Written by Marisol Dahl

mindsharingImagine having all the world’s experts at your fingertips. You’d not only have a wealth of information—you could use that information to make better, faster, easier decisions.

Now, I’m not talking about the Google search engine or even Wikipedia. Google can’t tell you which car to buy to meet the individual needs of your family, and Wikipedia can’t advise you on your next career move.

I’m talking about your crowd, your people, your network. They’re your real-life friends, Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, Twitter followers, and blog readers. Believe it or not, these are your experts. And all too often we miss out on tapping into the collective intelligence of the people who are not only most accessible to us, but also know us best.

In Mindsharing: The Art of Crowdsourcing Everything, Lior Zoref shows us exactly how to harness this collective intelligence.

Zoref calls this Mindsharing. With Mindsharing, you ask your crowd to think with you and help you come to a satisfying decision or answer. As Zoref puts it:

Mindsharing is a crowdsourced thinking process to solve problems, make decisions, access creativity, and create more ease and joy in our lives. Instead of thinking alone, we use social technologies to think with a big crowd. The process involves asking questions, analyzing responses, and coming to an answer based on the collective wisdom of the crowd.

Why does Mindsharing work? Crowd wisdom theory suggests that the collective intelligence of a group of typical people is just as good—if not better—than the intelligence of an expert. And in the age of Internet, social networking sites, and crowdsourcing sites like Quora and Reddit, the power of Mindsharing has never been greater.

Mindsharing in Action: Lior Zoref Buys a New Car

When Zoref left his vice president position at Microsoft, he had to hand over his company car. He then faced the daunting task of buying a new car, which involves everything from picking a model, to negotiating with the salesperson, to financing the purchase.

Not knowing anything about cars, Zoref decided to turn to his crowd. He posted on his Facebook page: “I’m looking to buy a new car for me and my family. I don’t care about the car brand. I only need it to be safe, efficient, and easy to maintain. What do you think?” A few hundred responses later, with people commenting on and “Liking” each other’s responses, the collective intelligence of Zoref’s Facebook crowd advised him to buy a Hyundai i30cw.

A while later, Zoref met with the editor of the automobile section in a well-known newspaper. The expert’s advice? a Hyundai i30cw.

See? The collective is just as wise as the expert. The crowd comes together, makes a ton of different suggestions, and then “judges its own intelligence,” resulting in the best possible recommendation from the group. It’s a fascinating and powerful concept.

In this example, Zoref used his crowd to help him pick a new car. But Mindsharing can be used for so many other decisions and situations as well. You can ask your crowd to help you pick your next career move, diagnose your strange knee pain, craft your résumé, choose a speaking topic, be a better parent, and even find true love.

All you have to do is ask. But as easy as Mindsharing sounds, it is an art. Only the best Mindsharing practices will bring you the best collective wisdom.

5 Tips for Optimal Mindsharing

1. Tap into a large, diverse group of thinkers.

As Zoref notes:

Mindsharing can happen only with independent thinking, a diverse and heterogeneous group, and without any preformed belief in the “correct” decision or outcome. Crowd wisdom is the end result only when you have diverse and conflicting viewpoints that are generated by a large group of people of different ages, backgrounds, and areas of interest or expertise.

2. Be genuine, be vulnerable.

Your crowd is more likely to help you if you share your humanity, your dreams, and your insecurities. People connect with emotion, and when you show a little emotion others will want to reach out to you and give you their best advice.

3. Ask clear, detailed, but neutral questions.

In your requests for crowd wisdom, be sure to give your people all the information they need. You’ll get better answers, and you’ll save everyone’s time. However, be sure not to sway the crowd towards a particular answer or a limited set of answers. Don’t ask yes/no questions or ask people to vote on a pre-determined set of choices. Those types of questions keep collective wisdom from coming forth, and they hinder productive interaction.

4. Listen to what the crowd is telling you, and respond accordingly.

The best Mindsharers tune in to the voice of the crowd, even if the crowd is saying something unexpected or completely opposite what the Mindsharer was originally thinking. Be honest with yourself about what your crowd is telling you, and act on their advice. Mindsharing is rarely about confirming the status quo—embrace evolution, and be ready to go in a different direction.

5. Treat your crowd like your significant other.

These are your people! Treat your tribe with the utmost respect. Take time to build meaningful relationships with your network: engage in conversations and be helpful and gracious when others Mindshare as well. Also, no “one-night stands,” as Zoref calls them:

Don’t rush things Don’t immediately go for a Mindsharing home run without first touching all the bases. You need to get to know your crowd and your crowd needs to get to know you. This is how trust and intimacy are built.

Above all, show appreciation for every bit of time, care, and wisdom each person in your crowd offers. Acknowledge what each person has to contribute.

Book Giveaway

We’re excited to give away a copy of Mindsharing: The Art of Crowdsourcing Everything by Lior Zoref to one lucky Life After College reader. To enter, answer the following question in the comments by Friday, June 5:

Comment to Be Entered to Win:

Try Mindsharing today! What question can you ask your crowd right now?

 


About Marisol Dahl

Marisol recently graduate Yale as a Sociology and Education Studies major. A longtime New Yorker, her interests include business, communications, and marketing. Marisol started her blog in 2011 as a way to document her college years and beyond. She can be reached at marisoldahl@gmail.com and on Twitter at @marisoldahl.

Written by Melissa Anzman

new job

Another goodie request from the Life After College survey!

The way you transition within your career sets the tone for your overall success – trust me, I’ve made some big mistakes in this arena. Most people only consider how their first day will go, what they should wear, how they will fit in. But career transitions happen more than just on your first day and will always leave a lasting impression.

If you are transitioning into a new company, most likely you are excited to begin your journey in a job that you are excited about. As I used to plan my first day at the many jobs I started, I would have a little panic over which notebook I was going to bring for day one followed closely by what I was going to wear to be professional but still fit into a culture I had no clue about yet. Not once, until it bit me in the behind, did I think about planning my entry and introduction into the company, culture and the people.

How to Transition into a New Company without Sucking

Do not walk in with your guns a blazing.

I know you are excited to add value and leave your mark on the position and change everything at that company that is wrong. Perhaps your new manager has told you throughout the hiring process how you are going to be expected to jump right in or start the ground running.

During the interview process, you probably made notes of the jungle of low-hanging fruit that you could easily update and change and make and impact. And you just can’t wait to get in there and start delivering and being everyone’s new favorite person.

Your boss has probably started to drop little hints that you were hired to solve problems, to make things happen, to improve the items you’ve identified… right now.

Your boss doesn’t really mean that – I promise. What they actually want is someone who is a quick learner, able to take direction, catches on fast, absorbs information that is provided, and for all that is holy – does not rock the boat.

If he or she is persistent that you start getting to it, figure out how you can get things done without running over other people. I have often used being a new employee to my advantage – say things like, “I’m still so new and just figuring things out, could you possibly help me understand…” or “Since I’m still figuring things out, I’m sorry if I’m stepping on a land mine here, but it seem like….”

In other words, instead of delivering solutions, present them – you will get a lot farther this way.

Chill out on the over-friendliness factor.

I’m not saying be a jerk, but being too happy or friendly on day one comes across as phony. Smile when appropriate, introduce yourself when presented to others, but do not try to make small talk with every passing person. Just relax and try to go with the flow instead of turning every passer-by into your BFF.

Approach the people you meet like a genuine networking experience – start building relationships from day one, and worry about friends or a great contact, as you get to know your colleagues better.

Know that you are creeping in on their territory.

Just like walking into a lion’s den, you have no idea what you are walking into. Your predecessor may have left you big shoes to follow, or may have left you a mess. Even if you think you know why that person left, you have no clue, and each person you meet could have been a friend or enemy of the person who used to do your job.

Be respectful of that and know that you may not be welcomed by everyone at first. They are going through their own adjustment period and possibly dealing with their own insecurities over the situation, so treat carefully and lightly, and above all else, remember, you are walking into their domain.

Even the most friendly and open to change people, can change on a dime when you step on their favorite project or they perceive you as adding more work to their pile or criticizing their efforts. Be careful and aware, and ask permission (instead of forgiveness) when you come across a sticky situation.

Take some time to figure out the office politics in action.

Don’t assume that the hierarchy within the company is the same as it was in your previous company. Titles mean different things everywhere and more than that; titles typically have nothing to do with who is actually “in power.”

Figure out who the key players are and learn how to navigate either with them, against them, or abstain from them. This type of knowledge will only come from sitting back and watching everything play out in front of you.

Keep your opinions or solutions to yourself (for now).

For the most part, new ideas or efficiencies are not welcomed – think about it: they have clearly been doing something that way for ages, they do not take criticism, even constructive criticism, well. You have to earn the right and respect to start moving things in new directions – so give yourself a few weeks at the very least, before you start providing radical ideas.

Instead of spewing out solutions, try asking questions that get to the heart of your solution. For example, phrase your idea like this: “I’m curious if this approach has ever been tried and what the results were.” This immediately takes the potential sting out of your opinion/suggestion, while letting your colleague provide the historical information and get on the same page with you.

Use day one as a day to “peak behind the kimono.”

Not only with what you should wear, but also it is your opportunity to ask as many questions as possible and start to observe the buzz and feel of the office as a whole. Be sure to pay attention to how others interact with your boss, and what the expectations will be for you.

And I beg of you – stay away from engaging in any conversations where you start with: “in my last job;” “how did my predecessor do this;” or “what do you think about my boss.”

Have any transition tips to add or stories to share? Tell us more in the comments below!


melissa anzman

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.

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