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As we approach the holidays this year, we should all be thankful and grateful for many positive things in our lives. One thing we should be particularly grateful for is our precious right to free speech, as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Much blood has been spilled over hundreds of years to win and protect our precious right to free speech.
However, with the right of free speech also comes certain limits and obligations to use free speech responsibly - as we all know, it is illegal to maliciously yell “fire” in a crowded theatre (unless of course there really is a fire). Such an irresponsible act of “free speech” could cause real harm to other people in the theatre that might hear the word “fire” and run in a panic for the doors, potentially injuring or killing themselves or others.
Global media companies, including “traditional media” companies (TV, radio, newspapers, books, magazines), and “new media” companies (search engines, streaming text, audio and video, interactive web sites, e-books, blogs, webinars, teleseminars, podcasts) influence billions of people around the world. Global media companies play an incredibly important role in our modern society, but they also have certain limits, obligations and responsibilities as well.
Even with our constitutional right of free speech, there are certain limits on these rights, including laws where a person cannot say something in public that is not true about another person (called slander – the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation). Another limitation in our right of free speech is that a person cannot write something that is not true about another person (called libel – the act or crime of publishing a false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation).
Traditional media companies and advertisers often use negative, sensational, “shock and awe” information, stories, pictures, videos and loud sounds to get your attention so they can then show you some form of advertising.
Negative media is a massive and growing problem today in our society that negatively affects BILLIONS of people worldwide, and traditional media is by far the largest global source of negative information and messages, reaching billions of people globally on a daily basis.
Scientific research over the last 30 years has consistently demonstrated a pattern in people called “negative bias”, which suggests that negative information more strongly influences people and their feelings and emotions than positive information.
Recent scientific research suggests that people generally need to have a minimum of 3-1 “positivity ratio” in order to have a happy and successful life and be able to overcome the strong negative messages, feelings and emotions we experience in today’s negative bias society. This positivity ratio means that people need to experience three times as many positive feelings and emotions as negative feelings and emotions to achieve success and happiness. So how can we achieve a positivity ratio of at least 3-1 if the vast majority of the information and messages we receive every day from the media are negative?
Since our attitudes, beliefs and success (or failure) in life are directly related to our feelings and emotions, the more we see and hear negative words, images, sounds and other ”negative stimulus”, the more negative we generally become in our thinking, beliefs, feelings, relationships, health, wealth and happiness.
The “business” of traditional media is selling billions of dollars of advertising, and to do that, media companies and advertisers will do almost anything to get YOUR ATTENTION. Media companies KNOW that NEGATIVE news, information, sounds, and pictures will get your attention in an increasingly crowded global media market…today there are hundreds of times more cable channels, radio channels, newspapers, magazines, internet sites, blogs, etc. fighting and competing for your limited time, wallet and attention.
Traditional media companies have understood this concept of “negative bias” for years and have exploited this information for their financial gain. Media companies know that people respond more strongly to negative information and stimulus than to positive information and stimulus, so as a result, media companies highlight and focus on negative stories that are full of negative drama, sensationalism, fear, shock and awe in order to get your attention.
As Darren Hardy, Publisher of SUCCESS Magazine says about traditional media, “STOP THE INSANITY! It is time to take back control of your brain. You are continually being pumped with fear, worry and anxiety riddled messages. This could be having a profound impact on your creative potential and hindering you in ways you might not even be aware of.”
News channels like CNN and FOX pick a dozen or so of the “worst, most negative, horrific” stories each day to cover, continually replaying these negative stories over and over again throughout the day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – all just to get your attention! Traditional media executives are trained to believe that “bad news sells” and as a result, these traditional media companies are constantly pumping out “doom and gloom” stories and negative information to get your attention.
As a society, we need to absolutely create greater awareness among consumers about “negative bias” in the media, increase consumer pressure on media companies and advertisers to become more positive and balanced in their communications, and offer both media companies and advertisers a better economic model based on a “positive bias” and help change the way they attract consumers using positive messages versus negative messages, because the current “negative bias” media model does not really work well for anyone in our society over the long-term.
Media companies need to adopt a ”positive bias”, as consumers are becoming increasingly selective in which media sources they watch, listen to or follow online. And if given a choice, would you pick something positive or negative? And, as new online tools and mobile apps are developed that provide savvy consumers with the ability to instantly “rate and rank” media sources by their level of positive or negative information, this will allow consumers to instantly “turn on” positive media sources and “turn off” negative media sources.
These new market dynamics will put increasing pressure on traditional media companies to change their approach or loose market share, and will result in the growth of new “positive-minded” media that is more positive and balanced in the stories they cover and more focused on communicating positive information and messages that serve the best interests of all their customers and advertisers.
Media companies need to increasingly think and act like Steve Jobs at Apple would have acted if he were still alive today. Steve Jobs was passionate about changing the world in a positive way and Steve focused Apple on creating real “positive value”, unique features and benefits, high quality products and services that were easy to use by mass consumers. As a result, Apple became one of the most profitable and valuable companies in the world. Media companies need to follow Steve Jobs’ lead and do the right thing – focus on the positive, not the negative.
If you or I as individuals cannot abuse our right to free speech and yell “fire” in a crowded theatre, why are media companies allowed to “poison our minds” with negative and harmful messages thousands of times every day? I think traditional media companies and their executives need to be held accountable for what they do…and be held accountable for the growing negative impact their “negative bias” is causing to billions of people around the world.
As individuals in a capitalist economy, our greatest strength is our collective power as consumers to vote with our feet and with our wallets. If we want to change the world for the positive, we need to start by becoming more positive in our thinking, and more positive in our choice of media and in our communications. We need to leverage our massive consumer power and select and reward those empowered media companies, TV channels, websites, blogs, radio channels, etc. that are committed to focusing on positive information.
Traditional media companies and corporate advertisers are seeing increasing customer demand and preference for a “positive bias” in the media they choose to consume, and those leading media companies that provide the positive bias that consumers are increasingly demanding will benefit as a result with bigger audiences, more advertisers, greater sales and higher profits for those media companies that embrace a more positive approach.
So what do you think?
Last week, I attended Tony Robbins Leadership Academy in San Diego, CA and participated in an intense 5 day program with over 400 other entrepreneurs, business leaders and individuals who were focused on becoming better leaders in their businesses and their personal lives. The event was incredible and well worth the time and effort and I would encourage anyone looking to make major changes in their lives or the lives of others to attend this program, as well as Tony’s other popular Unleash The Power Within (UPW) and Date with Destiny (DWD) live events.
I want to share a brief overview of Tony Robbins’ 7 Master Steps for Lasting Change. The purpose of the 7 Master Steps is to give you the personal power to influence yourself and others, and to consistently produce the desired results by understand how a person makes decisions.
1. Connect: Understand and Appreciate Their World – What’s Really Going On?
2. Get Leverage: Find What Makes Change a Must
3. Interrupt & Annihilate the Limiting Pattern(s): Physiology, Focus, Langauge/Meaning
4. Define the Problem in Solveable Terms
5. Access the Empowering Resources & Make the Change: Find Empowering Alternatives (Physiology, Focus, Language)
6. Condition the Change: Until It Becomes Automatic
7. Test and Check the Change: Link to a Higher Purpose and Empowering Environment
In future posts I will cover in more detail each of these 7 key steps to making Lasting Change in your life and the lives of others you care about.
I have been attending TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco over the last 2 days and wanted to share some comments and observations to our readers. This is my 2nd TechCrunch event, having attended the last event in NYC earlier in 2011.
My colleague, Tom D’Ambrosio, our CTO, joined me on this trip and we spent most of yesterday talking with over 100 people about PositiveTALK and participating in “StartUp Alley”, a really cool group of 200 new startups that are announcing their companies, announcing or showing their initial products, meeting venture capitalists, meeting other entrepreneurs, listening to many other smart and cool entrepreneurs and venture capital speakers, and meeting the press. This event in San Francisco has over 2,500 attendees and is the largest TechCrunch event ever, according to TechCrunch.
One of my first observations is not only the serious “buzz” I hear and feel from the thousands of people attending the conference, but even more impressive is the fact that the average age of entrepreneurs today is about 25 years old. I started my first software company in 1981 as a 21 year old college senior at RPI in upstate New York, and at the time, starting a new software company at such an early age was rare. I have been involved in a number of startups and growth companies over the last 30 years, and its amazing to see such young people now successfully starting new ventures today. Mark Zuckerberg starting Facebook in 2004 as a 19 year old college student at Harvard is nothing other than pretty normal today.
Another observation is that there seems to be lots of angel investors, angel investor firms and even mature, well established venture capital firms today that are increasingly chasing the hottest new companies and deals. In fact, while I am writing this post, I am also listening to a panel discussion of seasoned VC’s all talking about opening or expanding “seed” funds, looking to typically invest $250,000 to $1 million in new startups. These new VC seed funds compete with traditional sources of seed capital, including friends and family and traditional angel investors, and some of these VC firms now operating seed funds are claiming to be able to make investment decisions in as little as 24-72 hours, even without presentations with the fund’s partners, which has traditionally been required before any VC firm would commit to making an investment with a new company.
This trend also is driven by today’s angel firms and venture investors needing to “have a seat at the table” with many new startups in the fast growing social media, mobile, content, commerce and related spaces, so that they can continue to invest in the A round, B round and subsequent capital rounds with the companies they initially fund in the seed round.
What is also driving this acceleration of the investment cycle by angel investors and VCs is the growing trend of startups that are able to start new companies with little initial seed capital, and the growing focus on building a quick functional prototype or initial web or mobile product with some key core initial functionality and then launch the prototype, app or site quickly on the web or on mobile devices, looking for initial customer feedback, visibility, and most importantly customer “traction” from real users, and tracking key growth metrics (users, page views, downloads, registrations, etc.) that indicate user acceptance of the initial product. Successful traction with real customers is what generally leads to a much larger A round from investors at much higher valuations than the initial seed round.
10-20 years ago, software development and physical software distribution was a lengthy and expensive process, often taking millions of dollars of start-up capital and 1-2 years of initial software development, followed by slow and expensive distribution of software applications in bulky packages sold in retail computer stores. Now, new internet, social media and mobile start-ups can build a new initial product for under $100K (and often less than $50,000), develop their initial apps in a few weeks or few months and launch it online quickly, easily and inexpensively to over 1 billion global potential internet and mobile users, using viral social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and “online marketplaces” like the Apple Apps Store and the Android Marketplace.
We are definitely in a new day and age and one that I am both excited about and pleased to be a part of.