Monday, September 28

Alan Weiss on Twitter: Consultant's Syndrome? Or just a jerk at work?

AKA, "Some people just don't 'get' it," or, "An Open Letter to Alan Weiss, Consulting Guru."

I lost a personal hero today: Alan Weiss, consultant extraordinaire and author of books on the field and practice of consulting (books that I own.)

Per his blog, Alan recently celebrated topping a few more than 1000 followers, the headline reading something to the effect of, "Rockstar consultant passes 1000 followers." Also per his blog, Alan is working on his first social media engagement. Being the consultant and big Twitter, social networking and open API guy that I am, I figured I'd check out his account.

I was immediately disappointed. Alan follows no one, had almost no @ replies ("mentions") of anyone in his Tweets, doesn't update frequently or regularly, and seems to post mostly broadcast tweets -- no engagement.

And I told him so: "@BentleyGTCSpeed I hesitate to follow you. I love your work, but you don't seem to really be embracing and engaging Twitter followers."

What did this wise wizard of consulting, master of his profession, man from whom I already have learned much, have to offer in reply? "@andrewbadera I provide value, I don't think you have the rule book. Don't be so judgmental, your rules aren't mine."

Provide value? If I wanted a one-way broadcast, that's what your RSS feed (which I'm subscribed to already) is for. Twitter doesn't excel at, isn't predominantly consumed by people for, reproductions of RSS feeds, or one-way broadcasts -- that's what RSS aggregators are for. And ... judgmental? Maybe, but it's certainly my right to judge whether or not you and your account are worth me following. (Last I'd checked this wasn't Nazi Germany, right?)

From there the "conversation" degraded into Alan acting as though I had attacked him or issued an edict as to exactly how he should use Twitter, him protesting that he isn't "a herd animal." Then Alan tells me he's trying to "educate" me about my "narrow thinking." Alan, sorry pal, smart and experienced and education-capable as you are, you aren't the Great Educator. You don't Know It All. I simply offered an observation -- one you cannot protest, one that is not wrong, for it is my personal observation regarding my own personal feelings towards your Twitter account and whether or not I would want to follow your personal account with my own personal account -- and you turned around and spewed garbage and anger at me.

Alan Weiss, you've lost my faith. I will never buy another of your products. I will never read, nor pass on, another one of your crappy interviews (you just don't interview well ... or you just don't _care_ to interview well, and with my recent experiences of you, I'm going with the latter.)

Alan: Twitter is FILLED with consultants, and those who wish to be. A true "rockstar" of consulting, especially in this economy, could have tens of thousands of followers practically overnight -- if not hundreds of thousands, or millions. (That might be stretching it -- Joe Six-Pack doesn't know, nor care, who the heck Alan Weiss is. But 1000 is nothing -- certainly nothing to celebrate or brag about.) Twitter is the perfect medium for gurus, and you could be among the top, most-followed advice-givers, which could only build your brand and improve your sales while being hugely beneficial, possibly life-changing, to thousands and thousands and thousands of people. Of course, this sort of interaction with regular human beings (the aforementioned "herd") might simply be beneath you.

The reason you have a paltry 1000something followers is because you are not embracing the medium. You can certainly choose to use, not use, misuse or abuse your Twitter account as you see fit -- and I, as is my right, and as is the nature of social media, will continue to offer my opinion as to whether or not I feel like you embrace the medium in a fashion that makes me wish to follow you. If you do not care, as you claim, then ignore me instead of getting angry and parental with me. Arguing with me about an attack or edict I never issued, in lieu of thinking about what I have to say and reacting meaningfully to it, is childish at best, and exposes your limitations as both a consultant and a human being.

Alan, your first social media engagement would currently seem doomed to failure -- you demonstrate a complete lack of understanding and comprehension of the medium and its use, not to mention finer points of etiquette and interaction. I can only hope that you educate yourself and open YOUR narrow thinking.

Finally I must ask the reader, is this a prime example of Consultant's Syndrome? Smart, successful people so used to giving advice, and training and educating others, that we have a hard time accepting any kind of input that doesn't 100% agree with our world-view or ego? Or is it just a case of an egotistical, narrow-minded, churlish jerk being an egotistical, narrow-minded, churlish jerk? Either way, a lesson to be learned.