Corporate FTE? No, Thank You.


The very first thing I did as I drove out of the parking garage after getting fired from my position as the Vice President of Social Media at Live Nation was -- exhale. And I mean, the longest, deepest exhale of my life. It was so deep, it struck me. And in that moment, I realized this experience was a very, very good thing for me.

I was getting a clean slate, a chance to hit the reset button. I didn't owe anyone my time, ideas, or lifeblood. It was all mine again. 

After a brief stint partying my face-off in Miami-stylee (as one does in these situations), I came home and began a four-day digital detox and cleanse -- no phone, no internet, no TV, no alcohol, strict diet, etc. It was my intention to discover exactly what I wanted to do with my life next. I focused on meditation, listening to the universe, walking and appreciating beauty and grace, and writing volumes. I also painted. It was the second night of intense quiet, when I painted a bolt of lightening. And out of that bolt of lightening, sprang a  bird. A beautiful bird. A blue bird. And that bird flew confidently away from a city skyline and towards a giant heart. And, so then, I knew, looking at that painting -- there would be no corporate full time employment for me. I would use this lightening-bolt of a catalyst to fly into new territory -- and only work with companies with a heart. Let me explain.

It doesn't make sense for me to plug into an infrastructure designed 100 years ago. The silos and power struggles as a way of doing business is a broken and outdated model. Most importantly, I don't believe the full vision of social can be reached within it.

The full vision (described in this post)  requires an entirely different business architecture -- one that either requires a complete reconfiguration of a traditional business or one built from scratch in the case of a startup. Both are only possible as a top-down initiative. Without exception.

The architecture of a social organization requires social to be at the heart of the organization -- not tacked onto the side like a sad little tail pinned onto a donkey at a four-year-old's birthday party.

Because of social  media, every company has a voice. Which means, it has a mouth. Which means, it is expected to talk. And when it does talk, it is expected to do so with honesty and compassion -- or it is distrusted and resented. It is, therefore, expected to have a heart. Having a heart means authentically valuing and caring for your customers, employees, and partners. And displaying that value and concern through every single action, every communication -- every experience with the company.

Any company that has not figured this out, will at some point. Up until that point, it is not possible to reach the full opportunity of social. And I have no inclination to work within a system where I know I can't help the company reach the full opportunity of social before I even start. Half-ass is not in my DNA.

Don't get me wrong -- I am more than happy to audit, consult, and do project work for these companies. I just refuse to get mired in the political battles of the world of silos -- this effort does not create real change, IMHO. 

Cut to:

Startups are being launched in LA every 40 hours right now. And so many entrepreneurs get it. I mean really! Recently, I had a CEO draw me a diagram of the org chart he is designing with a hub-and-spoke model and he carefully wrote "social" in the middle circle -- Yes! Thank You.

And then I have a 20something CEO of a startup client who understands social is so important to his business that he rolls his eyes so hard I think they're going to bounce off onto the floor whenever I say anything about social being important. I can tell he is thinking, "I know, I know, just tell me how to do it." Beautiful!!

So, no ... I won't come tuck under your digital marketing "guy" in your big corporation so I can make a bunch of PowerPoint decks to convince him he needs to be doing more social. No more convincing. I'm over it. It's been too many years and if you don't get it by now, I'm not your woman. I only want to work with people who are ready to transform their business into the living, breathing, talking, participatory community member it can be. The type of business that wants to be head-and-shoulders above the competition -- in every way -- not just financially. A well-rounded company. A company that looks to create value constantly and is eager to explore the richness the social experience can provide.

I love lighting up the creative, inventive, and driven minds of people who already have their values in place. Those who are primed to take the orb and run. These are my dream clients and I've decided these are the only ones I'll be accepting.

So, unless your major corporation has the CEO call me him or herself to explain he/she understands social is the future of the entire business -- the answer is No. Thank you. I'm ready to make magic.

By Gretchen Fox, Social Architect at grtchnfx