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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How To Take Advantage of the Internet

"How To Take Advantage of the Internet," at the Arlington Business Council's Spring Networking Lunch April 8th, 11:30 - 1:00 will be examining how to use the Internet to drive local business.

You will learn how the Internet is becoming a potent force for directed, targeted business growth, and how business owners can take a direct role increasing their results from the Internet.

Please join us as the Spring Networking Lunch is always a lot of fun! Details at

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Julie Perlmutter – Channeling Ada

Today (March 24, 2010) is Ada Lovelace Day, a global celebration honoring women in technology.

This is the second year for the event, which is celebrated by blogging about your favorite woman in technology.

My favorite, is Julie Perlmutter, who introduces thousands of people to new technology with her Web Managers Roundtable. She enjoys the tribe and the celebration part of the organization, and is a pure technological agnostic, sometimes amused and sometimes bored by the intellectual heat and language of her partisan zealots.

Over the years, Julie has let us watch the Internet mature from a ringside seat.

I don’t think she ever met a technology she didn’t like, if the people said they wanted to have a meeting to learn about it. We’ve learned important things from big companies, small companies, idealists, and dreamers. We’ve learned about how it is, how it should be, and how it might be.

Julie’s core audience are the managers of the top 100 transaction websites in the Washington DC area.

This year, we put up a LinkedIn Group to augment the meetings. She must be doing something right because we average 100 people per meeting and we have over a thousand members on the Web Managers Roundtable LinkedIn Group, from all over the world.

Ada persists!

Monday, March 22, 2010

“People don’t want more information, they want the minimum information they need to understand a topic.”

(Matt Thompson quoted on Twitter)

I Googled Matt and found this quote,
“Time to stop breaking the news and start fixing it.”

What I learned from his sites: Time is just one way to measure news, and newspapers lose to electronic media if timeliness is the standard. However, another perspective for news is context or usefulness.

Imagine if that was the standard. It might save or, better yet, transform the news industry. Maybe that is already starting.

Useful thinking about many things that are affected by technology.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Why We Comment

Commenting is an honor and a privilege. What readers often don’t realize is how much they can add to a post by commenting.

The old model was “broadcast.” Your radio, television, or newspaper communicated “at” you. The result was lowest common denominator news, education, and entertainment.

In 1999, the Cluetrain Manifesto started with “All Markets Are Conversations” (meaning two-way), and the genie was out of the bottle. Today, those traditional broadcast channels are adding conversational opportunities to halt their audience erosion.

Most of the comments I get on my posts expand and enrich my understanding of each subject. I am grateful.

When I see comments on other blogs, they usually increase the believability of a post while adding new data.

Commenting is an acquired skill. We get better with practice. Commenting seldom takes much effort, and a thoughtful comment improves understanding.

In the future, when you have the opportunity, please comment.

Might as well start here! *grin*

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cirque du Soleil's social media balancing act

A post by Jennifer Leggio, ZDNet

How Cirque du Soleil is using a mix of blogger relations and social network outreach to help grow attendance for all of its home and traveling shows.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Support Your Local Heroes

Last week at the AlexChamber Government Contractors Forum, Monica Bell gave a textbook recipe for how to restart a company in this ugly economy.

I read a lot and talk with many people and it was the first time I had heard the way she did it. Her solution had already worked and was something I could do.

Greg Linas had a unique strategy for almost eliminating bid and proposal costs while improving customer satisfaction and cash flow.

Tom Lantz had the best template for choosing what to emphasize about your company that I have ever seen.

Everybody stopped to catch their breath and Joe Shumard asked who people would like to learn from in the future?

POTUS, SecDef, Agency Secretaries, and CIOs were desired.

I’ve been lucky to work for several federal CIOs, and in every case they would say, “Dick, tell your people not to come to sell me, tell them to sell my people. I don’t have budget, projects, or interest. Being sold is not my job.”

If you don’t know what you are doing, go high.

When I’m selling, I know that a customer has a much closer point of view to a prospect than the salesperson does. Stands to reason that to learn how to improve your business, you probably will learn more from people improving their businesses than from potential customers.

While supporting several organizations I have learned that I would much rather hear from someone I know and care about than some guy from out of town carrying a skinny briefcase.

Acres of wisdom all around us and we want to go see the Queen.

If you don’t know what you are doing, go high.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nat Boxer

This morning I read Nat Boxer died (on LinkedIn). He was 84, had won his Oscar, and from what I read, still boogieing on, making the world a better place.

I could say he was my favorite college professor, or the only one I remember, or the one I think about a couple of times a month, but I realized he is my hero, a model for what I think a man should be.

Nat was a working cinema soundman, past president of his Union Local in NYC, when he came to teach in upstate New York, rumored to be chilling out after a divorce.

Nat was usually amused and spent a lot of time listening to other people. He knew a lot, and if you asked him, he would give you his opinion. If you didn’t like his opinion, he didn’t much care.

He had an inexhaustible list of things he wanted to do, now that he had the time. He would just announce he was doing something and ask if anyone wanted to help. I remember getting up in the dark and tramping through the fields because Nat wanted to do a time-lapse film of a sunrise. I think we did it more than once as his concept matured.

Somehow his students were always making things - movies, books, pictures, scripts, whatever they wanted. A few of us started following Fred Keller, and we began making commercial films. I saw “One Old Man” was playing at 2 am on a Baltimore television station a few years ago. That would be over 30 years after we made it.

Nat was magical in that we were not talking about doing things, or what they meant, we were always making. We made movies, music, scripts, books, pictures, equipment, whatever was needed for a project.

I remember driving 400 miles on weekend to get the pre-release camera battery packs the press was taking for Nixon in China. Somehow we had them first.

I asked him once about his take on men and women. He thought for a minute, then said, “Sometimes things don’t work out.”

I remember one time we were screening a finished film. The customer loved it. It had pictures, music, acting, great editing. A new, academic cinema professor was an invited guest. Film finishes, lights come up, he says, “Well, it’s good, Fred. But is it Art?”

That was the difference with Nat Boxer. We did more than we ever had, at a higher level, and when it was over, we started something else. What was “Art” was decided by somebody else.

Four months after I graduated, I came back to see him. I had some work success and built a truck for my guitars and carpenter tools and was going to take my Grand Tour. We talked and at one point I asked, “What should I do with the rest of my life, Nat?”

He said, “I have no idea, but I need you in Lake Tahoe as soon as you can get there. I’m flying out tonight. We’re doing some work for Coppola.”

So I hustled across Route 80 and worked on the filming of Connie’s Wedding at the Kaiser Estate for the Godfather series. I had some amateur skills and appreciated watching a professional crew. As Nat’s friend I was expected to help wherever I was needed.

The Key Grip (head of the carpenters) made a call and gave me a letter to take to the Business Agent of the union local in LA. We broke camp and I never spoke to Nat again.

I never knew of anything Nat Boxer wanted that he didn’t have. He took big joy in making the most of what was in front of him.

I’m not going to miss him, as I have been listening to him every time I make something instead of talk about it, every time I accept or encourage someone else.

Goodbye my friend.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Optimization or Maximization?

Last week we competed in the Amateur Rum Internationals in Nassau.

Went diving with a couple from England. Chris had been a dairy farmer for over twenty years, then ten years ago he looked at the economics of dairy farming in England and decided there weren’t any.

Took his buildings and converted them into “workshops.” Took two years to figure out the business, another couple of years to pay back the loans. Now he’s a prosperous landlord.

I asked him what was the best thing he had learned while changing his business so completely.

He answered right away. “The secret is optimization, not maximization.”

I was blank.

He grinned and continued, “It’s more important to keep the properties occupied than it is to get maximum payout on the occupied units. I concentrate on keeping my tenants.”

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Two Weeks to Ada Lovelace Day '10! Sign up today!

Last year, Suw Charman-Anderson started Ada Lovelace Day so people could honor their favorite girl geek. She wasn't going to do it unless she got 1,000 posts. She got almost 2,000.

I wrote a short piece about Julie at The Webmanagers Roundtable, and later noticed she was tied with Marissa Mayer, Princess Googly, one all. Go figure.

On the day there is an amazing amount of good stuff going around the blogosphere, reminding me of a balloon convention in Taos.

Pledge today and write a post in two weeks about your favorite girl geek and you will be a part of a global experience.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why Open Source CMS is Important

The Web Managers Roundtable is presenting Open Source Content Management Systems: Panacea or Pandora’s Box? A Critical Evaluation of Open Source Content Management & Lessons Learned from's Open Source Initiative on April 25th. Event Summary

Disclosure - Julie, who runs the WMR has been a protégé for over 15 years, and Tony Byrne, the moderator, is a friend and teacher who started CMS Watch.

This morning, Julie asked me, “Why is Open Source important?”

Open Source is a major software development paradigm. Strengths are most code comes from adapting already proven modules of code, which speeds development and that code can be developed by large groups of interested coders communicating over the internet.

It’s a flat management model, where the people driving the projects are usually the best coders.

Problems are that the average code is not that good. However, you don’t use the average code, you use the best code for your project, so open source is known for high quality, rapidly improving products.

Having abundant excellent code has changed the software business model. Why and how code is purchased is changing. My key observation is it is not the cost, but how well the software supports the customer and mission that is the big advantage.

It takes a while, but once a customer organization realizes there is no one to blame, they get focused on getting what they want.

When code is no longer scarce, how do you build a your business? This reuse of proven parts is not limited to software, but that is where it started.

Makers, a near future business fantasy by Cory Doctorow, extends open source management to manufacturing and design, medicine, communication, and other industry verticals. Makers is a great book.

Open source software is already the plumbing of the internet.

It is a key advantage for many billion dollar businesses.

Understanding the state of open source content management systems is a key to future-proofing your web presence.

Comments, Ideas, Observations?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ben’s Blocks

I think we are in a time of discontinuous change. Stands to reason we should be managing for that.

My friend Ben, my longest running client, doesn’t make sales…he creates markets.

Over the past fifteen years he has done that several times, usually when forced by collapsing employers.

He called the other day and said, “Since we last met, I’ve been getting a handle on the block.” First time I heard the word “block.” I think it is entirely appropriate because we don’t find new fields of opportunity, we find opportunities that have stopped everyone who came before.

So as we prepare for another blockbuster, here’s what I see:

Step One – Realizing he has to create a new market. Usually caused by dissatisfaction or collapse somewhere else in his organization.

Step Two – Getting wishes, expectations, and requirements from his employer. Has to be addressed, usually a waste of time, because we have seen again and again that the provider doesn’t know the market requirements, the buyer does.

Step Three – Defining the opportunity. After reflection, Ben will say, “You know, we have this…but the customer wants this…if we do this…we may have something good.”

Step Four – I was once told me my idea of innovation is to go ask ten people I respect what they think about my new idea. He nailed it. For Ben, the next step is putting his ideas on a piece of paper and taking them to his existing customers for improvement. He always gets insightful changes that make perfect sense.

Step Five – Ramming those changes through his employer. The biggest problem is, “We’re not doing it that way.” The second biggest problem is, “That’s not going to work.”

Ben focuses for months, years, finds the people who can make the changes, then finds the people who can approve the changes, and carefully sells each one.

One time he took a Fortune 50 Company from measuring value in eighths of a dollar to tenths of a dollar and created a multi-billion dollar business on the Internet.

Step Six (The part we all love) – Living in the avalanche, leading a business that grows faster than any other part of the organization.

Step Seven – Defending the business from management “refinements” and HR “balancing the compensation curve.”

Step One – Realizing he has to create a new market. Usually caused by dissatisfaction or collapse somewhere else in his organization.

Been there? Done that?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Gary Vaughan's Blog

Gary Vaughan is a retired career FSO, now a Sharepoint guru at the Department of State. We are college classmates.

At lunch last month we were discussing the way Microsoft and open source tools are being used for similar tasks on the social web.

One output was his commitment to increase his blogging frequency.

The second was his post, "Dick Davies Blogging Approach with Open Source Tools" where he explores syndication to extend the reach of an individual blog.