Leaders, talk to your people

Plus thoughts on Facebook's Meta and the best 🎃 drop video you'll watch today

For the second week in a row I’m getting a ton of great feedback from other leaders trying to be proactive about “The Great Resignation,” “The Great Reshuffle” or maybe it’s “just trying to be a good leader right now” after my post Whatever Changes You Plan to Make in 2022, Start Them Today inspired by this TikTok from @DrKimHires.

Since then, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into what leaders can do TODAY as we try to navigate burnout, staffing, and getting ahead of 2022. These thoughts are primarily through the lens of remote or hybrid teams, and none of it is particularly new or groundbreaking. Just solid things we can be doing for our people in these super weird times. After all, empathy is the most important leadership skill right now and the ad industry is being rocked by mental health challenges and burnout.

🏎 Changes Leaders Can Make Today

  • Clearly communicate Q4 and Q1 goals, each person’s role to get there, and where the priority focus should be for each. Tip: try to do fewer things better in the short term. And don’t forget there are only ~40 business days left in 2021.
  • Limit email, chats, and texts outside of business hours and over lunch.
  • Implement fewer team video calls and replace them with 1:1 chats and phone calls. If you’re a heavy video team, designate a video-off day.
  • Encourage teams to take PTO, but more importantly, ensure coverage during that time off so they feel like they can actually unplug and recharge. 
  • Block your team’s calendars for intentional, non-deadline hangout time during business hours. Set up IRL time, if comfortable and local. 
  • Recharge yourself. Model good behavior. Leaders need a break, too.
  • Manage up. Tell your own boss what you need and how to get it. Help your boss manage up to their boss, too.

👂 Real Talk With Your Direct Reports

Meet with your team members individually and ask them a predetermined list of questions. Be human. Ask them how they are. Be open about how you are. Listen. Help them prioritize and delegate. And try to make changes immediately.

  • When you work each day, what gives you energy? What takes your energy? 
  • What’s the best personal thing that happened to you this year? 
  • If you were me, what would you do differently to manage yourself next year? 
  • What do you personally need to work at the office, work from home, or hybrid work as things may change in 2022? 
  • If I could do one more thing today to make your career and role here more fulfilling and successful, what would it be? 

Nothing too progressive in the above lists, I know. But they are a step toward empathy and controlling a handful of variables for your people, which is true leadership. If we’ve learned anything in the last 18 months, it is to focus on circumstances we can actually control and that authenticity, honesty, and humanism are key.

Here’s what else I’m tracking this week…

📞 If You’re Lost, Answer Your Phone

Approximately 70 billion spam calls are expected to have been made to U.S. residents in 2021. Spam texts are also on the rise. In the first half of the year, scammers sent 47.5 billion spam texts, a number that’s projected to reach 86 billion by year’s end. So you can forgive Americans if they hesitate to answer the phone or respond to texts from a number they don’t recognize. But last week a man who became lost for 24 hours while hiking on Colorado’s highest mountain ignored repeated phone calls from rescue teams because they came from an unknown number.

Key quote: “If you’re overdue according to your itinerary, and you start getting repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone; it may be a search and rescue team trying to confirm you’re safe!

📱Facebook Meta


Besides the Facebook Papers news (which you can find a compilation of ALL of the stories about here), the big Facebook news this week came from the annual Facebook Connect conference, which focused entirely on the metaverse. I “attended” the event in my Oculus Quest, sitting in a VR theater and watching the keynote on a big screen with people around the world. Learning about the metaverse while in the metaverse. So meta.

So here’s the thing:

The future of creativity and modern marketing is intrinsically linked to the metaverse. But just like the early social media days, modern marketers can’t just be students of the coming change. We have an opportunity – and obligation – to actively participate and shape how brands, consumers, and technology combine to create value in this new and emerging world. Visionary and predictive milestones like Meta’s announcement this month are historically important. Now is the time to dig in and start pushing the boundaries of ideas and possibilities, both on Meta’s platform and others. Social media came fast. The metaverse will come faster.

The keynote video is mandatory viewing for modern marketers. It’s a good 101 overview of the current and coming metaverse, a window into how AR glasses could reshape our life, and offers hints into how Facebook is planning to steer it, build it, and approach governance.

Of course, a ton of these examples aren’t realistic or feasible in the short term. There are huge implications for competition, privacy, $$, DEI, and more. Facebook is… complicated. But these visionary and predictive milestones are historically important. So it’s worth a watch. Set aside an hour and give it a stream.

But Greg, why do you think Facebook is changing its name to Meta? With the disclaimer that my day job and consulting work are thoroughly rooted in the major social platforms and they help pay my bills, I have some thoughts on on reason based on nothing but my own biases and analysis.

Facebook has an enormous education and technology fluency challenge across its business verticals and audiences – from general consumers to advertisers to policymakers.

  • We’re less than a month from the congressional misunderstanding of what a “Finsta” is BUT ONLY six years from senators openly bragging they don’t use email and showing off their flip phones. There’s a lot to learn there.
  • When Facebook went down earlier this month, a lot of consumers genuinely thought the entire internet was down. There’s a gap there. And an opportunity, too.
  • Brands are feeling advertising pressure with these big and looming changes from Apple, death of cookies, and now they need to figure out how to operate in the metaverse? It’s overwhelming.

So for Facebook to try to get ahead of the “metaverse-Web3-NFT-smart glasses-future of social” education gap for all of those audiences seems to make a lot of sense early in the adoption cycle. Sure, there could be some short-term PR strategy here, but it’s clear from this week’s presentation this decision factors in much more than political posturing. Rather, it’s a long-term strategy.

Making metaverse mainstream is crucial to it becoming mainstream, positioning Facebook as the owner/arbiter of what’s to come, and avoiding some of the pain points we experienced stemming from the early days of social into today’s very real challenges. Facebook doesn’t own the metaverse. It’s unownable by its nature. But by pushing out ahead so early, they could be the dominant player the rest of our lifetime.

Lots of people are taking pot shots about the unrealistic metaverse examples in the presentation and word “Meta” being so predictable and boring. Killing the Oculus brand in a blog post was bold. But these kind of moves are bold, visionary, and end up being historical milestones for consumer adoption/non-adoption. Smart glasses are coming. The metaverse is coming. So of course Facebook wants to be part of that, whether you like their new name or not. It was a big and important keynote. I think we’ll go back and watch it in the future.

Of course, I still refer to Alphabet as “Google,” so time will tell.

😎 The Seven Rules of the Metaverse

1013: Parisi's Metaverse Manifesto: Unpacking His Seven Rules for the  Metaverse | Voices of VR Podcast

Just because Facebook rebranded itself as Meta doesn’t mean they own the metaverse. It’s much bigger, broader, decentralized, and open that that. And just as they did with the social media revolution of the early 00’s, today’s pioneers and early adopters are now trying to wrap their brains around the metaverse to understand where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where things are headed in the next evolution of the internet. VR innovator Tony Parisi wrote The Seven Rules of the Metaverse, including observations and predictions about its control, accessibility, and terminology. It’s a great read for anyone planning to use or work in the internet and social media in the coming decades.

🐤 The Good Tweets

📚 Weekend Reads

🤯 Quick Hits

See you on the internet!