Social Media Does It Again

London is the latest city to witness the speed of social mobilization. If the Middle Eastern countries are able to spark protests despite limited bandwidth and a crackdown on social networks, imagine a Western city with Internet freedom, smartphone and Internet ubiquity. The London riots spread quickly through Facebook, Twitter, and BBM.  Increased communication and coordination creates its own firestorm through technology. BUT, as rapidly as word spreads can also be the reason actions come to an abrupt end.  It works like this:

  1. Social media sparks the event.  Mobilization travels quickly.
  2. Social media discusses the event through pictures, words, and videos.  People show care, even Wayne Rooney.  The news goes global.
  3. Social media puts an end to the stir by calling up mobilization of a counter measure, aka the police.

And now, thousands of volunteers are using social media to help clean up the streets.  The ability to market and mobilize people for action, good or bad, is now easier than ever because social networks hit so many people.

Nothing New, TV Ad Revenues Up

The major networks including NBC, CBS, and ABC are confident about television ad revenues despite the bad economy.  Current profits justify the optimism.

But I don’t think TV revenues are up because TV advertising necessarily works.  TV revenues are up for three reasons:

  1. Because Internet television is still in its infancy.  Hulu can’t sell enough ads quickly enough.
  2. Because advertisers feel like they KNOW TV, getting awareness and proven measures for money well spent.
  3. Because advertisers are used to it.  The thought goes why spend money on print media with less circulation and Internet media which is pricey and still unproven.

TV works because advertisers know how to do it and can see the awareness impact on sales.  Nothing is a mirage.  But TV on the Internet analytics will improve and online TV spending with grow with it.  It has to.  We live in an attention economy where computer screens and mobile phones reign.

Everyone Is A Creative Executive

Change always starts at the top.

I’ve worked with many executives that resisted change, especially changes in technology.  They prefer the old phone and a secretary, with whom they can assign unwanted digital duties.

In reality, dealing with waves of digital technology development is simple.  You just buy the latest gadget and play with it, finding ways it can simplify your personal and business life.  But the problem is some people are “too busy” to learn, and show no interest.

I think anyone who runs a business should accept that technology isn’t just a means of communication and obsession for young people, but a new marketing and sales outlet.  We’ve gone from text, to BBM, to apps, to sending emails through 3G networks like they’re texts.  Today, we are ever closer to the customer and expected to respond 24/7.

I believe the head of a company should know how to set up a blog, edit it, and use social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter.  These tools are not a waste of time.  Successful business people like Steve Case and Fred Wilson, all have presence in social media and are the sole providers of the content on their accounts.

It must be required that a new CEO understand and USE the latest technology.  Avoiding technology in the 21st century is myopic and blinds you from seeing business opportunities.

Think Global, Not Local

Yesterday, The Economist started a new debate on where the next big idea will grow.

It wrote that the next great innovation won’t originate from Silicon Valley but from outside America.

I disagree.  I still think Web 2.0 entrepreneurship will thrive in America while Europe continues to contribute the occasional catchy technology like Skype and Spotify.  The VC firms, the best schools, and the pioneer attitude thrive in the US.

But it really doesn’t matter where the technology emerges.  What matters is that new technology increases communication and makes integrating our lives and our content online easier.

It does bug me however that Chinese companies like Diandian replicate Tumblr and Zhihu copy Quora, merely localizing those sites in Chinese.  At least change the look and feel of the platform!

Technology innovation should be celebrated and used across the world.  Naturally, which country it arises in matters for politicians and nationalists trying to promote jobs and growth, but INTERCONNECTIVITY is the goal.

Free Is Complicated

Giving away content for free is a complicated issue. If you’re an established author with a decent sized fan base, you should charge for your book, even make limited edition and bonus versions.  If you’re a new writer, you should give your stuff away for free online to get exposure, no strings attached.  Sometimes well known authors give away freebies and new authors charge. BUT you should be wary of free for 3 reasons:

  1. Free devalues your art.  If you’re willing to give it away for free, you make your work seem unimportant.
  2. Free doesn’t necessarily mean people will take it.  You still need to make good content and have at least 1 person out of 10 talking about your work with others.
  3. Free challenges you to keep making more free content, with no guarantee that you’ll one day profit from it.
Here’s 3 reasons why free works:
  1. Free is a great way to get people to taste your work.
  2. Free may give you the exposure you need on review sites.
  3. Free may lead to other stuff like talking events and a legitimate deal with a publisher.
I’ve always believed that the best way to use free is to get something in return, an email, a Facebook fan like, or Twitter follower.  Free enables you to build a tribe, whom then become your promoters when you decide to release a paid item.
The Internet’s massive distribution system, manufacturing ease (there is none!), and social networking tools make free attractive.  But just because it’s easier to ship and promote doesn’t mean it’ll work.  Many of the rules are the same:  you need someone pitching your story, you need people whom believe in you, and you need to continue perfecting your craft.

Succeed in China, the Apple Way

Google and Facebook make intangible web products that are easily replicable.  Baidu is the leading search site in China, which also has many Facebook and Tumblr look a likes that are growing users in the millions.

Apple makes products, hardware, that you need to touch and feel.  The iPhone, iPad, and Apple computers are virtually impossible to replicate.

The difference between Apple and web companies like Google and Facebook is the difference between success and failure in China.

As a company/brand, you need to do three things to succeed in China:

(1) Make a product that can’t be easily copied.  Chinese consumers will place a premium on legitimate items they can’t find elsewhere.

(2) Make a product that doesn’t threaten China’s Community Party.  China’s government controls information, any network that facilitates information like Google and Facebook is therefore a menace.

(3) Make a product that is universally understood.  Apple’s icon is a fruit, Google and Facebook have logos embedded into their names.

Apple is a respected worldwide brand known for quality of product and customer service.  If you want to beat them, you have to join them, simple as that.  And that’s exactly what the Chinese government is doing, forcing fake Apple stores in China to close down while Apple opens up legitimate new stores.

Apple is more powerful than a search and social network, and it’s got record breaking revenues to prove it.  Story short, if you want win in China, make an irresistible physical product that can’t be reproduced.

Day One App

Journalling takes consistency but you first need the right platform and the willingness to write, every day.

I’ve battled journal platforms throughout the years, debating whether or not to use paper or my computer or smartphone to record my thoughts and memories.

I’ve purchased a few Moleskins, encouraged by famous users, only to be discouraged by blank empty pages that remind me I didn’t record my thoughts the night before.

I used a private Tumblr page to record my thoughts, only to be scared that one day it’ll be hacked.

And then the Day One App came along.  The app is available on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad.  I own the iPhone version.

The app makes it simple to record your day and publish it securely to the web, saved and synced via Dropbox.

The app’s simplicity also propels you to keep your journal entries brief, no more than 2-3 sentences.  I usually just type in my highlight of the day and also note some encouragement or future wish.

One day, I simply want to scroll back or search and read upon that entry.  I want to save my memories to see how far I’ve come and where I need to go.

Job Applications Suck

(This is an old piece written in July of 2011).  

Let’s face it, applying for a new jobs sucks.

It sucks because every company has its own application, which typically requires that you set up a username and password as a new user.  Where’s a common job app like I used to use in applying to multiple colleges at once?

It sucks because you have to write a cover letter for each application, reevaluating your skills and making them relevant to the job requirements.

It sucks because you have to go through a recruiter first to get to the person you’ll be working for.  Even worse when the recruiter says that the screening will be recorded.  ”Screening” and recorded screenings are futile.

It sucks because companies take weeks to get back to you, delay intentionally, and take days to set up the next phone interview.

It sucks because shot gun blasting your resume to 100 companies, gives you a 5% return rate.  When you get a response, you forget that you even applied for the job.  It’s usually the job you’re less passionate about.

I’m starting to get the feeling that some companies post jobs that don’t exist, just to spread the word that the company is hiring and is in healthy, profitable form.  What a mirage!

Fact:  any type of application sucks, especially job applications.

Social Media and the World Cup

There’s a fascinating change happening in the United States, more Americans are watching soccer than ever.  Note:  and it’s not because they suddenly like the sport.

I have witnessed the bizarre growth myself.  Before Facebook and Twitter, my friends and family knew nothing about the Champions League or the World Cup.

But these social tools make it impossible to ignore chatter.  And the other outlets like TV, radio, and print, pick up what the social networks are saying.  This spreads the word to the non-active web person, piquing interest.

Furthermore, there are three main reasons soccer is grabbing attention:

  1. Twitter and Facebook are global.  Americans are connected to the world without leaving their seats.
  2. Social media exposure converts passive listeners into active watchers.
  3. Significant influencers (those whom have a big following on Twitter/Facebook) are spreading the news.

I would compare this marketing moment to Michael Jordan’s huge building billboard in Barcelona in 1992.  That’s when the US spread its soft power using corporations as the backbone for promoting American idols.  In other words, 1992 is when GLOBALIZATION hit the world stage, run and managed by marketing dollars of US companies.

Social networks, particularly Twitter and it’s growing base ex-US, is like Globalization 2.0.  Twitter users are connected to friends, celebrities, and politicians.  One tweet about the World Cup from Obama for example, drove Americans and non-Americans to their TVs.  It’s the patriotic and “global” thing to do.

Let’s face it.  Social media compelled us to watch the Women’s World Cup.  Apparently there were 7,196 tweets per second during the game.  This spreadability didn’t exist in 1999, when the US Women won the World Cup.

Thanks to social media, people are more educated about global events.  Now, more Americans “know of” world soccer stars; it’s not just about David Beckham.

Social media is galvanizing new interest in soccer.  However, there’s no telling if awareness for the sport will convert Americans into soccer players.  It’s only then that we begin to see the real conversion.

Cheating and Karma

A soccer player feigns an injury in the box to draw a penalty kick. He or she is coined a cheat.

A potential employee is allowed to skip the phone interview and go right to the face to face interview.  This person has a connection.

Every goal offers quicker pathway to get there. In my mind, they are justified based on the scenarios.  Such as,

  • The soccer that receives the penalty kick; the team is down 2-1 and had been suffering bad calls all game.  A penalty kick is the chance to tie it up rightfully. 
  • The employee that was invited to interview at the office was ousted by someone else at a job he/she really wanted.  They deserve their chance. 

Everything happens for a reason.  What appears as “cheating” sometimes is really karma.  God has a mysterious way of balancing the world.

“No” Means “On”

Someone once told me that “No” means “On.”

That is, when you hear the word No you should step it up even more and push even harder.

The word “No” leaves the mind confused.  Most people give up.  But if you want it bad enough, the word “No” can impel you to success.

“No” teaches you to refine your game.  “No” teaches your how to deal with frustration.  “No” tests your goal; if you really want it you’ll persist until you get it.

“No” means that you’re trying.  Just make sure you’re getting better with every attempt.

15 Minutes Left To Live

He did it.  He set out to accomplish many goals in life and he either succeeded in achieving each one or in the attempt to achieve was led to something better. 

Why did he achieve? 

He achieved because he set out clear and attainable yet difficult goals.  There is no such thing as a guaranteed goal.  

Sure, we can be positive about accomplishing what we want.  But we also have to be realistic.  

The point of a goal is to propel us into action.  When the goal is above our heads, we don’t get anywhere.

They say take goals step by step and build up momentum.  That’s certainly true.  You don’t go the gym dry and think you’re going to bench press 200 and run half an hour and do it every other day.  

First, you’ll be in the pain.  Second, you will have no ambition to go the next time.  

Someone once said the road is better than the end.  If you can get yourself to realize that the fun in achieving is the actual process and not the end-goal, you’ll be much happier with progress.

But don’t be patient.  Go.  Keep moving.  The best strategy is to move fast, fail, learn, and then reshape your attempt on the next one.  

Failure can be anything you want.  It can be a hurdle or a breakthrough.  If you’re an Aries, you hit your horns against the door and do it again.  Forget about anyone else.  

But when is it ok to stop? 

It’s ok to stop when the goal becomes stupid.  Stupid means the goal is a waste of time.  You’re lucky if you see this before it starts.  Some get so obsessed with the goal they overrun it.  

Yes, you tried.  But no, you will never achieve; the person or thing on the other end has already made the decision to reject you.  

When you realize this, move on.  You’ll find something better. 

Better is something that you still work for yet realistically achieve because the other end is waiting for you.  It’s still the dream. 

At the end of the day, he was always ready.  Ready to move, ready to put in the work, ready to do what it takes to his life in the right direction.  

That person was me.  

#Trust30

Digital Retail

Digital retail is about abundance.

Anyone can make a product and put it into the store for download.

Abundance makes it more difficult for you to spread your word.

To stand out, you either need to have the marketing prowess of a major publisher or label or you need to have had an initial hit or major buzz.

Physical retail used to sell itself.  If you made it to the shelf, chances are you are ‘professional’ enough to be there.

But all that’s going away.  Digital marketing is a different animal.

If I had to give a piece of advice, I’d say start building up your social network followers now.  Sharing content is the new king.

Goal Setting

(Originally published May 24, 2011) 

The last months I’ve been lost, goalless, like a ship without a sail.  

I had goals, I always do, they just needed tweaking and elaboration.  

So I sat myself down tonight, read through this free kindle book and set out my goals for the remaining 6 months of the year.

To get warmed up, I wrote down my answers to the book’s questions, which essentially asked: 

  • What do you want to be doing in 5 years? 
  • What would you do if you won the lottery for 1 million dollars? 
  • What does your perfect life look like? 
  • What would you have changed about your life if you could go back in time? 
  • What would you do without the lizard brain, aka the resistance?  
  • What did you enjoy most as a child? 

Here are my answers, in brief: 

  • Live/work in Istanbul for digital media company doing marketing
  • Pretty much status quo except a few purchases here and there
  • Grow up with my wife and build a quality family
  • Learn coding HTML, CSS so I could build my own widgets and websites
  • Start my own small company and work remotely
  • Playing sports and collecting music

I then developed six goals that were specific, measurable, positive, and deadline driven.  Some of them were straightforward, like hitting the weights twice a week before my wedding and buying a brand new Apple laptop before year end.  If you want to know all of six, email me.  

The trick is to pick goals that are feasible and that nag you and take small steps to achieve them.  Scratch the itch.  

To help shape your goals keep in mind the following: 

-The requirements for each goal, obstacles, action steps, positive affirmations (meditate on these), taking real ACTION, and reviewing your goals often if not daily each morning

The purpose of goal setting is to give you direction.  Expect to fail along the way, but know that you may be lead into something better.

Write it down.  Believe it.  Go for it!  

Minimalism

The minimalist approach is just another way of saying ‘keep it simple.’

You need to be crafty to deal with overabundance.  

You need to be able to summarize a lot into a little, absorbing the most important. 

Myspace jammed packed itself with features and bells and whistles.  It failed.  No one wanted an ugly page. 

Facebook forced structure.  Blue on white background.  It’s thriving. 

Less is more.  Shave until you have the essence.    

Shouldn’t we apply that to everything in life or is it necessary to do everything?