The Impact of The Hollywood Model on the Social Age Workplace

Guest post by co-author of “A World Gone Social” Ted Coiné:

Social Age employment is an entirely different animal from what we all grew up with: the Industrial Age myth of lifetime employment within very large corporations.

Specifically, we call that myth the “40-40-40 Plan” where we as employees work 40 hours a week for 40 years to retire at 40% pay through a pension. The reality is however, that model only really lasted from the 1940’s to the 1970’s. Yet we still seem to think that is the way life works. We are wrong. Dead wrong.

Welcome to the Social Age

a world gone social book

In the Social Age, we’re already walking away from that shattered paradigm by the millions. And at least in a healthy economy, this can be a good thing for all concerned.

Instead of thinking of employment in terms of working one’s way up a corporate hierarchy, what we’re already seeing what we refer to in A World Gone Social as the “nano” business unit: small, self-forming teams of professionals who come together for a project, get the work done, then disassemble, individuals moving singly or in small groups to the next project.

Rather than lifetime employment within a large bureaucracy, nano means lifetime self-employment – very similar to the way work has been done in the movie industry for decades.

The Hollywood Model

Ever stick around at a movie to watch the closing credits? See all those names scrolling by? There’s a good reason for that…

Hundreds of team members come together for several months, or even years, to make the movies we watch. Then the film is “in the can”—and the teams who made the film are done, too. While the director, cinematographer, and members of the cast may go on to work together several more times, the crew for this particular film disassembles just as fast as it formed; individuals and small teams go off to their next project.

The Hollywood model—even when making blockbusters with budgets of $300 million—is all about nano.

What About Legacy Corporations?

How about our legacy enterprises? Can they do the same?

Can they assemble large project teams from individuals and small groups, create something for the enterprise to sell, and then disassemble just as fast? Can each team member move nimbly to the next project, with a new creative force driven by different passions; different motivations?

Nano Has Already Begun

Actually, we’re already well on our way there.

If you look at the history of the corporation, what you saw for much of the early years was the drive to employ every possible job function in-house. But as early as the 1970s, this acquisitive urge began to diminish, and the fringe role of consultants became more commonplace.

Look at how most companies operate today. Walk the halls of most workplaces, and it’s often hard to tell who is a full-time employee and who’s a contractor, a consultant, an intern, or an outsourced service provider. Where once the megacorporation existed, today numerous individuals and companies come together to get work done.

Is it so hard to extrapolate, to follow this trend to one possible conclusion, which is the existence of thousands of small companies, or at least independent business units, where once there was one?

Think about what that means—what needs to happen, to make that happen.

This workplace revolution would require a culture-wide entrepreneurial mindset. A way of thinking we haven’t seen since cottage weavers were forced to walk away from the loom. A way of doing business not witnessed since the farmer walked off his land to find factory work in the city.

Can we do it?

The Social Age is still very new. But as we see more and more organizations – from the smallest non-profit to the largest corporation embrace nano – and the Hollywood working model – we are optimistic!

Ted CoineAbout the Author: Ted Coiné is the Chairman and Founder of, which works with leadership to focus on the human side of business, and he is host of The Human Side TV, where he interviews the most fascinating minds in business each week. One of the most influential business experts on the Web, Ted has been top-ranked by Forbes, Inc., SAP Business Innovation, and Huffington Post as a top mind in the fields of business leadership, customer experience, and social media. Ted is a three-time CEO and a popular keynote speaker with over 350,000 followers on Twitter – and growing rapidly.

Together with Mark Babbitt, they released their book A World Gone Social on September 22, 2014.

Editor’s Note: I received an advanced copy of A World Gone Social. I was proud to share the following review on Amazon:

We are living in a great time of change. There are two types of people in this world: those who thrive by adapting and those that get swept away by change. Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt provide a playbook on how to drive engagement. They’ll teach you how to leverage the collective creativity and passion from within your organization. Read A World Gone Social and you’ll be prepared to lead in the new social age.

Foreword for What’s Your Green Goldfish by @TedCoine

Almost four years ago I had the opportunity to connect with Ted Coiné on Twitter. We were instantly simpatico because @TedCoine and I shared a similar belief. We believed that customer and employee experience can be competitive differentiators. We share a common mission: Helping shift today’s organizations towards meaningful action.

green goldfish projectI launched the Green Goldfish Project as a guest post on Ted and Shawn Murphy’s Switch and Shift one year ago. I am honored that Ted agreed to write the foreword for What’s Your Green Goldfish.

Here it is:


by Ted Coiné

For years now, I’ve been sharing a basic truth with my audiences and readers: In business, doing the right thing pays.

You can call this good karma or following the Golden Rule if you choose. For those of you who are more pragmatic, you can chalk it up to savvy business sense. Whether you’re focused on the first half of this proposition (doing the right thing) or the second (pays), my role is to drive this message home in a way my print and real-life audiences can taste, feel, and ultimately buy into. Because let’s face it: you can tell someone the truth until your throat is raw. Until they own it for themselves, you’re wasting your time, and theirs.

Fortunately, even the most intelligent of we humans respond well to two types of new information: that which is simple, and real-life examples.

So imagine my delight when my friend Stan Phelps began his Goldfish projects a few years ago! Every day, it seemed, he would post on his blog a new example of what he called marketing lagniappe, or the little things that make a world of difference. He set out to collect 1,001 examples, and asked his robust social media network for help.

The results of this initial (brilliantly crowd sourced) research are available in his first book, What’s Your Purple Goldfish. Chances are good you’ve already read it, and you’re back now for a deeper dive.

“Deeper?” Absolutely. Purple Goldfish is all about customer service. His premise is simple and, to anyone who’s owned or run a business, inescapable: spoil your customers rotten, surprise them with a little extra that they can’t get anywhere else, and they’re yours for life. Better, their friends will be, too, because there’s nothing we humans enjoy more than sharing stories – good or bad – with our friends. Give your customers an irresistible story to share about how wonderful your company is, and they’ll become your most effective sales force. The Purple Goldfish Project provides 1,001 such stories, about almost as many companies.

So that’s his Purple Goldfish book, and if you haven’t read it, read it next. But I claim his Green Goldfish book – this one – takes you one deeper. Here’s how:

With the right practices in place, with good training and tight-as-a-drum supervision, even the most draconian of managements can achieve winning customer service that wows customers. I hate to admit that, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes, so I have to be honest. Fortunately, it’s beyond rare that a company can pull this off. It’s just too exhausting to maintain with any consistency. Customers can sense employee misery, even through forced smiles, and it turns them off.

What turns customers on is sincerity: employee love of their company: engagement, in other words. That is where the Green Goldfish book comes in – yes, the one you hold in your hands right now!

If you’re looking for ways to inspire your employees to love your company, and if you’re smart enough to realize that money can’t buy you love, then you need real-life, uber-successful examples from real-life, uber-profitable companies. Look no farther! In your hands, you’ve got examples from hundreds and hundreds of companies. Some are firms you already know. For instance:

  • Facebook gives employees a $4,500 bonus for having a baby – just when they need it most!
  • Patagonia makes the world – and employees’ lives – better through two weeks’ paid time off to work in the green nonprofit of their choice.
  • Intel has greeters and gifts awaiting new hires. What a way to start a new career!

Others are ones you’ve likely never heard of, but should know well, including:

  • Realflow engages employees through smoothie competitions. Taste and healthy ingredients are included in judging criteria.
  • Tarbar’s Thumbs Up Award is a roaming desktop statue employees can earn by doing something above and beyond the call of job performance.
  • AnswerLab’s employees can each schedule one-on-one time with their CEO to “walk and talk” – literally. He goes for a walk with each one!

If you notice, some of these Green Goldfish companies invest green – that is, money – in ways that show their employees how important they are to the company. The first three examples all fit into this category. A little bit of money, invested meaningfully, can indeed get your point across quite well.

But if you also notice, you don’t have to spend a dime in order to get this message through (and as a pathologically frugal former CEO myself, this really works for me!). How much do smoothie ingredients cost? How much does one roaming award cost?

… And my favorite of the list, the walk and talk with the CEO? Last time I checked, walking was free. Free, but priceless! As most readers of my blog,, are well aware, I have a special place in my heart – and most posts – for the power of Management By Walking Around: and the more casual the walking (or eating), the more likely important, company-improving issues will bubble to the top where something can be done about them.

No, a Green Goldfish does not have to cost your company a single penny. It isn’t about the money. Green Goldfish – and the green of profits – they’re all about employee engagement, employee love. You can’t buy your employees’ love, no matter how much you spend. But you sure can invest in it, as the 200+ examples in this book attest.

I’d like to close this forward with a quote from an employee at another of the Green Goldfish companies, the SAS Institute:

You’re given the freedom, the flexibility, and the resources to do your job. Because if you’re treated well, you treat the company well.”

Doing the right thing pays. What’s Your Green Goldfish is your how-to manual to make this essential business truth come to life at your company. Buy it. Read it. Share it. Most importantly, do it.

You’ll thank me for this advice. You’ll thank Stan Phelps for this book.

– Ted Coiné

Former CEO, Speaker and Business Heretic

Author of Five Star Customer Service and Spoil ’Em Rotten!

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Here’s an overview of the book on Slideshare: