Inside the Entrepreneur – Enlightening Lessons December 11th at Columbia College

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Many of my students first heard about an “elevator pitch” in a course I teach in Management Consulting.  Yes, I have actually had the students practice their elevator pitch inside the elevator at the Grenoble Graduate School!

Folks at Columbia College do know how important an elevator pitch can be since they pitched and won a $7500 grant to support a lecture series called “Inside the Entrepreneur – Enlightening Lessons”

I’m honored to be presenting at this lecture series on December 11th with Greg Falken and Stuart Hince, two fantastic local entrepreneurs.  We’ll be sharing some best practices and lessons learned in emerging technologies and social media in the local Sierra Foothills community.  Check out the link below for more information and come on by to join us!  It’s friendly, it’s fun and it’s free!

Inside the Entrepreneur

Categories: Online Marketing

Tweet Others As You Would Like To Be Tweeted – My Social Media Strategy

October 24, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m still buzzing from the outstanding speakers at #BizTechDay Oct 22/23.IMG_7447

First and foremost, a huge thanks to Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency who helped sponsor my attendance and Kristin from Malama Loyalty for sharing notes and ideas.

Here are 5 key takeaways that I would like to share:

My Social Media Strategy:  Tweet others as you would like to be tweeted.  Just to be clear, this was not heard from Craig Newmark at Craigslist since he quoted the golden rule more accurately as one of his final fireside chat remarks.  But I misheard it and love it.  This is, in essence my own social media strategy.

Peg your press communication to something relevant in the world. This idea is from Sue Kwon at CBS5.  She is outstanding at creating a compelling story.  Go out and read news headlines and know how your story relates to or solves key problems.  Be sure to use relevant statistics in your communication.  And when you are telling your story on video – be camera ready, have signage/logos, and look good…

Have your customers vying to tell your story. Your story is likely even more compelling coming right from the horses mouth (well, if horses are your customer).   Nowadays “customers” can be fans, friends, followers and all the world’s folks that know and love your stuff.  Capture the stories that your horses are happy to tell.

Know and love your metrics. Tim Ferriss suggested Anne Holland’s — and as a lover of A/B testing, I love this concept.  Go get your own.  Know which tests are important to you and how the results will make your onsite endeavors more effective.

Make policy, not decisions. This is another Tim Ferris inspired tidbit.  So many of the leaders I know aren’t comfortable delegating decisions or spend tons of time making decisions.  Find the decisions that you are re-decisioning and create and communicate the policy around them.  Then check your metrics to watch your reduction of time spent in decision-making.

The event website is here.  Thanks to the organizers and speakers for the great wealth of knowledge you shared with us!

Categories: Online Marketing

Blog Action Day, So Dirty

October 15, 2009 3 comments
Growing Dirt

Growing Dirt

17 years ago I made a dirty investment, well, I made an investment in dirt.  I bought a piece of land that was pretty much filled with horse poop, and that was a good thing.  Since then, that piece of land shown above  has continued to be filled with green compost, local horse and llama manure, neighborly turkey manure (though that won’t be repeated), experiemental biofuel, and a ton of vegetables and fruit that have fed families and restaurants in our community.

Today is blog action day — a day where climate change gets a deserved front and center stage in the blogosphere, which I hope is good news for the biosphere.   What does climate change have to do with dirt?  Everything.  Healthy organically grown dirt in my front yard means sustainable healthy food, healthy people and a healthier planet.  No petroleum needed to grow the food or transport it across the world, no pesticides needed to obliterate the pests. IMG_1610IMG_1823IMG_1788

Take the dirt, add local sunshine and water, share seeds with the hood, grow diverse open pollinated heirlooms and my front yard becomes a small and meaningful part of the blog action day solution.

Oh, and did I mention just how good our front yard dirt grown produce tastes? (yeah Jean you are going to be doing the testimonial for those chile rellenos!)

In addition to all the great things you will be doing to support the global climate, please spend a bit of time getting dirty.

Categories: Online Marketing

What’s your 2.0 brand strategy? Devour or Devotion?

September 23, 2009 Leave a comment

The topic of today’s Silicon Valley Brand Forum was “Bloggers and Tweeters are Devouring my Brand”, though I wonder if the title could alternatively been “How do I get Bloggers and Tweeters devoted to a brand?”…. more on that later.


But first a big thanks to Kevin Heany for putting this and the many years of Brand Forums together!  You have a rocknroll great memory Kevin.

Jeremiah Owyang from Altimeter Group, author of the hot Web Strategy blog was the keynote speaker for the forum.  He spoke so briefly, but he could have captivated my interest all day!  He presented 3 simple yet smart ideas: 1) your website is irrelevant, 2) real time is not fast enough and 3) customers don’t care what department you are in.  If you assume for a moment that all three of these are true for your company, what tactics would you use to empower your brand?  Would you say something like: seek relevance and link it on your site, prepare a listening strategy and centralize customer touchpoints into a single (positive) experience?  Right on.

The host for the forum was Electronic Arts (EA).  What a fun place to work!  Gotta love the Starbucks in their lobby and the fun games you can play while enjoying your beverage.  Check out the photo from Jeremiah Owyang’s photostream:


But to find the venue the day before, I did my usual type-into-Google-maps thing and to my surprise, the company rating results that popped up next to the map for EA were certainly not as wonderful as their lobby.   EA was rated with 1 lowly star and the comments about the company I saw certainly weren’t stunning.


If anyone needed help from getting their brand devoured by bloggers and tweeters, I figured EA was on the list.  So I was extra curious to see their presentation.  And I was extra impressed.  Jaap Tuinman, EA’s online marketing and community development manager really gets this stuff.  And EA is a good business case for learning from failures, #EAFAIL to be exact.  That is the hash tag where users comment on EA’s failures.   EA really does pay attention to user comments as almost 4 million of you already know from watching the Tiger Woods walk on water video.

I got quite a kick out of Cisco’s Jeanette Gibson who told the “Cisco Fatty” story.  It’s a story about a woman got exposed when she tweeted her disinterest in a Cisco job that came with a “fat” paycheck.  The issue quickly got out of hand for Cisco, and the woman, especially when someone created a YouTube video, which went viral.  The issue than reached crisis level when the Oprah show called to get Cisco on air (Cisco rejected the Oprah offer though I wouldn’t have…) There are tons of examples of people broadcasting things that they shouldn’t or that they regret, but this one has some excellent lessons learned.  Sure, don’t broadcast things you regret, but a more important morale:  the more that a company like Cisco proactively develops a strategy and pays attention to online conversations, the better they can prepare, react and adapt in times of crisis.

So what were some of the essential takeaways from the Brand Forum?  Well some may believe that squeaky wheels in the web 2.0 world can devour a brand.  Some may believe that brand managers should be responsible for controlling a brand.  Believe it or not.  In this open and connected online world, it’s more evident than ever that brand is made of the perceptions and experiences in the minds of the CONSUMERS.  The role of branding particularly in this online world is to provide a clear platform, content and an experience for bloggers, tweeters, employees and consumers to engage in and enthusiastically advocate.   Goodbye Devour, Hello Devotion!

Categories: Online Marketing

Is Your Business Social Media Ready? Take the Quiz!

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment


For the following statements, select True or False.

  1. Real stories from your customers have more impact than your crafted marketing messages
  2. Your business self-promotion is losing its effectiveness
  3. Relevant marketing content is getting more attention than linguistically perfect content
  4. Your influencers have a more powerful voice than your communication agency
  5. You believe that well earned customer loyalty is more valuable than price discounted loyalty
  6. Your online networks are gaining share of voice
  7. You trust your customers to communicate about you
  8. You have an online place to engage with your fans
  9. You feel that listening is at least equally important as talking
  10. You are able to measure the above to determine if they are true or false

If you answered most of the questions as True, you are truly social media ready.

If you answered all of the questions as True, talk to me!  Let me know how you do it!

Social Media Unplugged

July 27, 2009 4 comments

Can you unplug from social media?  Take the challenge, here’s what I found out.

Many people tell me that they don’t want to plug in to social media.  Some feel it’s a waste of time, not important, information overload, etc.  So I decided to unplug, for a month and see what I would find missing in my life.   I checked out of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter for several weeks, and then left all e-communication behind for a week in the wilderness.
hiking ansel adams2
I figured that the things that I missed would help me understand the benefits of the various technologies I had been using.  It also happened that the last week of my experiment, I was in the Ansel Adams Wilderness in the Eastern Sierra.   Mono and Inyo Counties seriously lack broadband, similar to the Central Sierra counties I work with to help adopt high speed internet and associated technologies.  Many of the residents in the area couldn’t have acceptable access to social networking, even if they did understand its benefits.  So my experiment would help understand what many of these residents are missing, and advocate on their behalf.

Here are my top observations:
Access to critical information – We heard from a passing hiker that a bear had recently attacked a tent (while people were sleeping in it) at Thousand Island Lakes.  Given that we were planning to camp there the next day or so, I kinda wanted more information on this subject.  In the connected world, I could have typed in a few search keywords, downloaded conditions from various websites, emailed a friend to find out more, etc.  But I was limited to just asking hikers that happened to pass us if they knew more.  Most didn’t.
There was also wildfire activity in the area.  I knew this because a passing hiker happened to have been evacuated from the fire area.  The forest service was posting information about this online, but I had no access to it in my unconnected state.
My conclusion is that the traditional face to face information channel works, especially since most hikers were willing to stop for a while and exchange information.  But the online channels would be much faster and more reliable sources of critical information.

General knowledge of what’s going on in the world.  I missed news highlights.  But I didn’t miss the latest in the Michael Jackson autopsy, or Sarah Palin’s retirement.
At one point, my watch broke and I wanted to know the time.  I figured that I could use the sun as an approximation so of course I wanted to search various sites and forums on telling time using the sun.  I also was curious about the names of some of the wildflowers and some of the star constellations.  All of this information would have been readily available online for me.  Sure, I may be able to get by without a lot of the general knowledge, but I sorely missed the immediate quench of my curiosity.

Updates from my friends and colleagues. Except for those who I was hiking with, I had no news.  OK, I certainly didn’t miss knowing every event my friends attended or who was dating or breaking up.  I was curious about a friend who had applied for a new dream job and  another who had a big decision to take.  But most of the update information I peruse in social networks is nice to have, not critical.

Professional opportunities. My social networks are a huge source of professional information and opportunity.   Yeah, those of you that are reading this know who you are and you rock!!  I missed knowing that a colleague won a big grant (information that was posted online with reader comments).   I didn’t have access to shared documents on a group share account, I couldn’t download instructions for completing an upcoming project.  Clearly for me, access to these connected technologies is essential for my professional success, no way around it.

So there you have it.  I survived bears and fires, but literally lost track of time and probably fell behind professionally.   So how about you?  What would you lose if you unplugged for a while, and would you miss it?  Take the unplugged challenge and let me know!

Categories: Online Marketing

Social media and the digital activist – getting started with IJCentral

Would you consider yourself an activist?  How about a digital activist?  I probably wouldn’t.  But wait, are those who are active building communities in social media all considered digital activists?  Maybe I’ve been an activist all along just waiting for a cause to find me (which it did).   So at least for the next week, I’m a digital activist and project champion for  What a talented group of people passionate about an important cause! I’m honored to be working with them and can’t wait to meet up with this team next week at the N2Y4 conference!

So let’s get started… first, the cause: International justice.   Check out this movie trailer for “The Reckoning”, by Skylight pictures.  AMAZING!

Next, collaboration… what can you do to help out?  For now, check out the site  Stay tuned for a list of action items and new enhancements to the site.

Over the next week I hope to share with you a LOT more on the IJCentral story as well as the power of social media for global engagement!

And to help answer some of the questions above, check out the following interesting blog post from Gaurav Misha on the 4 Cs of Social Media!