TEDx Nashville took place on May 6, 2013. Erik Qualman got the opportunity to speak at this event, and spoke about leaving a digital stamp. He started by reflecting on a quote he had just heard by Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. He argues that in the digital age, this is incorrect. After asking many different people how they wanted to be remembered in our digital age, or rather, what they wanted their digital stamp to be, Erik found that most people wanted to achieve their best life, leadership and legacy.
So what are our digital stamps made up of? There are two elements, our footprints and our shadows. Our footprints are easy to control, as they are anything that you upload yourself. Any text, tweet or post you put online becomes your footprint. Your shadows on the other hand, are things you cannot control. Shadows are what others post about you. Both footprints and shadows make up your digital stamp, which determines your life, leadership and legacy.
To leave your best digital stamp, there are five simple habits that Erik has, that conveniently follow the acronym STAMP. STAMP stands for simple, true, act, map, people.
In the today’s world, everyone tries to multi-task but the key to being successful is to stop trying to multi-task. When multi-tasking, you lose efficiency and therefore do the exact opposite of what you were trying to accomplish. On average, IQ’s drop 10 points when multi-tasking, which is the equivalent as being up for 36 hours, and far more than after smoking marijuana. So stop trying to do everything. Focus on the most important thing and do it well.
It is very common to do vanity searches- we all have done it, but now the question is what do we want to see. If there is one specific thing you want to see when you search your name, Erik suggests that you write it down. Remember what that goal is, and make sure that everything you do correlates with it.
Erik stressed that it was very important to focus on the output, not the throughput in everyday life. Throughput is answering texts, tweets and emails all day long, never resulting with anything physical to show for what you did. Instead of focusing constantly on responses, focus on what you want to do- whether that is redesigning your kitchen, or writing a book- do something that you can point to and say, “I did this”.
It is imperative that you know where you are going. The best leaders in today’s worlds have had many pushbacks, but they never lost sight of their final destination. Erik went back and reminded us of Steve Jobs story. Steve Jobs wanted to impact the world of technology, and after starting Apple, the board kicked him out, because his ideas and goals were seemingly impossible and far fetched. This did not stop Jobs from becoming CEO of Pixar, so when he returned to Apple, he was a better leader with far more experience. Jobs was flexible in his path, but firm in his destination. It is important to know its ok to fail, but when you do, fail fast, fail forward and fail better.
One of the biggest setbacks in online leadership is getting a following. Instead of focusing on “how can I get you to like me”, focus on “how can I give you something”. With this change in attitude, more people will follow you and listen to you. Do not think about what you are getting from a post, think about what you are giving.
By following the acronym STAMP, you can take make sure your digital stamp leaves an impact. Like Maya Angelou said, people remember how you make them feel. Erik also argues that people will and do remember what you said and what you did.