Before learning about his project of co-authoring Trust Agents, I didn't know much about Julien's work. Now I'm in over my head - and it feels right to write that. There's a lot of good enough thinking going around these days, I like how Julien challenges us to make decisions - the opposite of marketing fluff is, after all, a decision.
Do you stand for something?
After I published my interview with Chris Brogan, a couple of people asked me why I was giving him yet more press. In case you haven't noticed yet, I like to have conversations with people who stand up and stand out.
Call it what you will, changing the game, blazing a new trail, I call it putting the action behind the talk. If you're one of those people, I notice without you pitching me. I still spend most of my time listening and observing online.
That's why I wanted to spend a few minutes with Julien and share his thoughts with you.
First of all, your blog CSS is one of the cleanest I've seen. I know, mighty geeky of me to notice. It's a recent redesign, or at least I noticed it recently. I like to lay claim to good taste in design - the whole made in Italy thing, you know. So kudos for that. The simplicity of it does encapsulate well what I've read so far. Until Trust Agents, I confess I didn't know much about you or your work. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved with online communities?
Julien: I got into online communities around the age of 15. I remember getting my first computer, a 286, and by reading some books from the library I learned that it had a modem. From there I connected to some BBS's (local message boards) and met some people. Those were my first steps into making connections online.
I also ran flashmobs in the early 2000's. We built communities of people who were connected anonymously to each other by email, created missions, and got them together to perform them. We had a lot of fun doing that and got some press for it, which was nice.
Basically I've been involved with various forms of online communication for over half my life. It's as natural to me as in-person interactions are. Oh, and the design of my blog was set up by a team in Montreal that I have a ton of respect for called Stresslimitdesign.
When I wrote you and Chris about receiving the book, I said: "It's the kind of book I *wish* I had written," [see note] and meant it. Our exchanges while I was reading and when I was done - a page turner, loved the ending - gave me the opportunity to connect with you for the first time. You wrote recently about reliability. Is that in your view one of the core tenets of being a trust agent? What are some of the ways one can demonstrate that with digital body language?
Julien: Yes, and I picked that up from two highly respected people in my life: David Maister and Mitch Joel. The former wrote The Trusted Advisor, which taught me about how reliability is one of the most important aspects of trust, while Mitch taught me that reliability is key to any successful blog or other social media project. It took me a while to learn that.
Reliability is also *consistency* and that's what I would attempt to show with what you call "digital body language" more than anything. No matter how professional your words, you a need professional design, domain name, and lots of good references from other websites to support your professionalism. All these things that are well-known sales techniques are also good signals of trust.
What are the ideas and people that influenced you? Why?
My favourite movie is... I dunno, maybe Fight Club? That's all I can think of right now. :)
It's a known fact - or at least many of us believe it is - we each have at least one book in us. What made you want to to get yours out in the open?
(b) Once you get to the other side of any gate, you realize that everything is "not a big deal." So I've started taking this attitude *before* I actually cross the gate (book publishing, in this case) and thinking, "if all these people can do this, I can too."
Who do you consider part of your team? If you were to share a word of advice with them, what would it be?
What about you? What's your philosophy? How do you contribute? Are you in over your head?