Social Networking: Make It Imperfectly Human for Me

New York City, Seth Godin, Ann Michael, and a Paper Flower

Favorite Paper Flower by Liz Strauss

In August 1998, I was wandering the streets in New York City. Later that evening our company sales conference would start. As I turned the corner somewhere near 33rd and Park, I was enjoying the view in a florist window. I walked two stores past. Stopped. Something I’d noticed had taken me. I literally backed up ten paces and went into that flower store. I came out grinning.

What had stopped me were handmade paper flowers — taller than I am. I had found a new friend for my presentation the next day. I left the florist with giant flower with a stem down to my ankles and greeted New York like a giant kid with a huge balloon. The flower has shared my office ever since. On occasion, it even sits in my desk chair.

In 2006, I returned to that same New York neighborhood for a Seth Godin seminar. I met Ann Michael. there for the first time. As we walked around the city, I’m sure I told her the story of that flower and the people who opened doors for me — the strange tall woman with a bag in one hand and unhelpful flower friend in the other.

I keep a white silk flower in a blue glass vase on a shelf in my living room. I bought the vase from a catalog. Then I bought the flower. They look stunning together, but they have no story.

This morning at Seth’s Blog something he said in May made me stop, like I did that day in New York City.

If you want to get noticed, don’t be so polished. . . . When in doubt, scrawl make it human.

White rose in a blue vase by Liz Strauss

I looked around for examples in my life — and I found two flowers . . .

That white rose in the blue vase is elegant, but that that paper flower connects me to people — people who’ve seen it in my office or heard the tale of how it got bought. That paper flower calls up so many stories, it could fuel a blog.

When you make a blog, a social network, or product for me, could you make it imperfectly human? It’s human touch that lingers and connects.

What do you have that’s like my paper flower?

–ME “Liz” Strauss
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Images: Liz Strauss


  1. says

    I love Seth’s advice– that’s pretty much how I run my blog– I scrawl and it’s very much me: messy, all over the place and very, very human.

    Thanks for that perspective today, Liz.

  2. says

    What an intriguing thought – yet with the ring of truth in it.

    When I get right down to it, I don’t really have that much to offer anyone. Just a few random thoughts now and then. Just my voice. Definitely imperfect.

    But now I realize something – that’s what makes it unique, too. And I’m good with that.

    It’s also why I happen to like to read this person or that person’s writing – the imperfection in their words is what makes them interesting.

    Thanks for waking me up this morning, Liz!

  3. says

    Hey Liz, I have a hand carved baseball, made of stone from great guys i met while experiencing the jungle (where Jurassic Park was filmed for scenery)in the Dominican Republic. Its not a perfect ball but its so well crafted considering where they stay that I had to get it.

  4. says

    Hey Liz,
    I think you may already know it’s my little alien friend.
    Makes a great conversation starter at conferences, huh.

  5. says

    me. you.

    not that you and I are particularly imperfect (though I could race you to that corner and win), but.

    As the imperfections in ourselves are acknowledged, as we spend less time polishing and more time living, it helps.

    Somewhere I read about having light in imperfect vessels, in cracked clay pots, which allow the light to shine.

    Thanks liz.

  6. says

    Excellent post…it was tweeted from Jonathan Fields.

    I created a temporary website for my copy writing services using Google Sites. I want to get a website professionally designed; but for now this does the trick. It’s clean, it communicates what I do, and it shows off my portfolio.

  7. says

    Hi Robert!
    Yep, it’s our little nuances and difference that keep us from being the “perfect sample” of everyone and make us the “perfect example” of our individual selves.

  8. says

    Yeah absolutely, everytime i see it, it takes me back. Il never forget the minimal tools they had, the few people to sell their crafted objects to and they were so happy.

    Im from Scotland so that experience helps because im trying to create a web based business and theres not a lot of help here. But hey, the net and people like yourself help so much.


  9. says

    Yeah, Scott!
    That’s it. That’s what I mean. You say They were so happy. and I hear you reflecting their happiness.

    Now you and I are connected through my flower and your stone ball. :)

  10. says

    A typo here, a misplaced character there aren’t about to detract from the authenticity of the writer. Authenticity is essential to blogging. You’re so right, the human touches are what help make the connection.

    I think the quest to be “sanitized” and perfect in social networking is merely an attempt to mask your authenticity.

    I came to your blog this morning, because I was pruning my RSS feeds. In my quest, I found a whole lot of inauthenticity for lack of a better word. One self professed blog expert had obviously copied from Word and pasted directly into his blog. (Ordered and unordered lists don’t make that transition well AT ALL)

    Another self professed blogging expert hadn’t set up his RSS feed correctly and my iGoogle subscription hadn’t shown the last 50 posts from his blog. Yet another pulled a typical MMO tactic of “look at the fabulous home I’m considering buying and by the way, have you seen my fabulous car?”

    (The first two gentlemen are charging several THOUSAND dollars offering YOU the opportunity to have a blog just like they have! The third will charge you several THOUSAND dollars to create copy for you.)

    phht! phew! phewy!!! My coffee isn’t strong enough to wash the bitter taste out of my mouth after reading those three blogs one after another.

    Thankfully, there is one blog expert I can always count on to be human AND authentic. Your RSS feed has risen to the top of my iGoogle where it began and where it belongs.

    Thanks Liz for being here!!!

  11. says

    Hi Kathy,
    Regarding the first three, don’t I know plenty of those? Yeah, it’s getting harder and harder to miss what they do. Are they more deperate or are their more of them?

    Regarding my own place in your iGoogle, wow! Thank you.
    I’m head will be singing with that today. I so value what you just said.

  12. says

    What a timely reminder!
    Sometimes in our eagerness to add value, make a unique contribution, and/or present ourselves as experts, we pass on our hard-learned insights as if they were pristine, obvious truths. And as a result forfeit the human touch that is always learning, never perfect, and looking to connect along the way.

  13. says

    ahh you have to love a pruconus rose!

    I can relate something from my oil painting experience that relates to the human aspect.

    I experimented with projecting photographs onto a canvas, tracing around them and then painting them in. The results were nice but they always seemed lacking in something. I decided to just wing it out of my head, throw proper anatomy to the lions and while the results were often strange, they seemed more like ‘fine art’ and were far more satisfying.

  14. says

    YAY! Imperfection, humanity. What a welcome change from all those lists of 10 things you can do to improve your blog, get more readers, etc. etc. THANK YOU!

  15. says

    What a great blog post and story. I love it! I tend to have “toys” and other fun stuff scattered around my office. I want to be professional of course, but I also like to put people at ease and bring some fun into the workplace. Life is too short not to stop for giant paper roses.

  16. says

    Hey there –

    You are one of the things I “have” like your flower. Remembering calling you up and saying – want to “be my boss” and see Seth!

    Remember one thousand paintings?

    I bought the number 150!

    I always smile when I look at that and it always makes me think of so many different people, stories, and concepts.

    It’s my paper flower!


  17. says

    I can see another thing that goes with your flower – the way you reply to people’s comments! I’m always surprised when people don’t, no matter what the size of their blog audience is.

    I love this quote/philosophy so much. It immediately made me think of the way I (almost at that very moment, in fact) send new customers a welcome message before the invoice, and throw something personal in at the end of the message.

    My business is very new, in its second official week, and yet I’ve already been struck by how wonderful and friendly my customers are and what great conversations I’ve had just by going out of my way to add that personal, sloppy touch. And, of course, it means I get to learn more about what works for people, what they like about the business, and who they’ve already told about it! Hey – maybe I should write about this on its blog!

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