Here are facts about Julia Allison that you may not know. They come from her presentation to Parsons Design School students in my Design At The Edge class Monday night. Julia went to the Jesuit-taught Georgetown University and majored in political science. Her mother was a speech-writer for Richard Nixon. Julia worked on the Hill (Congress) out of school. She turned to social media to boost her recognition in order to get editors to read her writing. Julia is—get this—SMART.
We sat on stage and had a conversation with the whole class on creating social identity and the split among generations on the evolution of identity. This is important to the class because of the Age Break. Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors are still creating their social identity around their friends. It’s a closed, intimate circle, so anything goes online. But seniors are suddenly faced with looking for jobs. They must evolve their identities away from an inward focus on friends toward an outward focus on potential employers. Their use of Facebook and Twitter goes from only social to both social and networking.
Since Gen Yers now create their identity pretty much in public—on Facebook, etc., —the issue is can they take old identities with them as their morph new identities. Will old identities haunt them as they look for work, or in work.
Julia presented serious stuff. It may be that Gen Yers find it easier to work for their own cohort group which has always lived life in public than try and work for older people who haven't--and who don't understand them. Companies who want Gen Yers have to really change their culture and their assumptions.
A second important point from the Julia A. presentation. Never forget the "social" part of social media. The online "pipes" of social media are filled with people trying to connect. We're all overwhelmed by now with "friends" who want to link to us. Julia told the students that you have to physically meet people to get them to know you and "take" your email or SMS. Tha's what party-crashing is really about--getting important people to know you enough to make social media online work. Now this kind of sociology of social media is important--and counter-intuitive. It needs more study.
Finally, Julia gave the students serious career advice. She was great with them. She listened to the question, gave an abstract answer and followed it by a specific example. This process is called good teaching. Who knew Julia Allison would be a good teacher? But she is.
Julia also told the students to be fearless. Know who you wanted to meet and meet them. Don't let critics sidetrack you. And, for the women, learn technology. It's empowering. It's not just a boys club. Oh, one more thing. Julia said challenge conventional wisdom. When she was an intern at Mediabistro, she got an intern. Hey, why not?
OK, those who follow Gawker and Julia on her site, nonsociety, are saying, sure, she may present this way to students but her site is purile and silly. Now that she can get people to take her call, what is she going to say?
Good question. What is Julia Allison's next identity and how will she evolve it in public. One of Julia's hero's is Arianna Huffington of Huff Post. She's had lots of identities, shifting from right to left politically. But she's older and didn't have to live her early life totally in public. Can Julia become an Arianna? Can she transform the power of her celebrity brand into something more? We'll all see.