Monday, May 30, 2005

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Blogosphere

Originally uploaded by shersteve.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Blogosphere, my joint venture with Troy Worman, is completing 3 months of living in the blogosphere. I keep track of what I have posted out there along with who I have not yet posted and decided to see what we had done thus far.

With a little data available, the quick analysis produced this chart showing the split amongst the male/female/group blogs. Or is it a funky smiley face?

What do you think Troy?


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Sex - The double edged sword

Let's start with this quote from Lynda writing at, What do chewing gum and engine oil have in common?: (bold for my emphasis)
... Marketing is explained in business school text books about meeting needs and wants. In "Marketing for Dummies" it states that we need to think of creative ways to rethink the underlying needs that a product addresses. Have most products on shelf been reduced to this level and as "SEX" is the underlying need it is used to sell the most amazing range of products.

Sex is the basic underlying factor in our species survival. It is how we create the next generation to continue this life. Life itself has been changing rapidly. The pace of change has grown faster in our own lifetime. It is also legal in many states (in the USA) for marriage to be between members of the opposite sex. (Okay, so how does that recreate life? I'll go down that road in some other posting.)

Back to Lynda who continues:
This made me wonder if in a Connection Economy, where it will matter more about who you are than what you sell, this will change at all?

Will the marketing of sex change in this connection economy? Only if we choose to give it less importance than it currently has. So when someone heavily into the connection economy, blogging her way through the world, turns in an odd moment to flirt in that area, one wonders. Yes, I know she likes lingerie. This may have been her attempt to appear in Lingerie Dreams or Lace Illusions. She has written about the alpha male, maybe she is redefining the alpha woman.

We are a diverse people and the previous posting on how we are not rational people (here), returns to the forefront. The internet (read Connection Economy) has flattened the world by allowing for communication between and amongst folks with common interests and passions that would not have been possible before. (An example) You can be part of the group more easily today than in times of old when your heritage and social standing made more of a barrier. These barriers still exist, I won't deny that. I think that in some areas, they have been challenged; in others, the walls knocked down.

I think the key will be showing others what we are and being consistent in that. The connection economy is still a people place with relationships based upon a one-to-one correspondence. The personal connectability has been broaden by technology but it still comes back to the basics. Can we get along with another person? We meet on a common interest or passion. The relationship may stay there. It may continue to develop and broaden into other areas of our lives.

As Rumi says:
Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Johnny Biscuit on balance

Johnny Biscuit writes:
I pay attention to balance because I think it is key. I think people's character is revealed how they handle struggle, not if they are perfect because there is no perfect. When people sort out difficulties you see their priorities revealed, you see who they are. I know you can not like parts of a person but like the person. I know people can have disagreements and still respect each other. I think we can and have to find balance in every situation, especially difficult ones.

How true that is!

Think of the language we use to describe people in that situation.

"going off the deep end..."
"flying off the handle..."
"loose cannon.."
"over the top..."

I am sure you can add to the listing. Not much sense of balance there is it?

So, if one of these opportunities presents itself, what should you do?
I would stop, breathe deeply, maintain balance.

What would you do?

Friday, May 20, 2005

New blog opened -> Passion for the Good Customer Experience

As mentioned earlier, I have opened a new blog to focus my writing on the good customer experience in one place. This will blog remain active, although maybe less so.

Read more about the new blog here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I got to hear Tom Asacker speak today

Yes, having read two of his books (Sandbox Wisdom & The Four Sides of Sandbox Wisdom) awhile ago, I eventually found his blog, then signed up for his articles, and have been trying to keep up.

I had an interesting email exchange with him over his change of concept from "sandbox" to "clear eye". (I understand why he did so but I still like sandbox concept better. That is a story for another time.)

I heard he was going to be speaking locally, and well, I was going to be there. So I was.

As part of the event, we walked away with a copy of his new book: A Clear Eye for Branding after I read it, I'll post my review.

His definition of brand is:
"A brand is an expectation of someone or something delivering a certain feeling by way of experience."

His advice for putting this into action is to:
1 - Discover your customers expectations
2 - Communicate those expectations
3 - Deliver those expectations
4 - Change with the changing expectations

Briefly recapping his points, you may recognize that the first one is phrased distinctly and correctly. You have to discover your customers expectations. They can not tell you exactly what they want. They can tell what they like and don't like but the discovery is left to you.

If you choose to market, then you should communicate those expectations in a manner consistent with the experience. Starbucks does not advertise heavily. It spends its money on the training for the barristas who serve your coffee or double latte.

You must deliver. Lack of delivery today will easily get those customers to walk away from you and never come back. The choices are many. The option is theirs to exercise. You have no choice. Deliver or else.

Change with the changing expectations. Think about the companies that have filed for bankruptcy and disappeared from the business world. Polaroid for example. Photography is still big. Cameras are expanding. But they are digital and they are not just cameras. What is the largest camera company today? Would you believe it is Nokia? Yes, the camera phones they sell. And they did not even start out as a company to sell phones. But they have changed with the market. Hello, Kodak are you listening? What is your future? Will you follow Polaroid? Or change?

Tom's presentation was engaging, challenging, and thought provoking. I buy this approach. It fits well with what I have learned from my business experience and ties in with my own expectations of what it will take to succeed in the new global economy.

If people choose to listen to Tom, they will benefit.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What does Zaba know about you?

Do you know about Zaba? Zaba as in zabasearch?

From WINXPNews comes this new free internet search engine for personal data. I tried it and was surprised (well not really) to see how much info was indeed available and correct.

David Lazarus at the San Francisco Chronicle ( has this article on Zaba.
What makes ZabaSearch great is that, at no cost, it quickly and comprehensively places a remarkable amount of data about people right at your fingertips.

What makes ZabaSearch frightening is that, at no cost, it quickly and comprehensively places a remarkable amount of data about people right at your fingertips.

Check yourself out.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Freakonomics Take on Parenting

Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, the authors of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, have written in USA Today:
The most interesting conclusion here is one that many modern parents may find disturbing: Parenting technique is highly overrated. When it comes to early test scores, it's not so much what you do as a parent, it's who you are.

It is obvious that children of successful, well-educated parents have a built-in advantage over the children of struggling, poorly educated parents. Call it a privilege gap. The child of a young, single mother with limited education and income will typically test about 25 percentile points lower than the child of two married, high-earning parents.

So it isn't that parents don't matter. Clearly, they matter an awful lot. It's just that by the time most parents pick up a book on parenting technique, it's too late. Many of the things that matter most were decided long ago — what kind of education a parent got, how hard he worked to build a career, what kind of spouse he wound up with and how long they waited to have children.

The privilege gap is far more real than the fear that haunts so many modern parents — that their children will fail miserably without regular helpings of culture cramming and competitive parenting. So, yes, parents are entitled to congratulate themselves this month over their children's acceptance letters. But they should also stop kidding themselves: The Mozart tapes had nothing to do with it.

Read the whole thing.

Creating a Good Experience

Found this on ?IC@TomorrowToday.

With GEL 2005 on my mind, this story was easy to pick up.

Not that every flight will do this, I think most American flights won't be able to due to the current FAA regulations, but it is a good idea.

Simple, effective and it has legs. See, I am spreading it. Someone else will also.

This is the mark of a good customer experience. It will have legs to take it places!

BTW, GEL 2005 has been so on the mind recently (other than hovering over me because I am late writing up the report on the day), I have decided to branch out to another blog.

Yes, I'll keep this one for the more personal, family, and 'life in general' stuff.
I already have PassionateRunner for my running posts and my joint venture with Troy Worman: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Blogosphere.

The new one will focus on business around the good customer experience.

It remains to be named so if you have any ideas, my ears are open.

Self-forgetting by Jane Genova

Well I did mean what I said Shelley but times change.

I was able to break away from the concentration game and read what Jane wrote:
... Develop a sincere interest in the other. That becomes easier if we develop that old-fashioned virtue patience.

With just a little patience, we will take the time to find out about the other...

Two, morph emotionally from your goal or agenda to theirs. When we focus on their problem/wants/needs, not our own (such as needing this sale to pay the mortgage) we open that person to us. Paradoxical? Yes, that's the mystery of self-forgetting. As Saint Francis put it, "It is in giving that we receive"...

This is so TRUE!

Read the full posting by Jane.

Shelley, it's your fault I'm wasting my time!

Yes, Shelley it is ALL YOUR FAULT!

I love Concentration. This version is dynamite!

It will take immense discipline to get anything done now.

Thanks, Shelley!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

GEL 2005 - Yuri Lane

Yuri Lane, the human beat box came on to close out this particular set of presentations. Yuri takes sounds and mixes them into interesting combinations. Follow some of the links on his web site for samples of his performances.

He came back at the end of the conference day with a sixty second recap of the conference, and if there could have been a better recap strictly of the sounds (words or phrases spoken) during the conference, I’d like to see/hear it.

Yuri created a very good experience!

GEL 2005 - Ron Pompei

Ron Pompei, Principal and CEO of Pompei A.D. spoke next. Some background info on Ron is available in Mark’s interview with him that took place before the conference and can be found here.

Ron tossed out a number of good ideas in his short presentation. His was one where I ended up thinking he really should have had more time to present (although the other side of the coin says, he could have condensed his presentation or focused it a little better to fit). He talked about multiple intelligences; analogical, analytical and empathetical in particular. There are others but he focused on these. The customer marketplace needs to be relevant, authentic, and intimate in order to succeed. The market is not a destination today but a journey. The re-integration of culture with unity is a challenge today.

I come away from my review of these notes feeling that they do not do justice to the connections and head spinning I was going through listening to him talk. I can not wait for the copy of the GEL DVD to review his section again. So many connections were being made. Ron is onto something good.

GEL 2005 - Alexandra Schwartz

Alexandra Schwartz, Curatorial Assistant at The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), provided some insight into Roy Lichenstein. Roy had painted a 68 foot mural in the entrance lobby of the Equitable Building where the conference was being held.

As Alexandra made her presentation, we realized that Roy’s work Mural with Blue Brushstroke - 1986 fit nicely within the “primary sources” theme. He tended to use pop images in his work. He also re-used some images of his earlier work. The “Girl with a Ball” (in MOMA’s collection) for example, was incorporated into this mural.

Alexandra’s presentation provided new incentive to take a real good look at the mural in the lobby. Many GELers did so on the next break and during the remainder of the day. You needed to step back and look up to really take it all in. The story and scenes we were shown of the work in progress gave us a new appreciation for this wonderful painting.

Junior Prom - Franklin HS 2005

In the limo
Originally uploaded by shersteve.
The class picked Friday the 13th (well the site was available) so the date didn't matter. My daughter, Carolyn, coordinated the limo for the party of 8. She did all the pricing and service research, I just signed on the dotted line. (The group all chipped in to pay for it.) She is pictured here with her friend Brian.

The group conducted/presented themselves in a manner that made all the parents proud.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

GEL 2005 - Jimmy Wales

This continues my recap of the Good Experience Live conference that was held on April 29th.

Jimmy Wales, founder of, was the next speaker.

Jimmy was interviewed by Mark Hurst prior to the conference. The interview can be found here.

One of the more interesting concepts Jimmy discussed was that of NPOV; the Neutral Point of View. Clearly, in a global market there can be a variety of viewpoints on any discussion item. How do you get those opposing views to collaborate rather than fight? The advice was to treat the individual with love and respect. Then frame the effort within the big picture; in this case, the foundation’s goal to provide a free encyclopedia to everyone in the world. This is nothing less than a big hairy audacious goal. It is easily recognized and easily understood. He has been finding that the more knowledgeable someone is about a topic, the more willing they are to consider the other side. It is those folks who are passionate but do not have the deep understanding of the topic that are harder to deal with. They apparently are not comfortable with their own understanding but use their passion to hold their position. I can buy this. In my experience, I have found that if someone is that passionate to not consider the other side, then it is usually because their belief is rooted in something akin to faith as opposed to a deep understanding of the details and reality of the situation or process.

Now, there is nothing wrong with faith. It has a role to play in life. But given the choice between science or “intelligent design”, I’ll take science.

So when faced with opposition, trying to implement the concepts behind the NPOV might be a good alternative to gain collaboration and cooperation as opposed to holding sides, building walls, and eventually escalating into something else.

If you have not used wikipedia yet, I encourage you to try it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

GEL 2005 - Flying Karamazov Brothers

The Flying Karamazov Brothers, a well known performing group made the first presentation at the conference. Now, what does a group of jugglers have to do with this conference? You might reasonably ask this question. They use a set of juggling pins (or balls) as their primary source and let me tell you, they do create a good experience from this simple item. Paul Magid, one of the four (who by the way are not brothers, and do not fly (other than in planes like the rest of us)) was quoted in the Boston Globe:

"The thing about juggling," says Magid, "is it's the most honest theater. It's all out front; there are no wires, no mirrors. And juggling is dropping. It's defined by its failure. And we're OK with that. If there wasn't that tension, it wouldn't exist. To try to have the perfect thing is part of the problem in the world. There is no perfection; there never was. And that's the perfection."

Their current show is centered on “LIFE, A Guide for the Perplexed”. Each of their performances were scenes from their show. Without spilling too much of the beans here (you should go see them if they ever come to your area) I’ll recount one in particular. The theme for one performance was “Trust”. One of the brothers came out on stage and began juggling. As he did so, he started singing a nice song with a round in it. After a bit, a second brother comes on the stage playing a guitar and in obvious competition with the song of the first. Eventually, they synchronize the songs and also start juggling together. Yes, the one on the right (as you look at the stage) is juggling with his left hand. The one on the right is juggling with his right hand and playing along the neck of the guitar with his left hand. His partner has reached around him and is also playing the guitar near the sound box with his right hand. Note, the juggling pins never drop, nor does the song miss a beat. They walk off stage together playing/juggling and are replaced by the other two. One playing a French horn, the other a flute. They are playing the same song but also in competition with each other. The other two come back on stage and eventually all four figure out how to play each instrument together while the two outside hands (of the now four individuals) are still juggling.

Yes, the pins never drop.

Trust takes a little cooperation, coordination and communication.

GEL 2005 - Intro

What is GEL?
GEL is Good Experience Live. A creation of Mark Hurst, founder and president of Creative Good, Inc. The mission statement for Creative Good is “to encourage the creation of good, meaningful experiences in business and life.”

So what is Good Experience Live?
This is the third year of GEL. This year expanded from the single day format to a day and a half. The Thursday half-day being a choice of 11 separate activities hosted in and around NYC. I only attended the full day Friday session at the Equitable Theater on 7th Ave.

17 speakers were arranged over 4 sessions, with one (The Flying Karamazov Brothers) introducing the first three sessions and closing the final fourth session.

Opening Remarks:
Mark opened the day with a few remarks and an interesting story to highlight the theme of this year’s conference: Primary Sources. His story (briefly) went like this. He spent sometime growing up in a house on the campus at Annapolis where his father taught at the US Naval Academy. He had found a crawl space that lead to a window and from time to time would find himself there. It was one of his favorite places. On his last day, he left a note on an index card, in an envelop in a natural shelf in his crawl space. 12 years later, he got a phone call from a 5th grade teacher in Annapolis inquiring if he was the Mark who had left a note in a house once upon a time. Her class was doing a project on primary sources and one of her students, now living in the house had found the note. He acknowledged he was the note writer. He ended up receiving a box of over 100 holiday cards from each of the 5th graders at the school. He wrote back answering all their questions and eventually visited the school, was the subject of a local paper front page article, etc. He just got a note from the boy who had found his note. He too is leaving the house and also leaving a note of his own in the crawl space. So the story will continue. Mark challenged the audience to identify the “primary sources” of each of the presenters and see how they turned the source into a “good experience”. The remainder of the day was both fun filled and thought provoking.

A synopsis of each presentation will follow in subsequent posts. Where they are available, links to the web site (primary source) for each of the presenters are included. I’ll summarize my “take away” thoughts at the end of this recap.

I would encourage you to check out the Good Experience Blog ( and sign up for the weekly newsletter that Mark publishes. The main article is posted on the blog but he also includes some fun links in the email that don’t make it to the blog.

Monday, May 09, 2005

To Whomever Found My Cell Phone

Yes, it was one of those days.

A normal Monday. Normal routine.
Parked the car at the train station.
Walking along the platform, set my phone from ring to vibrate.
Put it back on the belt hook.
Waited for the train.

It came. I got on. Heard something drop at the top of the stairs.
Looked around saw nothing and with others waiting to get on, moved on.
Sat down, got my pass out for the conductor.
As I settled into the seat, I realized, the normal cell phone lump on my side was not there.

Yes, it was really not there. No phone attached.

Oh, no!
And then the aha moment!
That must have been what I heard as I got on.
It had not full latched on the belt clip.

(That is another post, I have not liked the design of this thing since I got it.
It was a work-hand-me-down and seemed better than it actually has turned out to be.)

I got up, checked the platform. The train was moving now.
Checked with the conductor to see if anyone had turned it in.
He had been the last one up the stairs and did not see it,
so if it was on the train someone had it.

He came by shortly after with it.
Someone in the car up front had just turned it in.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Life is good!

A Sense of Place

Where are you from?
What do you call home?

This sense does change over time.

I can see this now, that I pause and look back on my own life.
As I grow older, I no longer refer to myself as a Rhode Islander.
I do occasionally as one "born in RI" but since I live in Massachusetts now,
that is where I am from, even though I have still lived longer in RI (29 years)
than MA (9 years), New Jersey (13 years) and Illinois (18 months).

Ronni's posting today makes sense.
We happen to be struggling with the in-laws
who can't continue to live in a two story house,
yet won't accept this and agree to find
a one-floor condo or something other than the house.

"A sense of place is woven into the being of an elder in ways that adults have a hard time understanding."

This could have been written for our current family situation.

We (the kids) do not understand why they (Mom and Dad)
can't accept the simple fact
that Dad can not afford to fall down the stairs again.

Thanks, Ronni for helping to see this.

I have a new avenue to try now.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Water - Paul Guest

The work week is over. I have worked in a different location each day this week,
finally getting back to my own desk today.

One daughter finishing up her freshman year at college,
is preparing to come home this weekend.

Our youngest daughter is out with her boyfriend to a movie before getting to bed early with SAT tests scheduled for the morning.

So Dolores and I took the opportunity to go out for dinner.
Local place, good food, good service.
Time to talk and plan our schedules.
Life is so complicated.

And against all this, I hear this poem by Paul Guest.

Recommended reading (listening) to wrap up the week.

Yes, getting older is hard

Another thoughtful posting by Ronni Bennett hit the net yesterday.
As we get older, things go wrong with our bodies, they wear out and we are discouraged from talking about them. Younger people, in the bloom of youth and adulthood, readily hold out their casts for signing or relate the details of a hospital stay, but we older folks keep our ills to ourselves for fear of appearing frail and useless.

Even I, having spent more than a year here at Time Goes By encouraging acceptance of old people as we are and not as society wants us to be, succumbed this week. Last Saturday morning, getting out of bed produced searing pain in my lower back. It subsided to an almost tolerable thrum when I laid down or when I stood. I could walk – sort of – but sitting was excruciatingly painful. Only today am I back to normal.

Until writing that paragraph, however, I acknowledged it to no one. Friends called with the usual greeting, how are you? and I said, “fine.” When one asked about meeting for dinner, I said I had other plans. Undoubtedly, a neighbor who phoned would have picked up some things I needed at the grocery store saving me a painful, slow walk, but no-o-o.

I was too proud to ask, too indoctrinated by the culture into maintainng the pretense of youthfulness to admit an age-related ailment.

"Too proud to ..." you can fill in the blank, but the lesson I think for us in this is to not be.

To be confident enough in ourselves
To be strong enough to ....

Building Houses the Blogger Way

A little Friday humor for those (like myself) that missed this earlier this week.

Building Houses the Blogger Way via The Vision Thing.

Worth a chuckle or two, if not a serious thigh slap...

David Batstone on Microsoft's Position Change

David Batstone comments on the Microsoft change of position on anti-discrimination legislation in the State of Washington in this posting on the Worthwhile blog:

Imagine a company in Alabama in the 1950s and the dilemma it faced around civil rights for blacks. Would we today laud that company for upholding its shareholder value and staying "neutral" on laws of discrimination that prevented blacks from working at a company, let alone being served as a customer? I think not, though history is a harsh judge.

Not every company should be expected to engage in social reform, of course. But any firm, most especially one as wealthy as Microsoft, is an influential player in civil society. When it takes the higher ground, it elevates the potential for every member of the community.

Corporate marketing, the corporate citizen, the corporate blog...
engagement is one thing, political stands are something else.
Or are they?

What is your take on this?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Asacker and the Brand Discussion

Check out Tom Asacker's posting today for an interesting brand discussion.

Here is what I posted as a comment on this:
The posting and article are certainly attracting a lot of passionate

Initially, having read the whole on a first pass, I'll side
with Chris Costello's summary. And then sleep on it.

Sometimes, the best thinking comes with the new light of day.

How do you define a brand?

FASTCompany - The Business of Design

The online version of FASTCompany leads this week with this article on The Business of Design.

"In an economy where style is king, we all need to start thinking and acting more like design."
Taking a wholistic approach, I agree that design needs to be recognized more and more as truly important to the product or service being offered.
The upshot, says Martin, is nothing less than the emergence of the design economy -- the successor to the information economy, and, before it, the service and manufacturing economies. And that shift, he argues, has profound implications for every business leader and manager among us: "Businesspeople don't just need to understand designers better -- they need to become designers."
McDonald's made price, service, quality and value a commodity. The next "McDonald's" will be successful when they can deliver the same PSQV with a better design.

Now, that's food for thought! What would it look like?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Time travel and what's left behind

An interesting post from Alex Halavais.

I have a feeling that the web will gradually shift from being something that needs to be archived (and the Internet Archive is the vanguard here), to being self-archived—think the kind of versioning control found on wikis. I have the feeling that the future time traveler will be turning to archives of the web to find out what was in the New York Times by looking on the Web.

Reminds me of the Google Futuristic View.

Where do you think folks from the future will look back to, in order to find out about us?

Will they even look back?

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Test for Authenticity - Redux

I have posted about what Evelyn Rodrigeuz wrote on the test for authenticity:

"I've learned that if I could not be authentic and in integrity (more in the sense of being whole, and reclaiming the disowned fragments of your soul) in business, then that says more about me than it does about the big bad Corporate World.

Personal authenticity is not situational.

Here is one of my tests that applies in business settings: If I would say or do anything differently whether I have $14 or $140,000 (liquid, not 401K or real estate holdings) or $1.4M in the bank account - then it's not authentic. "
Two current news items reveal individuals who have failed this test.

1 - The would-be bride from Georgia

2 - The guys who "found" buried treasure

The choice was there for them and they failed the test.

When it is your turn, what will you do?