28 February 2011

Always the Last to Know: Mapnificent

OK, I haven't quite been able to work this yet, because apparently I'm a doofus, but Mapnificent is a Google maps mashup that helps you figure out how far you can travel by combination of public transportation and walking in a given amount of time. It's been rolled out city by city and (of course) it's already in DC.

It sounds cool - anyone figured it out yet?

25 February 2011

Friday Top 5

Spouse and I are headed to Pennsylvania this weekend to visit my folks. Lots of people have fraught relationships with their birth families, but, while we're all far from perfect, I'm lucky enough not to be one of them.

The Top 5 (Recent) Reasons My Folks Are AWESOME!
  1. They came to DC for the weekend during the very busy holiday season to see my belly dance performance, because it's not a recital if your mommy's not there.
  2. I got a surprise gift of King Arthur bread flour, beignet mix, and chicory coffee in the mail last week. Why? My dad wanted to send me a carnival season present, and they were following my King Cake experiments on Food Lab.
  3. They're not big party people, but they took a chance and joined us in New Orleans for Jazz Fest last spring to celebrate a milestone birthday for my spouse - and had a ball.
  4. Mom and I are going the Eagles Academy for Women on Sunday. There will be on-field time with the players at the Nova Care Complex, and my sixty-something mom is in. How awesome is that?
  5. My mom is currently working on an amazing baby gift for one of my closest friends (who fortunately doesn't read this blog) who's expecting a girl this spring. I'm not crafty, but she is, and she always comes through when I need her.
Love you, Mom & Dad - see you tomorrow night!

24 February 2011

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

It's not exactly a meme, but recently, Conor McNulty posted a request for advice, thoughts, feedback, etc. to Acronym. Topic: what would you have done differently in your association career?

KiKi L'Italien then picked it up as the topic for a recent #assnchat.

I figured I'd add my two cents.

Looking back on your time in associations to date, what would you you have done differently to better your effectiveness? Your career?

I would've chosen a different mentor. The person I initially hooked up with was working for an association at the time and knew a lot about the field I'd studied in grad school, but her allegiance was to the field, not to association management. I learned a lot of my work people skills from her, but she really wasn't able to guide me in association management per se. Pretty much had to do that for myself (I know - I'm such a Gen-Xer!).

I would've attended IOM. By the time I even found about it, it was kind of too late. I was post-CAE and had just changed jobs. My new ED had an IOM certificate on his wall. I asked him about it, and he said good things, but also said that since I already had my CAE, it probably wouldn't be worth the time investment at that point. I think it would've been a good experience if I'd hit it at the right point in my career.

I would've gotten more involved with ASAE sooner. I joined, at the recommendation of my first ED, pretty much as soon as I started working in associations (1997), but I didn't really start getting involved until after I earned my CAE in 2004. That's a lot of wasted time.

There's one job I wouldn't have taken. I got dazzled by the flash and didn't ask enough or the right questions, and it resulted in one of the most unpleasant periods of my life. But I suspect we all have at least one of those.

What do you see as a common, yet avoidable mistake for young professionals?

Don't just chase the money. Strange thing to say in associations, I know, but even in our world, it is possible. And it's SO tempting, particularly when you're on the lower end of the association pay scale and you have school debt and want to buy a car, get rid of the roommates, get married, etc. and even a few extra thousand dollars would make a HUGE difference. That's not to say don't change jobs - definitely change jobs, but be sure that it's about opportunity, getting you closer to your career goals, fit, broadening experience...AND more money.

Make friends and contacts of ALL ages. It's really easy to surround yourself, at least primarily, with people who are in similar career/life stages. But reaching out to and regularly interacting with people both older/more senior and younger/less senior than you really broadens your perspective.

Keep your cool, women especially. This is still enough of a man's world that if a woman gets visibly upset in the office, it's bad for our career prospects - we're "too emotional" or "irrational" or "can't handle tough situations." Which is all BS, and men get upset all the time, too, and aren't punished for it, so it's doubly unfair. But you have to be able to stay calm, at least on the outside, even if you're sad or angry or stressed or scared or overwhelmed. Go for a walk and call your mom or your best friend or your significant other or your shrink, but do NOT lose it in front of your colleagues, no matter what. And NEVER cry in the office. NEVER.

What tools have you found to be most beneficial for your work?

It's not a tool - it's a technique. When somebody hits you up with a request for a favor in a professional context, ALWAYS try to help them out, or connect them to someone who can. Call it good karma, or ninja-level networking, or spreading the love, or paying it forward, or whatever, but people remember that you tried to help them and that you know people. Someday, you'll need help, and if you're known as a person who tries to connect people with solutions to their problems, you won't even have to call in chips - people will line up to help you.

I'm going to add a final question I think is also important: "What would you absolutely, positively do again?"

Study what I wanted to for my grad degree, rather than forcing myself through the drudgery of an MBA.

Take the opportunity to attend Future Leaders when it was presented in 2004.

Earn my CAE.

23 February 2011

What I'm Reading

  • Is another tech bubble on the horizon?
  • How to have the BEST Twitter bio EVER. (Oops - I'm guilty of at least one of these!)
  • How to kill innovation before it even starts.
  • 3 decisions that can make or break your online community.
  • Is it possible to be too cynical?
  • More advice for the new FB Pages, this time from Mashable.
  • "Inside voice" will kill you every time.
  • I like you, but I don't like-like you: at the intersection of brand and fan expectations on Facebook.
  • Still plugging away at Snow. It's both interesting and frustrating, and it's definitely not the most readable novel ever. But the fact that I'm still sticking with it, nearly 300 pages of either clunky writing or clunky translation in, is probably a good sign.

22 February 2011

It's Not Personal

Recently, I made the decision to disconnect from a bunch of "Facebook friends." I culled my list by about 20%. My criteria? Not totally scientific, but if I'd never met you in person or had any significant direct interaction (or it had been 20+ years since that last happened), you only contacted me when you needed me to do something for you, or you were primarily using FB for business/promotional reasons, you were pretty much guaranteed to get axed. I dumped virtually all the brands I was following at the same time, too, taking that list from 150+ down to under 25, most of which are in my neighborhood.

There's been some blowback. To say the least.

But here's the thing: it's not personal. Really it's not. That's why, if you're one of those who did get cut, I'm probably still following you on Twitter and/or connected to you on LinkedIn. I'm not trying to be a douchebag, and I'm definitely not trying to say I'm too "important" for anyone.

What I am saying is that I'm really, really busy. We all are. Cases in point:
  •  I haven't seen my best friend from grad school in over 2 years, and he lives less than 100 miles from me.
  • I have two nieces and a nephew I adore, and I only see them about 2-3 times a year. I talk to their father, my only sibling, maybe twice a year outside those visits.
  • Up until recently, when I've been fortunate enough to see him 3 times in the last month, I had only seen one of my best friends in DC twice since his son was born. His son will be two in two weeks.
  • I haven't seen a dear girlfriend and her new son in over 6 months. Other close friends? I saw them in the past week, but it had been 3+ months since the last time, in which time their little girl got her first tooth (two more on the way) and is standing with almost no help.
  • Another girlfriend and I recently had to set up a regular monthly "date" to make sure we didn't fall off each others' calendars, and she and I have been close for almost a decade.
Clearly, I have a hard time keeping up with those who are truly my nearest and dearest. Do I really care about the latest promotional blog post from someone I met once at a conference or what someone I haven't seen or spoken to since 1989 did last weekend? Well., maybe, but remember: attention doesn't scale (which may be my new motto).

What hard choices have you made recently to enable you to focus on what - and who - really matters?

21 February 2011

Always the Last to Know: KeepVid

Recently I was giving a presentation. I was going to be the "cool presenter" and had YouTube videos lined up to start and end my preso. Both of them had DRM locks that prevented me from embedding them straight into my Power Point deck. No problem, right? I'll just capture a good still from each and link it to YouTube.

At T-minus 22 hours and counting, I found out: no Internet access.

What's a hip presenter to do? Kill the videos? No way, man!

KeepVid to the rescue. It's an online service that uses a simple Java applet to allow you to download an .mp4 file of any video on YouTube - and no "this video is restricted and must be viewed on YouTube" bs, either!

YAY, KeepVid!

18 February 2011

Friday Top 5

We're gearing up for our first Food Lab since mid-November (where does the time go?) this weekend. It's been almost a year since the first one, which took place in late March of 2010. So far, we've labbed eggs, deglazing, milk, raw meat, butter doughs, and potatoes (plus I've recently been working on King Cake on my own). Tomorrow? Well, you'll just have to check the blog next week, won't you? The Top 5 Things I've Learned from Food Lab:
  1. Deep fryers are both THE BOMB and a required kitchen tool.
  2. I really can learn how to make croissants by hand, and they really are WAY better than anything you can buy.
  3. There's no substitute for a cooked custard as the basis for homemade ice cream.
  4. A/B testing is useful for a lot more things that web design.
  5. Mixing good friends, cooking good food, and drinking good booze is one of the VERY best ways you can spend a day.

17 February 2011

Even More Flashmob Goodness

Baldwin Wallace College theater students flashmob (NACHRI member) Cleveland Clinic in honor of the American Heart Association's Heart Month.

16 February 2011

What I'm Reading

  • Looks like I'm not the only one trying to figure out the new HootSuite model.
  • John Haydon breaks down Facebook's "epic" update to Pages(and there's a lot to like).
  • Fab PCMA Learning Lounge recap by Jeff Hurt. It sounds amazing, and, particularly after what happened at the Annual last year, I think ASAE should take note.
  • Forget the best of 2010 - what about the worst? A brief look at some hilariously bad social media moves by brands. 
  • Got a RT? Don't just say thanks - share the love.
  • Still working on Snow in my pleasure reading time.

15 February 2011

Same Song, Different Verse

Edited Feb 17 to add:I just found a link to an online giving study produced by Network for Good using (drumroll) 2010 data! wOOt! 

I'm part of a group giving a series of presentations today for the Center for Nonprofit Success on the topic of Strategic Alliances. Unsurprisingly, my portion of the event is about using social media to fundraise and social campaigns in general. This blog post is a list of links to all the resources I mentioned in my presentation:
Some other good resources:
Finally, here's the presentation itself:

14 February 2011

Always the Last to Know: Animoto

Admittedly, there are plenty of software programs these days that let you do a pretty sophisticated job of turning mixed media into video. But, like a lot of the Adobe suite, they're not easy for nOObs to use.

Enter Animoto, SaaS that allows you to create your own mixed media videos (audio, stills, video clips) in seconds with a few clicks.

11 February 2011

Friday Top 5

Hey - it's already after 5 pm! Whoops!

The Top 5 excuses for I almost forgot to post this:
  1. Food coma from BLT at lunch with a colleague.
  2. Too busy following incredible news out of Egypt to work.
  3. Got obsessed with looking for new examples for my presentation for this event next Tuesday.
  4. Caught up in becoming a fan of all NACHRI member hospitals on FB through our actual organizational page rather than my personal profile. YAY, Facebook Page changes!
  5. Started happy hour a little early.
Here's hoping you're somewhere with people you love and the drink of your choice to set the weekend off right.

10 February 2011

Attention Doesn't Scale

Great deck on using "attentionomics" to get attention for your social content:

09 February 2011

What I'm Reading

  • Why are we still using PDF?  (that's actually a really good question)
  • The buzz about Foursquare has kind of died down, but some places you just don't want to be mayor of.
  • But if you're a hospital, you probably at least want to claim your venue, according to health care social media guru Ed Bennett.
  • Know anyone who's fond of railing against the federal government and need more facts to shut them up? Help has arrived.
  • Measuring the effectiveness of your social campaign.
  • Interact, don't just broadcast.
  • Communications mistakes every office makes. (I don't think this is limited just to offices.)
  • I'm getting ready to give a panel presentation next week, so this advice from Jeffrey Cufaude was particularly apropos.
  • I'm also reading Snow, the novel by Orhan Pamuk. The translation is clunky - well, or the translation is great and it was written in a clunky way in the original Turkish - so it's going slowly, but so far I'm liking it. One of the reviews I read points out that it's definitely not a Western novel and that the plot exists to allow the author to explore philosophical, religious and intellectual themes. I'm definitely getting that, but a lot of those themes are explored through conversations that I wish had been either written or translated in less stilted way.

08 February 2011

May The Force Be With You

Loved the Vader VW ad at the Super Bowl? So did we - the boy portraying Darth Vader is a patient at NACHRI member hospital Children's Hospital LA(and his story is currently featured on their website).

So the point isn't the commercial - although it is really cute - because, let's face it, how many of our organizations are going to catch this kind of a break? As association tagged in a Super Bowl commercial? Not likely. And the commercial doesn't even mention CHLA.

The point is the spotlight. You never know when it's going to come or where it's going to come from. But is your organization ready to help your most ardent fans tell their stories when it arrives?

07 February 2011

ISO Replacement for Hootsuite

Slightly different take on my normal Monday "cool technology" post. This time, association social media pros, I need your help!

Here's the situation: NACHRI finally started taking baby steps into social media about 6 months ago. We decided we wanted to manage our Twitter account (@NACHRI) with a team of editors (11 in total) who take turns tweeting for the association. We blithely selected Hootsuite as our platform based on its built-in analytics and ability to support team tweeting. Just as everyone started getting comfortable, Hotosuite started enforcing their freemium model, and it's based on a pricing model that makes no damn sense.

So we're looking into alternatives.

We haven't done a lot with trying to manage accounts from one dashboard - hell, we don't have that many accounts to manage at this point - but team support and some level of analytics are key.

Here's what I've come up with so far:
  • CoTweet – Looks the most comparable to Hootsuite, but I haven't been able to find out how many team members their standard (free?) account allows, or what their enterprise version costs.
  • Media Funnel – Looks like a full-on monitoring/management dashboard at a VERY reasonable rate. 
  • Postling - Likewise, and likewise
  • Spredfast - Looks pretty awesome. Anyone have ANY idea what it costs? 
  • MarketMeSuite - Good list of features (although I can't tell if it allows team tweeting or if it's browser based or a desktop install), and they actually make their pricing public! OooooOoooo!
  • TweetDeck – Free, of course, but used on the desktop and/or mobile rather than the web (it’s what I use to manage my personal Twitter account), so it doesn’t really support the “team” concept, although it occurs to me that there’s nothing to prevent multiple people from tweeting from one account.
  • Seesmic – Also free, can be used on desktop, web, or mobile – also doesn’t seem to support the “team” concept, although again, it seems there’s nothing to prevent multiple people from tweeting from one account.
  • Twitter itself – The big drawback with Twitter has been the lack of analytics, but they’re purportedly working on changing that, although I can’t seem to find out when it will be released to the general public.
I'm looking for your feedback. Have you used any/all of these? What do/did you think? Also, does anyone have more info on CoTweet or know when/if Twitter analytics will come to us proles?

04 February 2011

Friday Top 5

In honor of the Super Bowl this weekend, my office is having a chili cook off at lunch today. That and planning for our Super Bowl party this weekend (know where I live and my phone number? You're invited - just drop me a text, email, or call to let me know you're coming), inspired today's Friday Top 5: My Top 5 Favorite Football Meals!
  1. Chili with jalapeno cheddar scones on the side
  2. Dave's home-smoked BBQ brisket and ribs (sadly, Dave has moved to Florida, so this was MIA this year)
  3. Brats and sauerkraut with homemade soft pretzels
  4. Jim's chicken and andouille gumbo
  5. Fajitas (which is what we're making this weekend)
Whether you come to our place, go to another party, host a party yourself, go to your favorite sports bar, or just watch for the commercials, enjoy the big game!

03 February 2011


Your competition isn't the association down the block - it's the Old Spice Guy. Up your game.

02 February 2011

What I'm Reading

  • "Cost does not equal value." True dat.
  • Social media: back to the future?
  • Marketing Sherpa's best email campaigns of 2010.
  • The future of Govt 2.0.
  • Want to write better? Be specific.
  • Influencer marketing, not the quick fix you hope it is.
  • Google Chrome builds in keypass/keychain type functions. (I love Firefox, but maybe it's time to switch?)
  • Is the "G Drive" coming? Yes.
  • Also reading A Murderous Procession, one of the fascinating Mistress of the Art of Death historical mysteries by Ariana Franklin, Edward Edinger's Ego and Archetype, a well-written study of Carl Jung's work on individuation and how it relates to religion, and the January issue of Associations Now. Have you checked out the groovy online interactive supplement yet?

01 February 2011

More on Tribes

In last week's What I'm Reading post, I expressed some disappointment with Seth Godin's Tribes. In fact, I almost quit reading it about 50 pages before the end. But I'm glad I stuck with it for this one sentence that's been stuck in my head since I finished it at the end of last work week:
If your organization requires success before commitment, it will never have either.

Godin, pg. 132
In associations we talk a lot about how we need to embrace failure, fail quickly to get to success more quickly, share our failures as well as our successes and learn from them, yackity smackity. But for the most part, that doesn't happen. Part of it, as I've noted here before, is that we fear criticism.

But I think Godin's point is also very relevant for the association community. We don't have R&D budgets. We don't, for the most part, have Google's 20% time rule (and think about that for a minute - that's one day a week - EVERY week - devoted to innovation).

We all know the song & dance about too many hats, too many demands, too little time. And because of that, there's no space for something not to be a hit. And because of that, we're stuck in the incremental rut.

We have to, as a community, get the hell off the hamster wheel of busier = better and give ourselves some time and space (because money's not the only resource) for mental exploration.

How do we break out? What could you stop doing, personally or organizationally, today, THIS MINUTE, and nobody's life would be the worse for it?