Welcome to Digital Homesteading.

This collection of resources from 9 Clouds helps you build your business and community.


Don’t Build Buildings, Develop People


Building infrastructure is not the solution.

In our communities, we build buildings and cut ribbons. In our businesses, we create systems and processes around our products and service. We identify how to create a widget as efficiently as possible.

Infrastructure is clear. It’s black and white. It’s an easy “win” to show progress. It does not dramatically alter the future.

What creates the future is people. Our communities and businesses need to focus on developing people not building buildings.

The Culture of Things

We have grown up in a culture of things. We are asked to show success, and we deliver outputs: how many hours we worked, how many widgets we built, how many buildings we built.

This mindset made sense in the Industrial Age. If you work on the assembly line, success is getting products through the line quicker. If you make 100 widgets a day and increase productivity to 105 widgets a day, you win.

We no longer live in the Industrial Age. We are now in the Information Age. In the Information Age, it is not the quantity but the quality that matters.

A company like General Motors can produce millions of vehicles a year and go bankrupt while a company like Tesla can create a few thousand vehicles and succeed.

A record label can produce thousands of records and go completely unnoticed while a single individual can upload a single song on YouTube and outsell the record label.

A community can spend millions on buildings, parks and roads and still fail to inspire people to move to the community. Meanwhile, another community can spend little on infrastructure and be the hub for creatives because of its culture.

The culture of things is a dinosaur. It’s going extinct. Say hello to the culture of ideas.

The Culture of Ideas

In the Information Age, it’s not the quantity of ideas that matter. If you have one great idea, it can outperform hundreds (or thousands) of other ideas.

Standing out is not a matter of running faster or sweating more, it’s a matter of thinking deeper.

For Communities

For communities, this means allocating resources to develop people. Fund leadership (maybe civic headhunters?), entrepreneurship, local artists and grassroots development efforts. Support new ideas that can grow into sustainable projects. Push residents into positions of leadership, especially if they are from underrepresented groups such as women or people of color.

Build a deep bench of talent, leadership and creativity so your community has more people creating unique ideas. Any single idea might be the one idea that helps your community thrive in the Information Age. The more diverse and interesting the ideas, the better chance of changing your community’s future.

For Businesses

The book of business shares how your business does what it does. It is the training manual new employees read. It is the valuable asset that sets you apart from competitors. At least, that was the case in the Industrial Age.

Today, instant access to information means a business can quickly learn how to do a task or build a product. The challenge is not knowing what to do, it is having the talent willing and able to actually do it.

The challenge with developing people in a business is that it is not standard. What motivates one employee may be meaningless to another. What one employee needs to learn is different than what another is looking for.

At our digital marketing firm 9 Clouds, we work to personalize our people processes. This means adjusting compensation, workplace location, meetings and even rethinking how to inspire employees (hint – it’s not just money).

In the Information Age, talent is increasingly mobile. To attract and retain talent, a book of being is more necessary than a book of business. How does your business inspire innovation and create an environment supportive of ideation?

After all, if your business does not need a quantity of ideas but instead a few quality ideas, creating this ideation environment is the best use of your resources.

It’s Not What You Do, It’s Who You Inspire

It’s fun to see your name on something, especially if it’s tangible. That’s why we carve our initials in trees, put our hands in cement and plaster the name of everyone from the architect to the mayor who was in charge when a building was built.

What’s less noticeable, but more powerful, is inspiring others.

Create an environment of ideation in your community and business. If you can inspire a great idea, it will change the future more than a building ever will.



Special thanks to Dave Eiesland of Heritage Bank who inspired this post with his comment that their bank doesn’t build buildings, it builds people.

Photo: Mengjie Jo