Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy New Month

There was a real sense of excitement on New Years Eve and New Years Day 2009. People embraced the idea of a fresh start. 2008 was not a good year for many, but the thoughts of 2009 had them roaring to go.

Then real life and routine came back for everyone and by now many people have already forgotten the feeling of a "new beginning".

Come on folks, it is only 31 days into 2009.

Tomorrow is February 1st. Why not feel that way you did on January 1st?

Happy New Month!!!

Reclaim your enthusiasm.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Local Mayor Candidates And Twitter. Does It Matter?

I would like to preface this post with the fact that I am biased in my view of the upcoming Austin Mayors Race. I support Mayor Pro Tem Brewster McCracken to be the future leader of our great city.

But I do find the below observation an interesting look at the workings of social media. At the end of the day, social media is social and it has to be authentic. If you try to manipulate social media or use it just for your own PR (without legitimately engaging others) then it is not real.

The social media world is not a fad, and Barak Obama has proven that politicians can and should live online. It is a wonderful two-way communication vehicle. Obama was not the first politician to appear in social online communities, but he certainly did it better than anyone else. He was engaging and engaged. The grassroots power of those who live, work, and play in the online world is here to stay.

Brewster McCracken has a presence on Twitter and other online mediums (Long term user of LinkedIn - over 200 contacts AND Facebook - over 800 contacts). He has not just looked at these tools as something new to use for the election.

He has always been a supporter of the local entrepreneurial tech community and he understands that Austin's future depends on the same innovation and vision that matter to growing businesses. Our city has never looked backwards or avoided the risks that come with growth.

Only one of Brewster's two opponents is on Twitter (interesting, however that many of the candidates for City Council are also "tweeting"). Lee Leffingwell is on Twitter as @TheLeeTeam, not as @LLeffingwell (which makes his involvement appear to be a campaign stunt). Brewster is there clearly as @BMcCracken. He is not using it as part of a campaign, he is there as a human being. A real person. He is communicating with people on Twitter. Sure, he is running for mayor, but as a person.... not a team of campaign people.

It is really, really him talking with his followers on Twitter. I know, because I have talked to him about it. It is not some random campaign staffers filling up Twitterville with more noise by chatting away in 140 characters or less. Brewster is interested in using Twitter, learning about Twitter (and all things that are impacting our society), and connecting with constituents. He knows that real people participate in social media communities, and thus he sees the value in being an active participant in social media himself.

Twitter is not for everyone, and many who read this blog might say "Twitter - waste of time - who cares if a mayor candidate is on Twitter". But this goes deeper than than the debate of the value of Twitter, or any other social media platform. It is about authenticity.

Everyone believes President Obama was personally involved with his campaign social media strategy... NOBODY thinks McCain was involved with his (yes, McCain had a social media strategy, too... just not executed very well - and all run by staffers).

I could be wrong about Mr. Leffingwell. Maybe he does all his own "tweeting". But in my opinion he is only on Twitter for the election, telling his 83 Twitter friends (84, I now follow him, too) about his latest fundraiser or other activities. From looking at it, there is a lot of talking "at" people in his Twitter strategy. I question why Leffingwell's Team is even there at this point (maybe because Brewster is there? Ouch, not the right reason to join a social media community! His page appeared three days after McCracken joined Twitter).

Why does this matter to regular people and businesses? (AKA, those of us NOT running for mayor). It matters because the social media train is leaving the station, and we can choose how we want to ride... or if we are going to let it pass us by. This does not mean everyone has to jump on the train RIGHT NOW (you have to want to be there).... And fortunately there will be other stops along the way, and you will be welcome when the time is right!! Twitter is not so much the social media "answer" (I still question it in some ways) as it is a high profile case study of how to authentically engage with others via an internet community.

If you treat social media as you do traditional advertising / marketing (one way communication), you are old school and everyone will know it. Twitter is not about a team of people trying to market a candidate. It is about real people (not hired staff) who are actively sharing with other human beings.

On a funny side note, @TheLeeTeam deleted or "blocked" the people involved with the McCracken Campaign from following them on Twitter. Their "tweets" are not private (you can see them at even if you are not an anointed and approved follower), so blocking them was only an "anti-social-social-media-maneuver". In social media, being anti-social can be a bad bad thing.

I don't think that Brewster will block any of the citizens of Austin from his Twitter stream...even if they support his opponents. I would be offended if someone who wanted to be mayor blocked me on Twitter because I supported the other guy. I thought in today's era of "change" we were supposed to be beyond such things.

Have A Great Day.


The Spirit To Innovate Is Not Dying

Let's face it, the downturn in the economy and the fear and trepidation that has hit everyone from Wall Street to Main Street is real.

No matter
how much we keep hoping for good news, the headlines every day sing about more layoffs, shady payola dealing in Corporate America and sketchy government bailouts (can our elected officials do anything without stuffing it full of earmarks and bogus programs? Even when crisis is looming our loony Congress still pads important legislation with crap - but that is a whole other topic!).

seem to have taken control and it is not making anybody feel good about the future. But as my 94-year-old father points out from his year of experience..."Every bust has been followed by a boom!".

this week I read a great blog post by a Colorado Venture Capitalist, Brad Feld. He too had had enough of the pessimism in the news (specifically about the venture capital industry).

post was titled "I'm A Venture Optimist" and he rolled his eyes at the naysayers in the venture industry and noted that VC's are part of the business ecosystem and are here to stay. He knows there will be a shake out for some in his industry, but he is there to stay.

had a great line when he said "In the mean time I don’t see an endpoint to the human animal’s desire to innovate". Amen. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, in good times and in bad. Our spirit to innovate is not dying!

night's Austin Tech Happy Hour was proof. Sure, there were people there looking for jobs. Layoffs happen. But there was as sense of optimism in the room of over 300 local professionals. Entrepreneurs, VC's, Deal Makers, Innovators, Knowledge Providers, Programmers, Marketers, Sales Professionals, Recruiters and many others were all there looking to help move the world forward.

our desire to innovate and create dies, it is "game over". Sitting around waiting for a bail out never made anyone rich. I believe we will get through these rough economic times and that the future is still amazing for those who want to be part of it.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

What, News On Your Computer? So Modern!

I saw the below video clip on John Cook's Venture Blog (Seattle) and it made me laugh for the whole afternoon.

You have to watch the whole 1981 news clip from San Francisco TV Station KRON. The idea of reading news on a home computer was so unique that they interviewed a person and below his name put the tag line "Owns Home Computer". Funny to think that not that long ago owning a computer would make you news-worthy.

I wonder what utterly cutting edge things we use today will seem so ridiculously silly and outdated in 25 years. Facebook? Twitter? Will our kids look back at us and say "oh, please! How sad!" when looking at our technology, media, communications, and fashion in the year 2009.

Have A Great Day.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

2009 Austin Under 40 Awards Finalists Announced

The Austin Under Forty committee has announced the 2009 Finalists for the 11th Annual Austin Under Forty Awards! Five finalists were chosen in each of the ten categories and are listed in alphabetical order below. The finalists will be formally recognized at the awards presentation scheduled for February 27, 2009 at the Austin Music Hall. Finalists were selected on the basis of excellence in their professional field and commitment to the Austin community.

I am proud that several of my friends, including four of my classmates from the 2008 Leadership Austin Essential Class , are finalists: Jay Ellwanger, Trey Halbert, Adrienne Longenecker, and Rebecca Bray.

Additionally, my co-worker, Corey Blahuta (Managing Director of vcfo's Austin Office) is also a finalist!!

Additionally, Additionally - Chad Goldwasser, the co-author for my next book: "Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Real Estate Professionals" (New Year Publishing, Spring 2009) is also a finalist!!

I was a finalist years ago when I was young enough to be part of this very cool program. Now I sit in the back with the over 40 crowd and drink cocktails and cheer for my friends!!!

Good luck to everyone!!

Arts & Entertainment

Amy Davis Coplen, KXAN-TV NBC Austin
Rochelle Rae, Rae Cosmetics
Carolyn Schwarz, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians
Joseph A. Stallone, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP
Roxanne Wilson, KPEZ-FM 102.3 The River

Business & Entrepreneurship

Zach Anderson, TicketCity
Joshua Dana Baer, OtherInbox
Natalie Kennedy, Kennedy Creative
Kyle Parks, Maxwell Locke & Ritter LLP
Scott Thomas, Intelechy Group

Community Service

Brandi Marie Clark, Austin EcoNetwork
Ellen Patricia Jefferson, EmanciPET/Austin Pets Alive
Adrienne Longenecker, Capital Area Food Bank of Texas
Heather Summers Parsons, Texas CASA
Jennifer Ransom Rice, Texas Senate, Senator Florence Shapiro

Financial Services

Corey Blahuta, vcfo
Trey Halbert, McQueary Henry Bowles Troy
Dawn Ambuehl-Sadek, A+ Federal Credit Union
Stuart Vick Smith, Maxwell Locke & Ritter LLP
Tom Wiley Wilkinson, PMB Helin Donovan

Government & Public Affairs

Matthew Durkin Curtis, Capital Metro
Amy Nicole Holloway, Avalanche Consulting
Mike William Martinez, City of Austin Council Member
Shannon Phillips Meroney, AETNA
Jeff Lee Rose, Deputy First Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General of Texas


Jay Ellwanger, DiNovo Price Ellwanger & Hardy LLP
David Michael Gonzalez, Sumpter & Gonzalez, LLP
Michael J. Nasi, Jackson Walker L.L.P.
Brooks Schuelke, Perlmutter & Schuelke, LLP
Tai Cu Tran, Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP

Medical & Healthcare

Chad Paul Dieterichs, MD, Capitol Anesthesiology
Kenneth Lambrecht, Planned Parenthood, Texas Capital Region
Dustin L. Reid, Restora Austin Plastic Surgery
Matthew Thompson, Medical Management Solutions
Marc Jason Zimmermann, American Physicians Service Group, Inc.

Real Estate

Tausha René Carlson, Marathon Real Estate
Scott Flack, Live Oak Gottesman
Chad Goldwasser, Goldwasser Real Estate
Holly Mace Massingill, Keller Williams
Mark Adrian Villanueva, Marcus & Millichap

Technology & Sciences
Rebecca Anne Bray, Klotz Associates, Inc.
Gregory Lee Harrington, Dell
Brett Hurt, Bazaarvoice, Inc.
Kathy Kempff, Charity Dynamics
Jeff McAdams, HigherOut

Youth & Education

Heath Hignight, Cockrell School of Engineering, UT
Michelle Krejci, Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders
Karen LaShelle, Theatre Action Project
Rene O. Sanchez, Austin ISD, High School Principal
Julie Shannan, Girlstart

Clearly this will be a wonderful event. Austin is fortunate to have so many great young leaders who will help shape our city for decades to come.

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tag, You're It

We move fast in online social media communities.

Those you meet at a networking event send you a LinkedIn request within hours of meeting. Silly how some think an exchange of a business card means a permanent connection. Having a LinkedIn connection means nothing if you do not really know the person.

People from high school pop up in your life in Facebook for the first time in decades. Some of them who want to be "friends" were never your friends in high school.

Celebrities get 10,000 followers in Twitter overnight, while personally only following 13 people (most of them are not actually Tweeting, their PR firms is doing it!).

Photos of you from the college fraternity / sorority parties appear in others online-albums and you are "tagged" - letting the world glimpse into your less than brilliant wanton youth (like the photo of when you passed out drunk and your friends drew on your face with a marker). People do not think through what they are doing and have no consideration for whom else might now have access to what they say about your online.

Connect, connect, connect. Link, link, link. Share, share, share.

It all moves fast in the social media online world.

Well, slow down. For social media to have power there must be meaning. Too many think it is a game, and that cheapens the value.

You do not have to connect with or follow everyone. You are not obligated to read everyone's comments, blog posts, or other pontification. Many view the internet as a giant time suck, and it can be if you are not careful. There is a lot of noise on line.

It is okay to take your social networking activities at your own pace.


On a side note, I had a funny experience last night while not really watching what I was doing on Facebook.

I was reconnected with one of my pledge brothers, John Gilham, from my college fraternity. He was a nice guy, but nobody knew what happened to him after college. Yes in the days before cell phones and the internet it was not uncommon to lose touch! Hard for some to remember, but these things were not common ten year ago.

He had just joined Facebook, and I jumped in and "tagged" him in photos from college in another friend's photo album. But my fingers were moving fast and I tagged John Gilham as Jonathan Gilliam. Gilliam is a friend here in Austin, Texas who is a local business professional and sales consultant.


Fortunately there we no embarrassing pictures (I would not tag someone in a photo that is not flattering, as that is not the right thing to do - on so many levels)... but all of Johnathan's friends would have be alerted that he was tagged in three photos.... three photos from 20 years ago of some other guy.

This is a reminder to pay attention and slow down.

Have A Great Day.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Two Quick Starbucks Stories

Story One:

One morning last week my friend, Diana Holford (of Jones Lang LaSalle), called me to see if I was in my office. She and a co-worker had been at the Starbucks nearby my office and on their way out they decided to buy me my favorite "Grande Non-Fat Vanilla Latte" and drop it by my office. They called and instructed me to meet me in the parking lot outside my office, where they handed me my cherished hot beverage "just because".

Wow. That was cool. Out of the blue someone who is near your office buys you a treat and drops if off for no reason (other than being a nice friend).

The kind gesture made my day. No, it probably made my whole week! It was a simple act that was neither time consuming nor expensive -- but it made a big impression.

What can you do for the people in your network that will be remembered?

Story Two:

My six-year-old is currently selling Girl Scout Cookies. I took her to the University of Texas on Saturday morning to stand on the corner of 24th and Guadalupe to sell the boxes of baked goodness. My thought was that hung-over college students could not say "no" to a cutie pie such as Kate.

The strategy worked, except for the fact that it was freezing cold in Austin this weekend so the foot traffic along "The Drag" was light. It took a little longer than expected, but she sold out her supply of cookies. However, the cold and wind was awful.

I suggested a hot chocolate at the nearby Starbucks on 24th. She agreed that this was a great idea (ummm, what kid would say no to that??!!). The very nice person behind the counter recognized the familiar Brownie brown vest that my kid was sporting. She engaged Kate in conversation about how cookie sales were going, and then told her since she had worked so hard to raise money for a good cause (she, too, had been in Girl Scouts as a child), that Kate's hot chocolate was going to be free.

Wow. To Kate this was really special. She had never seen a person working somewhere reward a customer with a free hot chocolate just because!

All day she was telling people that her hot chocolate at Starbucks was given to her for free because of her charity cookie selling activities.

The $1.50 that was waived by the woman behind the counter was much more valuable to the 6-year-old customer (whose dad was going to pay for the delightfully chocolaty beverage, anyway). It made Kate feel special.

See, the little things do make a big difference. Always look for ways to make others feel special and you will be a big success in life!!!

Have A Great Day.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Social Media and the Land of Misfit Toys

No matter how much things change, some things remain the same.

Take high school. Most people, no matter where they grew up, had similar experiences when it came to how social cliques took shape. This is the reason the movie The Breakfast Club is such a timeless classic - We all had popular kids, brainiacs, freaks, jocks, thugs, etc.... in our graduating classes. Everyone saw the experience from their own vantage point.

The majority of "too cool for school" people toned down their personal levels of self love and inflated egos after moving onto the real world. Observing people attending a 20 year reunion, there seems to be a great equalizer that takes over. Maybe this happens because they get older and fatter (and thus realize they are just human), or are so too tired to care about being the coolest kid on the block from five years of fighting aging - hello Botox!).

No matter what the reason, the older people get, the less seemed to care about cliques.

Until now. Welcome to the world of social media. Some of the "popular kids" in this new medium have begun to believe their own press. The levels of "full of self" and "full of shit" are reaching epic proportions.

I enjoy the interactions on Twitter, Blogging, Facebook, etc...., but there are some who have proclaimed themselves as the royal court and they look down their noses at those who are not part of the "Twitterati" (etc...). These self proclaimed "social media stars" are as phony as any pimply faced, Clearsil-covered teenager I have ever seen. Oh please.

I stopped following one guy because he is nasty. Sure 6,500 other fawn all over him, but the times I have seen him interact with others online there is a since of arrogance that I have not seen since sitting next to the homecoming queen in math class.

But to "unfollow" jerks comes easily in a social media world. You could not do that in high school. Wow, this is refreshing.

I also unfollowed anyone on Twitter who said mean spirited things during the United States Presidential Campaign. Sure, people can have differing opinions about political issues, but if they crossed the line and said mean and hateful personal stuff about Barak Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin...I just stopped following them. There is no time and no room in my social media world anybody who is dark in their soul.

I stopped reading the blogs of two popular bloggers that are seen as "all that and a bag of chips" in the blogosphere. They had clearly begun to believe that they were enlightened beyond the masses. Think Marie Antoinette. I don't want cake. At first I was curious what sparky outlandish things they might be saying, but within a week I no longer cared. I am not trendy-cool enough to be caught up in their wave anyway.

Today I read a tweet that said "I've noticed most guys who love talking about tech, Twitter, etc. actually have nothing to say. All megaphone and no message". I don't want to call the person who said it out by name, as that would be rude. His statement made me ponder about his message for a long time. Who is he judge the next guy's value? When was he appointed king of the internet? I must have been sick that day.

I am convinced that much of Twitter is just "noise", anyway, but so what. Sprinkled between the 140 characters of noise are powerful pieces of profound pontification. If you don't think someone adds to the stimulation of your brain, simply delete them from your Twitter Stream or stop reading their blog. Poof, they are gone from view, and their empty megaphone is no longer your problem. Why spend the time complaining about them, unless it is the superior feeling of the incessant whiner that you desire!

I tell my followers on Twitter that if I am just noise, they are free to unfollow me - no hard feelings. When I make such terse tweets I do see my numbers decline. But that is cool, because I only want to be connected with those whom there is a mutually mastered motif that magnifies the momentum of each other's mastery. If we cannot have a conversation, then we have nothing anyway.

We should all enjoy the ride that is the social media super highway. Moving fast and changing lanes is the name of the game. There are a lot of fun things to see along the way. But it is open to all, and we must not be overly judgemental of the others who have now come to play.

No matter how cool we think we are, we are all really living in the Land of Misfit Toys. And proud of it.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Heart House Austin HALOS Kick-Off Party: January 27th at 5:30

Heart House Austin needs YOU!!!

This Austin based charity organization is a good cause, and is looking to get more people involved in 2009.

Next week Heart House Austin will launch "The HALOS" Group, which is a professional auxiliary group designed for both service (AKA: give back to the community) and social (AKA: have a lot of fun).

We are looking for people with an entrepreneurial spirit who can help grow, shape, and cultivate this important group.

The kick-off party is at 5:30 on Tuesday, January 27th at Roux Restaurant on 6th Street.

If you live in Austin and are looking for a good cause to support, come check out the Heart House HALOS.

See you on Tuesday.

More info HERE


Managing Corporate Culture During Hard Times

Austin's most dynamic technology companies should all be attending TEXCHANGE!

Last night over 140 local professionals were in the audience to listen to Southwest Airlines legend Colleen Barrett talk about managing corporate culture during hard times.

Ms. Barrett had a very relaxed speaking style. She had no prepared remarks, but instead just allowed her mind to free-flow a stream of consciousness. She talked to the crowd like a next door neighbor, sharing her anecdotes and passion about corporate culture. Clearly sage advice.

To Southwest Airlines culture is their difference. While a company needs a good business model and strong business thinkers, good people in at all levels and a passion for customer service can propel a business ahead of the competition.

The company is fanatical (almost arrogant) in their hiring process. It would not be uncommon to interview thirty people for one baggage handler position. Why? Because the right person can help the company succeed, but also a bad hire can sour the whole department. From the beginning of the company in 1967 they have looked for employees who viewed the airline as not a "career", but a "cause".

When Herb Kelleher began the company, but before they were flying passengers, the bigger airlines (the bad guys) filed law suits to block them. This move by the large carriers (who lost the cases) directly made a difference for the success of Southwest Airlines. It gave the employees a "spirit" - a fighting spirit! Had they not had this battle to forge their dedication and culture, they may have never made it into the 1970s. But instead they became scrappy warriors who fell in love with their cause.

The company requires those who work there to exhibit three traits everyday: Spirit, A Servants Heart, and A Fun Loving Attitude. They take business seriously, but do not take themselves seriously - from the top down.

They are proud of the fact that they changed the face of the airline business. In 1967 only 13% of adults flew commercial airlines. Now it is up near 90% of adults, but also people of all ages fly on planes regularly. They made air travel affordable and accessible. They have cherished their passengers and they hear back from them that they make a difference in their business and personal lives. (Brian Krpec of Performix who was sitting at my table at the dinner met his wife on a Southwest Airlines flight...and now they have four kids. Hey, that's not just a bag of peanuts!).

In hard times the corporate executive's commitment to culture is even more important. Your company's culture builds a bond with people (employees and customers), and it makes them WANT to see you get through the rough times and continue to thrive. Employees will look for ways to help you save money, and clients will look for ways to buy from you in the tough economic climate if they have loyalty and trust. They are all pulling for the company's success when you have the right culture.

It is easier to build a good culture from the start of the business. Changing a culture is hard (not impossible with the right leader, but difficult no matter what).

Finally, Ms. Barrett closed the evening by hitting the point that communication is the key. She feels that email has hurt corporate culture and has made interactions impersonal. She encouraged companies to communicate, communicate, communicate with their employees (and customers) using a variety of mediums, including in person communications. A leader cannot lead via email, so you have to look for many, many ways to ensure your message is being delivered and recieved.

Colleen Barrett was one of the most "real" presenters I have witnessed (and I study the style and poise of anyone who takes the stage). I think it is her genuine quality that has lead her and Southwest Airlines to reach the top.

Have A Great Day.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Austin, Texas Mayors Race - Vote Brewster McCracken!!!

Seems like just yesterday the country was celebrating the Inauguration of Barak Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America.

Oh, it was just yesterday.

But all politics is local, and now it is time for people in Austin, Texas to start thinking about the ever-growing list of candidates running for mayor of our fine city (the 16th largest city in America).

I am not here to tell anyone how to vote, but I do want to encourage my fellow Austinites to look closely at my friend, who is a two-term city councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem, Brewster McCracken.

Brewster understands and embraces what makes Austin unique (some call that uniqueness "weird" - but some also say "Brewster" is a weird name!!).

He is passionate about the environmental issues and clean energy initiatives that are important to the the future - not just for the city, but for the whole world.

He embraces the arts community that has always been an important part of the town.... AND he is a friend to businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit that sparks ideas that change the world.

Yes - Business, the Arts, and the environmental causes can all live together in a thriving city, and Brewster McCracken wants to make sure that Austin thrives today and tomorrow (I heard one of his opponents pooh-pooh "the vision thing". WHAT? Only a "yesterday thinker" looks down on vision!!!)

Last year he and I sat down for a long lunch and I knew right away that he had the vision to lead our city. While he did not say it at the time, I was hopeful that he would run for Mayor of Austin, Texas. Now he is running and I want to help him win.

He was open to fresh ideas and perspectives. He is hopeful that all Austinites can and will converge to make our city shine in the new realities of the world around us.

Campaigns need money, and Brewster has not raised as much of it as the old-time politicians that are also seeking the position. The max you can give is $350, but even $10, $25, or $50 can make a difference. We learned from Barak Obama that the grassroots actions of the people are what really matter to uncovering candidates that can lead us into the future.

If you live in Austin, I hope you will look at Brewster McCracken closely and consider tossing your support behind whom I hope is our next mayor.

Thanks for letting me rave about my candidate.

You can follow Brewster on the campaign trail on Twitter at @bmccracken.

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Tonight my wife and I attended the Texas Presidential Inaugural Celebration at the Four Seasons in Austin, Texas. It was not quite the same as being in Washington DC, but the sold out event was packed with local folks who wanted to come out and dance the night away to honor the 44th President of the United States.

We attended with a small group, and we were also celebrating our friend Kelsey's 40th birthday. On the day she was born, Richard Nixon was sworn into office. Who could have imagined the changes the world would see during those four decades.

It was fun to watch the festivities and party atmosphere, which were kicked off by local television personality Judy Maggio. The rendition of "God Bless America" by Pamela Hart brought the house down. And kudos to the red-headed lady in the green dress (with full length golves) and her husband (date, boyfriend???) who knew how to dance the samba like nobodies business -- They were great!!!

I love any time people can come together. The spirit of people being united is the key to all success. This day was a symbol of a new beginning. Inspiration seems to be looming over everyone, regardless of where they stand in the phony political divide.

Good luck, Barak Obama. Godspeed.

Have A Great Day.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Austin Social Media Awards

The First Annual Austin Social Media Awards nominees have been announced by the Austin American Statesman.

Several of my friends have been nominated (I list them below with links to their blogs / websites).

If you live in Central Texas (or beyond) and are still confused by social media, this is a comprehensive list of people you could reach out to and better understand the medium.

You can click on the above hyper-links to see the whole list, but below is a list of folks I know well whom are nominees. I know some of the others by name, just not on a personal basis. Yes, there is a difference between following someone on Twitter and actually being their friend!!! I still believe that people claim "friendship" too fast in the social media world. A connection on Facebook is NOT an equal relationship to my my connection with my kid's godparents!!!.

Aruni Gunasegaram

Benn and Lani Rosales

Bryan Menell

Bryan Person

Connie Reece

Dave Evans

Dean Cruise

Dewey Gaedcke

Eugene Sepulveda

John Erik Metcalf

Liz Handlin

Michelle Greer

Mike Chapman

Ricardo Guerrero

Sam Decker

Scott Ingram

Congratulations to all the nominees and especially to my friends who made the list.

Have A Great Day.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

How To Win Blog Followers and Influence Tweeters

My old friend from my legal marketing day, Kevin O'Keefe, has a fresh blog post about ways to get more people to read your blog and follow you on Twitter.

It takes the wisdom of the ages from folks like Dale Carnegie (How To Win Friends and Influence People) and bring it into today's social media age.

Click Here and read this post. You will have an "ah ha" moment that while some things change, most things remain the same!!!

Have A Great Day.


Stepping In The Dog Poop

Seattle entrepreneur and blogger Andy Sack stepped in dog poop.

Alas, he has a great analogy for why this less than fun experience is like the current economy, and he colorfully wrote about it on his blog. I too stepped in dog poop this week. No fun, but I got through it.

Again, he says it better than I can.... so read his post.

Have A Great Day.


Pull Your Marketing Head Out Of The Sand

Sam Decker, the CMO of Bazaarvoice, and very, very smart marketing guy has a great post on his Decker Marketing Blog.

In tough times sometimes people forget that creativity and new mediums matter in marketing. Sam does a great job of summing this up, so I wont steal the thunder. Go read his post.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Pre-Judging Other People - Never A Good Idea

Do not kid yourself, people are making rash generalizations about you all the time.

Today I was eating lunch, alone, (sorry Keith Ferrazzi, sometimes you should eat alone!) at my favorite cool Austin Restaurant. Casa De Luz is an out-of-the-way vegan restaurant that I have come to enjoy over the past several years. The food and the atmosphere are both great - and when my planned lunch meeting cancelled I decided to go there anyway and continue reading Thomas Friedman's "Flat, Hot and Crowded". (good book, by the way -- but very technical and takes some effort).

A woman I do not know approached me and we had the following exchange:

Her: Are you Thom Singer?

Me: Yes, I am.

Her: I saw you speak a couple of times at The Chamber of Commerce. I enjoyed your presentation on networking skills and would like to read your book sometime [etc....].

Me: Thank you.

Her: What are you reading?

Me: "Flat, Hot, and Crowded" [I held up the book].

Her: [After a pause and a funny look on her face] Hmmmmm, I would have never imagined you the type to be eating in a vegan restaurant reading a book on global warming. [shrugging her shoulders]. I guess you never know.

Me: [smiling] I am not sure that was a compliment.

Her: [not smiling] You just struck me as more of a steak or BBQ kinda guy. Very corporate.

Me: [still smiling] Oh don't worry, I eat lots of dead cows!

I do not think she found my response funny and politely ended our breif conversation. I went back to reading my book.

As I left the restaurant she was sitting on a bench in the meditation garden. I smiled and waved as I walked past her. She called out after me "Oh, and do not wear a fancy leather jacket the next time you eat here". This time she was smiling and she waved a nice wave. I think we parted on good terms.

Doh! Had never considered I was wearing leather in the vegan restaurant. It is cold outside today in Austin and my coat is nice and warm. I am not sure if this was really a faux pas or not to the rest of the patrons, my being clad in dead animal skin. There was no sign asking for leather goods to be left outside!

And for the record, my jacket is not fancy.

I spent some time contemplating her judgement that I was not someone who would frequent vegan cuisine and educate myself about our world wide ecological crisis. If I came across as "corporate" when I spoke at a business setting (ummm, The Chamber of Commerce...hello!), is that enough information to understand anything about me personally?

Yet we all pre-judge people. We look at their clothes, online photos, haircuts, manners, cars, houses, job titles, etc... and lump each other into easy buckets. But human beings are complicated creatures. If we try to assume too much about those around us we will be wrong more often than right.

Thus, don't guess about people. Ask questions of them and you will learn a lot more about their hearts and souls than if you simply categorize.

Have A Great Day.


I Don't Know You, But We Are Friends

Communicating with other people is not getting easier.

The addition of email, texting, IM, blogging, Twitter, social networking, social media, video, and all the rest of the stuff does not always make our lives easier. The reality is new communication tools have complicated the whole arena of interacting with others.

It used to be we would talk with someone face to face, on the telephone, or write them a letter. In any case there was higher levels of participation put into the communication (by both parties), and while misunderstandings still took place, everyone seemed to know where the other person was at the end of the correspondence. There were socially understood ground rules and the "non-verbal" communication was easier to interpret.

Today there are no rules. So many of the communication vehicles we use are new and people have a variety of expectations of how other should utilize them. If one party has a mis-interpretation, then it is often unknown and hard to fix.

I sometimes find it hard to always understand people in a digital world whom I have never met in person. Their sarcasm or direct approach is lost on me in print if they are a stranger.

Because I write a blog and participate in several social media communities, I have expanded my network to include many more people than I have had in the past. But the speed at which these communities bring people together can also minimize the long established mutual understanding that comes about in other venues.

When someone offends me it is easy to just "un-follow" them. In more traditional relationships with people I find I am less likely to be offended in the first place by sarcasm and much quicker to give them the benefit of the doubt. Real friends have built up credit.

I had an experience recently where I am fairly sure I mis-understood someone's email and thus my answer, which was fast, fair, utilitarian and too the point, was instead off target - and not at all what they were expecting from my response. The problem is that I don't know this person at all (Just someone I follow on Twitter, but have never met in person), and thus I am left unsure how to best approach a "do-over" and try my answer again. I have no clue as to their personality (since we have never met), thus I am not sure they would even welcome a clean slate approach. They may just assume me to be off base or simply a jerk.

It bums me out when I screw up. I hate to make communication mistakes (Heck, I teach business relationships and how to establish meaningful and mutually beneficial networks), but such hiccups are becoming more common for people with the new platforms over which we interact online. It is not just me, I hear this from others all the time.

This is one reason why I never connect in LinkedIn or on Facebook with people I do not know personally. In most cases I require that the person and I have had a cup of coffee, a meal, or a beer (or the digital equivalent) before I welcome them into my network. Doing this allow us to know each other at the level of personality.

But Twitter is a different animal, and as I get to "know" more and more people through this community, I think I need to develop a new way to correspond fellow "Tweets" who are actually strangers (yet we know each other, kind of). It is cool when paths cross, but it can be tricky.

The issue of how we interact with people whom we do not know on a personality level really does make communicating different. Social media is here to stay and growing at a fast pace. The world is changing and getting smaller, but people are still people. We need to invest in the personal side to create powerful connections.

This topic interests me. Has anyone read books, papers or studies on this topic? If yes, please share them with me.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fame Comes Fast to Janis Krums - But Then What?

Janis Krums (aka @jkrums on Twitter) is a young guy. Entrepreneur. Former Athlete. Student of life. He is searching for the Next Big Thing in his life.

But one can never predict when or where that big thing will appear. As I said in a post the other day - you cannot force viral! Viral just happens.

On January 10th Janis wrote five goals for the year on his blog. Number five was "to have over 1000 followers on Twitter". The purpose of this goal was unclear, just something he wanted to help him market his personal brand as he grows his career. It followed the other goals for 2009 which included learning to sail, hitting his sales goals (not sure what he does), losing 15-20 pounds, and writing 100 blog posts (to improve his writing skills).

On January 15th he was in New York City aboard a ferry boat when a US Airways plane crashed into the Hudson River. The ferry went to the scene to rescue the passengers. Janis took a photo with his iPhone and uploaded it to the internet and linked the picture to Twitter.

WAMMO. The picture was quickly seen round the world as it was "re-Tweeted" by people on Twitter and was then picked up by traditional news sights, bloggers, etc.....

Janis instantly was someone people knew about and were looking to learn more. Within a few hours he had gone from a couple of hundred followers on Twitter to well over 2000 and growing. Local and national TV news stations were calling his iPhone and sending him Twitter and email messages hoping to interview him.

He was instantly part of the Twitterati - the whose who of those who tweet. But had said nothing new on Twitter in hours. The audience came and Janis was quiet. Hmmmmm.

Now, all this took place just a few hours ago. What happens to Janis next? He still needs to take up sailing, write 97 more blogs (although he certainly has some stuff to write about after his busy day today!), sell some product, and lose 20 pounds to meet his goals for the year.

Will his 15 minutes of fame help him in any way with his entrepreneurial endeavors? Hard to tell.

Have A Great Day.


PS- He seems like a cool kid. The kinda guy you might want to have a beer with at a tech conference. This is part of my criteria for following folks on Twitter (but not my criteria for how I vote for politicians!!!). I now follow him and will be interested to see if he has anything interesting to say after today.

UPDATE 1/16/09 - 6 AM- I see from his two Twitter comments since the photo that he has been on MSNBC and Good Morning America, and more.

When you google his name you get 1500 pages, most of which are related to his TwitPic photo.

National Speakers Association

In 2008 I finally qualified for membership in the National Speakers Association. There are three options to qualify, and I actually hit them all. I was surprised to find that I gave 47 presentations in 2008 and I estimate that was close to 3000 people who saw me speak in audiences from 10 people to as large as 1400.

I have heard mostly great things about the organization, and feel that it is an important milestone in my professional speaking career.... so I joined.

I look forward to attending their national conference and might try to hit a workshop in Florida in February. I have discovered that professional speakers are very giving individuals and most that I have met actively share both advice, brainstorming ideas and referrals when they are not available for an event (some are also selfish, arrogant and protective -- this is the real world, not Mayberry).

Since I teach that having a strong network pf professional contacts in any field leads to greater success.... I predict that my closer involvement with other speakers will be very beneficial. I hope I can find a way to bring value to other members of the organization.

Have A Great Day.


ACG - January Speaker: Lew Little, CEO of Harden Healthcare

The Central Texas Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth continues to thrive as one of Austin's premier networking and business educational groups in town (and I do not just say this because I am on the board!).

ACG thrives as a direct result of attracting a great mixture of the best corporate speakers in the area. Month after month the "whose who" of C-Level executives address the ever growing crowds of the ACG membership.

This week 120+ professionals were in attendance to listen to Lew Little, CEO of Harden Healthcare.

Lew is an Austin native (not many of those around!) who is a local business legend. He has worked in a variety of roles in banking, investment/finance and now as the leader of one of the country's most talked about nursing home and home healthcare organizations.

Little gave up caffeine in April 2008, but you would never have know it from his energy presentation.

Much of the talk centered in on the history and recent growth of Harden Healthcare - along with information about the ever changing healthcare industry in the United States. However, Little peppered the information with nuggets of knowledge that can be applied to any company:

*"Deliver the right care and the rest falls into place".

*"Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are and they will make you look good".

*"Be aware of the threats in your industry and the economy"

*"All service businesses are personal"

Little went on to site the many areas of focus and strategy that have lead to his company's continued success:

persistence, positioning, improving the product offering, diversification, increased patient (client) satisfaction, developing and tending to company culture, investing in training and development of managers and staff, creating a sales culture, showing appreciation to employees, etc....

When asked about why Austin is a great place to grow a business, Little was fast to point out the great amenities of the city which make it an easy place to entice people to visit or relocate. He does hate the fact that you must change planes to get anywhere when traveling --- but we in Austin have had that problem for generations.

Harden Healthcare has been able to attract a top team of executives who now call Austin their home. It is continuing to grow and looks toward a very bright future.

Thanks to Lew Little for his inspiring and insightful presentation at ACG.

If you have never checked out the Association for Corporate Growth meetings in your city, you are missing out.

Have A Great Day.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Turnaround Management Association

Last night I made the trek from Austin to San Antonio for the meeting of the Central Texas Chapter of the Turnaround Management Association. The company where I work as the director of business development, vcfo, consults with businesses of all sizes with a variety of issues around operational accounting, finance, HR and recruiting issues - thus TMA is an organization I wanted to know more about. vcfo can serve as a vital resource for distressed companies looking for options, as our CFO's are all highly seasoned executives who have hands-on experience with issues facing businesses in transition. Thus, extending my personal network with those who focus on "turnarounds" is ideal.

The speaker for the meeting was Cliff Atherton, managing director from the Houston based investment bank GulfStar Group. His talk was titled "The Challenges For Middle Market Transactions in 2009", and he did a great job of detailing the ups and downs that companies face in the coming year.

I enjoyed the presentation and all the conversations with the other professionals in attendance. My head was left spinning from talk about the economy, but this is an important topic for everyone, regardless of what we do for a living.

While Texas is just beginning to feel the changes that have impacted the rest of the country caused by the panic that hit all the markets in October, we are not immune from the crisis.

M&A has shut down due to the limited amount of credit in the marketplace. Banks continue to preserve capital and are not making many new loans. Bankers are not being aggressive and debt is more expensive. As we enter the new year following Q4 2008, we are seeing fewer transactions and the lack of available money, coupled with the drop in the stock market values; placing both buyers and sellers onto the sidelines. Many do not believe we have yet to see the bottom, and that does not help companies that are currently looking for options to raise cash.

Not long ago it was a sellers market, but the abrupt shift in the past few months have left few options for businesses that need to sell. Owners are holding onto the "anchor" of their 2007 valuations, and those that do not need to sell (companies with little debt and plenty of cash on hand) are not looking to make any moves until prices rebound.

The good news is that there are strategic buyers / investors out there who are looking to invest. Companies need to be realistic and flexible. We also need consumer confidence to return, as the general public is a major factor in the overall economy. As as long as people are not spending, there will not be a rebound in other sectors.

I left the meeting with an upbeat feeling about the future for the economy. While there is still some tough times ahead, everyone seemed confident. The investment bankers and others in the room are looking for deals, and that is a good sign.

My 94-year-old dad has seen a lot of things transpire in the economy over his lifetime. He told me recently that there was one fact about an economic "bust". They have all been followed by a "boom" at some point.

I look forward to attending future TMA meetings in San Antonio and Austin. It is a good organization with some great people involved.

Have A Great Day.


Work Hard And Hope Your Boss Is A Good Mountain Climber

Last week I had writers block and I asked the people who follow me on Twitter to help with some questions about networking, marketing, sales, career development, etc....

I received a lot questions via Twitter, Twitter DM and email. Thus writers block is now gone and I have plenty of topics.

The second question is below. As I write these posts over the next week I am not going to site the persons who asked the questions, as some many not want their identity exposed (a few came by direct message with a request not to use their name):

With the problems in the economy I am worried about my job, and I have a co-worker I feel is undermining me in the eyes of my boss. What can I do?

Ouch. This is a tough one.

I think that many people are worried about job security in the current economic situation. Many whom I talk to feel like their future is out of their control and their fear of the "what if's" are center stage right now.

All anyone can do is to work hard and do the best job that they can, and hope that their co-workers and superiors respect the efforts they make to advance the company's cause. The person who sent me the above question did not specify the type of role they play in their company, but regardless of job description, she should make sure that she is supporting the common good of the company.

Hard work is no guarantee against getting laid off, but if you do the best you can, then no matter what happens you will always feel good about yourself.

As for believing a co-worker is harming her reputation, I have seen this happen before in companies where I worked earlier in my career. Some people react to the touch economic situation by trying to "mark their territory". Often they do this by attempting to make themselves appear more important to the company by marginalizing the contributions of others.

Again, all you can do is work hard at what you do best for your company. I believe most people are not taken in by such tactics if they are engaged in the running of their departments. They understand the contributions that their people make, and frown on those who do not support their co-workers efforts.

Consider this (I love this analogy, but do not remember where I heard it):

Is you boss in the valley, on the hillside, or on the hilltop? Where they stand on the mountain will effect their perception when asked if the sun has risen. A boss in the valley will say "no". A boss on the hillside will say "I think the sun will be up soon". But a manager who is standing firmly on top of the mountain will say "yes, the sun is shining very brightly!!!"

An individual's perception is their reality. I hope her boss has reached the top of the mountain!

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Your Co-worker Is A Jerk

Last week I had writers block and I asked the people who follow me on Twitter to help with some questions about networking, marketing, sales, career development, etc....

Wow, I got a bunch of responses, so now I have plenty of topics.

The first question is below. As I write these posts over the next week I am not going to site the persons who asked the questions, as some many not want their identity exposed (a few came by direct message with a request not to use their name):

"How do you respond when networking and people talk about how your colleague / superior is such a jerk? Umm?

Monday, January 12, 2009

You Cannot Force Viral

The more I participate in online social media, the more I learn about the off-line world at the same time. You cannot force people to take action. Never assume that others are motivated by the same things. You cannot force viral.

My participation in the HomeAway Vacation Giveaway was a wonderful experience. I did not enter with the plan of winning (although that would be very cool) - but instead I try to be an active student of how things take shape in social media (the medium is new and ever changing.... so everyone is still a student of social media!!!).

I very much enjoyed telling the story of my childhood vacation memory (yes, it really happened just as I wrote it... that is the reality of being the youngest of four boys).

My lesson comes from how few votes I have received. Nearly 1000 people have viewed my blog post asking for people to vote and I have over 700 followers on Twitter who have heard my plea. Yet as of now only 25 people voted for my entry.

1038 people have voted in the contest over the past 4 days for the 32 entries, with the leader having less than 200 votes. Voting closes on January 15th, and at his point I think that the trend is clear, that my peeps ain't voting.

This is not a gripe. It is actually totally cool, as you cannot force viral. Nobody can expect others to take actions for an event that is really all about me. The motto "Hey, win ME a free trip!" does not launch ships. It does not play into any body's self interest....other than mine.

Take this example off line and into our business lives. How often do we pepper our clients, prospects and referral sources with messages that are self serving? We forget that our self interest of making sales does not really matter to our audience. Sure we have people who like and respect our products and services, and they love us as human beings, but this is not enough to motivate them to take the actions we desire.

Of those who voted for me in the contest - one third of them were my family and close friends who live near Santa Cruz. These folks had a personal interest in my victory (as they would get to come to the beach house and party it up!). The same is true in business, our handful of evangelists sing our praises and we wonder why others do not follow suit. Those who buy or refer your company usually have personal motivation involved. It makes them look good.

Companies often make this mistake in their marketing when they lead with the history of the firm, their unique product, or all the victories they have had for other clients. "Look at Me" marketing makes the firm feel good, but does the buyer care? Will it drive them to action? Nope.

Those who will buy (or refer others) are interested in how they benefit. When they will win, they go viral and tell the world. Helping the other guy win for the greater good is a wonderful theory, but it does not motivate the masses. Sure, there are exceptions. We should cherish those who just like to help for the sake of helping others (these folks do exist!!!), but do not count on them being the majority.

While you cannot force viral, you cannot just sit on your butt if you want results. "Word of Mouth Marketing" or "Going Viral" are mysterious creatures. You cannot manipulate society into adopting and idea. But that does not mean we should not be trying. Much spaghetti will hit the floor.... but when it sticks to the wall.... Watch out. That is the holy grail of which all dreams are made.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Please Help Me Win A Free Vacation

Dear Reader of My Blog:

I need your help. I entered an online contest sponsored by HomeAway (a company that helps owners of vacation homes connect to those who want to rent them, based in Austin, Texas). The prize is a one week rental of a very cool beach house along the California coast.

The winner is selected via votes. (Yes, they will want to capture a real email address for your vote to count).

To enter the contest one had to write a blog post for the contest. I did that here.

Click Here to see my entry into the contest and to register your vote. And tell a couple of friends. The only way to win this contest is to get your extended network engaged to vote. Voting ends January 15, 2009.

Thanks. I wish I could take you all with me to the beach (sorry, the house is not that big), but I promise to share more stories of how my older brothers tormented me when I was a kid (you need to read the original entry for the contest to understand - It is funny).

UPDATE - There are only 32 folks in this contest, thus my chances of winning are very good... but the whole thing is based on the number of votes. One of the people in the contest has over 8000 followers on Twitter, thus he has a MUCH bigger platform than I do. Alas, I could win, if you tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on, etc......

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Leadership Austin Engage Breakfast - Poverty in Central Texas

January is "Poverty Awareness Month", and while not the cheeriest of topics to launch into the new year, it is worthy of our attention.

This morning's Leadership Austin Engage Breakfast Series hosted a panel discussion on the topic of Poverty in Central Texas at Chez Zee Restaurant. Panel moderator Jim Walker and panelists Frances Deviney (Director of Texas Kids Count) and Dan Pruett (Executive Director of Meals on Wheels and More) addressed the issues facing the poor in our region.

There is not enough talk in Austin about poverty. As a community we place much of our focus on music, arts, health and lifestyle. While these are the good things that make Austin, Texas one of the coolest cities in the world, we sometimes forget about those who are in the shadows of our society. A truly GREAT city is judged on how it treats its young, old, sick and poor.

Austin ranks near the bottom when it comes to money donated to charitable causes based on a per capita basis. 48th of the 50 largest cities in America (I have heard that our ranking is rising, but still in the bottom third). This is not acceptable for a growth oriented community that prides itself on a powerful entrepreneurial spirit.

Texas is a state with very low taxes, but that also means we have very low spending on programs to help those in need. We are the 2nd fastest growing state in the country, which means that more people are coming to our region who will need more services. Federal and state programs come up short as they focus on those living under the "official" poverty level (which is way way low income levels). But there are many people who do not qualify for government assistance, yet still need help.

We have amazing non-profit organizations in Central Texas, but if the current economic conditions worsen, there will be more people in need. As a community we need to be proactive in providing the safety nets for our fellow citizens.

Often those who work in the business community do not see poverty first hand, so they assume it is not a major problem in our region. But it is. Poverty is not just a numbers game on some government chart, instead it is a state of being for real families who live and work close to us.

As you plan your new years resolutions and goals, have you looked toward giving back as one of the items on your "To Do List"? Make a commitment to philanthropy in your community (regardless of what city you live in, there is need all around you). If you do not know where to start with giving back in Central Texas, check out "I Live Here, I Give Here" or send me an email and I will help you find other sources.

You can also join the Some Assembly Required - Philanthropy Discussion Group on LinkedIn.

Thank you to Leadership Austin for a great program. If you are not familiar with the Engage Breakfast Series, each month they bring together a panel of experts and address the pressing issues of our community.

Have A Great Day.


HomeAway $5K Dream Vacation Getaway Contest


The whole world is the oyster for this vacation paradise contest and I pick a beach house in Santa Cruz, California? Yep. One reason. Memories.

I was raised in Southern California and every summer my parents rented a house in Newport Beach. One of my earliest memories was getting to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag on our annual vacation. Wow, how cool! (yes, as a grown up I now know that the youngest kid got the worst sleeping conditions on vacation - dirty, sand covered carpet and an old army surplus sleeping bag - but to me it was an adventure).

I remember my siblings rolling me up in the sleeping bag when I was three-years-old and tossing me around. Disoriented they told me they had placed me on the top shelf of the closet, and if I moved I would fall. I cried. My mom found me rolled up sobbing in the bag on the floor of the living room while my brothers had gone out to play in the surf.

My older brothers were soon gone away to college and beyond (with that last story you probably think I did not miss them!), but those childhood memories of a week at the beach are burned into my brain.

We have not recreated the beach trip for our kids. A week of carefree exploring the coast with the sand between their toes, picking up treasures of rocks and seashells would be magic.

We live in Texas, so a week in California during the heat of the summer is a dream getaway. My brothers live nearby Santa Cruz and I might let them come visit us and enjoy the view.... if they apologize for that whole sleeping bag thing. But the cool part is that my 94-year-old Dad now lives 30 minutes away from the beach at Santa Cruz. Thus, I could drive him over the hill to enjoy the swanky house with his grandkids!!


Click here to see the house I would rent if I won and go vote for me in the HomeAway contest.

Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year Enthusiasm

Today was the first official work day of 2009.

If each day of the year everyone worked with the same level of enthusiasm that they put forth today, there would be no recession.

I saw it in every aspect of my day. People were pumped up: At work, online, in restaurants, in coffee shops, on the street, ...EVERYWHERE!!! Never before have so many people been so happy to see the old year closed out and be over.

Good-bye 2008...don't let the door hit you in the ass!

SLAM. The last year is shut and nailed closed. Seems everyone had issues with 2008.

Today people had an optimistic glow about them. Smiles were returning to faces and their eyes again had that twinkle of hope that had been missing during the fourth quarter.

Everyone was working hard to launch 2009 with gusto. Seems they were looking ahead to all their big projects in the upcoming months and getting the ball rolling.

I had three meeting planners contact me in one day to inquire about my speaking at their events this year. That was exciting, as I am looking to do more professional speaking this year, and it was fun to talk with them and hear their plans for meetings, educational seminars and conferences.

The worries about the economy seemed to be melting away as people were tackling a variety of action items to move forward with the new year. Everyone had long "To Do" lists today and were plowing through leaving check marks behind them as they flew down the page.

Yes, it is just one day. But I was watching everyone I encountered on this first work day of 2009 as a way of looking into the crystal ball. I cannot really predict the future, but if today has any insight, this year has some great things coming for us all.

Happy New Year and Have A Great Day.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Seeking Change In 2009: Then Do Something To Create The Change You Desire

If we all want change in 2009 we need to take action. As a society (not just Americans, but people all over the world) we have been calling for change for a long time. It is easy to look at history through our short term memory and point fingers at those in political power, while pretending the world was utopia in days of yore. But the change we seek goes deeper than just Barak Obama coming along to follow the Bush Administration.

While a small percentage of people are high achievers, and another small percentage are stuck in failure (sorry).... the majority are seekers. We seek more for ourselves, and our children, while working through our day to day lives. America was founded by generations of those seeking a better life.

Being a seeker is not a bad thing. It is great. It beats just sitting on your butt and accepting whatever comes along. But to seek we must do more than wait or hope that "The Law of Attraction" will magically bring us the goods. While I believe in the power of goal setting and visualization, we must take actions in conjunction with those things. This is true both individually and collectively. If we are "Waiting for Godot", Godot never comes. (There's a reference I wonder if anyone will get!).

Maybe I am missing it, but many people seem to just be talking a lot about the economy, the environment, health care, corruption in politics and corporations, employment / labor issues, human rights, and dozens of other issues.... but they are not doing anything.

In the course of this blog I cannot speak to the society as a whole about how to tackle the BIG issues of our day. That takes more than the views of some yokel blogger to digest. But as an individual I do know first hand that you can do the things that will bring you the change you seek in the new year - regardless of all the other stuff happening in the world around us.

Here are five suggestions to jump-starting your change:

1. Don't listen to the media. If you listen to the mainstream media then this is the worst economy since the great depression. OH? Go to a restaurant on a Friday night and look at the full parking lots. That was not the case in the 1930s. Yes, we have problems and yes many families are hurting right now. But the sky has not fallen. Accept that there are worldwide financial concerns and then go micro. Look at your own situation and make smart choices with your personal economy. You cannot change the whole planet, but you can take actions that effect your family.

2. Know what you want. If you do not know what success looks like, how would you ever know if you won? Olympic athletes know the goal - The Gold Medal. They visualize it. They practice for it. They make choices in their diet, health, sleep, etc... that lead them toward victory. They sit quietly and see the race in their heads. They visualize. Then they go out and try as hard as they can. No, they do not all win, but everyone of them tries hard -- and they are better off for it.

3. Connect with the right people. Yes, it all comes back to networking. The people you build strong, mutually beneficial relationships with will want to see you succeed. Seek out the people in your industry who have the knowledge. Be a resource for them and together you will both accomplish more. But never be selfish. If you look at them as just there to help you they will discover you as a "Taker". Takers get passed over.

And be sure to acknowledge those who help you and say "thank you". This is often overlooked when people reach their goals.

4. Get knowledge. Never before in human history have we had more access to information than we do right now. Invest the time to become educated on a variety of topics. Read books and blogs, attend seminars, take classes, participate in online communities, etc... Get knowledge, but with all your getting, get understanding. To only know something is not enough. You must understand it on a deeper level and realize how it impacts the greater community.

5. Be a voice for good. If you want change you cannot just observe the world as it goes past. You must take a stand for something. Support a local cause that can impact your community. People listen to those who make a difference. Too often people want others to listen to them, but they have no history of ever saying or doing anything significant. Thus when they do speak up they are just part of the noise. Rise above the noise by consistently being vocal about things that matter. This does not mean being pigheaded or disrespectful to those who have differing opinions. Instead it means finding ways to bring a variety of points of view into the discussion... and being the level headed one who stands for good.

Change is coming. We have started the ball rolling and cannot stop it. The question is what will that change look like? If you are one who seeks change, help shape that change.

Have A Great Day.