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It’s where the future is going with Social Media

It’s where the future is going with Social Media

Mastercard HQ social media conversation monitors - very cool.

Mastercard HQ social media conversation monitors – very cool.

You can’t influence the conversation if you didn’t attend the party. Social media is ONLY a conversation among a ton of people and anyone is free to join. A brand can’t shout from the corner of the room, or outside the house where the conversation is taking place, about how great they are. Imagine if a person did that. They have to discuss and engage and be witty and charming and admit mistakes and you know, be a decent human being. That’s what a brand is these days, a person – but the question is, are they a person we like? Do we trust them? Do we believe them?

I defend Verizon like my best friend. I’ve been with them for 16 years (since PrimeCo!) and no matter what wrong someone (rarely) may claim they did to them, I don’t care in the least. I’ve had too many great (not just good, but GREAT) experiences with them that, short of slapping me in the face during their be-speckled mascot’s, in-progress robbery of my home, I’m going to have their back.  Can you hear me now?

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Who’s in charge of the magic?

Who’s in charge of the magic?

This is a great Godin blog post where he essentially asks why don’t we designate someone to be in charge of the “Magic” in our organizations. Of pushing whatever it is to be the best it can be, to wow and, sorry – WOW! and to make things remarkable. It’s a great point, really. 

Perhaps we hope that each person will make things magical. Maybe we think the boss or CEO is doing it – but I think routine and day-to-day demands take their toll and the first thing to go is the magic – the special sauce. Just getting it done becomes the focus, regardless of how it gets done. There’s only so much caring one can do – but if it was your sole job to care about adding the magic? 

I often times think that’s what my job is about. I have a hard time with “good enough” when remarkable would be so cool, and doesn’t mean that much more effort -just more caring. 

1996 Rears Its Head…

1996 Rears Its Head…

Back in 1996 (the year I graduated High School, btw) NPR started airing a segment by Radio Diaries, called “Teenage Diaries” which gave recording equipment to teenagers around the country to record their lives and thoughts for a year.

Recently, they’ve been doing follow ups with the initial participants as it’s been 17 years since they were 17 themselves. Obviously, when you hear of the existence of an audio time capsule dating to the same age you were at the time, you can’t help but be intrigued.

One of the teenagers, Melissa, had a baby that year which mirrors a friend of mine at the time. Actually, a few friends at the time, sadly. Listening to the recordings immediately takes me back to that time and place and reminds me of the feelings of uncertainty and confusion. What would their lives be like? What would the kids be like when they reached the same age? What the hell were we all thinking?

The most unsettling thing – or rather, the least expected – is how young they all sound. Despite the best attempts at appearing “grown up” they all come across as inherently uncertain and… very much like children, really.

Funny. Because growing up, I don’t think many of us thought of ourselves like children. We couldn’t wait to be adults and we thought we had a good handle on how to act that way. Perhaps “act” is the giveaway in that last sentence.

Personally, I have video recordings of my friends and I from various parties, and about 700 pages of notes collected from them during my High School years. In fact, a year ago when I moved, I took the time to organize them in chronological order. It’s all there: Loves lost and loves dreamt of that never happened, petty slights and minutiae of all sorts that are hard to recall. In a very real way, I have my own “Teenage Diaries” but it’s from all of my friends and what they were thinking; hopes, fears, posturing, pretending, achieving, regretting. So much weight for young minds and young hearts.

I’ve always been a fan of history since I was young, and maybe that’s why I’m drawn to this series, and why I kept all of that stuff in the first place. Notes between classes were always supposed to be throw away stuff – everyone else threw my notes away after all. Except for one ex-girlfriend who ceremoniously burned them in her fire place after some falling out. Friends would ask me why I kept them and I never had a great answer. “Maybe they’ll be important someday” or, “We’ll all want to read these!” but those were hopeful answers.

I now know the reason I kept all that stuff was to better understand myself and to hopefully understand “us” as a loose collection of friends. We’ve all grown up and out and rarely talk anymore, but I’m happy to report, we still talk. Those that matter most (and you never know who that is at the time) will always be there, time and time again. And it’s fun to share that history and look back and realize we didn’t have a clue. Not a real one anyway. We thought we knew who’d we become and what our lives would be like and virtually all of those predictions turned out wrong.

Rob, Chris, Tracy

Rob, Chris, Tracy

It’s an important lesson now to remember, as we look at the next 17 years. Who will we be at 51? As confident as we were then, I think it’s important to be reminded of the outcomes of our previous predictions as we make the next big decisions in our lives.

So, what’s the big take away? For me, it would be this: Beware hubris. Seek continuously to look at yourself through an honest lens. Don’t forget who you wanted to be and can still become. If that’s all I learned from this, then it’s an absolute fortune.

Oh, and one more thing: Don’t break up with an amazing young lady two days before prom – no matter the circumstances surrounding your own life situation.

Mayor Cory Booker Takes the Wrong Challenge.

Mayor Cory Booker Takes the Wrong Challenge.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker recently took up a “SNAP” challenge where he lived on $30 per week in groceries. He’s getting some kudos for his efforts of exploring how exactly the people on these programs live and how hard they can have it. I’m impressed at his effort as few people, in my experience, take the time to get down and see how things actually work on the ground level.

Mayor Booker takes on the wrong challenge - but it is an emotional one.

Mayor Booker takes on the wrong challenge – but it is an emotional one.

Of course, SNAP isn’t supposed to be something one lives entirely on. SNAP is an acronym for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. “Supplemental. Assistance.” Not “Guaranteed Subsistence Food Grant” – which would be a mouthful. (Bonus Pun!)

It would be no different than if the good Mayor (and he really is a good guy – he even saved people from a burning building – swear to god) had decided to live in a inflatable life raft for a month. Or, if he decided to wear disposable contact lenses for a couple of weeks. Using anything for other than the purpose for which it was designed is misleading. It also puts the emphasis on the wrong problem.

Clearly, we’re to believe that $4/day is too little to subsist on. I agree. EVERYONE agrees. That’s why it’s supposed to add to the other money one makes to take care of themselves. Not making money for themselves? That’s a tough one.

There could be multiple reasons someone finds themselves without income altogether and without savings at the same time. Regardless, there is family, charity, and opportunity in the free market for work – even daily labor. It doesn’t pay the best, but then it’s not supposed to.

The problem isn’t that these programs aren’t generous enough, it’s that the assumptions about what they’re supposed to do are all wrong. If Mr. Booker thinks free food should be a new guaranteed benefit then he should probably say so.

A safety net isn’t the most comfortable thing to hit when falling from terrible heights, but it’s a damn bit better than solid ground.

I think the problem in Newark isn’t the low level of SNAP benefits but the abysmal conditions in the city. Maybe more efforts by the Mayor to see how crime could be improved in his city would fare a better chance of actually moving the needle for the better.

Unfortunately, Mayor Booker took the wrong challenge.

about.me – helpful? I’ll have to let you know…

I’ve been spending an insane amount of time on the web for work trying to increase our social media presence. I got a tumblr, facebook, linked-in, twitter, flickr, foursquare, google+, youtube – easy enough, right? What about a Klout? lastfm? 8tracks? Mailchimp? Yup, got em all.

I’m like a real-life Ash Katchum – I gotta catch them all. What makes matters worse is that I’ve also got each of these for my personal use as well. Some I love and use daily (if you’re not on 8tracks.com, you don’t know what you’re missing) but others I seldom go to or even remember exist – google+ anyone?

So what about.me? No, I didn’t mistype. That’s a thing now. Essentially it’s a modern day Rolodex card for all of your on-line info. Novel idea. I wasn’t sure about the value but I think I have it down.

With the multitude of accounts we all have every day this gives you one address to hand over to any interested parties. I think I like it. Easy, understated, and an obvious solution to what is getting increasingly out of hand.

I’ll let you know if it works, or if I even use it.