That name sounds familiar. Where have I heard it before?
Lapka. It’s one of those names you’re likely to remember. Which is why a few weeks, it rang some vague bell in my memory while I was catching up on the latest tech news. The context just didn’t seem right, though, because the reason people were talking about Lapka was that Airbnb had just purchased it.
But, it was the Lapka I thought it might be.
Back in December of 2012, I had written a short article about Lapka. I don’t know how many people were exposed to the beauty of Lapka’s products as a result – especially when an editor somehow managed to change the spelling of the company’s name – but I do know that I was impressed enough to share my discovery.
Airbnb’s Lapka acquisition had a lot of people scratching their heads. What did the largest accommodations company on the planet (which, ironically doesn’t even own a single hotel room) want with a Russian company that makes luxury Geiger counters? If you’re familiar with the news of this purchase, you know that Joe Gebbia, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief product explained it this way via an email: “Since the moment Lapka launched their first product,”—that’s the Personal Environment Monitor—“I have been inspired by their impressive design sensibilities—a combination of beauty, form, and story. These guys have tenacity and drive towards creating the future, and I’m thrilled to get to work alongside them at Airbnb to create a world where people can belong anywhere.”
I can speculate with the best of them, but in this case I don’t care to guess why Airbnb purchased Lapka. I’m too busy basking in the warm and fuzzy afterglow of having it brought to my attention that I had discovered Lapka long before it came to the public eye as a bauble for a unicorn. If only I had been able to do the same with Airbnb. I might have bought some stock.
“Oh, so you basically do content,” said the person who had asked me what I did as a brand ambassador.
Content is something that settles during shipping or may have shifted during flight. No, I basically do not do content.
A thing becomes the word we ascribe to it.
Content is not a commodity you are obligated to provide so there’s something on your social media pages. If that’s how you view its purpose, you should stop making an effort. You’re wasting your time.
It’s not content generation, it’s storytelling.
Storytelling is one of your most valuable assets because it is the way you weave yourself into the worldview of your customers.
It’s not generated, it’s shared.
You share it because you have something to say, not because someone claiming to be an expert in social media insists you need a regular blog post or a Tweet or a YouTube video to increase engagement or Facebook likes.
Content generation sounds more professional, so you probably would rather say that’s what you do. But consider this: which would capture your attention?
“I want to tell you a story,” or “I want to generate content for you.”
Personal branding initially sounds like something you need to be doing – that is, until you remember who really owns a brand.
You do not own it. Everyone else does, and it exists only in their minds.
The only effective and lasting way to differentiate yourself is to act with consistent integrity.
Forever. Until you die.
Don’t worry: long before your expiration date, you’ll have created something far more valuable than a personal brand. You will have earned a reputation.
And, unlike your cultivated personal brand, which only exists in everyone else’s minds, a reputation is tangible. It will speak for itself and have no need for positioning, packaging or embellishment. That’s a good thing because branding requires spending a lot of time, energy and resources doing those aforementioned things.
I’ve earned my reputation. I own it. To me, that trumps renting space in other people’s minds and spending the days sweeping the floors.
If all the stories we consume are about the winners, we collapse the world to a fraction of what really happens in it. Replicating the strategy used by our heroes – which today tend to be entrepreneurs who’ve created unicorn companies – and expecting the same outcome for ourselves is about as likely as being stuck by lightning.
Because in effect, that’s what happened to those people. They were struck by lightning. Take their path and go stand in that same spot where it happened for them for as long as you like.
Lightning won’t strike there again.
It’s probably going to be easier for you to succeed in spite of your path rather than because of it. The lightning is going to strike wherever it pleases.
A London-based company called Pavegen has come up with a solution that uses the kinetic energy of footsteps to help charge electric cars. Talk about a seemingly inexhaustible supply of renewable energy…
So, who cares if you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time? You can charge your Tesla, instead.
If you can’t imagine such a place, give this video a watch.
I suspect I’d still be in the newspaper business, mainly because newspapers would still be relevant. It’s not fair, though, to blame the demise of that industry on the World Wide Web.
That’s the thing about things we do. Even if we didn’t have the World Wide Web today, when you don’t innovate, when you don’t come up with the solution that sends what you currently do into obsolescence – somebody else will.