Introducing Tenacity5 Media

The Lady Soleil logo and naming kerfuffle a couple of weeks ago sent me in a different direction. Since then I developed and built a new brand for my company, “Tenacity5 Media.”

What does Tenacity5 Media mean? Tenacity and media are self evident, but the five is unique to me. The number represents the five principles I believe brands should keep an undying focus on to achieve their missions. They form the core of my company’s mission to develop great marketing campaigns.

The five tenacity maxims are:

1) Courage: Companies must be strong in the face of fear. Bold marketing wins, while safe approaches often guarantee middle-of-the-pack performance, or worse.

2) Resilience: Marketing takes time. Quick successes validate programs and are necessary, but to win a community’s loyalty, companies need to commit for the long haul. Smart brands attend to the now while building for the future.

3) Attentiveness: In an attention economy that depends on what others say about you, companies need an unrelenting focus on the customer. From research to outreach to service, marketing revolves around the customer experience.

4) Fluidity: Technology and media are in a consistent state of flux. As a result, norms for communication also change continually. Companies must adapt to evolving media.

5) Mindfulness: Every company is made up of people, and every person lives in a larger world. Our actions create impact, both positive and negative. Mindful companies build products and services that contribute to the larger welfare of our collective community.

Moving forward, you can see the company’s web site. It includes the services my company will offer in the near term. There are also links to Tenacity5’s Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter pages. While a Facebook page has been created, I am not going to maintain it in the short term.

The Tenacity5 Media brand is a trademark of Lady Soleil, Inc., which was the fastest most affordable way to approach the rebrand. As my independent publishing is also maintained by the company, I intend to build out a Lady Soleil, Inc. web site to explain the business and claim its brands publicly.

I do want to thank everyone for their feedback. And I want to thank Aaron Mahnke at Wet Frog Studios for his quick work on the logo. In the end, I feel like I ended up with a brand that is much more authentic and representative of my approach towards marketing and media.

Will There Be Any Difference?

Tenacity5 represents my third attempt at scaling a company. The first concluded with the sale of Livingston Communications to CRT/Tanaka (now Padilla/CRT). The second ended for me when the three founders of Zoetica split ways.

It’s fair to ask, what will be different about Tenacity5?

First, I have zero intention of ever selling the company, or bringing on equity partners. Never say never, but there is no exit plan, rather a commitment to build something to last through the decades. I don’t enjoy employment, and I know this intrinsically. This is my path.

Second, I want to scale this company, and build something significantly larger than a boutique shop. In studying others who have built social media empowered agencies of 30 or more people over the past decades, I have noticed a unifying characteristic: They focus relentlessly on contributing to the market with ideas and best practices. At the same time, they tend not to get distracted or caught up in the day-to-day hubris of the sector. They rise above politicking and gossip even though they may be the subject of it. Some are A-listers, others are not.

This personal brand/reputation issue has been a problem in the past.

Personal attention can become an unnecessary distraction on the road to corporate growth. You can have both, but I see many A-Listers with really small boutiques, and as many large agencies with no well known employee in the blogosphere. Building a company around an omnipresent personality can be helpful, but it is not a necessary component of attracting customers and building a scaleable company.

Third, in the past my efforts included an unfortunate tendency to keep projects too long; specifically, employees and clients who did not perform well. These difficulties were crippling (in my opinion).
In the past I cared too much about those that should have moved on, and kept investing in them, partly out of guilt. By doing so I excerbated situations and probably made them exponentially worse. I think all parties suffered greatly as a result.

This is a core business issue. Effective business managers let people go when they aren’t working out. Building a great business revolves around hiring strong talent that delivers, nothing less and nothing more. A great executive knows this, and manages their roster accordingly.

You can always help someone after they leave with decent severance, out-placement, references, etc. And doing unlikeable things is part of any job.

What principles govern your business?

Network Solutions Matches $1000 in NextGen Tech Women Donations

Julie & Kami
Zoetica’s Julie Pippert and Kami Huyse

With just two days left in the NextGen Tech Women fundraiser, the team of Danny Brown, Allyson Kapin, Julie Pippert, Kami Huyse and yours truly has raised more than $2,200. All proceeds are going to the National Center for Women In Technology’s 2011 and their Award for Aspirations in Computing, which recognizes young women in high-school for their computing- related achievements and interests. Now, Network Solutions and its Women Grow Business initiative has joined the effort with a matching grant for the next $1,000 in donations (you can donate here)!

As a father of a beautiful young lady and a partner in a majority woman owned business, the reasons to participate and support NCWIT seem obvious. But in the spirit of NetSol’s fantastic contribution, here is a top ten list of reasons why you should back the next generation of women in technology.

10. Women garner just 9% of all angel investment funds, yet they have the same approval rate for applications as their male peers. Educating women to succeed in this market needs to happen!

9. There is an attitude within women’s conversations on the topic that they are meek, don’t share ideas in meetings, routinely discount ourselves, are bad at math and science, and are responsible for twice as much of the housework than men and three times the childcare. Blogger Lisa Barone explains why this is not every woman’s attitude.

8. Sunday is Mother’s Day and what better way to celebrate the great woman in your life then a donation to support tomorrow’s great women?

7. Some male investors still believe that women will neglect their businesses in favor of their children (while men are better at abandoning their kids for business?). See how Paige Craig worked through his prejudices and invested in a female founder.

6. Women-run tech startups generate more revenue per invested capital and fail less then those led by men, according to New York Entrepreneur Week. Hmm, makes you think that matching 14% angel invest rate is off.

5. Within our own little corner of the tech sector, women are often denied speaking engagements. Men dominate! And that is in spite of the fact that a strong majority of social media communicators are women.

4. The gender wage gap is not expected to pull even until 2057. Yes, 46 years from now. Today, women have to work 2.6 hours more per day to achieve the same wages as their male counterparts. Yeah.

3. “Wishful thinking and arguing about female founders, entrepreneurs or gender roles is overriding recognition of the powerful role that the female consumer is already playing in technology.” Read the ensuing stats on women’s incredible use of technology as posted by TheIceBreak CEO Christina Brodbeck.

2. “Companies, including information technology, with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 66%,” according to research by Catalyst.

1. And most importantly, Network Solutions is matching your donation (up to $1000)! What better reason do you need than twice the giving power? Donate today!

Celebrating 5 Years of Blogging with NextGen Tech Women

This coming Saturday will mark my five year “blogoversary”. A laborious blog post lavishing personal reflections doesn’t feel right. As more time passes, such inward focused accolades tend to make me uncomfortable. Writers write, that’s what we do, and for me blogging is writing, an activity I will likely partake in the rest of my life. It is an honor not only to write, but to be read, and so I want to thank you my readers. To celebrate, I’m breaking this blog’s rule of not using the first person, and asking you to join me in a two week campaign benefiting the next generation of technology women (see my fundraising page).

I have several reasons for wanting to support women in tech, not least of which is that this side of the technology sector — communications media — is dominated by women AND both of my business partners in Zoetica, Kami Huyse and Beth Kanter, are women in tech. But before going in depth into why this matters to me, I’d like to provide some details into the actual cause.

The competitive NextGen Tech Women fundraiser (Allyson Kapin, Danny Brown, Julie Pippert, and Amber Mac also have independent teams) will benefit the National Center for Women & Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Award for Aspirations in Computing. The award recognizes young women in high-school for their computing- related achievements and interests. By generating visibility for these young women in their local communities, the Award encourages their continued interest in computing, attracts the attention and support of educational and corporate institutions, and emphasizes at a personal level the importance of women’s participation in computing.

Anyone can join us and start their own fundraiser. We are going to continue until Thursday, May 5, with a final big push in celebration of Mother’s Day. NextGen Tech Women hopes to achieve $25,000 in donations from individuals. Anything helps, $25, $50 or $100, please give what you can.

Supporting Women In Tech

Soleil, the Google Baby

In last winter’s series of conversations with Robert Scoble, Danny Brown and dozens of commenters about the gender imbalance in the technology industry, several things became clear to me. Blogging about the problem won’t help, and that action needs to be taken highlighting successful, capable women current and future in this sector. It is only through supporting, encouraging and highlighting women in tech that the larger industry will be forced to reckon with what the statistics already show: Executive women in tech companies equate to better run, more profitable enterprises. Thus, my support for NextGen Tech Women.

There is a real need for this. Here are several attitudes that have been revealed or alluded to me as I have blogged about this topic over the years:

  • We try to find women speakers, but there aren’t any out there. That’s why they don’t submit to speak
  • Women in tech are not really tech women if they are not coders
  • If a women is not a CEO, she is not qualified to speak about technology
  • Women are their own worst enemies, and hold themselves back

These statements really bug me. Whether you feel they are true or not, they are all statements that show a system architected towards men. The irony of the middle two statements is that they are often repeated and espoused by men who are often not coders, and often not CEOs. When considering my daughter Soleil’s future (pictured above), I think this is the kind of ignorance she will have to swim upstream against.

I know she can do it if she wants to. It’s in her blood. My maternal grandmother was a successful entrepreneur twice, first owning her own art gallery in Phoenix, then running a winery in Provence. My mom still has the largest syndication of any astrologer in English speaking newspapers globally. But I’d rather try to address this problem now, perhaps her road may become easier, just as today’s women have benefited from the equal rights era decades ago.

Raised in the family that I was, I know that women just like men can set their mind on a goal and achieve it. If given the opportunity,they can be great in any profession. Greatness is a human possibility, not a gender specific one. That’s why we need to support women in technology, and give everyone a level playing field.

I hope you will join me over the next two weeks, and donate, participate, discuss, and share about this important issue. I shared some of the strong women in my life, past and present. Who are some of the great female role models you have known?

Is Amateur Hour Over?

hourglass 4
Image by Graymalkn

Cluetrain Manifesto Co-Author Doc Searls recently observed that the Web has moved from personalized postings and unique micro-publications to an over-commercialized web. Perhaps Searls point is indicative of a larger trend of amateurs losing power online. In the professional Internet communications market, we see a similar movement away from amateurs, too. As someone who straddles both sides of the fence, this professional evolution is welcome.

For a good long period, the amateur has been able to bluff their way into the wallets of corporate clients. Large follower counts, content marketing expertise, social media trailblazing guidance, all yours for $9999.99! Desperate companies that wanted to take part in social media hired these people, many with mixed results. Consider that in 2011 most CMOs still don’t understand how social media fits into their communications mix.

The result has been a burned business and nonprofit marketplace that rightly questions the bejesus out of its independent online practitioners, and demands answers for measurement and ROI. The answers are not necessarily forthcoming either. It does indicate there may be a social media marketing extinction event.

Over the past five years, there have been many teaming opportunities with social media (or even more specialized) communicators. Some have been great while others struggled. Invariably, though great at making themselves famous, the strugglers lacked the communications fundamentals necessary to build online communities that actually want to do things with the company or nonprofit.

This is not an isolated talent management issue. The back channel is full of stories about big A-List names, New York Times bestselling authors (note the plural) that when hired crashed and burned. These personalities trade on what their microfame can bring to the engagement, and their ability to build follower counts and momentary attention. But the emperors have no clothes. What happens? The engagement ends, the client pays out tens of thousands of dollars, and real communicators are called in. Some of us jokingly call ourselves the plumbers that clean up the social media ninjas’ messes.

This brings up the Before Social Media (BSM) problem. What did these so called professionals do BSM? Were they journalists or marketers or PR pros or some other media-related professional? Did they have an understanding of the basic fundamentals necessary for communications success before hanging their social media shingle?

Zoetica recently posted a job description. Note the focus on writing as a primary skill set, and an ask for journalism and prior agency/consulting experience. Without an understanding of basic fundamentals in communications and business (for or non-profit), it is hard to imagine success. Communicating with people from an organizational standpoint requires deep understanding of motives, the media forms themselves, and an organization’s role as a media presence within larger Internet communities.

Doc’s point is a sad one. Strong amateur content from the Fifth Estate has and continues to play a great role holding traditional media and companies accountable, creating real social movements, and yes, forming fun, interesting content niches to dive into. However, let’s hope that amateur hour is over, and that unknowledgeable social media communicators go the way of the dodo bird. Unfortunately, while some will be forced to shutter their doors, the real answer lies in educating the marketplace and upcoming professionals about the basic fundamentals and ethics of communications.

The Zoetica Salon and the Business of Free

Kami Huyse (@kamichat) & Beth Kanter (@kanter)
Zoetica Co-Founders Kami Huyse and Beth Kanter

Zoetica launched its Salon today on Beth Kanter‘s personal fan page on Facebook. The Zoetica Salon meets a nonprofit marketplace need for basic peer-to-peer conversations about social media adoption. The primary differentiators of the Zoetica Salon is Beth Kanter and her significant experience in the space, and that it is completely free of charge, and hosted on a common easily accessible social network — Facebook — that doesn’t require a new log-in identity (see press release here).

This begs the question why market a free service? After assessing the current offerings out there, there was no free service. The best educational offerings range from affordable services like the esteemable Nedra Weinreich‘s Social Marketing University series to TechSoup’s NetSquared community and the Nonprofit Technology Network‘s excellent professional membership services.

At the same time, the partners in the company believe basic advice and simple questions should be available free of charge to an industry dedicated to resolving society’s ills. With no organization formally serving that need, a clear opportunity existed. As more social media consultants enter the space, it’s important to remember that advice from bloggers and consultants do not equate to formal training. The Zoetica offering seeks to channel people who want to do more than spend time in the Salon into the capable hands of folks like Nedra, NetSquared and the NTEN team.

Lest a Robin Hood halo be painted, there is an end goal for the company, which is branding and demonstrative leadership. Simply put, by giving people a taste of the offering, the company builds a reputation for its consulting services, and gains new business opportunities. A vast majority of Zoetica’s business is through referral or direct client requests.

What Free Costs

There’s a real cost to free, which most people don’t take into account when they launch their services or blog. That’s the time it takes to build a quality reputation via free services. By assuming that giving away free time will monetize, Zoetica shoulders great risk. For example, in addition to the Salon announcement today, the company also announced the addition of Julie Pippert to the team (Welcome, Julie!). Deploying Julie’s unbillable time to the page is a significant investment.

It is a risk that all of the partners have successfully shouldered individually, so the leap is taken with faith. Perhaps the poster child of free intellectual property Cory Doctorow said it best:

“For me, the answer is simple: if I give away my ebooks under a Creative Commons liscence that allows non-commercial sharing, I’ll attract readers who buy hard copies. It’s worked for me – I’ve had books on the New York Times (NYSE: NYT) bestseller list for the past two years.”

Other online organizations have sought different methods of monetization, including advertising, sponsor programs, affiliate marketing, membership fees and subscription models. Every entity has to choose the model it thinks will serve its community of interest best, and ultimately serve its long-term business goals. And so with that, let the free experiment known as the Zoetica Salon begin.

A complete discussion on the economics of Free can be found in Chris Anderson’s book Free (which was available online for five weeks free of charge).

August 25 – CitizenGulf’s National Day of Action

Join us tonight at 6:30 for details on the #citizengulf project and help fishing families – via U-Stream

Fishing Families Wait for Aid

Mark your calendars! Citizen Effect’s CitizenGulf project will become a National Day of Action on August 25th, in alignment with the week of the fifth anniversary of Katrina. The benefit — to be promoted by Gulf Coast Benefit — seeks to help fishing families find a new, more sustainable future by providing education resources for their children.

You Can Help Many

Catholic Charities of New Orleans is the beneficiary of all CitizenGulf National Day of Action donations. Citizen Effect will send 100% of donations, less credit card fees, directly to Catholic Charities to support education programs for fishing families

There are three things citizens like you can do to help:

1) Attend or host your local event

2) Donate

3) Support Gulf Coast Benefit’s Pepsi Refresh project.

Donations can be given directly through the main CitizenGulf project page.

A Day of Action Means Jazz, Blues, Zydeco, and More

World of Coca Cola Party

Events will be meet-ups at places that can accommodate the following: People, hurricanes, New Orleans themed music (i.e. jazz, blues, zydeco) and a local green or environmental expert who can say a few things about the oil spill’s impact on the marine environment and the Gulf Coast economies associated with it. Registration will be $10.

Social Media Club has signed on as a CitizenGulf project partner and will help Gulf Coast Benefit promote the CitizenGulf events. Cities that have already signed on to host events include Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and Washington, DC. A full list of cities and details on how to register and participate will be available on the Gulf Coast Benefit web site no later than August 1.

We Are Actively Seeking Event Hosts, Sponsors and Attendees.

We are actively seeking hosts and sponsors to lead official events in many cities, organize Social Media Club local events and host unofficial awareness meetings. Email us at for more details.

Gulf Coast Benefit’s Pepsi Refresh project will be our third action, and will be open for voting on August 2 (stay tuned for updates). The week of the national day of action, Citizen Effect will also offer CitizenGulf opportunities for individuals to engage in their own citizen grassroots projects throughout the fall to benefit fishing families; education, healthcare, food, etc.

In addition to Zoetica’s support, additional promotion partners for the national day of action include Andy Sternberg, El Studio, Live Your Talk, Sloane Berrent, and Taylor Davidson. Thank you so much for everything you and our caring supporters have done to support CitizenGulf. The project is now yours!