It was my birthday on Friday and I turned 31. Usually at this point in life is when birthday's become progressively less fun and only serve as a reminder that you are getting older. But Facebook makes birthday's awesome!
I received a multitude of positive messages, a couple pictures of flowers, and even a song on Facebook itself. And off Facebook I got more attention too.
Now the cynic will of course argue that these people would not remember my birthday if Facebook didn't remind them, but is that a bad thing? I seriously can't keep track of hundreds of birthdays in my head, but do truly appreciate and care for the people who are my friends and acquaintances and love having the opportunity to let them know it. And is this any less legitimate than the calendar or address book that our Grandma's had? They didn't memorize all that information either, they just used a different form of technology to keep track.
So yes, Facebook makes birthdays decidedly better.
I am the oldest of 11 siblings. Right now I have 3 nieces and 1 nephew with three more on the way (yes, 3). When we get together for Thanksgiving with just immediate family it is close to 30 people. This number may very well double in the next decade or so.
While I realize that maybe it doesn't take 30 phone calls to organize YOUR Thanksgiving dinner every year, I am guessing their are birthday parties, baby showers, and evenings out that are much simpler to coordinate now. Being able to add the location, details, and even choose who sees what (surprise party anyone?) saves time and frustration.
When technology becomes problematic is when it replaces real interaction. But it also has the potential to expand and improve that real interaction.
Coming Together for the Greater Good
While there are all kinds of things that I could say about the Ice Bucket Challenge, for now let's just use it as an illustration of the huge potential of social media to rally us around the common good. Can this go awry? Yes. Can we get caught up in liking things rather than doing anything? It is a real problem. But my gut tells me that people thinking about what needs to be done to make the world better is an amazing first step. And then galvanizing action is the next one.
I am sure that I would not have run as many 5k races for important causes with my kids, or felt comfortable enough to share them as much as I have, without social media. Again, who really wants to call up 100 people and say, hey, there is this race benefiting a really important cause, want to come?
Efficiency matters. It helps us make bigger strides forward as humanity when we can remove the communication barriers that stand in the way. This is one way to do it.
Communicating In Emergencies
Thursday, my middle son was in the hospital all day (yes I know, big week). He is on antibiotics now and doing much better, though it was a scary few minutes for me as Mom. My cell phone did not work in the hospital room. But you know what did? The wi-fi on my laptop. I was able to message my sister to pick up my other sons from school, share updates with my family at large about what was going on, and even have my son do a Google Hangout with his dad in Toronto.
When you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, a major crisis, illness, etc. it can be exhausting to try to communicate with each person who needs and or wants an update. It can even feel like too much effort to ask for the help that you need because you feel so overwhelmed. At the beginning of 2008 when my eldest son had his stroke I remember spending way too much time on the phone telling people what was going on and feeling like I just couldn't repeat it all one more time.
And the support and love that you get from your more loosely connected contacts that might not even know otherwise can be invaluable, which brings us to the last point.
Strengthening Weak Ties
If you know me, you know I am a bit of a geek and LOVE to learn new things. One way I do that is by taking free online courses from Harvard and other Ivy League universities through EdX.org (highly recommend!). Right now I am taking a course called the Science of Happiness all about what makes us happy.
While we probably all know that social connections make us happier, one thing I was surprised to learn is that it is not all about those few close relationships. What are called "weak ties" are essential to our wellbeing. Most of the positive changes in our life (meeting our soul mate, getting a great new job, etc.) happen because of these friends of friends.
Just like Grandma's book of birthday's, these extended connections used to be a lot harder to nurture. While getting on the phone and out to meet in physical spaces is still important, we can now maintain and grow ties with a much larger network. This is the basis of civilization and human progress.
As always, the important point is that these weak ties to not replace the close ones. Arguably, this is an area that we need to work on as a society, and probably worth exploring in a future post. But this is not an either or question. We don't have to choose between close friends and loose ties. We can have both. And will be happier the more we are able to cultivate both. Technology opens that door where we don't have to make those kinds of choices. If we learn to use it as the wonderful tool it is, it can open all new possibilities.
What do you think?
I would love to hear in the comments below your thoughts. Do you think social media has an overall net positive or net negative effect? Any ways that Facebook has made your life better not mentioned above? And if you are tired of hearing all the doomsday social media articles - share this one! :-)
So what is so great about MySpace now?
First, a little bit of background. The MySpace that most people think of was defunct by 2011. No one was using it and a bunch of money was being spent on staff without revenue coming in the way it was expected when Rupert Murdoch bought the site for $580 million in 2005.
In 2011 is when Justin Timberlake (and a few other investors) purchased the brand for $35 million. Now, this might seem crazy until you think about what MySpace was all about in the beginning and what Justin Timberlake primarily does for a living - music.
MySpace was officially relaunched by Timberlake in June 2013, in the process getting rid of the old site completely. And it is a beautiful thing.
As a competitor to Facebook, MySpace clearly lost. But it is not a competitor to Facebook any more. In fact, you can use your Facebook (or Twitter) credentials to log in if you want.
In the new re-imagined world of MySpace Justin Timberlake created a competitor to Pandora or Spotify, and in my opinion a real competitor. I had used the paid version of Pandora for a couple years at this point. But MySpace is just better in my opinion. Here is why:
So yeah, basically if you like listening to music suck it up, get over the eye rolls you will get, and check out MySpace. Seriously. And yes, you will have interesting conversations with your friends like this one I had on Google+ (read the comments, you will laugh):
And yes, I did just reference Google+ as well, but that is a subject for another post.
What this has to do with social media overall
Okay, so you are not a musician. Other than listening to great music, what does MySpace have to do with you, right?
Well, it has a lot to do with you if you want to use social media effectively. Let's go over a few of the finer points:
So what do you think? Are you going to give MySpace another chance? How will this make you look at your business and social media strategy differently? I would love to hear about it!
To understand the power of what is going on right now it is important to realize that most trending hashtags only last for 17 minutes. #YesAllWomen started trending on Saturday night, and here it is Monday morning and it is still going strong.
The why is obvious. It struck a chord with so many, many people. On a personal note I felt a release to share some of my own experiences that seem completely off limits to talk about most of the time.
Not convinced that this conversation needs to happen? Take a look at many of the responses that are hate-filled and even threatening violence. It also was sad to see that hashtags dealing with rape and slut shaming were trending alongside the #YesAllWomen hashtag continuously. I don't even want to list the hashtags here because that would just fuel the flames.
Don't Spam - But Do Use IT
In many ways this is pure social media. And now I am going to talk about how to take advantage of things like this to grow your social media influence. People hate this. When it's done wrong.
Here is the thing. If we want to build real relationships with real people and get real results, we have to start acting like real people. Real people cared very much about this. It is an opportunity to join in and show that we care too.
And there is nothing wrong with doing it in a smart way.
So when does a brand start spamming instead of engaging in a real conversation? When you miss the point. This is not a good time to start suggesting people buy your product.
Social Success Vs. Missed Opportunities
I could go on for a few thousand words about all the many brands that are missing this entirely. The ones who could be adding to the conversation, providing support, and yes, getting people to be aware of their brand. Of course one of the reasons is that it is a weekend, and a holiday weekend in the U.S. at that. Which underlines the importance of being present on social media and not just relying on scheduling and broadcast content. But there are a couple that stuck out to me this morning.
The first one is very interesting. Arguably magazines like Cosmo feed into, and even help create, the misogynistic culture that #YesAllWomen is trying to deal with. That being said, their target demographic is definitely the people who are using the hashtag - women. Despite it being a weekend they put together a few of the top tweets and a couple paragraphs about it and published an article. You only have to look at the retweets and favorites to see the results. If they really wanted this to take off though a picture would have helped. And with tools likeCanva.com there really is not any excuse not to.
On the flip side here is Smirnoff. For context (in case you haven't looked at the #YesAllWomen hashtag), a lot of the posts were about issues of consent, and being drunk not being the same as yes, etc. In the midst of all this a promoted post from Smirnoff popped up in my feed. Oh, the irony.
Basically, they paid to get not even a fraction of the social media attention that Cosmo is getting for free - just because they are not paying attention. What a powerful statement if Smirnoff would have taken the time to create a statement about keeping those house parties safe, or respecting women. I can guarantee you that not only would it have gone viral, but increased their Memorial Day sales significantly.
Viral Trends 101
I am not trying to pick on Smirnoff - they just happened to show up this morning when this was on my mind. But it could be applied to any brand.
There are a couple things that make brands and individuals miss these important opportunities. One we talked about already. They are not really there. Scheduled promotions go out, and maybe someone is scanning for brand mentions, but there is no one keeping the pulse on the social media community as a whole.
The other big reason is that many brands, and the people running the social media behind them, see social media as a promotion tool rather than a connection tool. When you are focused on you and your brand and products it is impossible to truly connect. We are moving into a new type of business world. One in which it should start with people first. If you are tuned in to the people you want to serve that will educate every single other decision from what products you create in the first place, to how to connect to them through social media.
What Do You Think?
Please comment and share and let's get this conversation going!
I have had the pleasure of getting to know Jaime virtually over the last couple years and she is the genuine article. Not only does she care deeply about others, but is a no-fluff person when it comes to figuring out what really works. She also makes things happen! Even being a beta reader for this book, I bought a hard copy as soon as it was available. This is one worth having in your hands.
So what do you think? If you have read the book or are familiar with Jaime's interviews, what was your biggest take-away? If you want to me a millionaire and aren't right now, what do you think is holding you back?
Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are over in the United States. Christmas and Kwanzaa are on their way. This is the time of year when we get so busy with so many things that we can lose site of priorities, meaning, and gratefulness.
But it does not have to be. It can also be the time when we hug those we love a little closer, make the world a little better, and move forward into a new year with the determination to make it better.
Almost two months ago now the Philippines was devastated by the worst typhoon in recorded history. This was just a couple weeks after being hit by an earthquake and hundreds of aftershocks. This came close to home for our business and family as one of our team, Grace, lives and works in the Philippines.
In getting to know and working with Grace this year I have been so impressed with her work ethic, her attitude, and her ability to triumph over adversity. She has been the most amazing addition to our team, and I am not sure how we functioned without her. In short, people always ask me how it works to hire from the Philippines and ask me if I would recommend it and I can't recommend it highly enough! (As a side note we used Chris Ducker's Virtual Staff Finder to find Grace which was also a great experience.)
What You Can Do
Sad to say, we in the west seem to have a short attention span. While people in the Philippines are still trying to meet basic needs in some areas, we are most concerned about the lines at the mall to get our shopping done. So in the midst of all that, see if there is room to help those in still in need.
When I asked Grace about aid organizations, sadly a lot of help that goes to the government and even some charities never makes its way to those who need it most. If you know someone in the Philippines, the best thing to do is help them directly if you can.
Otherwise, the Red Cross is one organization with a track record that is helping people on the ground.
Building a Better World
But, as there always is, there is a bigger issue here. We live in one of the most amazing times ever in human history. The ability to virtually eliminate poverty, homelessness, hunger, and environmental damage are within our reach. So many technologies exist to build sustainable housing, energy, and food supplies, and more are created every day. Education on almost any subject (even from top Ivy League universities once only open to a select few) is just a click away on the Internet.
So will you join with me? Help, now. Do something in the Philippines to bring relief there in the short term. But don't forget about the long term.
Every dollar you spend and every choice you make has an opportunity to make the world a fundamentally better place, or a fundamentally worse one. What you do matters. You matter. You can make a difference. The more of us that do, the better off we all will be.
What Is Freedom Anyway?
The truth is that I cry, not because I am some overly idealistic patriot who thinks the United States can do no wrong. Quite the opposite. I love my country like I do many of my friends and family - as a beautiful soul full of potential and talent and also full of faults and mistakes.
The United States has been at the forefront of innovation in so many areas. We have birthed millionaires and visionaries, thinkers and leaders, geniuses and servants. We have built arguably the strongest economy in the world, some of the best institutions of higher learning, and many new products and ideas. We now have our first black president. We have been rated the most charitable country in the world. Our military has served with honor and heroism to end the world wars, rescue the innocent, and protect people around the world. We did that.
But we also have a horrendous and growing income gap between the rich and poor. We fall farther and farther behind in many metrics of health and education. Corrupt corporate influences on the government lead to unfair legislation. Our Congress is so divided as to shut our government down costing billions of dollars to our people. Our military has been responsible for appalling acts of abuse and inappropriate use of force. Historically alongside a legacy of freedom we have a legacy of oppression and even death. We did that too.
Never, Never, Never Giveup
So where does this leave me on Veteran's Day. How can I honor all the good and the service of our veterans while still recognizing all the change that still needs to happen? Ironically the military that is supposed to support our individuality and freedom largely does so by stifling the freedom of the troops through policies like don't ask don't tell and religious discrimination in the ranks for Jews, Muslims, and Atheists.
And how do I explain to my children what this day means? They have grown up with a country that has been at war (at least one) since before they were even born until now. What does it mean to live in peace?
The questions of how to make the hard life and death decisions required of each leader of the United States is one that I am thankful I don't have to make. There are no easy answers.
But in the end, I still hope and believe for a better future. One of hope, and opportunity for everyone. One where each person can create a beautiful life full of joy and giving and contribution. I hope that my children (who are also Canadian as my husband is from Toronto) grow up feeling a little that they are citizens of the world.
To me, these are the highest ideals of what we should all stand for. And on Veteran's Day I honor all those willing to fight and give to create a better world for everyone.
Wherever you are in the world, never give up. Never give up believing in the tenacity of the human spirit. That better is possible. That love is possible. That peace is possible.
I would love to hear your comments - what does Veteran's Day mean for you?
Yes indeed, I actually left our mini-van at the coffee shop and went home forgetting all about it. No, we don't live within walking distance. I had in my head some previous plan that involved my husband dropping me off in the morning so that he could use the car and our employee Karah driving me home after the meeting. We changed that plan. Somewhere thinking about the webinar I had to finalize for that morning and the list of things I had to do and the writing time that somehow needed to fit in I just wanted to get home and forgot everything else.
We retrieved the van, everything was fine, we all had a great laugh, and now I can never give my husband a hard time about losing his keys. Ever. Again.
Learning to Laugh At Yourself a Hidden Key to Success
You are going to do really ridiculous, silly, and even stupid things sometimes. There are all kinds of ways you can minimize that, but that is a subject for another blog post. Regardless, some things will slip through the cracks.
When they do, it is how you handle it that will make the difference between success and failure. If you have ever forgotten a deadline for a client, missed an exit when you were already late, forgot to save your files and then lost hours of work, then you know what I am talking about.
Here are 3 skills that will allow you to keep going:
1) Learn to laugh at yourself.
Today I was laughing so hard I was almost crying. My once-upon-a-time therapist said that I use humor as a coping mechanism to deal with pain. But seriously, if you need to cope, I can't think of a better way.
It really will seem funnier after the initial repercussions, so try to see that humor now, it helps.
But there are sometimes it really isn't funny. A person got hurt in a real way (sorry, possessions don't count, they can be replaced). That never is a laughing matter. In that case you will have to substitute forgiveness. If your mistake was knowing or intentional then deal with the underlying things that caused you to make that decision so you don't make it again. If it was just an honest mistake, you did the best thing you knew to do at the time given the information you had, then learn, let go, and move on.
2) Be honest
It sucks to tell a client that you forgot something. Or admit to yourself that you made a bad judgement call. But without doing that we start to lose faith in ourselves and others do too. This becomes a downward spiral of rationalization and regret that doesn't allow the learning needed for success. Remember, if you keep making the same mistakes you will never get to any higher level of success than you have right now!
3) Fix it
When things don't go our way it is easy to feel hopeless. We messed up once, we will mess up again, and we are really just colossal failures (clearly) so why even bother trying?
But there is always a way to fix it. Think outside the box for the third, fourth, or one hundredth option if needed.
This is not to be flippant, and some things are irrevocable. But even if we figure out how to not let it happen again that is a step. A big one.
In the case of the van it was really quite simple. Husband get keys, go to coffee shop, get van, bring it home.
Sometimes it will take longer and be harder.
As long as you are still alive you still have an opportunity to make things better.
What Really Matters - In Business and Life
Everything. Doesn't. Matter.
At least not in the same way.
A van is a van is a van. Worst case scenario it gets towed for being without an owner. We go get it. Everything is fine. Or I supposed it could be stolen. Or a tree falls on top of it. But regardless, it is just a hunk of metal.
When you spend too much time stressing about those things what is really valuable slips through the cracks. The people in your life. Your word and integrity in fulfilling promises. Your mission to the world. Those are the things worth getting worked up about. Those are the things worth treating like your life depends on it. Because those are the things that make life matter.
So enough with all the seriousness. Help me feel better here. Let me know the most outrageous thing you ever lost or forgot in the comments.
What Is Around You Doesn't Determine What Is Within You
Problem is, this is scary. Once we accept that it is our responsibility to make our own economy great - and not our bosses, family, or political leaders, then it is all up to us. At first, this can feel incredibly isolating.
I get it. I know all too well that feeling that you are falling down a deep dark hole and can't grab a hand-hold no matter how much you grasp.
Our mind, our greatest resource, is also one of our biggest challenges. We will make all kinds of excuses about what we do or do not have. But the truth is that your mind is limitless. It does not depend on what is outside. There is always one more thing to try, one more avenue to pursue.
So you lost that last sale - there are almost 7 billion people in the world you haven't talked to yet. So you are in debt. There are more resources available than you can count, you just have to figure out what you can offer of value to the world. Yes, sometimes sickness, or disaster, or personal tragedy strike. Sometimes there is seemingly no reason. But if you lose one hand, you have the other. Keep. Pushing. Through.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
You Can Start Making the Steps to Change Now
So are you ready to change your economy? Where do you want to be by the end of this year? As you are filing your taxes, is your income far below what you would like? Are your charitable contributions smaller than they could be? Then it is time to make a change!
One of the best books I have ever read on the subject of changing anything in your life is "Flip the Script" by Bill Wackermann. If you read only one book this month, make this one it. Much more than a feel-good positive thinking book, it goes through the very practical steps needed to deal with your fears, address those that are rational, and do what is needed to stop making excuses and start making headway.
But maybe that is too much to try and do right now - right this minute.
In the recent Forbes article "How to Improve Your Performance in Life" they writer identified just two things to do that change the outcomes for almost everyone: Prepare for what is coming up, and plan for contingencies.
The reality is that in most areas of life the bar is incredibly low. If you can't post 2-3 times per day on your Facebook page, then post at least once. Every day. If you feel overwhelmed by writing a blog post every week, then just do it once a month. Book time in your calendar 15 minutes before any phone call to brush up on who you are talking to, what you are talking about, and make sure you have their phone number in front of you.
Little things really add up over time. It is one of the most basic economic principles of all - that of the time value of money and compounding interest. Now apply that everywhere.
So what is one little thing more that you can do today to get you closer to your dream economy? I would love to hear it in the comments below!
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