For the second year in a row, I've been asked to be a mentor for a class for a local university's MBA program. Every time I get the opportunity to be part of a more structured mentoring program, I get pretty jazzed. I love learning new things and sharing what I know -- and one thing I've learned again and again through my career is that when you mentor someone, you only know it's working if YOU learn things, too.
I've been part of formal, informal, and totally nonstructured mentoring engagements since I was a pup. Mostly, the formal ones don't tend to work as well, because if there's no spark there -- it doesn't go that far. But in other situations, it's been one of the best and most rewarding experiences I've known. I think this is going to be a good group -- even though it's structured, and is set as an eight-week program, I got a good read off many of the participants at a recent meeting.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about a small group of people I know who are all in their 70's. They're all celebrities of one sort or another, many of them authors or musicians or actors, but a lot who were at one point really well-known business stars. Now they're all at varying stages of being retired,and are mostly giving away their time. I'm thankful I know these people! Sharing your wisdom is critical, especially as you get older.
And for those folks who've helped me get smarter over the years -- thank you a million times. It's meant the world to me.
At one point, I had gone gung-ho creating a bunch of how-to content. I had a bunch of stuff up online, but then I pulled it down, and when I changed hosting providers and moved to a new domain, I never put it up again. But yesterday I found a treasure trove of all sorts of really useful things I had written up, that really should go over to Slideshare. Time to make that a reality.
I wrote up articles and presentations about:
How to create and run a customer reference program
How to write an interesting case study
How to create a Surveymonkey survey
Survey best practices
How to do fast research
How to find and hire a freelancer or intern
... and a lot more.
It was cool to find all this good info! Now I've got to start getting it organized and back online. Because that's what it's good for, right?
Wow, what a dustup! I love scenarios like this; it shows how much things have changed regarding "rapid-response PR".
I won't go to the point of rehashing the whole boo-boo;
but I imagine some marketing and PR folks are in the hotseat today, and wishing it was over already. The short version is that GoPro sent a nastygram to an online reviewer/seller of cameras -- and the Interwebs just blew up with, ahem, "feedback" about the action.
What struck me at a fast scan of this article (and not taking the time to dig into the apparently vast array of source material that has materialized) is that the corporate communications seemed to be a ham-fisted mashup of warm 'n' fuzzy informal outreach ("Hey Greg, we're posting to Reddit..." the corporate head of communications says to a reporter) alongside a legal bray about copyroght infringement. Just a strange tactic.
Look -- I think GoPro's got a great product; I don't have anything negative to say about them. It just seems that their comm and PR folks got caught making a mistake -- WHICH ANY OF US COULD DO -- and now it's just going to leave a negative impression.
You know what this makes me think of? The "Gotcha" speed-rounds of political maneuvering you see during the heat of a campaign (go back and watch Wag the Dog again).
And for the many "armchair attorneys" who've chimed in -- it's a tidbit of entertainment, and then on to the next.
We live in strange times!
I read an article today citing a recent Pew Internet Research study
that notes that (surprise!) some people are getting bored with Facebook. Articles predicting the demise of Facebook started cropping up not long after the mass market began to get familiar with the site. One reason seems to be that young early adopters don't like the fact that all these mass market/laggard/Luddites started stinking up the place, and sucking the cool out of the site. I know a young twentysomething who was an early adopter who dropped Facebook years ago -- only to find that she had to reluctantly re-engage with the site as part of her job working on the social media team for a cell phone company! Why is her company there? Because customers are there, and they reach out for customer service support, to give feedback, and to complain.
So, what's a marketer to do? Drop Faceboook? Reduce the emphasis on it? Stay the course?
Depends on your customer base. Monolithic thinking never helps with marketing; what works for one company might totally bomb for another. Sure, people get bored with "the same old thing" over and over... and honestly I would not use Facebook at all if I didn't have to because it's pretty much expected, given what I do for a living. My reason is simply because as we all know "there's no such thing as a free lunch."
Facebook is free to use -- because WE, the users, ARE the product. That's how they make their money -- highly targeted advertising and promoted posts. Facebook is a mechanical sifter of your individual interests that ensures access to you can be bought. We do this at my company every week as we place Facebook ads and promote posts: we're buying your attention.
Sure, some people are going to drift away to something else... but then again, some people are passionate and totally "into" their Facebook lives.
Thank heaven, we all have choices, and don't have to do the same thing!
Google announced today that it's killing off eight minor products, including Google Reader (whatever that is, right?). http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/13/rip-google-reader/
I don't understand why people would get upset about something like this. OK, I guess if one of the things disappearing is your absolute favorite... but really? Times change, and the needs for certain types of productivity tools change, too.
One thing you cannot do is become complacent and think you've got stuff figured out! Learn to love change, or just... go watch daytime television or something.
The relentless PR onslaught pushing Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's new book has begun. I'm looking at one of the two remaining paper magazines I still get weekly, and there she is, poised in the classic body-language position with hands crossed in front of her genitals that means "feeling nervous or unsure."
Mixed message! Weird headline!
Lots of debate from successful women (er, "total failures" if compared to the $21 million a year Sandberg) on whether or not they'll even spring for the book. Many women I know have said they'll buy the book just so they can pan it without being in the awkward position of doing so without reading it. So... win for Sandberg?
Honestly, I just don't get it. Aren't we farther along than this? Apparently not!
Sandberg talks about how she allocates her daily time, making sure she's home to give the kids a bath before she gets back to work on making Facebook world-dominant, which she does until 11 pm every night. Is she a well-paid slave, with a fleet of nannies and housekeeper drudges?
How is this relevant to the rest of us, the normal people who do their own laundry, mop their own kitchen, swab out their own toilets? We're now supposed to form "Lean In Circles" so we can help other women push their way to the heights of success. It's just been released so I haven't yet read the book -- but the biggest takeaway I've gotten from scanning the press ABOUT the book is that it seems we women are losers if we don't push harder, all the time.
How about a little time to think, to daydream, to imagine? Isn't that valuable? Maybe not to the Sandbergs of the world, but... I value my time with my kids, my husband, my pets, and my thoughts. I believe completely that one of the worst things we can do is overschedule ourselves.
So, yet another executive mobilizes her PR staff to sell a book. Wow, that's... original.
Not encouragement if you're single and searching -- I mean encouragement for entrepreneurs who are trying to find a good idea to market and monetize. I had to scroll through this super-hilarious Buzzfeed piece
twice -- it just floored me to see how many ways people have decided to slice n dice the age-old search for a mate!
Speechless... but very encouraged. If THESE entrepreneurs can tap a nichey-niche-niche, why can't YOU?
I swear, I should know better! In fact, I DO know better -- but sometimes in my quest to get something done quickly, I'll do a stupid hack that works at the time but results in headaches later. (Note to self: don't do this.)
In a hurry to grab a few YouTube videos I wanted to use in a demo (note to self: don't do this), I installed some free "YouTube Downloader" tools to see if I could grab what I needed. (Note to self: don't do this.) It worked, fine -- I got what I needed and moved on -- only to find I was suddenly the (not) happy (not) proud owner of something called "search.conduit.com". This pretty little toolbar decided to hijack my Chrome and Firefox settings, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to turn it off.
So I started researching -- the logical thing, right? I typed "How to remove 'search.conduit.com'" into whatever the heck the search box was (because it sure as hell wasn't Google, thanks to this thing!). What did I find? Lots and LOTS of scary, scary, scary-bad stuff about this "malware," this "malicious virus" (like there's another kind in computerland?). And, of course, plenty of services offering to sell me a removal tool -- or to allow me to call a "security expert" who would handle the delicate task of removing this dreaded digital disease.
Wait a minute...
How did I get here? All I did was install something free. Something... that added a toolbar. OH! So... all I really needed to do was remove those extensions. Which is, actually, boneheadedly easy to do. Open Tools, look at Extensions, and trashcan the crap that was there. And poof -- all better.
Which makes me think...
How many people fall for strong-arm scare tactics? Lots, actually. Because it's the first thing you find (ie, they get SEO) and they make a compelling case (ie, they don't have to be honest). Many people say THAT is the essence of marketing. I disagree.
It's the essence of BAD marketing -- (a) do whatever you can to show up first, and (b) say whatever you need to say, to get people to part with their money.
You may get their cash -- but you won't get their love,
I just finished skimming an article (it was too thin to actually "read") written by a hotshot young CEO whose background includes a degree from Dartmouth, and starting his company. And... that's his whole set of experience. The guy wrote about the four "essential personality types" you simply have to have at a startup. The piece was overly larded with sweeping proclamatory language, the things he insists on, what you must do to be successful, etc.
His four personality types were based on pop-fictional characters derived from comic books, video games, and a beer commercial. I just shake my head at this sort of stuff. When I come across young whelps acting as if they truly have ALL THE ANSWERS from their exalted perch, I usually feel the desire to "Comment" -- but, as PT Barnum said, never wise up a chump, and never give a sucker an even break. So I generally don't comment. They don't want to hear anything from anyone who does less than fawn over their opinions anyway, and it's not worth the finger-motions needed to complete the typing.
Hey, I was a green and naive business owner, too. The difference between me and this guy was that when I was in my early/mid-20's I KNEW I didn't have all the answers. Certainly, I also knew that I had some essential elements that made up for partial cluelessness that comes from simple lack of experience: I had ambition, drive, and the determination to win. I still have those things, but I'm not as clueless!
I find myself being asked to be a mentor nowadays -- and I remember what it was like to be on the other side of that equation. Arrogance doesn't get you as far in life as openness to new ideas. I thought that when I was a teenager, and I believe it today. You NEVER have all the answers -- and when you posture like you DO, you just end up looking like a jackass.
Still, I have to say that one element of his hiring process IS brilliant -- it certainly will ensure that he has uber-groupthink going on at his firm, which is helpful in the short-term for a CEO's ego to maintain its self-strokage. By basing his business needs on comics and games, he'll attract people who live for that. Who knows? He might build a success. But it just seems like another colossal waste of resources and invested capital to me.
Great quote in a VentureBeat article today: http://venturebeat.com/2013/01/29/ivy-leaguers-your-credentials-are-worthless-here/.
Author makes the point that what matters most is not your expensive educational pedigree -- it's your hunger and burning desire to dive in and make things happen. I love this and I totally agree with this mindset.
As long as your talented, I don't care where you went to school.
I run across people who graduated from a school they still think about every single month (usually when making that student loan payment) and they feel it's the most important thing you need to know about them. However, in the real world I very, very infrequently find myself in conversations where one's alma mater is an important tidbit for discussion.
I'd rather know what you C