Loyalty, adoption, inspirational leadership … and SL

Simon Sinek probably isn’t a new name to a lot of people who may read this; nor, potentially, is his “Golden Circle” popularising the concept of “why”. But ever since Spikeheel Starr pointed me towards his TED presentation made last year (and now apparently the 19th most-viewed video on TED.com), I’ve found the ideas he expresses fascinating.

For one thing, I cannot help but agree with his example of Apple. This is a company that people like or loathe. Customers are intensely loyal and remain so, no matter what happens to dent the company’s reputation. Apple continue to top the charts with their products, despite the fact that – really – there is nothing that is that technically innovative about them. Why?

Well, as Sinek points out, Apple developed and has retained, the ability to inspire aspirational desire with its products. Take the famous Apple “1984” ad: it presents a clear message of that aspirational desire through a positive vision of non-conformity.

That approach has continued through to Apple’s messaging today, where the “what” might be more prominently placed – but it is still wrapped in the aspirational subtext of their messaging, “We’ve done this and it feels good, wouldn’t you like to have the ability to do it to?”

The Law of Diffusion

Further into his talk, Sinek touches on the law of diffusion of innovations, which caused me to think about Second Life.

In 2008, Mitch Kapor gave an address at SL5B in which he referred to the same law, and particularly the matter of what Geoffrey Moore refers to as crossing the chasm – moving a product from the status of early adoption to its use by an early majority (or “pragmatists”, as Mr. Kapor preferred to call them).

However, in his presentation, Mr. Kapor appeared to turn the issue of crossing the chasm entirely on its head. To him, it would appear that the early adopters – the “pioneers”, as Mr. Kapor called them – were anathema to SL’s future growth.

The early majority is gained through the early adopters

Yet, as Mr. Sinek points out – and Moore understood – the fact is that without the early adopters, the majority will not actually follow to adopt the product.

In short, by suggesting the early adopters might need to stand aside, Mitch Kapor appeared to completely miss an opportunity – as LL itself did, as I’ve previously noted.

And it is here, while watching Simon Sinek, that I again feel a renewed hope for Second Life – and more particularly, Linden Lab. Why?

Because everything that appears to be coming out of Linden Lab does now appears to be geared towards crossing their chasm in a manner Moore recommends and Sinek indicates: by leveraging their existing user-base.

Anyone attending the Lab’s presentations at SLCC this year cannot fail to have noticed this; all of them were, in one way or another, focused on the user community as a whole. Both Mark Viale (Viale Linden) and Brett Attwood (Brett Linden) in particular gave insight into LL’s change in philosophy that stands to benefit the user community and the company equally well.

In this respect, something has changed within Linden Lab over the course of this year; and it’s pretty obvious that – and I say this without any desire to sound like a fangirl – the “something” in question might at this point be Rod Humble.

Rod Humble embodies much of what Simon Sinek discusses about good leadership. Hearing him speak at SLCC and elsewhere and when reading interviews he’s given, Rod Humble unabashedly talks about his personal beliefs. It doesn’t matter whether the subject under discussion is Second Life or on matter of virtual identity; he strikes that emotive chord that resonates within us.

In short: he inspires trust.

It’s why we like Rod Humble. More than that – it’s why we need him right where he is.

Note: updated in 2019 due to video links to Apple ads being broken and forcing an alternative version of the “1984” ad to be embedded and reference to the AirPlay ad removed. 

2 thoughts on “Loyalty, adoption, inspirational leadership … and SL

  1. From where I was sitting when Kapor gave that talk… Well, Second Life had, in my opinion *already* crossed the chasm, and Kapor was standing there and dissing the pragmatists.


    1. However one looks at the take-up of SL, Mitch Kapor certainly didn’t win any points in the diplomacy stakes at SL5B. Each time I watch that video, I still feel stunned by the attitude that comes across.


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