their social networks or hired employees who start the initial conversation. I also looked for similarities in content and style across successful viral videos. I found that successful videos are generally short and clever or use sex in their content, tags, and titles. You can read the full post on what I found about viral videos here.

6) Online Forums: I realized that AWEtv is not going to be short, snappy videos and is more likely to be passed on by people interested in or passionate about the content and so need to search online forums that are related to topics like women entrepreneurs, local business, and conscious business.

Now for the more juicy part - what was going on inside of my head. While I was doing the external search, it was also interesting to observe my inner thoughts and reactions that ranged from excitement and enthusiasm to resentment and frustration. Many positive feelings because there is so much to learn and it is all so exciting. I love to learn new things (for some that may be challenging and that’s OK as you can see I had my own challenges).

For the not so positive feelings - I saw people using sex for very serious topics and even though I wasn’t shocked I knew that that is not something I would do and wondered if that leaves me at a disadvantage. Other successful videos were backed by a lot of money and power and I don’t have much of that, yet, and not in a tangible form at least. So, I can hear that little voice in me say, “That’s not fair.” But really, says who? Everyone is doing the best that they can, so on to my next point about non-judgmental acceptance.

II. Accepting without judgment:

This refers to a non-judgmental evaluation of the present situation. Observing the environment and what others are doing can bring up all kinds of emotions as I mentioned above. I started to judge things as good and bad, compare others with me, and all this can be draining or at least I started to feel caught up in my dramas, raising stress levels.

In addition to escalating stress, judging also narrows the lens through which one sees the world. What I mean is that because now I have strong opinions about why and how others have been successful, I start to only see that which confirms my beliefs – selective perception and seeing. I stopped learning.

But, I stopped learning only temporarily, because I am an awareness freak. And soon caught myself judging and getting caught up in the negativity. Something switched, and there was suddenly so much love and acceptance in my heart again. I felt so open again. Have you ever noticed that – when you are judging people negatively, how you start to shrink inside and feel closed and stressed? And when you feel love in your heart, you feel more expansive and open? And needless to say, one learns more in an open state.

III. Acting with awareness:

This refers to taking action with hundred percent attention and focus. It is the nature of the mind to oscillate between the past and the future. Very rarely are we right here, right now. Are you fully here as you read this, or are you also thinking of what you need to do next along with any number of other thoughts?

Anyhow, my last epiphany that no-thing is more important than what needs to be done in the present moment is still very much alive in me. So, for the most part I have been able to do what is needed with no resistance or struggle. It feels like I am moving so much slower than I anticipated, but I and breathe deeplydo what has to be done, joyfully. This mental state of operating where the person is fully immersed in the task at hand, has also been discussed as flow, a concept made popular by Csíkszentmihályi.

IV. Describing/clear communication:

This refers to the ability to articulate precisely what one is feeling or observing. This quality is very useful in so many ways – in my Blogging, workshops and presentations, in my interviews on AWEtv and so forth. Finding the right words to communicate is difficult when my mind has its own dialog going. I can feel the difference in my Blogs. When I write from the stillness within, words just flow. And when I am caught in some drama internally, writing and any kind of clear communication is such a struggle.

In fact, before I started my mindfulness practice, I disliked writing immensely. I always faced so much resistance when I had to write, which I had to as a PhD candidate. I justified that as an outcome of my Indian schooling, which did not involve lengthy writing of any kind. But ever since I have learned to find the stillness in myself, I can write, and write I do effortlessly :)

V. Broader Perspective:

I want to add one last aspect of mindfulness in business, which is a broader perspective. Conscious and non-judgmental awareness and actions make the lens through which we experience the world broader. I am not so quick to jump to conclusions any more, which leaves me open to learning new things and trying new challenges. I also feel the ability to integrate diverse pieces of information and come up with out of the box solutions.

What do you do to be more mindful in business? How has mindfulness helped you in your work?

Any comments, feedback, criticisms, please share…