Sunday, December 30, 2012

You have a blogger in your nose

I think you should blog. 

If you want a New Year’s resolution that is easy to start and easy to keep going, start a blog. Especially if you are an entrepreneur.  Here are some great reasons why you should be blogging in 2013 if you are not already doing so:

1. It’s your resume. “Hello, I just finished reading your blog and I don’t really have any questions. I just wanted to let you know that you are perfect for the job and I wanted to see if you would be interested.” Your blog, combined with your traditional resume is an online virtual “you”. Also, if someone wants to work with me, they should read my blog. Love me or hate me, it is hard to hide the real you when you blog from the heart.

2. It’s your new hiring tool. If you are trying to hire employees or contractors, they will want to know who you are and what you are about. Show people why they should be a part of your team. Show them the real you. Let people see why they should (or should not) be on board. Maybe they will not be a fit for your corporate culture. Blogging is a great way to get to know someone. Welcome to my dementia!

3. Network with people. You can stumble upon blogs that will help you with just about anything. Many times I Google “how to make / do / fix something. I find a few blogs on the topic, leave comments, and before you know it, new friends are connected. People that I never met before have helped me understand what I was trying to learn. After some back and forth on the blog, problems can be solved.

4. Turn chaos into clarity.  Ideas exist as something that lives in your head. When you write about ideas they make more sense. This is often the reason why people write business plans. Having a blog is a great outlet to make your ideas come alive. Yeah, you could do this in a paper notebook but that is not scaleable. Also, you can find business partners or new employees as they were first attracted to you via your blog.

5. Reflect on your past so that you can improve your future. When you blog, your thoughts and ideas are documented. Sometimes you may take a stance that may prove to be right or wrong. By documenting your ideas, you can reflect on how your ideas evolved. Looking at the past is critically important in understanding the future. This is why students at major business schools review hundreds of business cases. Learn from your past and prepare for your future - via your blogs.

6. Get peace of mind. I blog every Sunday morning, and I rarely miss. So that is 52 blogs per year. As I write I focus my mind on one thing. Focus can be hard in today’s multitasking world. I have emails waiting for me, but for now, I’ll ignore those and continue on with writing my blog.

7. Your Blog as your PR machine. Your blog can be your own Public Relations soapbox. It gives a voice to your views on a specific topic or industry. Your blog might help you win new business. In the past, we needed radio and TV to get our messages out there. Now your blog can do this for you.

8. He got skills. I enjoy writing, so I do it. I don’t know if I am any good but I like blogging. I’ve maybe taken two or three writing classes in college. Practice makes perfect and the more I blog the more my skills improve. When you consider that most work and sales today is done over email or online, you realize that it’s critical to have good writing skills.

9. Make, don’t take.  It’s very easy to get caught up with media consumption. Some days I feel like I spent my entire day consuming content. If you become a contributor instead of a consumer of content, you are now a part of the solution. Via your blog, you can become a builder, a producer.

So, you should blog in 2013. This is one of those New Year’s resolutions that you just might keep, as we all know that New Year's diet is never going to last past January. 

Unless of course, you blog about it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa's Fight Club

Santa Claus is comin’ to town, but you won’t be able to find him on Google Maps. (Not even the new version that just came to iPhones.)

NORAD — the North American Aerospace Defense Command decided to switch from Google Maps to Microsoft’s Bing maps for its annual NORAD Tracks Santa project.

This is the first time NORAD is inserting Bing maps into the interactive experience. Smartphone apps will track Santa this Christmas, allowing families to spot and pinpoint Santa through Bing maps on the iPhone, and Android and Windows Phone 8 smartphones.

NORAD relies on technology to reach a broader audience through its website, which includes families around the world. Twenty-nine percent of the site’s visitors are from the UK, 7 percent from Canada and 5 percent from Japan.

Technology has exponentially increased the tracking of Mr. C and that technology also includes social media. Yes, Santa Claus tweets.

NORAD’s Santa tracker has a Twitter following of close to 95,000, a Facebook page with well over a million likes and over 4,000 Google+ subscribers.

NORAD began tracking Santa from Peterson Air Force Base in 1955 when a child accidently called the base in hopes of speaking with Santa Claus. The phone number was misprinted in a Sears newspaper ad.  Children placing calls to Santa were actually sent to Peterson Air Force Base via the typo, and folks at the Air Force Base played along.

Only on the Internet could you find tech companies competing to track Santa.

But Google’s not giving up on the business of tracking Mr. Big. Using its Google Earth and Google Maps products they are tracking The Chairman of Jolly on its own this year with a brand new algorithm.

You’ve got two Santa tracker options to pick from starting on Christmas Eve. But how can they both be right?

The new Google Santa Tracker does not only live online. There is now a new Chrome extension and Android app to let you follow Santa.

Google’s got more to offer kids as far as entertainment goes. They have an entire Santa site where you can provide information about your a friend or family member and have Santa give them a call or send them an audio message via email. There’s also a few online games. The Santa Racer game lets you steer Santa’s sleigh through a track and collect presents and the Present Drop game lets you drop presents into moving chimneys.

Both Google and NORAD will begin actually tracking Santa on Christmas Eve. No word on if Santa himself plans to use Google or Bing Maps to get to all his destinations.

Let’s hope that Rudolph is ready to go "old school" with or without the power of the Internet. I think Rudolph “nose” to steer clear of using Apple’s maps this year (FAIL) that’s for sure!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I put only one word into my browser this morning: Newtown. 

The,_Connecticut link has already been updated.

I see articles linked to mental illness, gun control, bullying, and a growing number of topics related to this tragedy.

Politicians are already putting their spin on this situation. The media is all over this, with news anchors deviating from professional norms. People are breaking down on air, struggling to cope with this horrific event. This is all so hard to process.  Newtown has been changed forever.

The Columbine High School massacre (often known simply as Columbine) was a school shooting which occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. In the school shooting, two senior students named Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered a total of 12 students and one teacher. They also injured 21 students, with three other people being injured while attempting to escape the school. The pair then committed suicide.

Columbine is the fifth-deadliest mass murder committed upon a school campus in United States history; after the 1927 Bath School disaster, the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, and the 1966 University of Texas massacre, and remains the deadliest for an American high school.

Columbine sparked debate over gun control laws, the availability of firearms within the United States and gun violence involving youths. Much discussion also centered on the nature of high school cliques, subcultures and bullying, in addition to the influence of violent movies and video games in American society. The Columbine shooting resulted in an increased emphasis on school security, a moral panic aimed at goth culture, social outcasts, gun culture, the use of pharmaceutical anti-depressants by teenagers, teenage Internet use and violent video games.

Columbine in 1999. Newtown in 2012.

This morning, I listened to the Governors of Colorado and Connecticut give their opinions on Sunday morning television on what was done, what was not done, and what could have been done.

When I learned of the Newtown tragedy, it felt like all of the blood was drained from my body. I will not be able to make any conclusions on this, now or probably for many days.  I don’t know how much to blame technology - or on the lack of technology. Was it a lack of security? Schools are not vaults; we cannot protect our schools like a bank.

Is it the ease of access to violent video games?  Have you seen the quality of graphics in today’s violent online games? Anyone with mild to severe mental illness might have a problem telling reality from fantasy. Do these incredibly realistic online video games not reward players for achieving horrific results? Do these violent video games not keep score based on body count?

We have seen people use guns, homemade bombs and even airplanes to do horrific, evil things. We have seen people convert anger, possibly fueled by mental illness into events such as Newtown or Columbine.

I don’t know if technology could have helped, but it seems that between 1999 and 2012, we have not made much progress. I don’t know the numbers. I do not have access to the statistics. I can only say what I feel. People will argue and say it is not about the gun control, it is not about the violent movies or video games, it is not about bullying. Then what is it?

What if it is not any one thing - but all of the above?

I am 52 years old. When I was a kid in school, getting sent to the principal’s office for chewing gum in class was a big deal. I did not grow up in a bubble, but we never had such horrific events. What happened in our world in the past 40 years? I do not think I am being naive, but something changed in the world in my lifetime. We cannot remove evil from the world, but we can love each other. We can treat each other better. Much better.

I feel that we let the people of Newtown Connecticut down. I feel like we let our entire nation down. I feel that we did not learn from Columbine, nor did we learn from any of the horrific events of the past. If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.  

Columbine was a murder - suicide.  Newtown was a murder - suicide. Why?  

What did we learn about murder - suicide since 1999? When a plane crash occurs, the make and model of plane does not fly again, until they find the cause of the accident. Why does the USA have such a problem with violent crime, compared to the rest of the world?

I do not know what was learned since Columbine, but I know how I feel. I feel like we took no positive steps - we did not learn from the past. That is my personal opinion. If the events of Friday are not enough to change our behavior, what will it take? I pray for everyone who is suffering. I pray that the leadership of this country wakes up. Enough is enough. I don't care who is offended, I don't care who is "for or against" guns, or privacy rights, or any other debatable topic. Doing nothing (again) is not acceptable. 

This country was founded by people taking a stand. This country became a world power, because its citizens, its people have a long history of stepping up and finally saying "ENOUGH! We are not going to take it any longer! We have had enough, and we demand change. Enough."

We can do better,and we must do better.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Red Kettle

 In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. He only had one major hurdle to overcome -- funding the project.

Where would the money come from, he wondered. He lay awake nights, worrying, thinking, praying about how he could find the funds to fulfill his commitment of feeding 1,000 of the city's poorest individuals on Christmas Day. As he pondered the issue, his thoughts drifted back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England. He remembered how at Stage Landing, where the boats came in, there was a large, iron kettle called "Simpson's Pot" into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.
The next day Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, "Keep the Pot Boiling." He soon had the money to see that the needy people were properly fed at Christmas.
Six years later, the kettle idea spread from the west coast to the Boston area. That year, the combined effort nationwide resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy. In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first mammoth sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a custom that continued for many years. Today in the U.S., The Salvation Army assists more than four-and-a-half million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time periods.
Captain McFee's kettle idea launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but all across the world. Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile and many European countries. Everywhere, public contributions to Salvation Army kettles enable the organization to continue its year-round efforts at helping those who would otherwise be forgotten.
When I was growing up, Christmas and the holidays were connected to "the Red Kettle". Putting a dollar into the Red Kettle made me feel like I was part of something bigger. It made me feel special, like my dollar was going to become the "magic dollar" that helped to change a life. Sometimes Santa's helpers would be ringing the bell next to the kettle, which always prompted questions about Santa, Christmas Magic, and how the heck was Santa going to see every kid in the world on Christmas Eve. 

And now, a little Christmas Holiday Magic, courtesy of the Internet.

What is the Online Red Kettle campaign?
The Salvation Army Red Kettles have been an American tradition since 1891, helping raise financial support for critical Salvation Army programs and services year round.  This campaign allows you to host your own Red Kettle - online.  You become a vital part of the Christmas holiday efforts when you help those in need by hosting an Online Red Kettle and filling it with donations from family, friends and colleagues.

What type of Online Red Kettles are available?
Individual Kettle - An Individual Kettle is your own personal online kettle where you can invite others to donate. 
Team Kettle - A Team Kettle consists of multiple Individual Kettles.  Funds raised by each Individual Kettle within the Team Kettle are combined and reflected on the Team Kettle page.
Company Kettle - A Company Kettle consists of multiple Team Kettles.  Funds raised by each Team within the Company Kettle are combined and reflected on the Company Kettle page.  Individual Kettles can also directly join and support a fundraiser for a Company Kettle without being a part of a Team.

Remember how you felt as a kid, putting that single dollar in the Red Kettle?  Thinking how that dollar was going to make a difference, and how that dollar was going to make someone happy? Remember how it felt to be "empowered" to make a difference, even as a little kid? You will still see this magic today if you look for it - parents giving dollars to their children, to let them put the money into the Red Kettle. Everyone is happy in that moment, the parents, the children and of course all of Santa's Helpers as in that moment, everyone is in alignment. Everyone is living the spirit of the holiday, standing next to that Red Kettle. 
It is good to put money into the Red Kettle, but watching a child do it, that is really special. You know exactly what that child is thinking as the money drops into that magical Red Kettle guarded by Santa and his helpers. 
It just does not get any better than this, does it? 
I would ask you to prayerfully consider putting a Red Kettle on your website. Or sending out a email to promote your own Red Kettle. Want to make it even better? Get your kids involved. What a great family project for the holidays. I guarantee you that you will feel wonderful, and empowered to make a difference, just like you did when you are a little kid.  
And remember, Santa is always watching.