Living with the Pregnant Widow

By: Guest | January 17, 2011 | 

Les McKeown is president and CEO of Predictable Success and occasional champion when playing Gini Dietrich in Words with Friends.

The Russian poet Alexander Herzen wrote that after a revolution we are left with “not an heir, but a pregnant widow…a long night of chaos” in which the old is gone but the new has not yet arrived.

Hello, I’m your client. Nice to meet you.

Um…thanks, that’s kind of you, but no, I don’t need another book, article, blog post, case study or tweet to help me understand that marketing, advertising, PR, and everything else associated with it has been revolutionized by social media in recent years. I get it. Despite the unflattering little stories I see you tell each other about us clients, I’m not a complete doofus.

What do I want?

I want whatever’s next, baby. You’re the one who’s flogging this ‘social media revolution’ stuff, so give it to me. And by the way, I don’t want any crud. I want the good stuff, the top shelf stuff, the really powerful stuff. I want stuff that is a better-faster-stronger version of the old stuff I had before you took it all away from me. Gimme.

You want me to do what now? Send lots of tiny little messages. I see. And I put what in them? Useful information. Got it. And be what? Engaging… OK. I can get somebody to do engaging. What else? Links? What sort of links? Oh, useful links. OK, I’ve got that. We’ll do the tiny messages with information and links. I’m on it.

Seems kinda lame though. C’mon, I need you to reach here – what else ya got? The what? The Face Book. And that does…? Oh, I see … longer messages. With pictures. And we can put links in there too? Awesome. What else? Be engaging. I’ll just tick that twice then, shall I? What else with The Face Book? Be authentic. OK. I didn’t know I wasn’t, but if you say so.

Hold on…just thinking here…be engaging and authentic on The Face Book about what, exactly? I see. Useful information. OK, got it. And the links too – I’m guessing – they should be engaging and authentic as well? And useful – dammit you got me – how’d I forget that one? Why don’t I just underline ‘engaging authentic useful’ and ‘links’ twice with this sharpie?

All right. I have the tiny little messages and The Face Book. I’m ready for the big one…

Why’re you hesitating? Don’t hold back on me now – there’s got to be more than this. Given all the stuff you’ve told me to stop doing, there better be more than this.

You want me to do what? Sorry, you’re speaking so low I couldn’t hear you. Inked in? Ink in what? You mean ink in with my sharpie? Oh…’Linked In’. I see. You mean that job search place that people keep sending me those annoying little invites to? I’m already on there, I think. Haven’t checked in there for oh…coupla years at least.

What do you want me to put on there? Useful infor…. Hold on, I think I see where this is going. I’ll just underline  ‘engaging authentic useful’ and ‘links’ with my sharpie one more time, shall I?

Gosh, is that the time? You know, I completely forgot – I have an urgent appointment with my dentist for root canal work. Can’t miss that, huh? Really gotta rush. This has been…great. No seriously. Really eye-opening.

You got anything else before I leave?

Les McKeown is president and CEO of Predictable Success, the leading advisor on accelerated business growth. He is the author of the Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-seller “Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization On the Growth Track – and Keeping It There.”


Hi Les,

I loved this.

Everyone told me I had to be on this new thing called Twitter. I said, "I've been using IRC live chat since 1995. Back when I wrote HTML for Netscape 1.0."

They looked bewildered, "What's IRC? What's Netscape?"

Back when I was in outside sales, being informative, authentic, engaging--and linking with others--was the time-proven method for getting the sale.

"But you've gotta be on FaceBook."

"I've been posting content, links and pictures on web forums, not to mention on UseNet, for years."

They looked bewildered, "What's UseNet?"

Solomon said, "There is nothing new under the sun."

If the "men on the street" interviews are any indication, I won't be surprised to see some kid look bewildered and ask, "What's the Sun?"



Goodness me, perhaps my tweets are contributing to people getting less done in their day, though clearly that creates opportunity for all the personal productivity experts on Twitter ;-)

Engaging, authentic, useful - Wow! Sounds like I should show some personality and think a bit. Maybe even interact a bit. Hm ....

BTW, I wonder what can be done to popularise the telephone and face-to-face conversations? I find that talking to humans IRL can be astonishingly productive ...

Thanks, Les, for getting me thinking (again).


Engaging -- authentic -- useful stuff... Guess it just doesn't feel like 'easy' to those looking for the 'easy fix'.

Glad your engaging, authentic, useful stuff includes big doses of brilliance & witty banter. Love learning from you!


How much do I love you Les McKeown? Let me count the ways...:-) Surely there is more, indeed.


I kind of laughed. Then I kind of cried. Then I did both at the same time.
I hope this really isn't what consultants say when they walk into a clients office... but I have a terrible feeling in my stomach that some actually do.

Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos (

ginidietrich moderator

You guys are all making me think way too hard at 7:40 p.m. I'll be back in the morning with my the form of a blog post.


Great stuff Les.

I'd laugh at the humor, except it's a little too realistic.

This is a perfect example of the problems people have in confusing process with results. It's also a great example of how the message is so focused on the tactics of SM. SM works as part of a larger engagement strategy. It takes commitment, but I think of it like the Celtics think. There's a sign in the locker room that says:

There's a game tonight and we have to play. We might as well win.

Since we are going to be putting forth the effort to play in business - we might as well put forth the effort to win.


hahahaha breath hahahahaha! Ok, now..... Whew! Real tears too!

Bottom line my dear potential client. When YOUR potential client is searching for a product or service and YOU have that product or service, are YOU where they are searching? Are YOU top of mind? Is YOUR potential client able to ask YOU for "whatever's next baby" on the latest and greatest improvement or solution to their problem? You'd better be, cause your competition is. That competitor is seeking any and all ways possible to be THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE of choice!

Oh, Look at the time! Well, I'm off to my next "problem solving" session. So many people in need of solutions, so little time!

Need anything else before I leave?


LOL - I have had conversations like this quite a few times when it comes to social media - and I am not even (not even close to being) a PR/Communications/business person!

Well said Les, of course...

Shelly xoxo
Sometime (rare) champion over Les in WWF


There you are again, leaning to the right. Great post, though Les.

I believe Doug Davidoff has the appropriate response---"It must translate into more business." (I'm paraphrasing, of course.)

So SM, too, will evolve. Highly complex, adaptive systems always do. That, plus the genius of our economic model, will determine which Face Book or LinkedIn's you should be involved with, Les. That is unless you want to be stuck selling buggies in a post-auto-industry world. ;)


Thanks, Follow - and let me guess - the rules to 'succeed' there be engaging, authentic and useful, right?



Have I got a "thought leadership" opportunity for you! It's called Quora, and all you need to do is ask and answer questions where you have "domain expertise" -- sorta like Yahoo Answers and several others, BUT DIFFERENT -- until...well...that's not clear yet, but everybody's talking about it, and trust me, don't miss getting in on the ground floor!


You said "doofus" - bonus points! Heh heh.

Les is so good at saying what other people are thinking and NOT saying - or at least not saying very loudly at times. But even a pregnant widow has a timeline for delivery. We've been floating in this amniotic fluid for a while now. I can't tell you how many people in the past 6 months have asked me "what's next?" when, as Scott Stratten would say, we're not even doing "right now" very well.


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