Grace and Grinches

This time of year seems to bring out both the best and the worst in people. I almost succumbed to the latter this week after reading enough nastiness and social media BS to feel inspired to write a contrarian blog. But instead of becoming yet another grinch, I opted to write this appeal for grace.

The holidays can offer a beautiful time of year, but they can be really depressing and hard. Not everyone has a strong family, if they have a family at all. Some people are alone. Some people just feel bad. And others don’t want to be held, talked to, or greeted.

Holiday misery is a condition, a rut that sometimes we cannot escape. I have been there. One Christmas when I was in my early 20s I was so depressed I decided not to come home, and just sat in my house in DC, and tried to drown my misery in booze, food and other pleasures.

Today, I know that when I surround myself with such negativity, I often succumb to it. It’s so easy to lash out when I feel bad. And as you can see, it creates a ripple effect.

But I am older and more experienced now. Instead of contributing to the angst, this year I am simply passing on it, and choosing to be present for those who want a warmer conversation. I understand those who are suffering, but at the same time grace is about rising above, and offering a warm spirit no matter how hard the Grinches try to spread their seed of misery.

Desperately Wanting

Whoville
Whoville by L_D_SAINT

So welcome to the Whoville Christmas (from a Christmas Tree Jew, no less)! What could I offer during this time of year when so many people are focused on getting the gifts they want?

Perhaps what we all desperately want in our deepest innermost souls: To be acknowledged and respected regardless of place or time or position or race or…
We live in the era of the selfie and the like. People want to be acknowledged and want attention. Whether it’s a grocery clerk working extra hours or the social media celebrity posting their 80th selfie of the year, people do want their peers to respect them.

While social media empowers and amplifies this desire to a sometimes distasteful level, that base need to be liked remains. Just like it did before Biz, Zuck, Jack and the rest of the social networking pioneers empowered us.

Here it is, a big shout out to some of the many people in the online world who made my 2013 brighter.

Kaarina Dillabough: You coached me up off the floor last January. I will always be in your debt.

Scott Stephens: For being my friend on and offline even when my knee wouldn’t let me run again.

Margie Clayman: You are always lifting me up, whether you know it or not. You have a big, big heart, lady. Thank you.

Patrick Ashamalla and Shonali Burke: xPotomac… It’s back, and better than ever thanks to you.

Seth Godin: I did my rounds and made my amends over the past two years. You were the last one. Thank you for your grace, welcoming me into your office, and treating me with respect. I will never forget that. Thank you.

Andrea Weckerle: Thanks for asking me to help your Civilination fundraiser. It helped me, too, and I think we did some good.

Erin Feldman: We grew together quite a bit this year. Thanks for being my editor and mobile media cohort!

Jennifer Stevens: Hard to believe that we have worked on three books together. To our fourth next year!

Howard Greenstein: You really have become a fantastic friend. Thank you!

Mitch Joel, Jay Baer, C.C. Chapman, Tamsen Webster, Tom Webster, Scott Monty, Jeremiah Owyang, Christopher Penn, Laura Fitton, David Armano, Richard Binhammer, Todd Defren, and Jason Falls: You remain kind and present, and I have noticed. Thank you.

Jess Ostroff: You worked so hard to help me make my novel-writing dream come true. Thank you!

Rogier Noort, Ralph Rivera, Shelly Kramer, Todd Jordan, Brian Meeks, Ian Gordon, Chuck Hester, and Rob Whittle (who just published Pointer’s War), Susan Cellura, and so many others I can’t even possibly list them. Thank you for supporting me on Exodus. It was a scary leap of faith to publish that thing, and the most fulfilling words I have ever released to the world.

Brian Vickery: Your presence is amazing, consistent and always friendly. You rock, sir.

Daria Steigman: Where to begin? Nats, baseball chatter, and all things Exodus.

Bob Fine: Another Nats fan who has paid it forward in so many ways. Bob, I look forward to returning the favors.

Anne Weiskopf: You are a deeply courageous person. Thank you for your strength and beauty.

Bob LeDrew and A.M. van den Hurk: Your punk fundraiser showed me the good side of PVSM when I least expected it. Cheers.

Michele Price: Lots of love my friend for many good radio shows and conversations. Cheers!

Kevin Chick-Dockery: We learned a lot together, and more than any person you helped me to stay on Facebook. Because I really did come close to pulling the plug on the Zuck.

Brian Solis: Thank you for your words at INBOUND.

Kami Huyse: You helped on that thing via the backchannel. I didn’t expect you to, and you did.

Jason Konopinski: What a roller coaster ride of a year. You ended up where you wanted to be, and we got to share a few stogies along the way. Cheers!

Lisa Gerber: We are not alone. And we both like guac, who knew?

Liz Scherer: We seem to be on the same path of gradually softening, maybe. LOL! Love you, Liz.

Richard Becker: Your fight with cancer this year was scary and courageous. Congratulations on making it. Glad we will have a few more conversations about this and that.

Stacey Miller: It was a blast newsjacking and shredding up the social web together on behalf of Vocus. Cheers.

Brian Driggs: Your comments are insightful, your vision is admirable. Thank you for visiting as much as you do!

Grace is not my strong suit, so forgive me if I left you out in my sleep deprived dotage. If you liked this post, rather than sharing it, please pass the spirit along and give someone a random appreciation today. Everyone could use a little more peace and happiness rolling into the new year.

Thank you, and I hope you all enjoy the holidays.

Image by Barry Graubart

Choose Your Own Adventure

Susan Murphy wrote a post a couple of months ago called Choose Your Own Adventure. The post played off the children’s book series to discuss how social media really provides people the opportunity to opt-in or out of any particular group or conversation. But really social offers a larger Choose Your Own Adventure principle, which is break rules when you see fit and reap the benefits or the consequences.

Social media winners, at least during the pioneer stage, represent a group of entrepreneurial spirits who went out and broke away from established business norms to create their own voices. People like Arianna Huffington and Jack Dorsey.

D.J. Waldow and Jason Falls talk about breaking marketing best practice rules in their book The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing.

We live in a time when pundits dictate the way it should be, where best practices dominate conversations. From a business standpoint, the only rudder should be customers and a brand’s larger community.
Continue reading “Choose Your Own Adventure”

Reflections on Dell’s Social Media Facility

Dell continues to be one of the most innovative companies out there in social media. Yesterday, on the one year anniversary of its Social Media Listening & Command Center, Jason Falls and I toured the computer giant’s headquarters.

We met with several critical players on the Dell team, from perennial leader Lionel Menchaca to Amy Heiss, program manager for the Command Center. Along the way we learned quite a bit about how Dell evolves with its clients needs, in the United States and globally.

Perhaps the biggest impression made on me was the experimental and open nature of the Dell social team. When I walked into the cavernous room that houses Dell’s social media group, I noted several things:

  • A wide open space with no cubes or barriers
  • The team sitting together is cross disciplinary, ranging from communications and social media to customer service and legal. They literally have no excuse for silos as they all sit within strides of each other.
  • The Command Center (featured above) is the room immediately next to the open office space, readily accessible by all
  • An ambiance that’s generally light, fun and curious

Dell has become a “socialprise”, and is actively experimenting with the best ways to enable fluid business dialogue in the enterprise, critical to its online success. The company clearly understands that empowering departments to interact quickly extends beyond process. The result is increased access through physical space and location.

Data, Training and Falls

Dell's Social Media Listening and Command Center

Dell is listening to its current and potential customers in a very organized fashion across a wide range of data points. For example, the above video details influence tracking, just some of the incredible data the Command Center tracks. The diverse data points range from products to conversations to global regions to all the industry players involved.

In conversation with Rajiv Narang, executive director for social media and marketing innovation at Dell, it became clear how analytical this company is. We’re talking the ultimate data geeks here. Dell sees data, conversations, trends and corresponding behaviors, and deeply analyzes to distill knowledge. Then it mindfully addresses its business direction to serve the market. It’s fantastic.

Another factor that became clear was how incredibly social the company has become. In meeting with many diverse players in Dell, from enterprise sales to sustainability and social good, almost everyone of them had been certified in the company’s social media program. Knowledge and practice ranged, but it was clear that the 5000+ employees who have been trained are interested, and see social as a critical component to the company’s success.

It was great to do this trip with Jason Falls, too, who will add his insights next week. Jason is clearly doing really well, and is at the top of his game with the release of No Bullshit Social Media. Congratulations, Jason. You deserve all of the success as one of the hardest working people in the sector.