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In this interview with LinkedIn’s digital interviewer Nazareth Qarbozian, I discuss the idea behind #TeamHuman and how it became one the first hashtags to go viral on LinkedIn.
Nazareth: So Simon, it’s great to interview you. You and I have been friends for some time via LinkedIn and that’s where you, me and Karl created the concept of “Team Human”. Since then the concept has grown but in your own viewpoints, I want to share with our audience what is team human, as many people are asking me what does it mean? So Simon- can you explain to our audience what the team human concept stands for?
Simon: Team Human for me is about promoting the power of the collective human spirit. As individuals, there are limits to what we can do. But as a team or group, there are no limits.
I had noticed that hashtags were used a lot on Twitter and Instagram but they had not been used much on LinkedIn. I had been writing on LinkedIn for a number of months and seen a lot of articles about AI and the threat to humans and their jobs. These articles were spreading fear and anxiety and I could see in the comments that a lot of people were very worried about this. As someone who has worked in technology all my life, I could see a lot of this was hyperbole and unnecessary.
I felt I had an opportunity to lead the fight back against what the crypto fans call “FUD”, Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. So I started using the hashtag on LinkedIn as a response to the AI articles which seemed to be popping up everywhere. #TeamHuman vs #TeamRobot. I got the idea from the Ryder Cup golf, where we have Team USA vs Team Europe.
Initially, I urged my connections to use the tag as a social experiment. You can still find the original post on LinkedIn:
Since then what has happened has been amazing! The #TeamHuman hashtag has taken on a life of its own on all social media channels! I see it mentioned on Facebook, Instragram, and Twitter. The beauty of the hashtag is that it can mean lots of things to lots of people. Since my original post, I have seen it extended to encompass a more human approach to business – putting people first (customers and employees) and profits second. Others have extended this to cover more personal issues on LinkedIn where people have become more comfortable talking about emotions, struggles, failures, vulnerabilities and mental health in the context of professional life.
Nazareth: Now that Team Human is growing and many people are taking on the concept, what do you want to see this meaning online? What should it stand for on LinkedIn so we can help others?
Simon: For me, it is all about bringing like-minded people together. Building communities to look out for and help one another, creating a village type atmosphere on social media where everyone knows each other and is in close regular contact. You can see the energy created on the #TeamHuman posts, it’s electric, it’s inclusive, it’s positive it’s also what a lot of organizations are missing. I believe it’s the secret formula that Managers, Human Resources, and Recruiters everywhere are trying to find. That X-Factor. And the good news? If you share the same vision, you don’t have to wait, these communities are being created every day, right here on LinkedIn. You just have to join in.
Nazareth: As more people are adopting the term, what can we do as Team Human to make the world a better place?
Simon: The world has always been a tough place and an uphill struggle, yet mainstream media makes out that we should all be aiming to live a life of luxury. This is creating an uncomfortable condition in many of us, known in the world of psychology as “cognitive dissonance”. This results in stress, anxiety, and mental health problems as the realities are so very different. #TeamHuman is about being more open about the workplace and life in general, acknowledging and recognizing that no matter where we are on this planet, we will all face similar struggles.
And no one should have to face them alone. There are mentors, coaches, advisors, and friends out there whom you can call upon for help. A team of humans whom you can reach out to. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology and social networking sites like LinkedIn, you can connect to technology experts across the globe, to coaches to help you to navigate through life’s ups and downs, to people you admire and want to learn from. The power of technologies such as instant messaging and video conferencing are immense and have removed the barriers of long-distance communication. If you have a phone, you have a lot of power that fits into a shirt pocket and at very little cost.
Nazareth: I like Team Human because it shares peoples understanding of the problems people face on a day to day aspect, I like the fact also it is medium to help people share and spread wisdom, but what can we do to make Team Human better?
Simon: #TeamHuman is already making a huge impression online. Do a search on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter and you will realize that this is mentioned everywhere. I can’t claim to have come up with the idea of the name itself but I do believe I was one of the first to use the hashtag on a LinkedIn post. A couple of guys, in particular, supported me in the early days to get the message out there, Matthew Lyddall and Grant Charles Adams. Then it was yourself, Karl Nainani, Elizabeth Strother, Oleg Vishnepolsky, Brett Brody, Mike O’Connor and Christian Herrero who took it onto the next stage.
After the hashtag went viral, I actually looked into the history of “TeamHuman”. I had no idea at the time that Douglas Rushkoff, who is an official LinkedIn influencer created the “Team Human” podcast (http://teamhuman.fm) and has been using it since 2016. I even found out that there was a book called Team Human which was published in 2012 by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. I also noticed that the social media legend Gary Vaynerchuk uses “Team Human” quite a lot on his content.
What can we do to make it better? Keep using the hashtag. Keep telling people about what it stands for. By supporting the values of #TeamHuman, the values of Hard Work, Trust, Integrity and Kindness to others, we keep the energy going. The next logical step is to apply #TeamHuman values to the offline world. Go out there and physically meet up with the people you have met online. Find out who they are and ask them if there is anything you can do for them. Then take the time to follow through on the offer.
This I believe, is the future of networking.
Nazareth: – And my last question to you is, where do you see Team Human growing in the next 5 years time? How will the world form?
Simon: I am hoping that the awareness around #TeamHuman will lead to more human-centered thinking in all institutions from Central and Local Government to NGOs to Multi-National Corporations and local businesses. There is way too much focus on numbers at the moment, and the “bottom line”. This is having a negative impact on the global economy and on society as a whole. Cost cutting is deflationary and does little for customer service, morale or economic growth. I’d like to see leaders focus more on getting the best out of their people. Without the fit and motivated people (employees, volunteers) to do the work and to buy the products and services (customers, service users), there is no bottom line.
In 5 years time, I’d like to think we will be talking more about the amazing people and amazing organizations and the amazing stories of how the unlocking of human potential and performance was instrumental in their success. Institutions who achieve progress, promote economic growth and focus on building relationships, should be rewarded handsomely for their efforts.
Nazareth: So here we go. Simon explains the theory and shares some information about this topic. I hope it has shared a vision and given people the understanding and meaning of this concept. I always like to think of Team Human as showing appreciation and understanding of other human beings, no matter what they have gone through in life, we should all be treated as equal. I hope more people can use the hashtag no matter what their personal journey is and give people hope who need it, to understand that we are all here to listen and show support to one another.
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