Secrets are Obsolete. Transparency is the new social tech. (Just ask Jason Goldberg).

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“Google is not a search engine. Google is a reputation-management system.”

– Clive Thompson (Thompson, 2007).

In Thompson’s Wired article “The See-Through CEO,” Jason Goldberg’s sullied reputation (as a result of coy behavior during his role as CEO of Jobster) is an example of what NOT to do as an Executive in the new Internet age:  being secretive, lying, or ominous, and denying the truth. We now live in a reputation economy, where anyone can Google your name and uncover your past, your image, even your foibles. For Thompson, Goldberg’s reputation is in the permanent record of Google, where radical transparency is “a double-edged sword.” He also indicates that reputations can also be managed and controlled, once you know the rules (Thompson, 2007).

To Jason Goldberg, secrets are now obsolete. I thought I would do a Google search on his name, just to read the juicy details and dirt on his Jobster faux pas. What I found was astounding. The ideas that Thompson discussed about controlling your reputation online and becoming transparent as a CEO – guess who owned this new strategy?

The new poster child for transparency IS Jason Goldberg, and he has mastered the concepts through his own blog Betashop, which is a top link in Google. In the blurb about the author and in his October 5th, 2012 blog “90 Things I’ve Learned from Founding 4 Technology Companies,” Goldberg mentions transparency, along with many of the concepts discussed in the Transparency Library articles by Casey & Stephens in this week’s readings.

Some notable Goldberg concepts of transparency include:

#14 Position your desk in a way in which you are staring at your co-founders and they are staring at you.

#29 Be authentic and transparent.

#35 Even executives need reviews.

#39 Bake social into your company’s DNA from the start.

#50 Ship it. You’ll never know how good your product is until real people touch it and give you feedback.

#56 Only work with investors who share your long-term vision.

#69 Service matters more than sales. Sales go up and down, service lasts forever.

#72 Insist on perfection #73 But make mistakes.

#78 Do something, anything that shows you’re not just a robot. Let people get to know the real you.

#81 Tell a good story. #82 But don’t lie. (Goldberg, 2012).

Goldberg learned his lessons through trial by fire. It seems to me that transparency can be achieved even in the face of a fall from grace by just doing it. In Goldberg’s case, he learned the hard way, but he still learned, and as a result he even became an evangelist of transparency, including it on his lists and promoting transparency at his meetings. As of October 2012, his fall from grace at Jobster is no longer on page 1 of Google results on his name, showing that he has mastered reputation management as well.

For the librarian, the above concepts also hold true. You just have to replace “investors” and “co-founders” with “stakeholders” and “users.” Casey and Stephens make the point that transparency contains the three main features of open communication, change management and spotting trends (2007).  These are all concepts Goldberg adheres to in his blog, and what makes his everyday design company Fab.com one of the fastest growing companies of the last 2 years. His list of 90 things include many of the core concepts of communication and future scanning which drive Fab.com’s openness and forward-thinking, while change is not only managed but “pivoted” by the co-founders themselves to keep things fresh and on point.

 

References:

Casey, M., & Stephens, M. (2007, April). The transparent library: Introducing the Michaels. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6429283.html

Goldberg, J. (2012, October 5). 90 things I’ve learned from founding 4 technology companies [Web log post].  Retrieved from http://betashop.com/post/32913573235/90-things-ive-learned-from-founding-4-technology

Thompson, C. (2007, March). The see-through CEO. Wired. Retrieved from  http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.04/wired40_ceo.html

 

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Mickel is an MLIS and the creator of Library Currents. His inspiration for the blog was the SJSU course "The Hyperlinked Library" taught by Dr. Michael Stephens, a course that is also a worldwide MOOC. If you wish to contact him, feel free to write to Mickel Paris at librarycurrents1@aol.com.

10 Comments

  1. Patty Miranda

    October 8, 2012 at 2:32 am

    Hi Mickel,

    I enjoyed reading your post. I found Goldberg’s concepts to be easy and to the point. I agree that management should focus on one idea at a time and putting it out for review. When people put too many things on their to do list it affects the quality of their final product.

    Goldberg’s concept #14 Position your desk in a way in which you are staring at your co-founders and they are staring at you. It’s a great pointer for those in management that tend to hide away from the colleagues. That just sends an unwelcoming environment as well.

    Patty

  2. Beth Morrill

    October 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Hi Mickel, I like your post. It looks like transparency itself is what saved Goldberg! I like #69. Librarians can get caught up in circulation counts instead of focusing on what they are actually doing to serve their public. You cannot put a number on a well-done complicated reference question or even a smile on a bad day.

    • Rebecca M

      October 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      I loved this post too! (Subscribed to Goldberg’s RSS too now)! Thanks Mickel.

      & Beth, I agree! circulation statistics, or gate counts don’t mean much if you are not meeting the needs of the community, people might be coming in, and leaving once they don’t find what they need, or checking out tons of DVD’s that up the circ stats, but this doesn’t mean that the service is good.

  3. Pamela Hawks

    October 9, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Great post, Mickel! I love that Goldberg emphasizes being real. It’s kind of a hard concept to actually “see”, but it reminds me of every time a patron interacts with me across the circ desk and asks what my name is (because all the part-timers wear name tags that say only “Staff”) because they want to deal with a person with a name, not some robotic staff person.

    • Mickel Paris

      October 14, 2012 at 10:55 pm

      Being real is the transparency part! I think its also just about being honest. That’s the hard knocks that Jason had to learn, I’m sure!

  4. Jesse B

    October 9, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Great summary of the Goldberg’s ideas! I think you’re right on that these ideas apply just as well to social sector organizations as they do to private entities. The world IS transparent. We just have to learn what that means and how to live it.

    • Mickel Paris

      October 14, 2012 at 10:56 pm

      The Internet is a big part of that transparency… Google is making the world transparent. A simple name search brings up a trove of information nowadays.

  5. Laura Galván-Estrada

    October 10, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Just recently, NPR had a piece on how CEOs are so open now, and that not too long ago they were so secretive, only talking in public for purely marketing purposes or damage control. I guess that in the age of interconnectivity, they’ve discovered they can’t hide anymore.

  6. Mickel Paris

    October 14, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    I really wasn’t aware of how open CEO’s were until this weeks readings. I used to think that most bloggers just did it for the fun of it. But it appears more and more that CEO’s are doing a lot of blogging… actually any executive. I have a friend who is the CFO of a tech company and writes blogs as part of his job. It is really a big deal.

  7. michael

    October 18, 2012 at 11:46 am

    It is indeed a really big deal. Thanks for sharing the video in your post.

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