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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

Just when I started questioning myself, wondering if my need to help change the world in a compassionate way was somehow wrong, not normal, misguided, whatever words people have used, someone I care about very much let me know my craziness has helped her and her husband communicate better. “Although I don’t always agree with what you say, I’ve found that instead of just watching TV, we are now able to talk about what we’ve seen.”  She added that they now even allow themselves to question some of their long-held ideas and beliefs and be a little more open about disagreements.

To me, that was worth all the self-questioning in the world.

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I just found this on Facebook and loved it so much I wanted to share it widely. I wonder how many of us see ourselves in the words? I sure do. Enjoy.

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Pennies from "not quite" heaven

I think I should get my eyes checked as a misreading of the online weather forecast last week cost me FIFTY CENTS! I really did read the sunrise time here as 4:30 AM and sunset about 4:45 PM. Friends at coffee told me, “no way!” But I persisted. Finally, one friend asked if I wanted to make a bet on it. Since I was so sure I’d read correctly, I was all set to wager $5.00. Oh, geesh. That really wasn’t so smart, considering the most I’ve ever made by gambling of any kind is about $30 from a penny slot machine at a casino. Luckily, this friend suggested $.50. So, I went with that.

After checking a couple of online weather sites, I discovered that I had indeed read the times wrong – way wrong. So, I bit the proverbial bullet and asked my mother to take a quarter to my friend the next day since I wouldn’t be able to go. She did  that but returned with the news that he wanted to know where the rest of his money was. Since we had kidded around by email a little, I knew he was just continuing the kidding. So, I decided to repay the rest in a little more interesting way.

Okay. I don’t normally watch a lot of television. However, while watching Rachel Maddow’s news show on MSNBC, I cut a piece of white tissue paper into small squares, dug out the tape, and rounded up 25 pennies. During the show, I wrapped each penny in a piece of paper, taping each package closed with a tiny piece of tape. I then found a sample box of toothpaste, removed the tube, and dropped each little penny package into the box. After wrapping the box of pennies with more tissue paper, I stuck on lots of little wild animal stickers and included a quote about wagering by Ralph Waldo Emerson. And waited for two days until coffee yesterday morning.

When I presented him with the rest of his “earnings,” the look on his face was almost priceless. He read the quote and checked out the stickers. He shook the box. Everyone else watched in rapt fascination as he pulled out his pocket knife and deftly and carefully slit open one end of the wrapping paper, saving the rest of the paper and the stickers. He then opened the box and dumped the contents onto the table – all 25 individually-wrapped pennies, each one looking, as my mother thought, like small pieces of white candy.

We waited. We laughed. We wondered if he would indeed unwrap each or even any of the little packages.

With his knife, he slit the tape on the first package, carefully unfolded the tissue paper from around its content, and let the first penny slide to the table. Oh, first he checked the date of the coin to make sure it wasn’t valuable.

We waited. He then proceeded to do the exact same thing with each little package, tossing the unfolded paper to another friend who likes to collect pieces of trash and paper cups from the table and throw them away each morning. It gives him something to do.

When each penny had been unwrapped, it was time for a count. Somehow he counted only 24 pennies. Oh, oh. Did I make a mistake and only wrap 24 coins? Finally, someone found a penny on the floor so I was safe. Good thing, too. Who knows how I would have presented ONE PENNY to him the next day. Oh, the possibilities are endless.

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Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

First of all, can someone tell me if this rule applies to posting it in a blog?  I would much rather cut and paste the entire article instead of just copying the URL. However, that’s what I’ll do for now since I don’t want to make the powers-that-be somewhere mad. 

The winners have been announced for the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, named after British author Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel “Paul Clifford” begins with the oft-quoted opening line “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Here’s Sue Fondrie’s Grand Prize winner: 

“Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.”

Next is John Doble’s winner in the historical fiction category:

“Napoleon’s ship tossed and turned as the emperor, listening while his generals squabbled as they always did, splashed the tepid waters in his bathtub.”

Finally, this is my favorite, Mike Pedersen’s Purple Prose winner:

“As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue.”

I think I’d feel blue, too. 

Just in case the copyright police find this blog, I’d better include the actual URL so you can read the entire article:  http://www.usatoday.com/news/offbeat/2011-07-26-worst-writing-contest_n.htm

Hmm. Somehow I don’t think I should use these as examples to help improve my own writing. But, in case you’d like some laughs, here is more than anyone would probably like about the contest and its winners over the years:  http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/

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This story about a small Texas college converting their football field to an organic farm is probably one of the best things I’ve read in quite a while. I especially enjoyed reading about students’ experiences eating carrots right out of the ground for the very first time, without even any ranch dressing to cover up the taste. There is hope.

 

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I drove the twenty miles down Hwy 52 to La Jolla Shores this morning to take a long walk on the beach and snap some pictures for friends in Oklahoma and Ohio. Thought they might like to warm up a little. It was a beautiful, sunny day though not extremely warm. However, there were lots of walkers, surfers, joggers, and cyclists taking advantage of the sunny weather.

While walking down to the Scripps pier, my mind leaped from one topic to the next. So, this will most likely be somewhat disjointed, with no apparent organization. Not exactly stream of consciousness, but close.

On the way to the beach, I stopped for an oil change in the pickup since it had been over 5,000 miles since the last one. They tried to fix the “check engine” light, which has been on now for about two years. No place I’ve taken the vehicle has been able to figure out what is wrong. They reset it but the light comes back on as soon as I start the engine. So, I’ll take it into a mechanic next week to see if they can figure it out. I need to have the light stay off in order to pass the smog test here, needed to register the vehicle in California.

While listening to KPBS while driving, I heard an interview with the author of The Gangster We Are All Looking For. When asked her thoughts about living in San Diego, she said she thinks it’s necessary to leave for a while, then return, to really appreciate living here. Although I was born and lived here for 28 years, I loved my 35 years in Oregon and would go back in a minute. I also enjoyed my short time in Kansas and Oklahoma, except for the weather extremes. In the middle of a hot, muggy summer in Oklahoma, I attempted growing my hair longer and  found out it still had some natural curl. Not a pleasant sight.

No, I don’t like the high prices of everything here, the number of people, standing in long lines for just about everything, or freeway traffic. But, the weather trumps all of it. That, and the beach. My body must be composed of 99% saltwater or something.

After walking in the tide line down to the pier and back, I sat on top of a picnic table in the grassy area and just people-watched for a while. I pulled out a new package of Fig Newtons, marveling at the easy-open pull tab on the top. That made it just too easy to pig out a bit. At least those cookies are fairly healthy. There’s no way I’d dare to buy peanut butter filled Oreos with the same top: they’d be gone in less than ten minutes. And, my teeth would be black.

BTW, how do you eat Oreos? I’ve always carefully separated them, eating the filling first, then the cookies. My friend Lou eats the whole thing at once.

Back to the picnic table. I loved seeing the wonderfully-colored and decorated surfboards. One of them was blue and green plaid. Another was bright yellow with flowers. One guy had bought a bright, shiny red board, and someone else carried one that was light blue with a dark blue, diagonal stripe. All of them now come with an ankle strap to keep the board from getting away too far.

I watched a group of college guys play touch football in the sand. And, I read for a while, A Year by the Sea, by Joan Anderson. This quote made me think for a little bit: “Sometimes I think women are like the fog. We have a knowledge of what is underneath, but our real selves are obscured by what others think of us.”

Food for thought.

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Social Media Bootcamp for CEOs
John Larson
Westin – San Diego
Jan. 19, 2011
500 million people on Facebook alone. 62% of people using social media are between 25 and 54 years old. 71% are employed, median age is 33, 47% married.
Point of using social media for business is to build relationships with large groups of people. A two-way conversation with your target audience. Leverage technology. Customers listening to each other and tuning out marketing messages. There is always a conversation going on about your industry. At least use social media to protect your brand.
“Turn strangers to friends. Friends to customers. Customers to evangelists.”
Old School
New School
Telegram
Twitter
Yearbook
Facebook
Rolodex
LinkedIn
Television
YouTube
Newspaper
Blogs
Encyclopedia
Google
Yellow Pages
Google
In using social media, don’t:
  • Tell friends about bad food
  • Beg people to buy from you
  • Carry on a monologue. Instead, build relationships
  • It is not just setting up environments and not doing anything with them
Large, Fortune 500 companies: 65% use Twitter, 54% use Facebook. On average, they post 27 Tweets and 4 FB posts per week. They post 10 videos and 7 blogs per month.
How to use social media to the best advantage
Develop your strategy first.
Define:
Goals, objectives, target audience, conversion activities (what you want people to do), budget, and resources.
Measure:
Performance goals
Branding goals
Cost per lead
Cost per acquisition
Refine:
Make changes for improvement
Create new objectives
Manage by exception i.e. Why?
If You Regularly
Your Profile
Blog, podcast, tweet, video
Creator
Write reviews, post replies
Critic
Update your profile
Joiner
Watch videos, read blogs
Spectator
None of the above
Inactive
You need to be a creator and a critic. Figure out and engage with people already having a conversation about your industry.
How to make informed decisions and “Lead with value.”:
  • Use archived knowledge such as spec sheets, technical data. Write blog articles using that knowledge.
  • Use real-time knowledge to influence buyers’ decisions
  • Use humor (check out Old Spice videos on YouTube)
  • Use products
Don’t be a narcissist.
There is a time commitment – resources and manpower needed
Ask questions and for opinions. Stay relevant
 Focus on your niche.
Educate – train customers to buy. Use key words and phrases on your website.
Tactics in a nutshell – short overview
  • Listening:  to identify who you want to build relationships with
  • Build community – grow social media environment i.e. friends and followers
  • Broadcast – post stuff. Drive people to your content
  • Content – if people want to share
  • Convert
Tactics – long version
Listening:
  • Key phrase research, include misspellings.
  • Google Alerts. Set up on Google so they will alert you when people use your key phrases, etc.
  • Twitter – search bar, hash tags (# in front of key word or phrase)
  • SocialMention.com – it will search through media environments, real time.
  • Industry sites and blogs. For example, websites listed in industry mags.
Build Community:
  • Use “Follow” buttons on website
  • Email-blast customers and prospects, under guise of customer service.
  • Tweet, blog, post. People will follow you.
  • Leverage search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM)
Broadcasting:
  • Begin engaging with target audience
  • Link social sites together to push content across multiple channels. Can use: One tfor Twitter – I can’t read my own writing but available on Twitter home page. Also Ping.fm and Hootsuite. Only need to type a message once. One click of a button will post to many sites.
“For every nine non-commercial broadcasts, you earn the right to one promotional one.”
Content:
  • Define tone/voice. Do you want to be humorous, serious, just facts, personal, etc.? Have the company voice.
  • Leverage content across media types using videos, blogs, etc.
  • Make your content more than valuable: Make it remarkable (people will remark about it).
  • Content ideas:
  • Success stories/case studies
  • Product comparisons
  • Top 10 lists
  • Write something controversial i.e. maybe write an opposite opinion in a blog.
Convert – to get leads, etc.:
  • Enable people to request a catalog.
  • Offer free consulting – do a service for someone, help solve a problem
  • Promotional products – to get contact information
  • Offer an online webinar/workshop
To maximize conversions:
  • Enable people to know what’s in it for them.
  • How to take the next step. Be very clear and specific about this. If you’re not mailing anything, don’t ask for a mailing address. People don’t like this.
  • Send follow-up thank you by email
  • Invite people to follow you on other sites.
Monitoring:
  • Use Dashboard software
    • Aggregate view
    • Real time
  • Analytical data
    • Use Google Analysis (free)
Social Media Cornerstones
Twitter:
  • Be human. Let your personality shine through. (Check zappos.com CEO Tony)
  • Tweet 3-7 times per week at a minimum. For example, Dell Computers tweets coupons.
  • Always personally reply to new followers
  • Build a professional-looking profile
Facebook – 500 million people:
  • Set up a company page
  • Post 3 or more times a week – each business day
  • Add “Like” feature to page
  • Add video from YouTube
LinkedIn:
  • More business oriented than Facebook or Twitter. Google loves LinkedIn
  • Update personal status 3 – 5 times per week
  • Create company profile with key words in mind
  • Connect your blog to your personal profile and company profile
  • Start a group tailored to your target audience with lots of links
Blog:
  • This should be the central command post for all your content.
  • Blogs never go away – they last forever and can be found.
  • You can aggregate other things like Twitter, FB, etc. Optimize with key phrases and words.
  • Should have a professional appearance
  • Post a blog at least 4  times per month and/or once a week.
  • Post the blog headline on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn to let people know it’s there
  • Post a related video on YouTube
    • Link to sign-up for email newsletter
    • Link to embedded video
    • Social environment links (buttons) should be at the top in plain sight for easy use
YouTube (This is the main thing right now):
  • Post one new video a month.
  • Not the place for amateur hour. Should be professional, TV-quality video
  • Keep it short and optimize. People have short attention spans. Approximately 1-3 minutes
  • Post videos on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Videos are 53 more times likely to get on the first page of search engines
  • YouTube is the second most favorite with search engines. 2.6 billion visitors per day.
Read “Business Week”, July 15, 2010 article about social media.
Social Media Professionals:
Position
Annual Average Salary
Social Media Strategist
$120,000
Community Manager
    70,000
Copywriter/blogger
    40,000
Video production
    50,000

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