Difficult is Worth Doing

Now, I can’t imagine I would ever sky dive myself, but this nice piece of work really captures the adrenaline rush that comes with the real thing. Oh, and of course, it is all in pursuit of brand activation. This time, for Honda. Courtesy of Paul McEnany.

Seeing the Wonder in Technology

Cmaib Every day I work with people all over the world. There are conference calls, instant message discussions, blog posts to read and write, emails and even video meetups … all enabled or mediated by technology. So, for me, this is everyday. I am sure this is the case for many people …

YET, I still get a small thrill when I consider this in action. I am still amazed that it is possible to reach across the globe and see, hear and engage with others. As a case in point, first thing this morning, I power up my PC, check mail and Twitter. I notice that David Armano is streaming a talk with Gary Vaynerchuck through the CriticalMass always in beta site. And as I sip coffee and begin to wake up, I pause for a moment and look at the faces of people on the other side of the planet. I listen in to both the live audience and the back-channel chat that accompanies the ustream pictures. Someone calls for questions — here’s one — "where is his wristband".

The question is asked and the camera pans away from the audience and over the Gary. In seconds, someone offstage throws a wristband to the table. Without blinking, Gary launches into his reasoning behind using wristbands or super-low-cost promotional items over t-shirts. He explains that the promotional item is, in his context, a social object … providing his community with an emblem that reinforces a sense of belonging while also signalling to others your allegiance (ok that was my interpretation).

And as I watched and listened, I was amazed. One person watching asked a question … and on the other side of the world, an impact was made. It was small, but it was real. Think about it, this is anything BUT mundane. This is the everyday world that our kids will inherit. It is a world that today’s school students will build their careers in. I just hope they see the wonder in all this.

How Dedicated Are You?

Writing her dedication

Periodically I pause for reflection. I look back over the years and try to fathom my achievements, tally my failures and come to some kind of reckoning. Each time I do this, I start by wondering “what could have been” … it makes me think through the alternative choices that I would have had to make to succeed in another life/career path.

One of my early career non-choices was in academia. I was, for a while, rather enamoured with teaching and research — and had the opportunity to meet and work with some inspiring and genuinely funny people. One such person, Jennifer Barry spent many years after study working in arts administration. With a sharp mind and a razor wit, she would work through the many challenges that come with theatre production, managing the creative AND the business elements all on a miniscule budget. There were late nights, early mornings, pressures of all shapes and sizes. There were demands for more, demands for less and a need to balance the expectations of friends, family, colleagues, boards and even government bodies. Her dedication was enormous. But it was a dedication that also required significant sacrifices — for this was no ordinary job. And the Company could certainly never have paid Jennifer an hourly salary.

In a similar vein, Steven Collin’s post on creative sacrifice reminds us that dedication and sacrifice go hand in glove.

For those who work in a creative field (and let’s face it, we all do), the personal distinction between what should be called work and what is “life” is decidedly fuzzy. As Jennifer continually demonstrated and as Stephen argues, dedication goes beyond the mere requirements — there is a deeper commitment — to outcomes.

You see, ideas are easy, and talk is cheap. Dedication, however, drives us towards the achievement of a goal. It makes us question the manner in which we “invest” our time and energy, and asks us to reprioritise — sometimes harshly. Look around you — there will be people who may have talent. Others with “vision”. But the only thing that counts is the end result. And when you stand back in a year’s time and reflect on what has come and gone, all the petty barbs and daily niceties will have evaporated from your mind. You will only mark your triumphs or failures. And each are valuable in their own way.

Why We All Like a Bit of Rough


Often the most effective communications are a little rough around the edges. It is the half-dashed email. It it the off-hand tweet. It is the scribbled note left on your colleague’s desk.

Think about it, what do you prefer to get from your lover — an email, an e-card or a hand written note? What gets your attention most?

Seth Godin calls this "keeping it human".

When it comes to communication, marketing or what ever you want to call it, sometimes the slick, polished piece of collateral, corporate video or TVC is not what you should be aiming for. And while it does depend on who your audience is, remember that we all like to feel that we are being spoken to by a person, not a machine. After all, no matter how many times you repeat a message, nothing appears to be quite so authentic as something written, given and created by hand.

Social Media Experts Up for Auction

Jennifer Leggio has the goal of raising $10,000 for Team in Training, the fundraising arm of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which funds medical research for blood cancer cures and provides patient and family support programs. To help do this she has secured the time and creativity of some of the smartest folks in the marketing/digital/social media space. As of today, you have about NINE days to bid on the services of Chris Brogan, Joseph Jaffe, Geoff Livingston, Aaron Strout and Greg Verdino. So think about your business challenges, review the profiles below and then make your bid. All in a good cause (and for those in the USA, tax deductible too).

Chris BroganChris Brogan uses social media and technology to build digital relationships for businesses, organizations, and individuals. He has merged his experience in technology (enterprise IT and wireless telephony) with his passion for social media, such that he’s showing organizations how to use these tools inside the firewall, as well as to build authentic conversations between coworkers, customers, and even competitors. Brogan is cofounder of the PodCamp unconference series (with Christopher S. Penn), exploring the use of new media community tools to extend relationships and build value.

Auction: Speaking engagement anywhere in the U.S. valued from $5K-$10K. Bidding begins at $700. Full details available on the Chris Brogan eBay auction site.

Joseph JaffeJoseph Jaffe is one of the most sought after consultants, speakers and thought leaders on new marketing. He is president and “chief interuptor” at crayon, a strategic advisory group that helps companies “join the conversation” through the power of community, dialogue and partnership. He has spoken to audiences in North America, London, the Netherlands, Turkey and South Africa and to companies including Yahoo!, JWT, Modem Media, Conde Nast and iVillage. In 2007, Jaffe authored the book Join the Conversation: How to Engage Marketing-Weary Consumers with the Power of Community, Dialogue and Partnership.

Auction: Dinner and brainstorming session in the New York / Connecticut area valued at $10K. Bidding begins at $1K. Full details available on the Joseph Jaffe eBay auction site.

Geoff LivingstonGeoff Livingston has worked as a marketing strategist in the Washington, DC region for 15 years. Dubbed a “local blogging guru” by the Washington Post, Geoff’s Buzz Bin blog is nationally recognized, and is the top ranked independent PR blog in the Washington, DC region. He successfully launched FortiusOne’s GeoCommons using an aggressive social media strategy, and marketed Godsmack lead singer Sully Erna’s bio using a diversified My Space and blogosphere campaign. Geoff’s book on new media Now is Gone was released last autumn by Bartleby Press.

Auction: Two-hour phone consulting / brainstorming session valued at $1K. Bidding begins at $100. Full details available on the Geoff Livingston eBay auction site.

Aaron StroutAaron Strout is vice president of social media at Mzinga, a Burlington, Massachusetts-based provider of online communities and social networks for businesses. In his role, Aaron focuses on blogging, podcasting, webinars, blogger relations, and evangelizing the benefits of social networks for business. In addition to his knowledge of the interactive and new media landscape, Aaron has more than 15 years of online marketing and advertising experience, with a strong background in integrated and online marketing.

Auction: Two-hour phone consulting / brainstorming session valued at $1K. Bidding begins at $100. Full details available on the Aaron Strout eBay auction site.

Greg VerdinoGreg Verdino is a recognized expert on business and marketing innovation, emerging technologies and Web 2.0. Equal parts marketer and futurist, Greg has made a career of identifying key trends and helping companies turn disruptive changes into a real, sustainable business and marketing advantages. He works as Chief Strategy Officer at crayon, a strategic advisory group that helps companies ‘join the conversation’ through the power of community, dialogue and partnership. He has been profiled in and quoted by a wide variety of business and news media including Advertising Age, Adweek, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Marketing News, New York Times, Newsday and the Wall Street Journal, as well as on television news outlets including CNBC and Fox News Channel.

Auction: A 60-minute keynote speech or 1/2 day workshop anywhere within the U.S. or Canada valued from $5K-$7.5K. Bidding begins at $700. Full details available on the Greg Verdino eBay auction site.

Eat.Sleep.Blog Episode 7

Paul McEnany, Sean Howard and Gavin Heaton got together to talk marketing, digital strategy and other important topics in this 35 minute long ooVoo recording. Some great editing by Paul whittled this hour long rant into something that is barely watchable 😉 Enjoy!

Eat Sleep Blog. Episode #I Can’t Remember from paulmcenany on Vimeo.

Some of the key discussion points include:

  • Sean talking about prototyping and his rash of posts all over the web (Critical Mass and MarketingProfs) — 0:00
  • The impact (or not) of gas prices/slowing economy on the advertising industry (and the reason why digital is the way of the future) — 2:23
  • Sean’s quick review of H+R Block’s recent digital efforts — 8:00
  • Paul on the need to consider social media as a "different" kind of creative — 11:45
  • Guest input from Tim Jackson via Twitter (not safe while eating) — 13:30
  • How social media technology changes our interactions with people in our digital networks (with reference to Evil Liz Strauss) — 14:30
  • Sean talking about spooky always-on web conferencing technology — 20:30
  • Sean with the money quote "the day productivity questions come into the agency, we’re all screwed" — 22:00
  • Twitter "reliability" — 22:15
  • National single user ID — 26:00
  • Managing personal/professional privacy — 28:00
  • The challenges facing individuals who want to remove themselves from a social network — 32:00

How Teens Live Online — Get Ready

There is plenty of talk about "digital natives", but unless you have a teenager living in your house, you are unlikely to understand the full impact that this generation will have on all our futures. But rather than theorising on the subject, take a look through the digital window on Josh Fortune’s life. At the age of 14 he is not only a blogger, but a music reviewer, photographer and online content creator. You can find him on the web, Facebook, Flickr and at his viddler channel. You can also contact him directly for business opportunities.

Time to stop wondering about the impact that this generation is going to have on your business (from the inside and the outside) — there’s work to be done. It’s time to start preparing. You have four years (that’s right 4) before Josh and his peers reach the age of 18. Four years before they begin rocking your company’s processes, policies and procedures; experimenting with your brand manual, firewall settings and "acceptable use" guidelines.

In four years much can change — but much can also stay the same. Look around your office. What was different four years ago? Sure there are shiny new Macs on the desk and maybe there are more "ghosts" (people working from home), but I am willing to bet, your business four years ago is likely to be the same shape, the same structure as it was in 2004. If so, get moving. Josh and his friends are getting ready to move in and take over. That is, if they don’t buy you out before then.

Death of Education and the Dawn of Learning

I have always been interested in knowledge. As a young child barely able to read, I would paw my way through social studies and history workbooks for children much older. The stories fascinated me and the tests tickled my competitive nature. Throughout school I had the benefit of nurturing, energetic teachers more committed to the idea of "teaching" than the strictures of curricula — which ensured that my curiosity was stoked like a small fire, not beaten into submissive ash. At least until my final year 😉

When I had the opportunity to teach at university level, I jumped at the chance. I loved the challenge and the opportunity — lecturing and tutoring in postmodern studies as well as Australian performance for a year or so. And then even through my business and marketing career that followed, the opportunity to teach or share knowledge was often available — I spent a couple of years combining technology, marketing and innovation setting up IBM’s first "knowledge factory" outside of the USA and then moved into "innovation management" and then onto marketing for Fujitsu. That meant teaching my teams — but also, always, learning myself.

One of the things that I learned was that marketing = learning and vice versa. For the type of learning that impacts a person’s behaviour you need to understand human nature. You need to understand "change" and you need to understand motivation. And now, in this Age of Conversation, where learning is no longer confined to a single location and it is again, like in my childhood, based around interest-driven participation (John Seely Brown), there is even greater pressure on teachers (both of children and adults) to stay abreast of new and emerging technologies.

There are some truly astounding breakthroughs happening in the education world. Kids with their grasp of technology and willingness to experiment are o’erleaping their teachers (and their parents). Technology companies are building ever more powerful tools that enable virtual classrooms, online collaboration and eLearning; Communities are coming together to develop cheap or open source alternatives and "social media" applications are finding themselves co-opted into the service of Education 2.0 initiatives. It is learning by doing. And if this signals the death of education, then it also indicates the dawn of learning.

Note to Twitter – It’s Not About Technology

Ever since Twitter launched there have been rumblings around its stability. The service has exploded over the last year or so and seems to be hitting a new round of growth with tentative coverage of Twitter now reaching the mainstream. All this is great for Twitter. But success is a double edged sword — with greater reliance and focus comes higher expectations.

Over the last few days the rumblings have grown louder. Various technical problems saw the service up and down like a yoyo. Frustration within the Twitter community seemed to mount exponentially with every moment of downtime. And while we all understand technical problems, there was a missing ingredient — communication. During these ongoing problems there was nary an update.

This to me, signals a much greater issue than technology. For a company that builds its business model around COMMUNITY, it is essential that it takes care of that community and its concerns first.

Case in point — Arielgate (follow the link to read the details of Twitter’s refusal to deal with online harrassment). Now, while there are two sides to every story (or three in this instance), clearly there is a line that has been crossed here. And when it comes to community, opinion is going to come down on the side of the person who lives in, plays and contributes to the community.

Dealing with this sort of harrassment is not just about technology nor even about "terms of service". It’s about doing what is right by your community. And for a business that relies on building a community — it’s all about the future of your brand. That is, if you want one.

Update: Brian Solis provides a detailed analysis of the situation and Ariel Waldman also provides an update on Twitter’s latest response.

Is the Executive Blog Alive and Well?

Originally uploaded by john yaya

It is always hard to know how a talk on social media is going to work with a room full of business students. Will they "get" social media? Will they have heard of "Twitter"? What if the answer really is NO?

The other night as I started to wrap up my presentation, my mind switched to questions. I tried to think back over the sections that elicited the greatest responses and wondered what questions would be asked. But I should have already known at least one of these questions — because it has been asked EVERY time that I talk about social media. "How do you find the time?".

Now, I have an answer to this … but what I am interested in, is others. I know how long it CAN take to write blog posts. I know how many hours I spend reading and commenting on other blogs. And I know, roughly, how much effort will be needed to make my various other social media projects successful (a lot). But what about others? What about those at the peak of their careers? Can and do senior executives write blogs?

In search of the answers, I turned to the unreliable Twitter and asked the ALWAYS reliable community. Here is the list of senior executives with blogs:

I also knew of or found new (to me) executive blogs, including Dr Ellen Weber, Johnathan Schwartz, John Dragoon and Randy Baseler.

So it seems there are SOME executive blogs running wild. But over the next couple of weeks I want to take a closer look. What do they write about, and how frequently do they update?

ALSO … if there are other executive blogs that you know of, let me know. I will check them out as well!