30 December 2010

Resolutions, Fresh Starts, and Lasting Changes

A few days ago, Amber Naslund took on the topic of resolutions. Her take was pretty interesting: resolutions made at New Year's actually contain the seeds of their own failure. She makes the point that nobody checks up on you at the end of the year to see how you did, and that a much better attitude to take would be:
I can do this, today and every day, if I want it badly enough.
And I get her point - it's why I use New Year's for fun resolutions (under consideration this year: circus camp, learning how to "cab whistle," and learning how to ululate) and, if I want to change or be better, I just do it when the idea occurs to me.

But there's a reason the week between Christmas and New Year's is commonly known as clean out your desk/email inbox week: fresh starts are nice. Sure New Year's is kind of an arbitrary time (why not, for instance, the first day of spring?), but it's a commonly agreed upon arbitrary time, and that's why it works for people.

So how do you help yourself stick to your resolutions? Well, you could take my route and only resolve something fun. I started doing it probably about 10 years ago, and I've kept every single New Year's resolution I've made since.

But the answer's right in front of us: accountability. If you want to make a more serious resolution, find someone who's willing to hold you accountable for the results, and see the change you wanted to create become a permanent part of your life.

And whichever direction you choose to go - fun resolutions, serious resolutions, or no resolutions at all - have a very happy New Year!

29 December 2010

What I'm Reading

First of all, Mashable put out an exhaustive list of soc med resources from 2010. You could stop right there - this awesome list could probably keep you busy until 2012. But if you happen to have more time this week...
  • The best and worst cause marketing of 2010.
  • Want real success? Do real work.
  • Jeff Hurt has some great ideas for associations about eating your own dogfood.
  • How to recognize an idiot, a hilarious rant that also contains useful advice.
  • Joe Flowers asks: to renew or not? Be sure to read all the thoughtful comments.
  • I finished Dorian Gray last night (creepy!), and am considering what to start next. I have some good stuff downloaded to the Kindle, but I also have some actual books in waiting. Time to return to paper for a little while? I don't have any trips planned until late January...

28 December 2010

TED Talks: Why we have too few women leaders

To sum up:
  1. Sit at the table
  2. Make your partner a real partner
  3. Don't leave before you leave
Pssst non-profits: Don't pat yourself on the back. We're not doing so great, either. Only 20% of non-profits are headed by women (and it's mostly not the big, influential ones).

One more point: I know it's not popular to bring up these days, but I really wish she'd at least acknowledged that there are institutional forces at work too, aka "I'm comfortable with helping people who are like me, and you, Miss, are not." Yes, women need to bear responsibility for our own actions and choices, but not everything is under our control or a result of something we can affect.

27 December 2010

Always the Last to Know: Hashalbum

Having a hard time tracking all the photos that are attached to the hashtags you're following?  Hashalbum to the rescue! 

Case in point? #Tech10 photos - all in one place!  Lookin' good, association peeps!

24 December 2010

Happy holidays!

I wish you and all your loved ones 
a joyous and peaceful season of light!

(Back Monday)

Photo credit: me!

23 December 2010

Here Comes Clay Shirky

Another entry in my irregular "What I highlighted and why while reading Here Comes Everybody" series.
Our social tools are turning love into a renewable building material. When people care enough, they can come together and accomplish things of a scope and longevity that were previously impossible; they can do big things for love.

Shirky, chapter 5, page 142.
When I read this, I immediately thought of Jamie Notter and how often he talks about the importance of love/passion to what we do. I quote:
Passion matters. Yes, it opens up opportunities for let-downs and heartache. But that's the price of admission to a world where more gets done, and potential is realized, and synergy is actually accomplished, not just referenced in a keynote speech. Don't let the hard parts of passion scare you away. Stay with it and marvel at where it takes us.
At Tech10, I had the opportunity to sit in on the Open Community fireside chat, and this topic came up there as well as part of a discussion of chat participants' experiences with online communities over the years. The number one thing that distinguishes successful online (or even real life) efforts is that people CARE.

So that raises a key question for associations: do you know who cares about your organization, among your staff, volunteers, members, and other supporters? Because I assure you that not everyone does. Some of your staff members just want a paycheck. Some of your volunteers just want a line for their resume. Some of your members renew out of habit. Some of your supporters are there purely for selfish reasons. But not all.

The people who care are critical to your association. And they're likely going to be some of your most vocal critics, too. Why? Because if what you do or don't do didn't matter to them, they'd just let it slide. And because they DO care, they are your engine for growth, for change, for innovation and for improvement.

Make sure you know who they are. Make sure you know what they want and can do. Make sure you listen to them and make use of their energy. And, particularly at this time of year, make sure you say thank you in ways that are meaningful to them. Without them riding your ass, as painful as it can be, you'd never get anywhere.

22 December 2010

What I'm Reading

  • Another 2011 trends in social media post, this one from Harvard Business Review.
  • Is customer service the key to social media success?
  • Maggie McGary explains why you shouldn't "tell your fans."
  • More on the role of mobile apps in the modern tech world.
  • 9 reasons your social strategy isn't working.
  • Shelley Alcorn tackles truth in advertising, and finds associations coming up short. 
  • Is Delicious dying? It looks like it, and Harvard Business Review is in full-on raging against the dying of the light mode.
  • Foursquare v. Facebook: two soc nets enter, one soc net leaves? 
  • We've officially gone mainstream: social media marketers are now complaining about lack of resources, rather than lack of executive support/buy-in.  
  • Looking for Twitter success?  Be like Kanye - hey, at least people look forward to his tweets. 
  • Currently reading The Picture of Dorian Gray on the Kindle. To me, it has the same eerie, creepy feel as The Fall of the House of Usher (which is a good thing). Also, Oscar Wilde writes many delicious turns of phrase. Also, he doesn't like women much (not such a good thing). Also, it's amazing to me that people ever thought he might not be gay.

21 December 2010

Where did T4P go?

I'm sure everyone desperately missed my regular Monday tech post. I was busy coming back from NYC, where I got to watch this in person:

What does this have to do with associations? Nothing! But it was AWESOME!


17 December 2010

Friday Top 5

Let the recap posts commence!

The Top 5 Things I Learned at Tech10:
  1. We (association staff) are responsible to nurture and support our online communities. What does that mean? We have to set goals and be held accountable for achieving them. (HUG super forum)
  2. The crisis of modern leadership is to be able to give up control while still maintaining enough command to get stuff done. (Charlene Li's keynote)
  3. Stats are only useful if they drive action, either by telling us that what we did worked, so keep doing it or pointing out when something went wrong, so we can fix it. We have to turn data into information that leads to decisions. (Data, Data Everywhere - Marissa Goldsmith -  and Social Media Monitoring for Associations - Lynn Morton, KiKi L'Italien, Peter Hutchins)
  4.  Want your online community to thrive? Cross-promote, cross-promote, cross-promote. And involve EVERYONE. (appropriately, Make Your Online Community Thrive - Heather McNair)
  5. Experiment, but set up experiments that can be measured, evaluated, and iterated until you get to success (Creating Your Organization's Social Media Strategy Map - Holly Ross)
  6. Bonus: open community = people giving a damn (Open Community fireside chat)
What did YOU learn? (There's a good chance NEXT Friday's Top 5 will be the top 5 #Tech10 recaps - wanted to do that this week, but I have to give people a chance to digest that big meal of geek.)

16 December 2010

The First Snow of the Year

Calls for this:

Return to Serious Topics immanent, I promise.

13 December 2010

@Tech 10.1

I'm at the ASAE Technology Conference over the next 3 days. You know the drill: no posts and lots of tweeting (follow the hashtag #tech10), followed by my own conference recap and links to everyone else's.

See you in the general sessions, on the trade show floor, at the parties, or at the YAP Pop'n New Year's Party!

Check back on Thursday...

Image credit: Girls Gone Geek

10 December 2010

Friday Top 5

As many of my friends already know, I've been studying belly dance for about 2 years now. This fall, I joined a performance company for the first time, and our first performance is tomorrow night (gulp!). My Top 5 Favorite Things about Belly Dance:
  1. I love to dance, and I love to learn new things, and this is totally different than any other type of dancing I've studied before.
  2. It's a super-supportive community - it's not about competition or who's better.
  3. Meeting and getting to know a bunch of fantastic women.
  4. I have not had a single bout of back pain since starting.
  5. Sparkly, jingly costumes!
Wish me luck!

09 December 2010

Getting in the Spirit

A little something to put you in the holiday mood - only the best version of Jingle Bells ever recorded.

08 December 2010

What I'm Reading

Only a few items today (it's been a busy week!):
  • Branding in the digital age? You're throwing away money.
  • Got an online community? Don't do these 5 things.
  • They are 9 gazillion blogs - how do you know which ones your organization should interact with? The always-incisive John Haydon has some advice.
  • Just in time for Tech10, a reminder on the key steps to working a room.
  • Reading Ivy Briefs by Martha Kimes on the Kindle, and thinking how glad I am that I never went to law school. It's not nearly as powerful as Marilyn French's The Women's Room, which is the only thing that was able to help make any sense at all out of my grad school experiences at UVA, but it does have the virtue of being entertaining and reasonably well-written.

07 December 2010

Here Comes Clay Shirky

Another entry in my irregular "What I highlighted and why while reading Here Comes Everybody" series.
To understand the creation of something like a Wikipedia article, you can't look for a representative contributor, because none exists. Instead, you have to change your focus, to concentrate not on the individual users but on the behavior of the collective.

Shirky, chapter 5, pg. 128.
This quote also puts me in mind of Seth Kahan's article in the November issue of Associations Now on building performance communities (actually, I would call them Communities of Practice, but you get the point).

Particularly in the US, it's part of our national mythology to revere the lone hero. But that's rarely reality - people are enmeshed with each other. Most of the time, accomplishing anything meaningful requires the cooperation of other people. Even if one person is the visionary who has the great idea, she almost always needs others to help her make it happen.

The interesting thing that Shirky points up with regards to Wikipedia is that there's room at the table for everyone. Some editors have extremely minimal participation - they get an account to fix a few typos in a particular article and never contribute again. They're not quite lurkers, but almost. And of course, there's a core group of really engaged editors without which the site would not function. But the system itself needs and can accommodate them all.

How does your organization accommodate all levels of contribution? Does a member have to be willing to commit to board or committee service to be involved, or do you make space for all kinds of contributions? What about nonmembers who might want to help? What could you do to broaden the ways people can contribute, engaging larger and larger portions of your audiences?

06 December 2010

Always the Last to Know: Nudgemail

If you use email as a task list, Nudgemail lets your hit the virtual snooze bar - no website required, no account required, works on most mobile platforms. Do tasks when you want to, not in order they happened to appear in your in-box.

03 December 2010

Friday Top 5

The ASAE Technology Conference (aka #Tech10, aka - to me at least - Tech10.1) is just around the corner.

Top 5 Things I'm looking forward to:
  1. The pre-con Higher Logic Users' Group meeting.
  2. Hearing keynoter Charlene Li talk about Open Leadership (since I missed this summer's Buzz session on the same topic).
  3. The destined-to-be-amazing YAP party on Tuesday night. You're coming, right?
  4. Getting my geek on at all the great Idea Labs.
  5. NO SNOW! (Reggie promised.)
It's not too late to register - hope to see YOU there!

02 December 2010

Should Children's Hospitals Compete in Social Media?

There's been a minor stir recently in NACHRI's world about this eponymous blog post, written by Dr. Bryan Vartabedian.  It's short post, so go read it...

The key question he addresses is: "Do children's hospitals compete in social space?"

His answer is that they shouldn't.

His argument is that children's hospitals are inherently regional, so what would they be competing for anyway, and that the hospitals should work together.

I'm not so sure I agree on the first point - there are plenty of children's hospitals with known specialties that draw patients from around the country and the world - but even if we accept that children's hospitals are inherently regional, I think this reflects a narrow view of how social media can be used.

Association professionals have "community" and "engagement" drummed into us to the point that it almost becomes part of our DNA. So when our organizations move into social space, it tends to be pretty natural for us to think about our use of social media in those terms.

Corporations have a harder time with this, of course. They don't have built-in communities who want to engage with them and each other, so it can be hard for them to "get" that social spaces aren't primarily about marketing. Some do get it, and do social media well, and others...well, we can all point to lots of campaigns that flopped because of the wrong tone or focus.

So where do children's hospitals fall on this continuum?

I would argue that they're inherently more on the community side, for a number of reasons including the fact that kids treated at children's hospitals are often dealing with chronic - or at least complex and long-term - conditions and the fact that many children's hospitals are tax-exempt and that status depends in part on their community outreach efforts.

Sure, sometimes social outlets are used for marketing type purposes (although I do wonder if a patient sharing her compelling story really constitutes hard-sell marketing), but I would contend that the true purpose and benefit of children's hospitals engaging in social space is to form deeper and more meaningful ties with patients, their families, and the surrounding community.

01 December 2010

What I'm Reading

  • Why I'm NOT a social media expert - LOVE!
  • Apparently, it's my week to pick up on snarky posts - this one's a gem on "employee engagement."
  • MIT's Technology Review addresses how HTML5 is going to change things on the web.
  • Twitter Analytics are coming.
  • Why paid time to volunteer is a good thing.
  • Olivier Blanchard goes on an epic rant and it's good stuff.
  • Jeff Hurt recounts The TED Commandments, which should be required reading for anyone who ever speaks or hires speakers.
  • Google Docs now synchs with MS Office.
  • Vinay Kumar's been doing a series recently looking at personality types and motivation in the workplace. I've found that you don't want to read too much into these things, but that they can provide some additional tools for working successfully with colleagues.
  • The best panelists misbehave - WORD!
  • Simple tips for managing your time and workload.
  • Need something new to read yourself? Check out this great list of 125 fearless female bloggers.
  • Rather than going on to a novel, I decided it was time for a little non-fiction. I've been reading This Land is Their Land by Barbara Ehrenreich on the Kindle. Puts me in mind of the "if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention" quote, which I think originated with Mother Jones.
  • Finally, a little canine humor.