22 May 2012

Gone Fishin'

With ASAE's Membership, Marketing & Communications Conference this week and an upcoming vacation, T4P is going on a little hiatus. I know, I know - I hit 1000 posts and decide to slack off right away, right? Back around June 4!

Image credit: Write in BK

21 May 2012

Always the Last to Know: PaperKarma

Want to stop junk mail and save some trees in the process? I've been using the relatively venerable Catalog Choice website for years, but now there's an app for smartphones called PaperKarma that makes it even easier. Just snap a picture of the junk mail you don't want to get, and they'll take care of the rest. Take a picture, save a tree!

18 May 2012

Friday Top 5

For those who haven't heard, DC musical legend Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go Go, passed this Wednesday night, May 16.

I don't recall the first time I heard Go Go, but I'm guessing it was Brown's Bustin' Loose, DC's unofficial city anthem.

Today's Top 5 is for Chuck:
  1. Brown didn't start out as a musician. He learned to play the guitar while serving a stint at Lorton for an assault that he always maintained was motivated by self-defense. 
  2. Brown not only originated Go Go, he was also a talented blues guitarist and interpreter of jazz standards (see his 1995 album with Eva Cassidy, "The Other Side").
  3. Brown was only nominated for one Grammy, in 2011, which he did not win (robbed!). He did, however, win a lifetime achievement award from the NEA in 2009.
  4. Brown was famous for the call-and-response element of his shows. One of the most anticipated sections of every Chuck Brown concert was when he'd call our particular people or neighborhoods. Being in the audience when your neighborhood merited a shout-out from the stage was thrilling.
  5. The best show I've ever attended (and I've been to a lot of shows in my time) was a double bill of Chuck Brown and PFunk at the 9:30 club. In the entire course of human events, booties have never been shaken as hard as they were that night, before or since.
To quote my friend Sherry, if you listen close, you can hear the angels chanting "Wind Me Up, Chuck!"

Rest easy, Chuck. And thanks for everything.

Image credit: Soul Bounce

17 May 2012

The 1000th Post

Actually, the 1000th post was yesterday's What I'm Reading. I just realized the milestone was approaching - well, passed - today. Oops.

I've been writing this blog since July 2008 - almost four years. I still have 65 subscribers, same as when I reported on my 500th post (hm, probably ought to try to promote subscribing a little harder). Pageviews hover between 3000-3500 a month, with the highest month ever being June of 2011, over 4100.

My most common topics are, of course, cool technology (aka my weekly "Always the Last to Know" posts), blog roundup (aka my weekly "What I'm Reading" posts), and Friday Top 5 (self-explanatory). Other major topics include ASAE and various things related to ASAE, changeblogging, social media and specific social media technologies, generations, innovation, leadership, membership, and marketing, and Jamie Notter has the distinction of being the person I reference most often (hey, the man writes good stuff).

My all-time most viewed - and commented on - post was my dig at the concept of TED Women ("back of the bus, ladies"). Two recent posts made it into the all-time Top 10: "My Members Don't Read!" and You Say You Want a Revolution.

The majority of my audience is still US-based, with Russia (Spasiba!), Germany (Danke!) and France (Merci!) in positions 2-4. Of course, the majority of my traffic comes in from The Goog, but I have to give a major shout-out to my girl Hecate for being the #2 source, and Twitter makes a strong showing, too. Based on what the search terms are, most of you are actually looking for me, so that's good news.

Thanks to all of you for reading, commenting, tweeting, and sharing. Without you, I'd just be talking to myself. And, of course and as always, Thanks for Playing!

16 May 2012

What I'm Reading

Another short but solid list:

15 May 2012

TED Talk: Try Something New

Working frantically on slides and handouts for three presentations over the next three weeks, so today's post is a VERY short but inspiring TED Talk video on the benefits of trying something new:

14 May 2012

Always the Last to Know: Nicira's Network Virtualization Platform

OK, this week's ATLTK is REALLY geeky, I admit, but this is worth it.

One of the main flaws with the construction of the Internet has always been that it was made to prefer stability (as in, the whole thing won't go down) to security (as in, your network won't get hacked). And the hardware that runs it isn't exactly simple to change on the fly. One of the results (and this should sound familiar) is that lots of people and companies don't trust cloud computing, at least not for anything critical.

Nicira is looking to change that. Much like you can have virtual servers, Nicira allows you to have virtual networks, with software (which is much easier to control and change) filling the functions normally provided by expensive and complex hardware devices.

Find out more at the Nicira website, or at MIT's Technology Review.

11 May 2012

Friday Top 5

In about two hours I'll be on my way to Pennsylvania for the weekend. While it is Mother's Day weekend and my mom does live in PA, that's not the only reason I'm headed there. Tonight is the premiere of Well of Dreams, a documentary film made by a friend focused on the life story of the extraordinary Anne Okelo. I've been privileged to help filmmaker Cindy Speaker in some minor ways, and tonight, we'll enjoy the culmination of several years of effort.

Top 5 Things to Know about Well of Dreams:
  1. Young women in Africa are often denied education once they reach puberty because they cannot afford sanitary supplies. You can help by making a donation to Huru International.
  2. Women and children in Africa and other places in the less-developed world daily subject themselves to grave danger in pursuit of water that may not even be clean and safe to drink. You can help by making a donation to charity:water.
  3. Girls in Africa and other places in the less-developed world are STILL forced into marriages they don't want when they aren't even teenagers yet. You can help by making a donation to the Tahirih Justice Center.
  4. One of the most effective ways to empower women and help them control their own destiny is to provide the means for them to control their own reproduction. You can help by making a donation to the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
  5. Women in unsettled regions of the world are in danger of poverty, illness, rape, mutilation and death every day as a result of war. You can help by making a donation to Women for Women International.
Flowers are nice, but I'll be your mom would love a donation to one or more of these excellent organizations as a gift this weekend.

10 May 2012

What Do You REALLY Want to Know?

Data, data everywhere - but what does it MEAN?

We can measure a lot of stuff - opens and clicks and visits and time on page and community engagement scores and number of members and average tenure and number of attendees and satisfaction scores and followers and fans and shares and who's talking about this and reach and RTs and responses, ad infinitum ad nauseum.

In fact, we can measure just about everything at this point, if we're dedicated and have reasonable tech systems. So we drown in data, inundate decision makers, and produce analysis paralysis. 

We lose sight of why we were tracking all this stuff in the first place: to make an impact. To drive decisions. To change our behavior and our organizations.

So the next time someone says, "Let's start tracking this new metric!" make sure to ask why. Why do you want to track this? What are you looking to accomplish? What are you trying to decide? What impact with the data have on our organization? How will what you discover change your behavior?

Remember, the flip side of "you can't change what you don't measure" is "measure what you value, or you'll only value what you measure."

09 May 2012

What I'm Reading

Short but solid list this week:

08 May 2012

Maurice Sendak, 1928-2012

May his memory be a blessing to all who knew him, either personally or through his books.

07 May 2012

Always the Last to Know: Path

OK, I'm really not the last to know, as I've been nominally on Path for several months (although I tend to forget to check in or update it), but Path provides an interesting answer to that "social network decay" thing, since you can only connect with up to 150 people. In other words, you're going to want to stick only to people you know well.

Read an interview with founder Dave Morin in Technology Review.

04 May 2012

Friday Top 5

It's CAE exam day! For all those candidates sitting, here are my top 5 pieces of advice for taking the test:
  1. Pace yourself - you have 4 hours to answer 200 questions. That means 50 questions per hour, or about a question a minute. Stuck on a question? Mark it to come back later and move on.
  2. READ the QUESTION. Do not assume. Do not read into it anything that isn't there.
  3. Remember that you're answering this from the perspective of being the Chief Staff Executive (CSE), not Director of Whatever Department that you are right now. And you're in a large association with staff and financial resources that follows best practices. So "but we do it THIS way at MY association" is probably not relevant.
  4. If "ask/survey the members" or "consult legal counsel" appears as an answer choice, that's probably the right one.
  5. Have confidence in yourself. The fact that you were accepted to sit for the exam means that you have the relevant experience. Trust your skills, knowledge, and preparation.
Oh - and kick ass! You all will do great!


03 May 2012

TED Talk: Larry Lessig

I've been thinking about intellectual property, copyright and remix culture lately, and it put me in mind of this fantastic TED talk by Larry Lessig, founder of Creative Commons and intellectual property expert.

02 May 2012

What I'm Reading

  • Strategy without context is meaningless.
  • Less talk – more do.
  • Acronym's quick clicks for April.
  • One was so good I had to call it out special, in which NTC publicly admits to things that didn't go well at the recent NTEN. This is what transparency looks like, people.
  • Jamie Notter offers a different take on the whole Carville/Rove ASAE Annual Meeting brouhaha.
  • Amber Naslund warns of some career myths to try to avoid.
  • Why Google+ doesn't work for humans (I love the concept of the decay of social networks).
  • Think your career is a ladder? It's actually a work of art.
  • Leslie White calls associations out for over-investing in prevention and under-investing in resilience.
  • You might want to take off your headphones, at least sometimes.

01 May 2012

Who Are Your Allies?

Associations, particularly small associations, tend to suffer from a lack of resources, aka "that's a great idea, but we don't have any money for it." Which can have a seriously negative consequences on impact and what the organization is able to accomplish.

One way to address this is through creating a network of allied organizations.

So how do you do that?

The first step is research. You need to figure out what organizations have similar enough, but not identical, missions and audiences. You're looking to compliment each other, not to compete. And you want organizations that are at a similar level of influence. Too many orders of magnitude bigger or smaller, and the power dynamic gets out of whack, which can make it hard to find mutual benefit.

The next step is to think through what mutual benefit might look like. What can you offer that they might want? What do they offer that you want? Can you create packages of roughly equivalent value? Possible areas of interest might include discounts for members on programs, products or services, exhibit booth swaps, conference speaking session swaps, mailing list swaps, ad swaps, article swaps, guest blogging, joint products, advocacy alliances, joint workshops or webinars, applying for research grants together...think through everything both organizations offer and look for places you could work together.

Third, you have to make contact. This is where things like LinkedIn can come in handy. Look for a path, ideally, to the person who seems most likely to be able to say yes or no, but also realize that the first person you're able to connect with might not be the right person to negotiate a relationship. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone, and do be persistent but don't be obnoxious.

Assuming you find the person with the appropriate authority and willingness to make a deal, the next step is to negotiate something that will work for both of your associations. You want both organizations to have an initial positive experience, so your beta should be structured to make that as likely as possible, which means start small. But brainstorm big. Assuming your first test goes well, you want to have ideas waiting in the wings to expand the relationship.

Lather, rinse and repeat with additional organizations, and watch your association's sphere of influence expand exponentially.