April 29, 2009

Mom For A Day

I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a colleague I hadn’t seen in years and it was a great reunion. She is now a mother of two, happily married to an awesome guy and kicking butt with her company. We had a great catch up chat then I got to meet some of her friends – friends she met because of her company.

Same Same But Not What You Think

The one thing in common with this group was they are all moms. They shared kid stories for a while but what resonated with me was how bright and full of life this table was, it was awesome. I left being more inspired and enlightened for the experience.

Happy Accidents

This ‘chance meeting’ happened because I reached out to say hi to someone I hadn’t seen in years. This accelerated serendipitous event occurred because of a community my long lost colleague had built and continues to build online.

Once back in the office, I felt compelled to thank each person for allowing me to stick around and be the only non-mom at the table. People I would never had met by any other possible accident. Oh and they asked about my Twitter address, so we could all keep in touch.

People Are People

This group may have met because of the common bond of motherhood but the point of it was bright business owners enjoying great coffee sharing stories, experiences and ideas.

Thanks to Erica Ehm, Brenda Hollingsworth, Candace Derickx and Kelli Catana for letting me 'guest mom' for the day.

Who have you not spoken with in a while?

What magic could happen if you got in touch with them?


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April 28, 2009

Twitter: Good News Only Day

The news cycle is peppered with Twitter right now. When my mother asks about it, I know it’s ‘everywhere’. So now what? Hopefully you are getting what you need from it and hopefully gaining new contacts, new ideas and new relationships.

If you are not on it, perhaps you are confused about what it is or whether it's another useless time waster.

This is not about Ashton or Oprah, Ellen tweets are cool and Anderson does a good job promoting his show, but what are YOU getting out of it? What are YOU sharing? How is it helping YOU grow?

The stream is often cluttered with sales’ pitches and once-in-a-lifetime offers. But what about just one day, where all we do is share good news on Twitter?

What if - for just one day - we put away our theories and our business chat and just share something good. I’m not suggesting we put blinders on and forget reality, but just for 24 hours we share good news.

Perhaps you know of someone who selflessly helps others with no anticipated personal gain or you read a cool story that makes you feel good. It doesn’t matter the scope or the size, just good news that others may enjoy.

Good News Only Day on Twitter.

Is it possible? Can we do it? #gnod


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April 26, 2009

Do You Trust Your Social Network?

We're all born brave, trusting, and greedy.
Most of us remain greedy.

Mignon McLaughlin

If you have spent some time in any social networking site, you know it can be an exciting place. You can meet people you would never have met otherwise. Conversations can run the gamut between personal stuff to professional solutions.

Few delights can equal the mere presence
of one whom we trust utterly.

George MacDonald

If you want to make money on the Internet, litter your sites with Google AdWords and hope for the best. If you want to lock in deep connections with others, have more conversations.

There is still evidence that direct mail and telemarketing work for some situations but if you want to secure a strong cemented rapport with others, it will take time. And that time, is well worth it.

One must be fond of people and trust them,
if one is not to make a mess of life.

E.M. Forster

We often toss around words like friend, follower and connection with wild abandon while travelling in these channels. How many friends are you finding? Of those you follow, who is offering you value? Are you holding up your end of the bargain? How many of your connections do you trust?

If we are talking about business transactions, this is about creating win/wins which will gain people's trust.

You may be deceived if you trust too much,
but you will live in torment unless you trust enough.

Frank Crane

I tweeted last night that I would help five people in my Twitter stream on actual client issues. One hour, on Skype to talk about something that will help their business. No strings, no scams, no client theft, real help. We'll see what happens.

Life happens at the level of events, not of words.
Trust movement.

Alfred Adler

A study released a couple of months ago suggested that the more time we spend online conversing with each other, the more damage we do to our own social skills. It’s odd that ‘social’ is in the name yet it seems to be the most difficult part of this process.

Our distrust is very expensive.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

At PodCamp Toronto in February, someone admitted that events like that intimidate them and they were much more comfortable talking with people in the comfort of their own home office. If you can form friendships, meet new colleagues and gain trust, you will win.

What has been the biggest benefit to you from social media?


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photo credit: www.skydive.ie
photographer: dave clarke

April 24, 2009

Cut Costs And Be The Best?

It’s heartbreaking to watch as we all worry about the future, panic about what’s next. We wince every time another email blast comes with financial news. Chrysler is filing for bankruptcy protection, GM isn’t far behind. And entire industries are forced to downsize and find ways to cut costs.

Air Canada is on the brink – again. The thought that one of the most prosperous gorgeous places to live on the planet may not have an airline is ridiculous and clearly will not happen.

Get Out The Knife

One of the ‘easiest’ ways to cut costs is to fire people and ask the survivors to do more. In some cases, the threat of further cuts will temporarily and artificially motivate people to work harder but it’s not a long-term solution. I have been on both sides of a “black Tuesday” and you may think one is side is more pleasurable - it's not!

Money is math, math is reality – right?

There is little evidence of companies successfully under spending themselves to a lead position. You would be hard pressed to unearth a story or two on situations where slashing infrastructure lead to triumph. Conversely, there is ample evidence of companies overspending themselves to failure. The balancing act never stops.

Hold On Just A Minute

If you are in a situation right now as you read this post to do something different. What do you have to lose, if you just take some time out of the office and ask yousrelf, in no particular order:

• What can I do?
• What is my company good at?
Where can we improve?
• Do we know what our customers want?
Do we know what our potential customers want?
• Have we examined all potential revenue streams?
• Are our products or services still good?
• Are we fully integrated?
• Are we the leaders in our industry?
• Where can we win?
• Are we nimble?
• Do we listen to each other for actual solutions?
• Are we still relevant?
What steps can we take to become relevant again?

What's The Harm In Trying?

There are many more questions, but there’s a good start. It might be a worthy exercise before you get out the chopping block and get the HR department hammering on severance packages. You may be one of the fortunate ones who can avoid affecting careers and all the while become even more successful.

Just my opinion.


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photo credit: tagish.co.uk

April 22, 2009

Starship: Earth | Destination: Survival

Happy Earth Day!

Imagine we are traveling in a large space ship that is just about 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) around, holds just over 6.7 billion people, has garbage lying all over the place and a big hole in the roof.

Earth Hour

On March 28th, over a billion people in over a thousand cities shut off their lights for an hour. Imagine what has to happen in order for you to convince 15% of the world’s population to do the same thing on the same day.

Envision if we could raise that number to 25-30%? Imagine if we could convince more companies to be more environtmetally safe? What might happen if we could reduce the amount of waste we produce each year?

How Can Social Media Help?

For the sake of the argument, let's assume half a billion people have a social media profile. Using the six degrees of separation equation, that covers anyone on the planet with a computer. Now imagine you were to convince just one person in your social network to do just one thing today to help the earth and you did the same. That's a billion things. That's progress.

Here are some websites to check out for more information...

Earth Day Network | Earth Day Canada

Earth Day U.S. | Environmental Protection Agency

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April 20, 2009

A Milestone. A Singer. A Memory.

One Million

So Ashton got a million and news agencies and bloggers reported on it. Now what? It’s interesting that if you look at the “celebrities” on Twitter – they follow very few people and those they follow are other “celebrities”.

What will this do for Twitter? What will this do for you?

One Hundred Million

Susan Boyle is a 47-year woman from Scotland who – until a little while ago – few had heard about. Today, over 25 million have watched her performance on Britain’s Got Talent and some say it could reach 100 million.

Ten Years

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the horrific mass murder at Columbine. If this was an isolated event, we may be inspired that things have changed. But just over two years ago, there was Virgina Tech. Four years ago another one in Montreal.

What is our inspiration when an actor/comedian reaches a million followers on a social networking site, or an unemployed women shows the world she can sing, or precious lives are cut short?

Perhaps it shows we get caught up in tools, we all have talents, and we must never forget.

Inspiration is not always from a positive experience. Inspiration can come from the most unlikely of sources. It inspires us to change or do something or improve for next time.

I’ll take stronger security measures in our schools and more stories about underdogs over someone trying to reach a number – but that’s just me.

What inspires you?


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April 17, 2009

The Future Revealed

Today: The future will in fact be predicted.

At 5pm today, the mass email will be sent - check your in-box.

This communiqué has been secretly worked by a consortium of pontificators and predictors from more than half the counties on earth. This is the most significant document to be released since humans began walking upright.

Once the future is announced, our minds will be put at ease. No more will we need to listen to pie-in-the-sky theories about flying cars and jet-packs. The days of wondering if tomorrow will be better than today are over.

We live in a very special time in history where the brightest minds have been given the task of predicting the future and today, we hear the results.

I feel much better, don't you?


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April 15, 2009

Friends - Colleagues - Storytellers

We all love stories. Stories are about real life people, imaginary characters, creative freedom and all the other delicious things our minds may conjure.

More Than Opposable Thumbs

Stories connect us and separate us from the rest of the creatures that roam this blue sphere. Years from now, you will not still be remarking about that new shirt you bought last week or the presentation you have to work on or the email that went unanswered.

But you may remark on someone you met, someone who helped you or changed your life. You may comment on how you changed someone’s focus or assisted in helping their business or life.

How Long Has It Been?

In the last week, I reconnected with someone I admire and like very much. We hadn’t spoken in four years. It was one of those situations where you just pick up where you left off; life gets busy but that all washes away. He is in a completely different industry now and is applying all his experience and ideas to a group that needed a fresh pair of eyes. He is a storyteller, a connector and it’s thrilling to see how he is applying all that to his latest project.

Do I Know You?

A few weeks back, I made a connection on Facebook. We had not met; we had some mutual friends. In the course of a handful of emails, we got on Skype and had a great chat about her business. In the course of the conversation, she came up with some ideas for me. We were oblivious to each other’s existence until a few weeks ago, now we are helping each other. She is an engaging storyteller who is great at making stuff way less complicated.

Can I Help You?

Someone sent me a DM on Twitter a couple of weeks to ask for some advice on their blog. Me? Someone who got in to this space a year ago on the advice (aka a dare) of a few people at a dinner. Two storytellers exchanging thoughts and ideas. What a difference a year makes.

Thanks CC!

Yesterday, CC Chapman wrote from the heart in a piece entitled Reflections Of The Future. CC is a great storyteller who loves to help others and share. Read and be inspired.

The Power of We

We run into old friends, contact complete strangers, connect with new colleagues across the globe and these moments are chances to widen our knowledge and create deeper relationships.

Who are you going to meet this week?


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photo credit: thefarside.com

April 14, 2009

Where Does It Hurt?

Sally wakes up Wednesday morning. Her tummy aches. She calls for her mom. The first thing her mom says is; “Where does it hurt?”

Batter Up

Carl loves playing baseball in his Thursday night league. It’s the 6th inning, Carl is at the plate, man on 1st, his team is down 4-2. Fastball, perfect, down the middle. Carl connects and the ball sails over the shortstop’s head. Fielder picks it up and throws toward the plate as Carl’s teammate rounds 3rd. Ball meets glove. Catcher meets Runner. Suddenly, there is a heap at the plate. Shouts immediately come from everywhere “Are you guys okay”. Carl's teammate says; "Am I safe?"

Tick Tock

Jerry is late for the sales meeting. Jerry is late most weeks. He can somehow make the 7am tee-time on Saturday but 8:15 comes way too on a Tuesday. This week, the boss tells Jerry that the big account called and is ready to cancel. He then informs Jerry that he’s been late for the sales meeting 21 times this year. It’s not looking for dear old Jer.

Feel The Burn

Mile twenty-three was especially difficult for Marie. After years of training, she had never felt it before. Sure, she was familiar with the wall but this time was different. This was her third marathon and this didn’t happen on the first two. There was a point where she felt it was too difficult and she wasn’t going to be able to make those last three miles.

Just Breathe

Brice has the biggest presentation of his career in the morning. He has over prepared for this one. His theories, his bright personality, his smarts got him to this point. Brice is terrified. It’s as if everything he ever learned or wrote on the topic has vanished. Cold sweats. Shaking. Nervous. Can’t sleep.

Find The Pain

If you've ever heard the phrase "find the pain" you know more than most who sell stuff for a living - and we all sell stuff for a living. It's not enough to find out that someone needs bigger profits. You need to find out the cause, the reason and it's not always sales. You need to find the pain.

If you work in the medical community or you're a parent, you certainly know what it means to find the pain. The old sales' adage that you aren't selling a drill but a way to put a hole in the wall to hang that picture rings true.

We often forget that we connect with other humans. They have deadlines, fears, pain, concern, stress and all the other stuff we have. But somehow we forget. Why is that?


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photo credit: http://assets.disaboom.com

April 12, 2009

What Does Easter Mean To You?

Easter, to some is a day of family and church and remembering Jesus.

To others, it's about chocolate bunnies and turkey dinner.

When I posed the question on Twitter, the answers included religion and chocolate but the most common theme was family and friends. No matter the event or anniversary, we seem to want to gather and share.

So gather and share with those you enjoy. My thoughts are with you if you feel compelled to going to a family gathering no one wants to attend - that's not the point, but unfortunately too many people do it.

Whatever today means to you, Happy Easter!


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April 6, 2009

統合されているか? What Is Integration?

Are you integrated? Is your company integrated?
Do you know? Do you know how?

Integration is a word that is thrown around quite a bit these days. But what does it really mean? Let’s start with one definition; the organization of various traits, feelings, attitudes into one harmonious personality.

But it’s one thing to define it; it’s another to put it in to practice. It can be as foreign as speaking Japanese to someone who only speaks English.

What Is Integration?

Integration has become a catch-all like social media, marketing, user-experience, paradigm shift and community. In simple terms – though easier said than done – it is when several topics or concepts or pieces are seamlessly merged to make a better result. The parts are not lost but work well with each other in a natural way.

But integration is not about trickery. It is about reflecting life.

Quiet On The Set

In the entertainment world, we have seen infomercials and product placement for decades but those applications are often clunky and obvious. The advertising and marketing communities have embraced integration for the purpose of telling more of a story around the product or service.

You may remember the Dog House viral video or the Guy Richie BMW mini-movies. Though neither may have increased sales per se, they were a part of the overall strategy.

Make A Copy

The mistake many make is to see something that spreads through viral channels and think they can duplicate it. That strategy is about as sound as all the years when the New York Rangers thought they could buy a Stanley Cup by paying gobs of money to a bench full of “superstars”.

Copying is not integration, insuring all the parts are in tact is not either. Integration happens when you remember the human part – when you can reflect the tastes of your audience or customers - not dictate them.

Nice To Meet You

If you are having coffee with someone you just met, you notice their clothing and the surroundings, you are more conscious about yourself and your body language. But once you get to know someone, those thoughts are melded into a relationship with that person which is integrated with all that you do with each other. You become yourself.

When we can forget the screen, the transmitter, the camera, the out-of-context medium that is simply delivering the content then we begin to enjoy true integration.

How Do You Integrate?


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April 4, 2009

The Power Of Words

All our words are but crumbs that fall down
from the feast of the mind.
Kahlil Gibran

Words are important.

But not simply because they are needed for one of our most utilized forms of communication, but because of how much they can pique our other senses.

Words can come to our aid, hurt us and make us fall in love. They can bring joy and cause tears. Words have started wars and ended marriages. They can be enough to lift a team of people past any lack of resources or experience and crush any deficiencies there may be on paper.

Words can help us heal and can stifle our dreams before even leaving our minds.

All this chatter about toys and gizmos, thingamajigs and doohickeys, websites and interfaces, this site that site, profiles and apps, without words we ain't got much.

Here are 17 words that I like, maybe some are on your list too;

Think Create Smile
Desire Listen
Passion Share Live
Dream Believe
Thanks Do Magic
Enjoy Decide
Teach Laugh

What are yours?


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April 3, 2009

Friday Motivation

It’s Friday. If you’re on Twitter, please recommend people who inspire you with #followfriday. Let’s turn to some motivation.

Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience.
George-Louis de Buffon

If you want to test your memory,
try to recall what you were worrying
about one year ago today.

E. Joseph Cossman

Dreams are today's answers
to tomorrow's questions.

Edgar Cayce

Time is a dressmaker
specializing in alterations.

Faith Baldwin

The only thing that overcomes
hard luck is hard work.

Harry Golden

Life is the sum of all your choices.
Albert Camus

Love all, trust a few,
do wrong to none.

William Shakespeare

I'm a great believer in luck
and I find the harder I work,
the more I have of it.

Thomas Jefferson

The last function of reason is
to recognize that there are an infinity
of things which surpass it.

Blaise Pascal

A successful person is one who can
lay a firm foundation with the bricks
that others throw at them.

David Brinkley

Trust yourself.
You know more than you think you do.

Dr. Benjamin Spock

Don't aim for success if you want it;
just do what you love and believe in,
and it will come naturally.

David Frost

Diplomacy is the art
of letting someone else
have your way.

Daniele Vare

Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.
Lorraine Hansberry

Wisdom is the reward you get
for a lifetime of listening when
you'd have preferred to talk.

Doug Larson

It is sweet to let the mind
unbend on occasion.


Have a great weekend!


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April 2, 2009

Eyes On The Road

A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.
Henry Ford

While discussing competitive situations, a mentor once said, “When you're driving in a snowstorm, stay in your lane!” His point was that just because a competitor takes a run at you, that is not enough of a reason to flinch. That is safe advice.

But is 'safe' the new 'risk'?

Yesterday I received direct mail pieces from my internet/cable provider and from my land line phone provider. My phone company is now offering satellite cable packages, wireless devices and deals on mini laptops with sign-up. My cable company is now offering wireless devices and home phone line services.

Competition brings out the best in products
and the worst in people.
David Sarnoff

So the cable people are now in the phone business and the phone people are now selling computers. And both are trying to sell me the ultimate all-in-one-bundle.

What Do You Do?

This is a story of two companies driving in a snowstorm. The cable company is taking shots at said phone company and chipping away at their land land business as well as going toe-to-toe with them on wireless and internet. This is a war with brightly produced four-color shiny pamphets and dangling carrots.

Who is the winner?

On the surface, it would appear to be the customer. As one who has dealings with both companies, the honeymoon is brief and the next victim is always the target.

You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising is right
and the budget is big enough.
Joseph E. Levine

Visibility in this snowstorm is not the issue because everyone seems to want to be in every lane. The question remains whether they can still see customer service in the rear view mirror.

It is an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises but only performance is reality. Harold Geneen

Special offers, one-time deals, gifts with purchase all pale in comparison to giving cutomers stuff that actually works.

Is it good to stay in your lane?
When is it time overtake someone in theirs?

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April 1, 2009

Social Media: Racoons and Evangelists

There is certainly no shortage of chatter right now about the explosion of social media. "It’s everywhere”, a buddy said the other day. But the Twitter numbers are mind blowing. There has been a 1400% increase in membership in the last 12 months. Add to that, the largest growth has been in the 35-49 demographic.

And some wonder why venture capitalists keep pouring money in to this project. It's safe to say they aren't waiting for banner ads to recoup their investment. It's about the numbers and with 10 million members in three years, that's a lot of influence.

Twitter Pro or Premium or whatever they will call it, will bring in revenue but like Google, there is enough evidence to suggest money could be made behind-the-scenes.

The Social Media Big Three.

So Twitter is now a legitimate player along with Facebook (175 million) and MySpace (250 million). But with the current American auto industry mess fresh on our minds, it's important to note that companies don't necessarily stay on top forever.

Estimated revenue for these sites in 2008 (figures in USD)
MySpace $800M | Facebook $300M | Twitter $0

A warning from The Hacks.

In this week’s Media Hacks podcast - a must listen - Christopher S. Penn cautions anyone who thinks they can make a living solely from focusing one social media site. There are examples of people doing very well at that, but there is concern if the space goes under.

Diversify your social media portfolio.

Penn says that if you pour all your time and resources into Twitter (for instance) and for some reason they go out of business, so could you. But if Twitter is part of your overall strategy – which in many cases is a wise move – if it goes out of business, you can shift your energy to other places.

Let's check again with those venture capitalists.

Too often those who run screaming into the night saying "how will we monetize this thing" are measuring it against mainstream metrics and advertising. Meanwhile social marketing and behavioral scientists are watching all of this very carefully.

Social spaces, our need to connect and our desire to build communities is not going to change. You may just want to remember that there are millions of people still not immersed in the social media. Yet.

Would you be happy with a 7-share?

It's difficult to determine how many people are participating in social media today. Many have multiple profiles on several sites but if we were to guesstimate that half a billion was the number, that's still only 7% of the world's population. So odds are, you have met plenty of people who haven't even tried this thing that's "everywhere".

Something to keep in mind if client strategy is part of your job. It's an important part of the strategy, but dangerous to assume you will get more buy-in than raccoons in headlights. And simply having a Twitter account without understanding what it can do for them or how to properly use it, is a dangerous game as well.

Have you tried social media? Have you found people who have not tried it yet? What are your thoughts on companies embracing social media?

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© Kneale Mann knealemann@gmail.com people + priority = profit
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