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Rocketbust: It's About Talent

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So Amanda is leaving Rocketboom–by now that's old news.  And rather than get into the drama behind it, I'd like to call some attention to what I think is a bigger issue...


...Retaining your talent.

Jason Calacanis
serves up some compelling food for thought here:

"Amanda has printed her back and forth with her former partner Andrew Baron--it's really sad. This is a text-book example of how not to treat your talent (and frankly, how not to respond when you're treated bad). The whole thing is a mess and everyone winds up losing.


Regardless, there are some great lessons here for business folks. When you're on the business side your job is to:


   1. Keep talented folks focused on making great product.
   2. Get talented people paid (so they can focus on making great product)
   3. Let talented people grow and support the hell out of them (so they can focus on making great product)
   4. Make talented people feel comfortable that they are not going to get screwed (so they can focus on making great product)
   5. Make a bunch of money (so talented folks can get more money and get more focused on making great product)" 

As Jason eludes, I think this development goes beyond the blogoshphere to a basic truth that we see in a competitive marketplace.  Finding talent is tough.  Keeping it can be even  tougher.  Is it any surprise that Amanda is moving her career forward despite that she's been "fired"?  A co-worker and I were chatting about this scenario last week before it even happened.  We mused about how long it would take for Amanda to go primetime–I mentioned how I could easily envision her hosting something like a Daily Show.  Amanda just has "it".  It is that thing–that separates her from everyone else.  The talent which is hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.  It was difficult not to want to watch Amanda–she has that kind of screen presence.



http://www.interactionsociety.com/blog/uploaded_images/Picture%202-772318.png

But it's not all about the glamour here–and I'm not talking about prima donnas.  Think about the teams that you manage who create, write, develop and build engaging interactive experiences.  Think about skills like the ability to tell engaging stories.  A talent for finding out what really motivates customers.  A sheer gift for visual or multimedia design.  Maybe even an instinct for fresh ideas and thinking.  Think about the talent that surrounds you on a daily basis–and what motivates these kinds of individuals.  Think about the challenges they crave and the rewards they seek.  Think about how good (or maybe not so good) you have it with a talented team at your disposal. 


Think about how you can serve your team.


If you are surrounded by talent, you are in a rare position you should value–if not cherish.  If you manage talent, it's your responsibility to nourish that talent on a daily basis.  There was one portion on Amanda's blog that really stood out for me:

"In fact, it saddens me that you have not had the time and/or willingness to significantly participate creatively in Rocketboom for some months now. We've sent you things during the production process, and what we've received back is criticism after the show has already been produced or after it is too late to make changes. Statements like "I'll continue to check my blackberry but please don't wait on me if it starts to slow you down" and "I will have my phone so I can still chime in but don't feel ever wait on me for any answers if I cant respond in time" really don't cut it."

Read between the lines.  What Amanda wanted was acknowledgement of her creativity.  Her performance.  Maybe even some suggestions to make her "product" better while was being produced.  What she got instead was acute aloofness and an "I'm too busy for this" attitude.  Also–it sounds like she got "unconstructive criticism" too late in the game.  Nothing kills the creative spirit faster than this combination.


So, here's what you need to know.  It's a flat world.  If you have talent in your organization–it's not difficult for others to see their talent in today's uber-connected landscape.  And whether you fire your talent–or they leave you on their own, truly talented individuals have a way of rising to the top.

Tip of the hat to Jaffe for the Calcanis link and "Rocketbust" reference.


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David Armano is a practitioner of Experience Design and a creative director for Digitas. He blogs about creativity, innovation and design at Logic + Emotion. David is also a contributor to FutureLab, the MarketingProfs Daily Fix  and Royal Academy of Art, The Hague

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  • by Eric Frenchman Fri Jul 7, 2006 via blog

    David, I enjoyed your recap and yes Amanda has it. She was the reason Rocketboom took off and it will be interesting to see how the replacement product looks. Look the image on your post says it all. Also, as sad as this sounds, it reminds me of Steve getting kicked off of Blue's Clues in favor of Joe. Everyone still prefers the Steve version and he didn't have Amanda's talent. PardonMyFrench, Eric

  • by Diogenes Fri Jul 7, 2006 via blog

    I, too , note with sadness the loss of a "talent." What makes it worse is that in most cases it is relatively easy to keep good talent. I say relatively, because one of the causative factors in losing great talent is that the talent generally knows they are good, and constantly looks to challenge themselves with new goals, new mountains to climb.Talent is just another word for "premium human capital." Human capital, it's acquisition, development and reward structure, should be the top priority for any manager expecting to have an organization that succeeds, and which hopes to have a future. In my business ventures, all I ever hoped to accomplish, besides the success of the enterprise, was continuity and achieving market dominance, however that was, and is, defined. In order to do that, the most important capital required was "human capital," people who are good, even exceptional, at what they do. Since everone can't be exceptional, a genius, it is incumbent upon management to make sure there is a process for acquiring, developing, and constantly improving the organization's "human capital." Most human capital is capable of being a "talent" at some level, given the support, development, education, and nuturing they need to succeed. In the long run, not understanding that human capital is the most important resource the organization can bring to bear on it's mission, it's goals, is a fatal management mistake. Finding the ones that can be real "talent" in the first place? That's one of the hardest jobs. Diogenes

  • by David Armano Fri Jul 7, 2006 via blog

    "Since everone can't be exceptional, a genius, it is incumbent upon management to make sure there is a process for acquiring, developing, and constantly improving theorganization's "human capital." Diogenes–I think we pretty much said the same thing, except I have to say, I like your delivery! I agree, that it's not so difficult to retain "human capitol" as much as it is to find it. But we humans are silly beings and we do things like take advantage of people. Happens all the time. "Look the image on your post says it all." Eric: Pardon Your French. ;)

  • by Jason Sun Jul 9, 2006 via blog

    Here are my predictions: 1. The "new" Rocketboom will fail. I will call it the David Lee Roth Theory. There will be severe backlash from Amanda leaving the desk. 2. Amanda will fail. Some coporate media corporation will try to hire her to be funny on one of their shows or video blog, and she will fade away. Sorry folks...I don't see her doing much outside Rocketboom.

  • by Ann Handley Mon Jul 10, 2006 via blog

    You know, now that Joanne Colan has reportedly replaced Amanda (looks exactly the same but SOUNDS way different!), I'm thinking the Brits are increasingly taking the lead in the podcast/v-cast world. There's Joe Jaffe, Karl Long and now Joanne...? Anyone seeing a pattern here? : )

  • by David Armano Mon Jul 10, 2006 via blog

    We Americans are suckers for an accent. Podcasts and Vlogs are ripe for the new "British Invasion". :)

  • by Mark Thu Jul 13, 2006 via blog

    What is rocketboom and why the hell should I care?

  • by s Fri May 4, 2007 via blog

    You know, I never watched when Amanda was around, I just remember hearing all of the reprecussive noise during the human resource implosion. However, I've watched consistently for 2 weeks now, and Joanne is hilarious; really fun to watch. I still don't know how they are fiscally sustainable; how are they making money?

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