By Yonatan Gordon
While deliberating over what to name this article, many different appellations came to mind. In short time I realized that they were all true because they each expressed a deep, heartfelt sentiment; people just want 2013 to be a better year. That’s why I decided to go with “2013: The Year of Resolutions” as the official title. With all the hopes and aspirations that come with a new year full or new potentials, our motivation is that these resolutions should last. More than just fleeting, inspired moments, our wish this year is that our good thoughts should all come to fruition.
The question then is what makes this year different than all other years? Sure we have new products, new inventions and discoveries … but isn’t that always the case? Is there really anything vastly different?
As we will now explore, the sentiments expressed prior to 2013 depict is shift in public consciousness. No longer are we satisfied with the newest. People now want to explore the greatest, the farthest, and the deepest that human potential can achieve.
The Year of Storytelling
One thought was to echo the statements made recently that 2013 will be the Year of Storytelling. It was noted in that article, how startups like Mahaya, Branch and Rebelmouse are starting to make sense of the vast amount of content produced on social networks. To quote: “Some of the most exciting startups in social media are the ones that help us make these small, fragmented pieces of content into richer stories. Every social media action we take contributes to what could be an incredible narrative. We’re creating a ton of content, but no one is really taking advantage of it.”
To tell a story means to take information (settings, characters and events) and string them into a narrative. To say that the content contained on social media sites is fragmented is not the innovation here. What is novel is the new-found hope that perhaps we will make sense of it in 2013.
As many marketing experts are now saying, the best way to attract consumers to your company is by telling a story. To say that 2013 will be the “Year of Storytelling” really means that it will be a year of connecting people to their interests and passions. More than a one-time event, as any good brand-building consultant knows, developing a company or narrative takes constant outreach.
It all begins by collecting and gathering together all available data. For these social media startups, the task could be searching through and organizing Twitter posts, or aggregating articles posted on blogs and news sites. For a company, it means uncovering the idea behind the brand, and learning how to perpetuate that message to a new generation of consumers.
What is not often spoken about is the implicit nature of storytelling. In order to tell a really good story, you have to already know the ending. What this means for us is that if 2013 is going to be the Year of Storytelling, then the information is already there. We just need the data miners, or brand consultants, to sort through it all.
The Year of Vertical Products
Even before storytelling came to mind, one of the original thoughts was to call this the Year of Vertical Products. In previous years, the public always seemed drawn to the new, flashiest items. But even before 2013 began, the Leap Motion hand and finger sensor was heralded as the gadget of the year. In truth, from Google’s augmented reality glasses to 3D printers, life-extension devices, nanotechnology advances … down a long list of technological innovations; it seems that the public knows about them all already. Everyone is just waiting for them to be released.
We speak a lot about transitioning from horizontal to vertical offerings, but rarely do we appreciate the full scope of this concept. For instance, if we began as a content aggregator (gathering together as much information as possible) and now we’d like to turn this information into a narrative, this act transforms the data from being flat or horizontal to rich and vertical. To promote vertical offerings is to be progressive; a protagonist or activist in your industry. In the context of our hope and resolve for the New Year, it means to turn more deeply into the products and services we find interesting.
The world of consumerism is generally seen as a world of distraction. People flit from one product or service provider to the next without thinking twice. To transition to a vertical mindset means to decide on something, and ride it out till its final conclusion. This is what companies call building brand loyalty. To position themselves through Facebook, Twitter and other means, as a compelling source of content for their consumer base. It was also discussed recently how interest-based social media groups will take off in 2013. Like the narrative that makes sense of fragmented social media data, interest-based marketing is another way to bring consumers into a richer, deeper exploration of their interests.
The fact that, for the most part, the most compelling products of 2013 seem already to be known, speaks to the need for vertical growth in the world of consumerism. More than making products available for sale, companies are increasingly vested with the responsibility to engage their consumers. This is done through the art of telling the ongoing story of the company or product; the continual development of the incipient idea for which the brand was first founded.
The Year of Superheroes
Our initial thought was to call this the Year of Superheroes. This idea came to mind after finishing our article on the forthcoming Leap Motion device entitled “Leaping into the New Year.” There it was stated that the most compelling marketing idea behind Leap Motion is that it takes pursuits that were previously deemed 2D (writing/drawing), and challenges us to view them now as 3D tasks.
Science Fiction is fond of discussing alternate dimensions, realities, wormholes and the like. What we find most compelling about these fictional universes is that the potentials seem endless. Similar to the call today by Jane Mcgonigal and others to take gaming into the workplace, people are more productive and optimistic when they imagine a reality beyond presupposed limitations.
To truly be optimistic takes the determination to persevere through situations that seem insurmountable, and leap on over to the other side. We started the year with a Fiscal Cliff, but each of us has our own daily cliffs and obstacles that need to be overcome. More than developments in the world of gaming, the best growth we could expect for a good New Year is with human potential itself. This is why we chose “Year of Resolutions” as the most inclusive name. Because to have true resolve means to take one’s hopes and ambitions from December 31st, and leap them over whatever cliffs get thrown your way.
Our message for this article is that all these names essentially express the same concept. That in order to move forward, from horizontal to vertical pursuits, takes the straight and direct trajectory of volition. Without positive and continual resolve, activism turns to aggregation, and a superhero turns into Clark Kent.
Perhaps the most universal theme for 2013 is that this is a year of battening down the hatches; to ride forward with great resolve and patience to make sense of it all.
The Anatomy of Resolutions
In Jewish thought, the closest way to explain a resolution is through the term “conscious resolve” (hachra’at hada’at).
The first thing to appreciate is that resolve is always paired with concurrence (haskamat hada’at). In Kabbalah resolve corresponds to the sefirah of victory (netzach) and concurrence to thanksgiving (hod). They represent the forces of emotive instinct that are responsible for spurring the soul toward decisive action in the pursuit of perceived objectives.
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, offered the following analogy as a way to understand the respective effects of these two sefirot: the ability to overcome the immediate obstacles in our path derives from victory; the ability to hold our course through dedication to our intended destination derives from thanksgiving. In order words, while victory impels us to engage in active combat with outer forces of resistance, thanksgiving seeks to overcome inner opposition by nurturing our commitment to a particular goal.
Concurrence, acting in tandem with resolve, results in a whole-hearted acceptance of the decision that stands to be made. The unanimous resolve of all our spiritual powers, achieved through the co-counsel of victory and thanksgiving, removes the final obstacle standing in the way of arriving at a definite decision.
The Role of Storytelling
Now that we appreciate somewhat the important of resolve coupled with concurrence, we can understand why some think that 2013 will be a year of storytelling.
The name of the next power of the soul is foundation (yesod), and relates to constructing new realities by means of the decisiveness of consciousness (hachlatat hada’at). The pressing urge to actualize oneself through a constructive attachment to outer reality is what inspires the soul to act decisively. This decisiveness represents the final forging of tentative and theoretical choice into a specific commitment to the world.
As we discussed in our book report on the Language of Trust, the first stage in engagement theory starts at the level of knowledge itself. The essence of knowledge is the state of attachment to outer reality, whereas the power of foundation seeks to translate purely internal bonds into concrete actions. While knowledge is one’s bridge to outer reality, foundation is one’s path to personal decisiveness.
When an author sits down to write a book, he is engaging his audience through the medium of the story he has to tell. It is the story that is binding the author of the book with his readers. Similarly, knowledge is the binding connection between a man and wife, as in the verse, “And Adam knew his wife, Eve.” But, knowledge is not only the sefirah that (more than any other) unites the masculine and feminine, it is also the product of every such successful union.
Storytelling then is central to any form of engagement. From company to consumer, teacher to student, parent to child, the story is the medium by which the speaker engages his listener. They used to say that the medium is the message. Now it’s all about the story. If companies want to engage the public this year, they will need to share and develop good and worthwhile stories.
Note to Reader: While in Jewish tradition the year is 5773, the civil year of 2013 was referenced in keeping with current public interest.
Photo Credit: orbablog.com