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With the SCNotty and SCN Video Choice submission deadlines rapidly approaching, I've been thinking a lot about video and about creativity (and the use and misuse of social media). There were some excellent submissions this year. Though some were distinguished by their production prowess, most of the fun was in the creativity of the content submitted and the planning that went into realizing it.

I'm sure the judges would welcome more submissions so if you're on the fence, you still have time to do it. For those who have held off on video or other forms of content creation, I think it's good to see these videos and realize that it's ok to surrender to the possibility of looking foolish from time to time in the interests of what can come out in the end. In this case, if we all look a bit silly, in the end we have a real community to show for it - one that now expands to embrace a bit more of who we are beyond our work.

I held off on video for a while, preferring the podcast medium that I was more comfortable in. But my friend Morris of, who has done an impressive series of how-to videos on self-publishing, kept pushing me to do more with video. Finally I relented to his relentlessness. Now I have more than 60 videos on my JonERP YouTube channel, though I'm still very much a beginner in this medium, especially when you look at the stylings of some of the experienced videographers in our midst, in particular Marilyn Pratt and Dennis Howlett come to mind. (if you do have an interest in my videos, I've now organized them into a series of playlists, including):

Breaking into SAP
SAP Consulting Excellence
SAP Event Coverage
JonERP Guest Interviews
SAP Solutions Firms - Keys to Market Success
Social Media for SAP Pros
The Power of Pull - SAP News Tracking

One reason I continued with video is I've learned from the trials of my writing career that you embrace the learning curve. The more publicly you embrace that curve, the faster you will progress. That's because of this magical (if sometimes cruel) process I have come to think of as the "feedback loop" - that stream of commentary, good, bad, and indifferent, that follows any of our creative efforts. If there's one thing the Internet is good for, it's turbo-charging the feedback loop.

The dissenting views can sting, but we can learn from all of it. In fact I learn most from my detractors. Putting ourselves out there accelerates this process of self-improvement. And it shows us we are not defined by those who might take issue with our perspective. There is always a creative response. We can do better.

So why does creativity count in SAP? I'd say because when we develop a creative niche that works for us, culture, community, and reputation build around it and enhance everything we do. Look no further than the Enterprise Geeks and how a shared bond for enterprise hacking and a podcasting ritual has turned into one of the most compelling subcultures in the SAP space, having impact on a range of issues, not the least of which is Code Exchange.

Content creation has become a fascination of mine lately because I believe the hard work behind it is an excellent antidote to "social media overload." There's so much vacant tweeting and so many promotional blurbs that pose as content. When we get caught up in the endless retweeting of the same, we have added to an echo chamber that intuitively feels like it brings no real value. I'm betting in the long run studies will prove out that intuition.

Here's my video rant about social media that proposes an altogether different approach, including "unplugging from the conversation" and "heading back to the lab." ("Has Twitter Jumped the Shark or Have We?")

It may seem to be a lonelier path I advocate but that's only on the surface. Digging for unique expression has its own rewards and the content that comes out of it tends to advance the conversation rather than just add to the noise level. With every bogus commercial Twitter account that crops up, there's more of that noise, diluting good conversations. We're better at pushing than listening. Thus my video series on the "Power of Pull" which emphasizes the underrated "killer app" of social media: listening to the best voices out there.

So I look at video as just one medium we can pursue, as we find our way towards that intersection between creating soulful content that resonates, meeting like-minded people through the dialogue that content provokes, and hopefully having a magnificent adventure. Doesn't sound like it can have professional impact? Oh you bet it can. To cite my own example, it's how I became an SAP Mentor, and the stories I hear from others with similar results are piling up, and not just from independents like me, but from some of the largest companies out there.

Who would have thought that "marketing wizardry" would ever intersect with handheld flip cams? But sometimes it can, if you work at it. Don't stress about going viral. The heck with viral, just do your thing. It sure beats wasting money on advertising, or worse yet, high priced "SEO gurus" who emphasize ineffective search engine gaming over the real work of rear-busting content creation.

Plus there is something healthy in this noise-drenched modernity about shutting down the appliances, logging off of Facebook and digging into something unique we have to offer. And yes, data gathering like survey-making counts as well. We're all in need of better data rather than more opinion-making based on superficial assumptions. And here's the coolest part: if you do something unique, thoughtful, and relevant, if you emerge from the lab with something that advances the conversation, guess what? You won't even have to Tweet about it. Because other people will.

Well, I hope this post inspired someone out there to embrace the sometimes naked experience of public video and find your medium, be it video, podcasts, blogs, collaborative community projects, or coding your way to Demo Jam and beyond.