Happy Birthday to Me, and How Distributed Cognition Enhances Relationships

It’s 9am on my birthday, and already, 65 people have posted birthday wishes on my Facebook wall.


Several more have Skyped me.


Sure, it’s just a simple act – some might argue it’s only slightly more social than a poke, but I disagree. Frankly, I think this is really what the social web is all about: using distributed cognition to truly enhance relationships.

How so?

Ever heard of Dunbar’s number? Basically, it’s the theory that the size of our social network is limited by the size of our neocortex, and for human beings, the maximum number of “close” relationships we can theoretically have – the number of people whose names and faces you remember easily, who you can remember details about them, like what they do for a living, the last conversation you had with them, etc.

But what happens when our capacity for social relationships is no longer limited by our brain capacity?

Some people think that tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even CRM or contact management systems have created an illusion of having more “real” friends than we actually do. I suppose, for some, that’s true.

I look at it differently, though. I look at these tools as distributed cognition. Essentially, we’re making our brains larger by using external tools to enhance our memory. I can “remember” hundreds of people’s faces, because they’re right there when I interact with them. I can call them by name – one of Dale Carnegie’s most important tips for winning friends and influencing people. I can easily recall the last conversation I had with them with a couple of mouse clicks. I can see what they’re up to and ask specific questions about it rather than wasting my time and theirs with small-talk questions like “So what are you up to these days?”  LinkedIn already knows, so I already know.

Social media isn’t just a way to have a bunch of trivial relationships; used properly, it’s a way to treat more than 150 people that you truly care about like you treat those 150.like you would if you were smarter, or had better memory.

To put it in Virtual Handshake terms, using Information well demonstrates your Character and helps you increase the Strength of your relationships.

This isn’t a new concept, by any means. It’s the same principle behind The Mackay 66, a collection of 66 questions that uber-networker Harvey Mackay used to build the strong relationships that allowed him to build a phenomenally successful company in the face of much larger competitors. It includes information such as the client’s college fraternity/sorority, children’s interests and birthdates, their immediate and long-term business objectives, health conditions, etc. Before every call, Harvey would pull out the client’s file so he could have that information at his fingertips. As he gleaned little bits of information during the course of the conversation, he would note it in their file.

As a result, his customers were constantly amazed at his apparently great memory, and the remarkable personal interest he took in them.

Cynics might say that it’s just a brilliant ploy to manipulate people. Harvey will tell you that it’s just the only way he could keep track of the information that helped him show how much he truly cared about people. And that’s also good business.

So this is why you should wish your Facebook friends happy birthday. Congratulate your LinkedIn contacts on their promotion or new business venture. Comment on their blog about how adorable their new baby or puppy is. It’s not being manipulative. It’s not being trivial. It’s acting like you want to act towards people you truly care about, and like you would on your own, if you were just smarter. Let social media make you socially smarter.

P.S. In the 30 minutes it’s taken to write this post, 7 more people have posted to my Facebook wall and 4 more have Skyped me. What a great way to start the day!

Keith Ferrazzi Book Tour: Who’s Got Your Back

I enjoyed going to a kickoff event Tuesday night for Keith Ferrazzi‘s book tour for his new book, Who’s Got Your BackThis is a followup on his earlier bestselling book, Never Eat Alone.  He drew an audience of about 300 at the Grand Hyatt hotel. 

I had read a galley copy of the book prior to the kickoff, and the event was functionally a summary of the ideas in the book.  I definitely agree with the big idea of the book, which is that a major driver of your professional and personal success is a small number of high-quality, tight relationships.  I also agree with Keith that your support group can be more effective if you formalize it and add some structure.  Keith acknowledges that this is hardly a new idea; he’s popularizing the well-known concept of a mastermind group.  I blogged a user’s manual for a mastermind group back in 2005

There are lots of books out there on success and personal development, full of wisdom.  Unfortunately, the great majority of readers look at the books, but don’t implement a single idea.  Keith discusses this problem, and advances what I think is a powerful solution: building a group around you which will hold you to your commitments to change. 

I’m just as guilty of this.  Although I’ve been familiar with the concept of a mastermind group for a long time (at least 2 decades) i have to admit I have not formally structured one around me.  One of my personal commitments for 2009 is to create an active, aggressive, and diligent Mastermind group, and I credit Keith for pushing me on that. 


My notes on his talk follow:


Let me cut to the chase: a small number of relationships will have a dramatic influence on your career. 

Starts out by doing psychographic profile of audience: asking people to identify as circle, square, triangle, and Z.  (David: I would be amazed if there’s any psychological validity to this exercise.)

I’m so passionate about this because I think these ideas are particularly opportune

4x more people live alone today than in the past-an all time high.

Over 50% of Americans say no one has their back—and a lot of those individuals are married.

Describes our cultural lack of social capital. 

We’re an institutionally lonely ‘group of us’.  We as humans can’t live like that.

Our solution is to hunker down/carry more on our shoulders.  That’s not the answer.

We have developed program that allows you to build your own safety net/community. 

I want this group of individuals to try something new this week. 

You need a minimum of just 1 lifeline relationship. 

Asked who’s in the audience from Greenlight Community; about 25 people stand up.

In a study of high-performing teams, the #1 predictor of success was how much they cared about one another.  If you care about one another, you stop others from taking dumb risks.  Other models: Weight Watchers, AA.  We don’t have to invent anything. 

Certain individuals make you feel good about yourself.  I use Aunt Rose as my model.  I think about what she would do in a room.  Aunt Rose always cared about everybody. 

She was seeking a way to care about people.  She was always so helpful; ‘ can i get you something to drink?”  What if we walked around the world acting like hosts at a party?

These are all tactics that are part of what we call ‘instant intimacy’. 

Your personal success wheel consists of:

– giving back

– spirituality

– physical wellness

– intellectual stimulation

– financial sucess

– prof’l growth

– deep relationships

Exercise: tell a partner you choose your dream, and define your learning goal and performance goal.  And explain what you’re going to do to get there. 

What can you do to prompt people to approach you?

The book was conceived as a professional development tool, but I’m coming to the conclusion that the lifeline relationships are most important in your most intimate relationships.  The book should be an instruction manual for newlyweds.

Most of your friends lie to you.  You tell them to.  I want you to stop supercharging feedback.  People think that if someone gives you feedback you have to do something with it.  Feedback is just data.  You should want as much as possible of it. 

You need to know exactly what is holding you back.  Even if they’re wrong,  i want to know, so i can manage around it. 


Now I have 10-20 people i can call on as my lifeline relationships. 


This requires you to take more risks. 

Identify the glass ceilings you’ve created in your life.  The only thing holding you back is you.  Only you can fix your problems. 


A lot of people who read ‘never eat alone‘ are schmoozers.  They didn’t get the real message: it’s not about measuring the size of your database. 

The very things we want to hold back from people, they suffer from too.  Get over yourself; you’re not unique.

What you just did was courageous.  I’m cool if you say,
‘i’m not going to share my vulnerabilities, because i’m scared’.  but don’t say, ‘it’s weak to share my vulnerabilities.’  That’s just wrong.




Learning Goal: what you need to learn this week.

– Ask who can help you with that learning goal?

– Pick 1 habit to kick

– Pick 1 Accountability Partner for the week

– Call 1 person for a long slow dinner.

Big Investors Turn to Network of Informants

Nitron Advisors is featured on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal:

Big Investors Turn to Network of Informants
“For professional investors, something akin to what Match.com has done for the nation’s singles…hooking up middle managers from hundreds of companies with professional investors desperate for an investing edge.”

More (requires subscription or two-week trial)

UPDATE: Michael Mayhew posted the article’s text in full, without the graphic which discusses revenue of Nitron and other players in the space.

The Presentation of Self in the Information Age

The Presentation of Self in the Information Age

by John Deighton

Executive Summary:

In the past, we knew a lot about the seller of a product (through ads, marketing, or reputation) but little about the individual buyer. Times have changed. From the Internet to store loyalty cards, technology has made the marketplace into an interactive exchange where the buyer is no longer anonymous. The future market will likely be one in which personal information is shared and leveraged. Consumers who are willing to share their information will be more attractive to sellers and more sought-after than those who have bad reputations or refuse to participate. Key concepts include:

* Consumers will play an increasingly leveraged role in the marketplace by “branding” themselves and sharing personal information with sellers.
* Technology is making the idea of consumer branding a reality, but it is unclear how personal information will be used in the marketplace, or which uses will be the most beneficial to both buyers and sellers.
* Look deeper into loyalty programs for the societal and commercial, and positive and negative effects of sharing personal information in the marketplace.


Why Bother to Network If You Already Know Everyone You Need to Know?

In the LinkedInnovators Yahoo Group, the perennial debate has re-surfaced about LinkedIn linking behaviors — is it better to connect with as many people as possible? Or only those you already know? Or somewhere in between?

In the course of the conversation, Barbara Dobrinsky Holtzman posed the question:

If you already know everyone you need to know to accomplish everything you’d like to in life, why bother to network at all?

Here’s my take on this:

I’m not saying you should never meet new people – that would be absurd. But most people haven’t even scratched the surface of the potential that exists in the network they already have. To answer your question as to why to network, even if you know almost everyone you need to know to accomplish everything you’d like to in life:

Information – To learn more about them and share more about me so that we might discover those as-yet-undiscovered opportunities to be of service to each other. To brainstorm. To share expertise and ideas.

Character – People can’t know your character from your LinkedIn profile, and only minimally from a blog. When it comes to hiring people for critical positions or contractual work, character becomes extremely important, and you need people who know you well enough to vouch for your character.

Competence – Your LinkedIn profile shows what you claim to know. A blog is a bit better. But it is only through interaction – through seeing someone’s expertise applied in context, that we really see just how much someone knows about what they’re doing.

Strength leads to action. For all the talk of the benefits of weak ties (a misinterpretation of Granovetter, though, as I’ve written about before), there is in networking the concept of an “action threshold”. People have to know you well enough to be willing to take action on your behalf. Simply put, the better people know you, the more willing they are to do more for you (and you for them).

Can you honestly say that you have tapped into even a tiny fraction of the potential of the network you already have? What’s the point in adding a bunch more hypothetical potential when you haven’t even tapped into what’s there? It’s like buying more land to drill for oil when all you’ve done with the land you own is start drilling one or two wells, and you haven’t even surveyed the rest of it.

I frequently hear the argument for making more connections that, “You never know where your next opportunity might come from. If I don’t connect, I might miss that next opportunity!”

To my thinking, that’s “lack consciousness”. How much opportunity have you “missed” in your existing network because you haven’t really worked it?

The way I see it, there is more opportunity in my network than I know what to do with – than I can possibly ever act on. The purpose of my network, for me, is not to continue spreading like wildfire in search of new opportunities, but to filter out all the noise and let the really great opportunities rise to my attention.

In the course of that activity, a few really interesting people will get added, but I don’t really seek them out just for the purposes of making new contacts. They come naturally as a part of the more focused activity, and they are typically far more oriented to doing something immediately that’s of mutual benefit.

BayCHI: The Dunbar Number… July 11, Palo Alto

I’ll be in the SF Bay Area next week, and hope to attend BayCHI’s event Tuesday night. There will be some great speakers, below. If any readers are attending, please look me up there.

7:30 pm
The Dunbar Number, Unstructured Trust, and Why Groups Don’t Scale
Christopher Allen, writer & columnist, Life With Alacrity

The Real Nature of the Emerging Attention Economy: Seen As a New Level in the Massively Multiplayer Game Known as Western Culture
Michael H. Goldhaber

The Dunbar Number, Unstructured Trust, and Why Groups Don’t Scale
Christopher Allen, writer & columnist, Life With Alacrity
Trackback URL: http://www.baychi.org/trackback/1216

We are relying increasingly on internet-mediated social software tools for our day-to-day interaction with other people. To design this type of software, we must better understand the psychology and social dynamics of individuals in groups. Awareness of what makes us human is now often as important to the success of the software as is understanding software architecture and code. One particular sociological factor, the Dunbar Number, is useful in understanding why groups don’t scale at different group sizes. A deeper awareness of why groups have different behaviors, the nature of unstructured trust, and which current tools appear to work best at different scales, can give guidance to both the online facilitator and the social software designer.

Christopher Allen is a futurist who has been working in the area of social software for over 15 years. He founded Consensus Development in 1988 as a groupware engineering firm; Consensus later went on to develop the SSL standard with Netscape Communications, a security standard which is now at the heart of all secure commerce on the World Wide Web. He later founded Skotos Tech in 1999, an online game channel centered on creating online communities. More recently, Christopher consults for social software companies such as SocialText, Opinity, and various other startups, and speaks on the topic of social software at various conferences. Since 2003, he has been sharing his experience by blogging about social software and online trust. Some of his most popular articles have been Tracing the Evolution of Social Software, Four Kinds of Privacy, Intimacy Gradient and Other Lessons from Architecture, Progress ive Trust, a series of articles on the Dunbar Number, and a recent series of articles on types of Collective Choice.

The Real Nature of the Emerging Attention Economy: Seen As a New Level in the Massively Multiplayer Game Known as Western Culture
Michael H. Goldhaber
Trackback URL: http://www.baychi.org/trackback/1217

Think of the human world as a Massively Multiple Interactive Game (which it is). As interactions change and increase, we are passing to a new level, something that hasn’t really happened to the same depth for centuries. The rules, fundamental values, and just about everything else are diverging from what was familiar in the level characterized by the exchange of Money, the prevalence of Markets and the dominance of Industrial production of standardized goods (call this MMI). The new level also depends on human abilities and desires, but now what matters most is our strictly limited abilities to pay attention and our much greater (on average) desires to receive it. The full passage will take many decades, but we are already well along.

Michael H. Goldhaber is a writer and consultant living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. He originated the concept of the Attention Economy in the mid-eighties and has since worked to better understand what is at stake. His most recent publication is The Value of Openness in an attention economy, which is part of a larger framework of trying to understand how the human species and its apparent reality are constantly modified and changed by human actions and predilections that somehow connect with biologically evolved propensities. See, in this regard, e.g., The mentality of Homo interneticus: Some Ongian postulates and also Reinventing technology: Policies for democratic values (Boston: Routlege & Kegan Paul, 1986). His Ph.D. is in theoretical physics.

Shawn Gold, SVP, MySpace: Marketing in a Networked Culture

Following up on my draft post on ‘Business Models for User-Generated Media‘, I wrote some notes on this morning’s iBreakfast.

Shawn Gold, SVP, MySpace: Marketing in a Networked Culture

MySpace has 100m users projected by july

84m registered users, 2m new registered users per week (size of Houston), 48m unique visitors per month in US

2nd most popular site for content consumption on the Internet, as defined by page views. 29000 indie film profiles. 1.8m music profiles.

#1 video viewing site

#1 referrer to Google—8.19% of Google’s traffic

42% of YouTube viewing is happening on MySpace.


MySpace will become THE full service community portal

Introduce innovative advertising solutions while being at forefront of pop culture

DNA of Myspace Generation : MySpace is their place. Where youth culture gathers to express themselves, connect with friends, and discover popular culture.

Big differentiator from competition is the way MySpace is used to discover popular culture, i.e., bands/TV shows.

All the growth is viral—they market to influencers not to audience members.

Nielsen: Myspace reaches 51% of 13-17 year olds online (which is 85% of all 13-17 year olds).

79% of the site is 18+, and 25M users who are 30+.

Why so successful:

-A user’s profile is a metaphor for their room or apt.

– The Internet generation has grown up sharing their lives

– The profile is a characterization of who they are

– They want to express themselves creatively.

Children lack a ‘their space’. 7-11 doesn’t let them hang out in front; the mall security guards kick them out. They’re used to being in public. MySpace is a form of identity production.

Everyone takes pride in their medium. It’s ‘vested media’ because they created it.

When people say the pages are unwieldy, just think of a teenager’s room.

Social networks/blogs serve as a publishing platform for early adopters. Word of Mouth has turned into ‘citizen journalism’, which people trust more than traditional media.

MySpace allows brands to become living, breathing entities that consumers can interact with.

Best brand programs tie into self-expression, facilitate connections between people, or is centered around the discovery of popular culture.

87m stories in the database, and a lot of that content is professional. Every nightclub, every major Christian band, every celebrity brand, is in the database. They’re now slicing the database by professional type, e.g., if you want to reach all the comedians.

Basic idea of marketing: "Tell a Friend"

Average page is visited 30 times a day. If you’re in the top 8, your exposure is exponential. XMen has 3.2m friends. If you friend them, you can have top 16 friends, instead of top 8.

Core: identification and individuality. Don’t separate them—that’s Geocities. Understand core needs (identification and individuality), and address their core needs: recognition, knowledge, self-expression, belonging, access, discovery, appreciation, and confidence.

We facilitate this on a social networking platform.

Next speaker—-Shelly Palmer, author, Television Disrupted

Five buzzwords you can use right now. You will sound like a genius if you use these.

– Mobile video: clipcasts or streamcasts. He dislikes the term ‘cellphone video’, because not all mobile video (e.g., ipod video) is via a cell tower. Why does ESPN Mobile have only 2400 subscribers—because it’s $30-$400/month. It’s a MVNO—they own the handset and customer experience. They’re $30M in the hole. All the vanity cell services will meet the same fate. ESPN invested a lot of money into the technology. Behaviors change glacially. In the last century, fastest time to market for an electronic tool was Xerox machine. It killed carbon paper extremely quickly. Instantly successful. Normally new tools take 5-100 years—fax machine took 100 years.

– IPTV—Internet Protocol Television

– Broadband Video—call it ‘IP Video’. ‘Streaming Video’ is a silly term.

– Podcasting—he hates this word. A use of the RSS spec—it has nothing to do with IPods or broadcasting. Coined by Adam Curry. Based on XML spec. Blogging is the most popular use of RSS.

– Mesh Networks—each node connects or two or more nodes. No central server. Self-healing. Hard to shut down. Napster was a file-sharing network, therefore easy to shut down. If they’re wireless they’re a swarm. BitTorrent is best example of a mesh network. Cant be used in real-time streaming.

Oct. 12, 2005: the date that Steve Jobs and Eiger unilaterally decided to put TV shows on ipod—Desperate HouseWives. Very controversial with affiliates. The day the TV world changed.

"Contact is King!"

Different words for all of you in the audience:

Cable companies call customers ‘subscribers’

Phone companies call them ‘access lines’

TV cos. Call them ‘Viewers’

Computer cos. Call them ‘users’

2/17/2009: all analog TV spectrum will go digital. Your old analog TV won’t work. The good news: all the old analog frequencies will be reclaimed by the gov’t and auctioned off. Most likely it will be used to create a large broadband cloud—WiMAX? No longer will you use a little local wifi network—you’ll use the large broadband cloud. Hermistown, OR has largest broadband cloud in America: 700 sq miles, 5 megabits. It’s like living in Star Trek. Cant handle lots of streaming video/VOIP, but it’s enough for email. Intel is banking heavily on WiMAX.

Every cell phone call ends with ‘hello’, instead of ‘goodbye’, because of connectivity problems


Shawn: They review every photo/video uploaded to myspace

Any member can report objectionable content

25000 volunteers police school site

Algorithms that search for underage kids—e.g., mentioning 12 candles on a birthday cake. They kick off 5000 underage kids/day.

Myspace is the size of two Californias—and the crime on the site is equivalent to 5 blocks in NYC

Seeking E-Commerce / Search Experts for San Francisco Hedge Fund Dinner

I’ll be visiting the Bay Area July 9-12 (and maybe later). I hope that people with relevant Internet background will join us at the dinner below.

Seeking E-Commerce / Search Experts for San Francisco Hedge Fund Dinner
July 10, 2006

We are organizing a dinner for E-Commerce / Internet Experts to talk with hedge fund investors interested in these sectors. This invitation-only event will be in San Francisco on July 10. You will have a chance to talk informally with some of the major hedge fund investors in the Internet/E-Commerce/Search sectors.

We’re looking for senior industry experts with the following backgrounds:

+ Search-engine-optimization

+ Paid search (or general online) marketing from the perspective of a major ecommerce business

+ Voice-over-IP executive/expert (e.g., Skype, Vonage, etc.)

+ Large eBay power-seller, or someone knowledgeable about the eBay drop-off franchise business (e.g., Auctiondrop, iSoldit, QuickDrop, etc.)

+ Online travel industry – possibly with experience at a meta-search travel site (e.g., SideStep, Farechase, Kayak, Mobissimo, etc.)

+ Executive or expert familiar with the job search or jobs classified business (e.g., Monster.com, Craigslist.org, HotJobs.com, Careerbuilder.com, Dice.com, Indeed.com)

+ People familiar with the competitive environments of the following companies: Audible.com, Amazon, Ebay, Monster, Netflix, Blockbuster Online, Overstock, Red Envelope, Bluenile, CNet, Google, Infospace, iVillage, Microsoft online, Yahoo, Orbitz, Ctrip, Expedia, Travelzoo, Skype, etc…

Qualifications: As an expert, you have at least four years senior experience in the Internet/e-commerce space. You have a “big picture” perspective on different firms in the space.

If you are not already a member of our Circle of Experts, please visit http://www.circleofexperts.com/apply-form.html?i=11 and apply to be a member of the Nitron Advisors Circle of Experts. Otherwise, please contact Eric Shahinian, 1-212-682-6334, eshahinian(at)nitronadvisors.com, with any further questions. Please note that we must review your bio and talk with you before we can accept you for the dinner.

TieCON East: Trends in Online Networks and Social Software

My colleague Scott Lichtman took some detailed notes on the TieCONEast panel last week on Trends in Online Networks and Social Software.



Angela Biever is Managing Director for the Consumer Internet sector within Intel Capital, Intel’s corporate venturing organization. She assumed this role in early 2006. Angela’s team recently invested in online blogging company SixApart and is interested in new computing models being generated by Web2.0. Prior to this, Angela was General Manager of Intel’s New Business Initiatives (NBI), a center for new business creation that also resides within Intel Capital.

Prior to joining Intel in 1999, Angela was a senior executive at First Data Corporation. She was President of one of its operating subsidiaries and also served on the Company’s Senior Management Committee, a group providing policy and direction for the then $2 billion information and transaction processor. During her tenure at First Data Corporation, Angela held positions as the Chief Administrative Officer of the Company, played a key role in its IPO, and was SVP of Finance and Business Development.

Angela has also held senior management positions at American Express Company and Time Inc, and was a consultant at McKinsey & Co.

Angela has been a member of the Board of Directors of Raymond James Financial since 1997 and is currently Chairman of its Audit Committee. She has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a degree in business from Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.

Tim DeMello

Tim is founder, Chairman and CEO of Ziggs, Inc., his fourth start-up venture. In addition, Tim is the founder and creator of iGuess Games LLC. iGuess Games has created the first board game powered by Internet. The game, Favorite 4, will be introduced for Christmas 2006.

Prior to founding Ziggs, Tim founded Streamline.com, one of the pioneering companies in ecommerce in 1993, and took the company public in June of 1999. Prior to Streamline, Tim founded his first start-up company, Replica Corporation, an interactive educational and entertainment company. Tim sold his interest in Replica in 1993.

Tim began his career as a stockbroker in 1981 and was employed by Kidder, Peabody & Co., becoming a Vice President in 1984, and then he joined the investment firm L.F. Rothschild, Unterberg, Towbin as a Vice President in 1985. He received his bachelor of science degree in Finance from Babson College where he also lettered in baseball and hockey. In addition, Tim started the Babson College rugby team. He has served on Babson’s Board of Trustees.

Tim has made numerous speaking appearances at the MIT Enterprise Forum, Fast Company Magazine and Inc. Magazine conferences, as well as regular speeches on entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School, Boston University, MIT Sloan School, FW Olin Graduate School of Business, Bentley College and his alma mata, Babson College. He has also been featured in stories in Business Week, Forbes, Fortune, USA TODAY and The Wall Street Journal. Tim has been a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards and was recognized as one of Boston Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40. Tim was selected by Inc. Magazine as a top entrepreneur in their “Birthing of Giants” program and his first company was honored with a cover story in the magazine and listed as one of the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Companies.

He is an active competitor in the sport of triathlon and is an Ironman finisher. He is the father of two children and lives in Boston…where his dream about the day when the Red Sox finally win the World Series came true!

Torsten Jacobi
Torsten Jacobi or ‘TJ’ is a serial entrepreneur and investor with experience in software and media. Torsten currently serves Creative Weblogging Ltd as its CEO and director. Prior to Creative Weblogging, Torsten started SRM company newtron and the local chapter of First Tuesday in Saxony, Germany. TJ also co-founded Euro Venture Partners, a network of pan-European network of business angels.

John Younger

John is President, CEO and Founder, Accolo. For over 16 years, John has successfully identified and incorporated major trends and technologies affecting the recruitment landscape.

In January 2000 John founded Accolo, an innovator in networking-based Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO). John’s passion to dramatically improve how people and jobs find each other is rooted in his deep understanding of technology, the recruitment process, and a core belief that everyone deserves courtesy and respect. This idea is central to Accolo’s vision, methods, and communications.

John’s vision for a completely outsourced staffing solution led him to found y/net in January 1996. After a successful launch of y/net, TriNet acquired John and his company in November 1996 where he remained until December 1999. TriNet was one of Inc. Magazine’s 500 fastest growing companies in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999.

From 1987 to 1994, John was the Vice President of Human Resources for Bank of America where he led technical recruitment for an organization of 16,000 people.

John has successfully identified, incorporated and advanced recruitment solutions for over 16 years. He was Resumix user #2 in 1988 and established the first Vendor on Premises for both Bank of America and Olsten Corporation in 1992. He was an early adopter of Internet recruiting with the On-Line Career Center (to later become Monster) in 1993, and was Hire.com user #4 while running his Venture Talent recruitment Agency in 1998.

John earned a degree from Notre Dame in Mathematics and Computer Science and is a former member of the United States National (Olympic) Rowing Team.

David Teten


Scott Lichtman’s Notes

Biever: Intel Capital largest investor in IT startups in the worldup. 100 investment professionals. Portfolio of 300 companies. Recently decided to focus on consumer internet, but have touched on it in the past. Invested in Six-Apart.

Even Web 1.0, e.g eBay, was community-based, based on common interests or objectives. Now, you’re seeing changing social customs. People spend more time on the internet than on broadcast TV.

Wonders about: looking on MySpace and see people with “800,000 friends.” What business model will allow them to sustain themselves. Ads, transactions are possible, subscription/premium type services. These will be increasingly targeted.

John Younger:
First, i’m happy to announce the acquisition by Accolo of Teten Executive Recruiting. (Editor: Details coming shortly on that topic.)

Recruitment Process Outsourcer – become your company’s internal recruiting function.
Working the same problem for 19 years – finding the perfect person for a job, eliminating all obstacles between hirer and the best candidate.

Four trends:
Social networking. Accolo’s Career Network is over 300,000 people.
Business Process Outsourcing – reruiting is the fastest growing segment
Software as a service
Candidate Scarcity – over 9,000 documented personal referrals

The productive of a recruiter’s pace of placing someone hasn’t changed since 1963.

Top 3 reasons candidates and members love accolo:
Real jobs verified directly with the hiring manager
Respect, confidentiality and follow-up
Easy for the two people who matter

94% of people who apply for jobs never hear back from anyone, ever.

Uses Google paradigm for ease of use. Any firm that can put only two buttons on the interface – ‘search’ and ‘I’m feeling lucky’ – is a genius.

Their cost comes in routinely under 9% of first year compensation, sometimes under 4-5%, vs. 20-30% for the average recruiter.

Social Networking implies public visibility. If Metcalfe’s law means the value of a network is proprtional to the square of the number of users of the system, what does that do to your personal and corporate risk equation?


There will be a separation of personal and business social networks online. Some people are attempting to post multiple personalities, but they are all searchable.

Younger people don’t realize the consequences of posting semi-scandalous information and images about themselves on personal sites.
Story: they had interns working last summer for them. DeMello heard one intern hadn’t been working as hard. He was referred to MySpace/Facebook. Intern actually posted on MySpace where he said he spends the day screwing around at work. Intern said “I guess this is the part where I leave.” => Young people can be screened via FaceBook.

Ziggs allows people to post their own identity for free. Your professional identity on the web can be consciously framed. This is a “flight to quality.” Where you post your identify affects people’s perception of you.

57m times a day proper names will be searched on the internet.

Growing a business like this is about the first 1,000 profiles. The firms need to vet the first 1,000 profiles, which sets the guideposts for what other people post.

Torsten Jacobi– Creative Weblogging:

They hire some of the most influential and well-read bloggers on specialty topics.
They also work with more than 1500 citizen reporters. They contribute additional stories while building their reputation.

Teten: number one reason people come to TIECon East is for networking. Do online networks make face to face networking less important?

Tim doesn’t think online networks doesn’t weaken the need for in-person. It’s an “add” rather than a replacement.

John – has anyone read Bowling Alone? Bowling fills a social need. Online connectivity is replacing the lack of in-person connectivity.

Angela – complexity of the world we live in requires more tools. More cross-border deals, multi-party solutions. Online tools help manage this complexity.

Teten: Torsten is getting a lot of content from citizen reporters. How do you screen their content for validity/liability (eg stock recommendations, spam)?

Torsten – Our filtering mechanism is based on keywords, clicks and track record. Finds out what are the most interesting stories for the community. We also use this filters on spam and useless, mundane contributions.

Teten: Story: A friend “John” sent in for a job, the letter said check out my web site. Some readers thought this was self-aggrandizing to have your own web site.

Tim: People are getting smarter about this trend. People will think about how they want to be represented online. Years ago, people would buy the johndoe.com website and build their own. Now people want a template to populate content but not worry about layout or hosting. There will still be a creative flair but the effort and extremes will be tailed back.

Teten: John, how do you overcome barriers to sale in an outsourced business?
John – not easily. Any disruptive outsourcing play has to be sold at high enough level in the business to overcome the lower-level managers (HR) who want things to remain the same. They encounter
-Ignorance at manager level
-Complacency – at sourcing manager who things an applicant tracking system bandaid will solve the whole problem.
-Fear – recruiter will blanch at the metrics that Accolo can produce.

They focus on companies from 300 to 1,000 employees. The problem Accolo solves includes eliminating time to hire multiple recruiting agencies. The business process gets better after the first hiring – this is better than just getting one good hire.

Teten – How can people best use your service?

Torsten – people find good blogs by entering a normal keyword in google and add the word “blog”. There are some blog search engines like Technorati, AskJeeves has come up with a good one, Google and Yahoo have come up with their own. They are “good enough.” His best tool is to evaluate how many google backlinks go into a blog. He checks AskJeeves.com and technorati.com (check spelling).

DeMello: Ziggs vs. LinkedIn – both free. LinkedIn is closed, Ziggs is open, we don’t gate around you. Ziggs is Pagerank 6-7 in google. Search engines come to Ziggs looking for profiles on people. If you can post a profile that makes sense for free, it makes sense. They have 3-4m profiles. All words in a profile are saved because they may be relevant by search engines. He believes there will be 3-4 major professional networks online.

Younger: Accolo treats your informationally as confidentially as a credit card company if not better. They want to build career-long relationships. Some people take a fulltime job and stay four years, or a contract job and also stay for four years. It’s simple to get started – 90 seconds – then Accolo will reach out to you 1-2x per year about jobs


What are trends for consumer Internet and convergence with education?

Biever: recalls interest in this space 5 years ago. Hasn’t focused on this recently but hears there are things going on.

Julian Borne from (PoxPro). Good article on internet/social networks going mobile. With wireless/proximity social networking, it brings people face to face when they’re nearby each other. What’s progress in this space?

Torsten – are people with online social networks really looking for face to face interaction? Online allows for quick, informal interactions. You only go forward if you really want to. Torsten is already delivering their content on cell phone screens. Bandwidth issues (including typing on phones) makes rich interaction hard. He expects 50% of relevant content on the Internet to be on mobile phones in a few years.

Teten: The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed. Look at countries that are heavily wireless. And kids in high school today will take their tools to the corporate world.

Younger – personal view on the mobile side. The form factor is too small for many things. But as a business person, it can solve many problems. What if Plaxo could (link with the database of people at this event) and tell me who I should be meeting.

Myspace & User-Generated Media, 6/23, NYC event

I’ll be speaking at this event, and I hope that you can join us:

Friday, June 23, 2006, 7:30am – 10:00am
New York, Cresa Executive Center – 100 Park Ave. at 41st. St.

Shawn Gold, MySpace

Shelly Palmer, Advanced Media Ventures Group
David Teten, NitronAdvisors

How to Profit from “Media Disrupted”. The fastest gowing media are putting the power of content into the hands of the viewers. How is that changing the rules of the game? How is it being monetized? How is it affecting the broadband and wireless content landscape? How are other digital marketers, entrepreneurs and investors taking advantage of this new wave of development?