29 May 2009

Friday Top 5

Top 5 Things That Are Great About My New Job (4 days in)
  1. Our mission is awesome: Champions for Children's Health
  2. Everyone's been super welcoming.
  3. Out of the cube - back to an office.
  4. Old commute: 45-50 minutes. New commute: 20 minutes (25 if there's an accident).
  5. After 12+ years working with associations, I've FINALLY made it out to Old Town!


28 May 2009

Gadget Lust: Palm Pre


WANT.

When does it come out again?

(Not soon enough)

I'll probably even dump my long-term relationship with T-Mobile if there's no other way.

And that's saying something.


27 May 2009

CAE Celebration!

No what I'm reading post today, mostly because I'm reading NACHRI HR and orientation paperwork, and nobody wants to hear about that.

Who's coming to the CAE Celebration this afternoon?

It's an annual event put on by the Greater Washington Network that celebrates the accomplishments of CAEs. About two years ago, we finagled inviting the new CAEs (June 2008 and January 2009 class this year) to join us for free.

This year's program will focus on "What Keeps You Up at Night?" Clare Inzeo from ASAE will review the results of the economic impact study, after which incoming CAE Action Team chair Shelley Sanner and I will introduce Dan Roam's Back of the Napkin concept. Then the participants will have the opportunity to apply Back of the Napkin principles to solving the problems their associations currently face. After we have a chance to report out, Johnson & Lambert and Veris Consulting will conduct the traditional stage walk for our new CAEs. And then we party!

I hope to see all the new (and many of the not-so-new) CAEs there!


26 May 2009

Always the Last to Know - Universal Translator

From the brains at DARPA. It's not ready for commercial sale, but yes, really: universal translator.

Could beaming be far behind?




25 May 2009

What Makes You Happy?

And why does it matter?

A few weeks ago, when I was looking for new sources of online awesomesauce, Peggy Hoffman pointed me to The Happiness Project, which I've since added to my RSS feed.

For those who are not familiar, the author/subject, Gretchen Rubin, in the process of researching a book, is test driving every idea or principle about happiness she can find over the course of a year to determine what works and what doesn't (shades, of course, of The Julie/Julia Project).

Of course, the very day that Peggy introduced me to this, I was watching the "Word Salad" episode of Boston Legal, in which James Spader's character Alan Shore comments that he doesn't want to start taking pills (presumably Zoloft) because he doesn't want to lose his melancholy streak.

Americans have a world-wide reputation of being unreasonably happy. We smile too much, our political philosophers tend more towards John Rawls and ameliorating the inequities of the natural lottery than to Michel Foucault and the futility of fighting the panopticon, we revere the stories of Horatio Alger rather than the dark, ambiguous films of Ingmar Bergman, hell, our founding documents promise us "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Why do we place so much importance on being happy? Is that really the highest good? In an era of nearly ubiquitous anti-depressants, is there a role any more for the person who doesn't go through life like a Disney heroine, with a smile on her face, a song in her heart, and helpful animal minions by her side? (Not that I am in any way trying to belittle depression. I've seen its serious consequences first hand.) And if you aren't that Disney heroine, does that mean you're flawed on some deep level?

Because the thing is, we're sold happiness, and I use the term "sold" intentionally. If happiness is the measure of success and you're not happy, maybe you can buy your way to happiness with the right house/car/TV/outfit/vacation/night on the town/etc. The next thing you know, Americans are in debt up to our eyebrows and the economy is in a shambles as a result. But are we any happier?

(Wow. This post is really taking a different direction than I anticipated.)

So, if happiness is the answer, how do we, as a culture, get off the "stuff will make me happy" treadmill? And if happiness isn't the answer, what is?


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21 May 2009

Survey Finds Nonprofit Websites Lacking

ForeSee Results has conducted a survey that finds nonprofit websites lacking on a range of issues.

Why should you care? Because, according to their results, satisfied site visitors are:
  • 49% more likely to donate
  • 38% more likely to volunteer
  • 57% more likely to have a favorable overall impression of the organization
  • 65% more likely to recommend the site to others
  • 55% more likely to return to the site
The survey report is free, but you do have to register to get it.


20 May 2009

What I'm Reading

Not a whole lot this week, since I'm taking it off to putter, do little jobs around the house, and run errands like meeting with my financial adviser while I'm between Beaconfire and NACHRI.

Other than my NACHRI HR paperwork, I've been reading:
  • Out, a Japanese crime novel written by Natsuo Kirino. It strikes me as very Japanese, so some things that I suspect are very significant for Japanese readers aren't quite striking home the way I think they're supposed to, and the prose is pretty clunky at points. I suspect the English translation could have been better. Still, entertaining.
  • Blissfully, the WaPo cover to cover every morning. Sadly, that's a lot less reading than it used to be. Death knell of print newspapers? Maybe.
  • The crowdsourced May issue of Associations Now. I've been particularly enojying the new-ish monthly feature where association execs comment on common work scenarios. This month, Becky Granger came up with the idea to look at telecommuting, an increasingly popular option.
  • And last night, spouse & I went to see Rock-n-Roll by Tom Stoppard at Studio Theater here in DC. I think it's probably the best Stoppard I've seen and the best play I've seen at Studio this season. It's still running for about a nother two weeks, so if you have the time and the means, I encourage you to go see it, particularly to catch Ted Van Griethuysen's excellent performance as Max (I smell a Helen Hayes nomination).

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19 May 2009

Twitter & SEO

Ever wondered what tweeting links using one of the shortening tools does to your SEO?

TinyURL has just started to pass links to Google ('bout damn time).

Other services really need to pull it together, though.

And some SEO gurus are mad as hell, but right now, don't have a whole lot of options other than continuing to take it.




18 May 2009

Always the Last to Know - Raven


OK, I have *no* visual sense whatsoever, so I doubt I'll be able to make good use of this FREE vector graphic creation tool from Aviary, but it's WAY cool.

Image credit: created by anderlohr using Raven


15 May 2009

Friday Top 5

In honor of my last day at Beaconfire, the Top 5 Things that have been great about working here:
  1. Working with amazing clients.
  2. The opportunity to expand my knowledge of Internet strategy.
  3. The chance to develop greater expertise with social media.
  4. Participating in BF's fun-loving internal culture.
  5. Meeting and getting to work with a lot of really nice people.
Looking for a change yourself? Be sure to check out BF's open career opportunities.


14 May 2009

New Playground

I'm excited to announce that I've accepted a new position! The National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI), an old client from my RSM McGladrey days, is getting their first organization wide Marketing Director - me! Although I've enjoyed the past 2+ years of consulting, I'm looking forward to getting back into the fray of things in an association.

My last day at Beaconfire is tomorrow, Friday, May 15. I start at NACHRI on Tuesday, May 26.

In the interim, keep up with me here, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, on Twitter, or at ewengel at yahoo dot com.


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13 May 2009

What I'm Reading

What with my entire family descending upon me for my cousin's wedding this past weekend, taking the 'rents to Ragtime at the KC for their anniversary/Mother's Day, a heinous cold, and trying to get ready to present on social media policy at the HRA-NCA conference yesterday, I haven't been doing a lot of reading lately. However, I have gotten to....
  • All the Power of A stuff. I think Maggie McGary captures my thoughts best with her post The Power of....Huh?. Man, I leave town for two weeks and ASAE launches a whole new initiative the purpose of which is...well, I haven't quite figured that out yet. Little help?
  • Rohit Bhargava clues us in on how to live blog/twitter an event effectively. I did ask in advance of HRA-NCA if there was an established conference hashtag (answer: no), and at the beginning of my session, I asked if anyone was on Twitter (answer: yes) at the moment (answer: no) and could live tweet the session (answer: no). Catch up, people!
  • I'm a little behind on my Associations Now reading and I haven't cracked the cover of the May crowdsourced issue yet, but I did spot a few great pieces in the April issue: advice for extending your meeting content beyond the confines of the actual physical event, Jeff De Cagna encouraging us all to embrace the revolution, and a great story about how AIHA successfully centralized their marketing efforts.
  • And Lindy Dreyer posted the final entry in her social media policy setting series just in time for me to mention it at my presentation. Go Lindy!


12 May 2009

Always the Last to Know - KwiClick





Want to turbo-charge your web searching? Install the KwiClick plugin for Firefox and ZOOM.


11 May 2009

Pimp my Job

Wondering how to survive in today's job market?

Check out the Washington Area State Relations Group's May 2009 Professional Development Breakfast, “Pimp My Job!”, this Thursday, May 14.

Please join WASRG for this useful and entertaining discussion about all things employment-related. We will have an open career discussion, including topics such as: how to make a great situation out of a mediocre one; how to land that promotion or a new job (Yes! Even in today’s climate!); how to make the most out of networking; and other employment and career questions. Please bring your toughest situations and questions for the team.

The program will be presented by the “Pimp My Job” Dream Team, a group of witty, but wise, professionals that can share their experiences to help you survive in the working world. To see some of their past questions and advice, visit the “Dream Team” blog.

Register now
.



08 May 2009

Friday Top 5


In honor of recent meteorological events, the top 5 things that are good about all the rain we've been "enjoying":
  1. We had a really dry winter, so we definitely need the extra precipitation to help ward off a summer drought.
  2. All the stuff I planted a few weeks ago is now going gangbusters.
  3. It provides a great excuse not to mow: the grass is too wet!
  4. April showers bring May flowers, you know.
  5. I can leave the door open without worrying about my water-phobic cat escaping.

Image credit: rocbike



07 May 2009

NTC 2009: Iron Chef Battle Nonprofit

Check out the slides from one of Beaconfire's presentations at the recent NTC 2009:




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06 May 2009

What I'm Reading

After two blissfully computer-free weeks in New Orleans, I am TOTALLY behind on my email, Twitter, RSS feeds, and various social networking outposts.

But I read a lot of great books:
  • The Joy of Drinking by Barbara Holland. I love her stuff in general, and starting my trip to the City That Care Forgot with a light-hearted and funny look at the history of human alcohol consumption seemed apropos.
  • Gumbo Tales by Sara Roahen. Roahen is a medical school widow, food writer, and New Orleans transplant who looks at the Crescent City through the lens of its unique and wonderful food culture and the amazing characters who make it happen, even in the face of the almost overwhelming odds they've faced since Hurricane Katrina. Just try to read it without a) getting hungry and b) wanting to move there.
  • Nine Lives by Dan Baum. Baum writes about the life, near death, and fragile beginnings of rebirth of a beloved and unique city through the medium of following the lives of 9 fairly typical New Orleanians, from the 1960's through 2007: "Dr. Jazz," the city's trumpet-playing long-time coroner; an uptown business man who married into the Rex family (and mansion); the widow of one of the Mardi Gras Indians' biggest Big Chiefs; a petty criminal; a high school band director; the band director's wife; a Lower 9 resident who worked the street car lines for 30+ years; a cop; and a transexual bar owner. Yes, those *are* typical New Orleanians. And I guarantee that you'll learn things you never knew about the city, the storm, and its aftermath reading this engrossing book.
  • Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. This was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. Hell, when I was growing up, I wanted to *be* Harriet the Spy. Which, now that I think about it, is probably pretty revealing.
  • The Road to Wellville by TC Boyle. Is there any writer I love more than TC Boyle? I think not.
  • Just starting 1 Dead in the Attic by Chris Rose. Rose is part of the multiple Pulitzer-winning New Orleans Times-Picayune staff who covered Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath, even as they themselves were forced to evacuate the city, racing just ahead of the rising flood waters. As one t-shirt I saw down there read: "Times-Picayune: We report come hell AND high water." Nearly 4 years after the hurricane, much of the city is still struggling to come back, although you'd never notice if you don't leave the traditional tourist areas. But a lot of people are still hurting, still homeless, and still missing their families, friends, neighborhoods, and beloved city. Got a few spare bucks or a little spare time? Do something to help.