The Gates Foundation | Inspiring The Grant Givers

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This time last week I was in Seattle delivering some social media goodness to the Education programme team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

I presented for 90mins on the shift of the media landscape (with particular attention to young people) and explored how social creates many opportunities to engage with a wider audience. After that I lead a 90mins roundtable with the senior exec team to talk strategy adoption, and finally a half days training to about thirty of the staff (at their newly opened campus).

The feedback was positive:

It was a good day.

There was lots of discussion with individuals / groups about how they could use some of the ideas / platforms directly in their work—here’s a few of the ‘big’ ideas shared :

  • it’s more reveal than conceal—a challenge to share the process not product of the organisations endeavours;
  • be human—the brand is so well known it has a danger of becoming faceless through some of its communication;
  • engage—I challenged them to think about the following : what if all you could do was comment on other content out there (adding weight and value to it) rather than creating your own? This would in part enable more directive messaging plus leave lots of digital breadcrumbs;
  • play—how, as an organisation, are they creating the time and space to learn by stealth

Obviously, all of the above could apply to many sectors / organisations / brands.

Personally, the biggest takeaway was that size doesn’t matter when it comes to exploring the social landscape. Sure, the context is slightly different between clients but the aims and mechanics are the same. It comes down to one thing, your appreciation and insight to anything is greater increased if you become an active user rather than a passive observer.

My function is to either move people closer to that outcome and / or lower the barrier to entry (based on their attitudes and ideas to embracing it).

It was an stupendously humbling experience to work with a collective with brains / pedigrees the size of planets and here’s hoping I get a return invite…

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