jennifer on June 24, 2012

One of the things I enjoy about all of our connectivity is the ability to be anywhere on the globe……virtually. Many of you know I am a big fan of the LeWeb conferences that Loic Le Meur puts on in Paris  every year. I may not make it to Paris, but thanks to live video streaming I can be part of each event live or catch all the recorded action later. For the first time in it’s history LeWeb was also held in London this year.

There are always plenty of big announcements from web/tech/social network companies. There are also many big ideas being shared. This year the one session I was surprised by was by Alec Ross, Senior Advisor for Innovation, Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What really took me was his statement that, “The 21st Century is a terrible time to be a control freak.” The fact that he works for government and had this understanding of just how much the world has changed was refreshing to say the least.

Please note this is not a pro or con political post. I am private when it comes to polarizing topics like politics and as such tend to keep my views to myself.

I do hope you will watch and share your thoughts on the drastic change “control freaks” in the workplace and government are undergoing in the 21st Century.

 

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jennifer on February 13, 2012

Last week I did something that happens across coffee shops all across America. I had a meeting at a Starbucks. This isn’t groundbreaking news or really worth discussing except for what happened for the 2+ hours I sat inside this particular Starbucks.

Let me set the stage: It was 4pm on a cold winter afternoon. Seating inside was at a premium while outdoor seating was abandoned for the warmer interior. There was really nothing that would set this Starbucks apart from any of the others around town. Several tables had folks holding meetings while others were occupied by solo laptop folks. Once our group found a corner to occupy for our meeting, it was time to get a cup of coffee….or so I thought. Turns out this particular Starbucks water heating system was not working. This means that there were no hot drinks to be had on this day. No regular coffee, no lattes, no espresso drinks not even a hot tea could be had by patrons. The only drinks being offered were Frappuccinos and iced drinks. This is what was available on a cold day.

When it comes to coffee or lack thereof you would expect folks to be frustrated, upset or even angry. You can probably envision folks grumbling and complaining about a coffee shop that is unable to provide it’s core product. So, what do you think the reactions are by the people coming in to order a hot drink on a cold day? Let me share with you the encounters I overheard:

#1.

Barista: “Ma’am, all we have are Frappuccinos.”

Elderly Woman:  “Oh, I’ve never tried a Frappuccino before. Let me give it a try.”

#2.

Barista: “Ma’am, we are out of non-fat milk. Are you ok with whole milk?”

Young Lady: “That’ll be fine.”

#3.

Barista: “Oh, I’m sorry sir. Turns out we are out of that flavor. Would you like to try something else?”

Older Man: “No, not really.”

Barista: “Ok, would you like your money back?”

Man: “No, why don’t you keep it as a tip. You guys always work so hard.”

Barista: “Really? Thank you very much, sir.”

Are you as stunned as I am? I can tell you that in my time there, I did not hear a single complaint. I heard surprise, “You’re out of coffee?” and “Oh wow, must be tough for you guys right now” type comments. Not a single person raised their voice or stormed out in disgust.

In case you missed it in #2 & #3, this Starbucks was out of certain milk and flavors as well as no wifi and bathrooms that needed toilet paper refilling. Yet, everyone who came in took it all in stride. I was perplexed by this until it occurred to me that the people who frequent this Starbucks are regulars. They have probably been coming here for some time, know the folks behind the counter and have had excellent customer service and been on the receiving end of their expected quality coffee drinks. Because of this patrons were understanding about something going wrong. They were willing to overlook a coffee shop with no coffee. But only because this Starbucks had built up a bank of trust with these customers. So that when everything went wrong, they could draw upon that trust to see them through their temporary crisis.  It was quite the epiphany and had me thinking about how every business could learn from this story.

I did eventually get a hot coffee before leaving but only because another Starbucks sent over two of their large carafes full of Pikes Peek drip coffee. Which was another learning moment. Be there for your partners when they need it. You never know when the tables will turn and it will you in crisis mode.

So, on this day a Starbucks with no coffee, no wifi that was running out of ingredients taught me about building a bank of trust with customers and the importance of having partners to support you in times of crisis.

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jennifer on January 26, 2012

By now we all know that social should be a part of your overall awareness/research/customer service plan. We also know that increasingly customers are discovering your business through apps on their mobile devices. Local search has always been important and is enhanced when tied into Social and Mobile.

When you tie all the aspects of Social, Local and Mobile aka SoLoMo together you get the trifecta of visibility, discoverability and engagement.

For your entertainment, here is the theme song for SoLoMo:

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jennifer on January 5, 2012

Image by Rachael Towne

Image by Rachael Towne
The Mayans said the world was going to end in 2012. What did they know? I don’t know and I really don’t care. Call me the Ebenezer Scrooge of the New Year. Except instead of “Bah-humbug!” I say, “Meh”.  As in, who knows if that ancient civilization was right? Who knows if it will happen at all? What can we do about it?

I have an answer for that: Absolutely nothing.

There isn’t a thing we can do if the world is going to stop for humanity. If a dinosaur killing meteorite comes plummeting to our planet or if Aliens decide to go postal on us or if Mother Nature decides it has had enough and we suffer through another dark age. The fact is there just isn’t a thing we can do about it. So why worry?

Go about your business. Pursue the work that makes your heart sing. Let the people you care about know it.  Take the time to look up and see the beauty around you. Appreciate the wonder that is life. Smell those roses and all that jazz. In other words, live your life like you do every year but maybe with a little more kindness.

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Photo by BrightRoom

My viewpoint on the 22 mile Bike Tour portion of the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon & ½ Marathon. Our group was the first out of the gate at 6:45am. The weather was foggy but still cool. I am relatively new to biking and had never done a bike tour before. The energy and support along the route was fantastic. I’ve run three 1/2 Marathons before (2 being RnR-Pheonix 2004 & SA in 2008). My perspective of the event was that there was a lot of support along the route. Many Medical tents/staff, drink stations, emergency personnel and of course folks cheering us on.

I was saddened to hear about the death of Jorge Fernandez. Aside from that tragedy, I have also read some of the complaints from folks on the RnR Facebook page and inside this Express-News article. One of the things that comes to mind is that perhaps a staggered volunteer and supply schedule should be considered for next year’s event. That way folks who are in the last portion of the event can still receive the same kind of attention as the folks who are in the first half of finishers.

I am by no means a fast runner or biker. I’m more of a slow and steady gal. However, I have always found support at the RnR events to be outstanding. It is my hope that we can all learn from this experience to make an even better event next year.

Congratulations to everyone who got up early to personally challenge themselves on a warm Sunday in November. Pat yourselves on the back for running/walking/biking to raise money for a worthy cause.

Special thanks to Richard Oliver for allowing me to be a part of the San Antonio Express-News article.

UPDATE: Here are my notes to the organizers of the event from their survey request of my Bike Tour experience.

“Kudos:
Really enjoyed my first ever Bike Tour. Your event has motivated me to participate in other bike tours.
•Fantastic support by volunteers and emergency crews Thanks.
•Really liked being able to Bike Valet. What an awesome experience with the folks from Bike World. Smiling and joking around with us at both drop off and pick up. 2 Thumbs up on Bike Valet service.

Critiques:
•More announcer mentions of Bike Tour (we felt like the proverbial “red-headed step-children” to the Full & 1/2 Marathon.
•Have all bands on stage for event. It was a bit disappointing to ride by stages that were empty.
* Have a bit of a longer exit area at the finish line. As soon as we crossed the finish there was a lady yelling at us to ” SLOW DOWN AND GET OFF YOUR BIKES!” <- A big buzz kill to the euphoria you are feeling for completing the 22 mile course. A longer exit area would allow us time to slow down without having someone yelling at us.
• More photographers at the finish. There was only 1 shot of me during the race and none of me crossing the finish line. I hammed it up by raising both my arms up as my sign of accomplishment. Imagine my disappointment when the photographer who was taking the finish pics didn’t capture that moment.

On a side note, I did hear from lots of folks where were in “last to finish” groups of both bikers and runners who did not receive the same level of support as the folks that finished in the first half. Here is a suggestion: Why not stagger your volunteers and supplies? That way everyone gets the full experience from start to finish?

Overall I am thrilled with my Bike Tour experience. I’ve run 2 of your 1/2 Marathon’s before (Pheonix 04 and SA in 08) and have been very happy with the RnR experience.”

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jennifer on November 1, 2011
National Podcast Post month Logo

NaPodPoMo

Today marks the beginning of the audio marathon I call NaPodPoMo or National Podcast Post Month. Over the course of the next 30 days podcasters from around the globe will be podcasting daily with the goal of having 30 podcasts completed by November 30th.

This is the 5th year we have done NaPodPoMo. I use this monthly long audio recording frenzy as an opportunity to try new things. From platforms to tools to style to shows I call it my experimentation time. Some experiments work out beautifully and continue on such as Tech in Twenty from year 2 while others go the way of the dodo like my effort in year 3. Regardless of the success rate of my experiments the one thing that holds true is that I learn something new each time.

For many folks who have been curious about podcasting this is a great opportunity to learn. With a podcast due each and everyday the learning curve is fast. No time to freak out about a less than stellar performance. Chalk it up to experience and put your game face on for the next day’s show. One thing that is always true is that your 30th podcast will be markedly improved from your day 1 podcast.

For veteran podcasters, NaPodPomo is the opportunity to recapture the love of the audio medium. There is no doubt that folks who started podcasting in the early days 2004-2006 love audio. Recording a podcast has never been easier with all the mobile apps and online services at our fingertips. Discovering new tools to do recording, editing and posting is exciting and fun.

Whatever the reason you are joining us for this year’s NaPodPoMo challenge, I welcome you into the fold. My advice is to forgive yourself quickly and enjoy the journey.

Cheers!

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When I ran over a giant bolt in the road on a hot 103°F Summer afternoon I had no idea I was about to learn that customer service is alive and well. We all moan and grown that customer service is a thing of the past. I just had an experience that caused me to rethink my own pessimism.

Driving on a hot summer day I noticed a large bolt in the road. I made attempts to avoid it however, it was all in vain as I pull over with a flat tire. Luckily I was able to park in a strip center with large shady oak trees. Being a long time subscriber of AT&T Road Side Assistance I immediately called them. For $2.99/month I am able to call upon them up to 4x a year for towing up to 10 miles. I scheduled a pick up with a tow to Discount Tires. The tires were covered under road hazard warranty which meant other than time, there wouldn’t be any out of pocket expenses on my part.

I surfed the web at the strip center Starbucks while enjoying a Mocha Frappucino. A nice way to spend the 40 minute-1 hour anticipated wait. Imagine my surprise when the tow truck arrived in less than 30 minutes. He was a nice fellow who was a football fan which meant a fun and  lively discussion-filled drive to Discount Tires.

Bottled Water from Discount Tire

Discount Tire Bottled Water

Once at Discount Tires, I was met by a friendly staff member who was so nice he made me feel like I was part of their family. Sitting in the waiting room allowed me to see that they treated everyone in the same manner. I have spent time in waiting rooms before but have never enjoyed it so much. I was able to see that the jovial staff take care of both entering customers and answer phone calls. They smiled, were nice and professional. When they came around and offered us all bottled water for being so patient while we waited for our cars, I had to shake my head in amazement. Who were these people?  Why wasn’t every other business studying this company and using it as a customer service model?

I left there with an appreciation for what a difference fantastic customer service can do. A giant bolt in my tire could have ruined my day. Instead I was actually glad it happened. This experience restored my faith in customer service. Something I thought was long gone in the modern age.

Shout out to AT&T Roadside Assistance, the fast towing company (wish I could remember your name) and Discount Tires at 2707 NW Loop 410  San Antonio, TX 78230 (210) 341-7752. Your excellent service made a believer in me. Thank you.

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jennifer on July 22, 2011

It’s only been out for a few weeks, but already Google+ has taken the tech and social media community by storm. Bold statements like, “I Have Moved” and “I’m Leaving Facebook” have been touted from many an early adopter geek. I’ll admit my foray into the Google+ or G+ as we now refer to it has been very exciting. It is a clean and simple network. Yet in that simplicity is something quite refreshing and complex.

The ability to further define who is in your network via Circles is the first piece that grabs your attention. Most social networks categorize the people you are connected to as friends. Some of them allow you create lists and groups for some separation but it has been clunky and cumbersome to navigate in networks like Facebook. One cool feature is the ability to put your connections in multiple circles. For example my husband and sister are in a family circle but they are also in a friend circle. Making it easy to share things that are family specific with them only and also share more general posts that are for friends.

G+ comes with a 10 person video chat feature called Hang Out built right into the web interface. Nothing to download or pay for. You can create public hang outs or have a private hang out for family, friends or dare I even say it, clients. Features like this are not new, but are typically found in higher end paid premium products. In Google+ it is free. One thing I found even more exciting was that the person speaking is highlighted within the group video chat. It is really quite the nice touch.

The mobile app (which was just released on the iPhone this week) has an additional feature which is sure to make your next event a richer experience. Huddle is group text-like messaging very similar to the way GroupMe works. I have used GroupMe with much success at events like SXSW. It makes communication between your friends who may be dispersed over many panels and buildings a simple group conversation experience. We were able to meet during breaks and lunch using GroupMe. Huddle works much in the same manner except without having to worry about text charges which unless you have an unlimited plan (like me) could be a problem.

At this stage of the Google+ project limited field test, there are only personal profiles available which leaves business on the outside looking in. There were several businesses who took the leap into G+ setting up their companies using the personal profile accounts. Google has stated there is a corporate profile version in the works with an anticipated release later this year. They have begun suspending accounts that were created for business with a promise to launch the corporate version soon. In a recnet TechCrunch interview, Google continues to say they are in a limited release with access to Google+ being by existing member invite only. Although with a 10 Million+ existing user base within just a few weeks into it’s limited release, they said they were surprised at how successful the network has been achieving a faster than expected audience.

Google+ is not open to the general public at this time, but if the early adopters raving reviews are any indication, this looks it could be the next big social network. What does this mean for giant behemoth Facebook? I wouldn’t sing a swan song for Mark Zuckerberg and his crew just yet.  With close to 700 million folks on Facebook, Google’s 10 million is a long way from taking down the giant in the social networking world. Given that there is currently not a way for business and enterprise to participate in the space and being closed to the public leaves Google+ still the social playground of the early adopter geeks.

I for one am glad to be part of the “kick the tires” Google+ crowd. It is reminiscent of the early days of social media ‘ala 2007 Twitter. Speaking of Twitter, how does the ‘little network that could’ fare against the fickle shiny object crowd? Twitter is facing some internal challenges as they expand and grow. There have been more than one Google+ user state that their use of Twitter has diminished considerable with their increased use of Google+. Twitter does offer something no other network does, Chats. With over 400 Twitter chats listed, there is no shortage of folks who engage on twitter en masse. Personally, I am a big fan of the 140 character network and hope that it continues to be a relavent space for meaningful connections.

Are you using Google+? If so, share your thoughts and reactions to the newest network to take the social community by storm.

 

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jennifer on May 4, 2011

Being a space that is not limited to 4 walls, city limits, state or country boundaries makes for lots of fun and interesting opportunities. From speaking engagements, to local trade shows to incredible travel opportunities where I have the added bonus of meeting people far and wide.

Media Fuse's Social Media Powered Business Trip sponsored by Rhea Perry's Educating For Success Conference

Recently I have traveled on a Social Media Powered Business Trip to showcase the power of a smartphone to do every single bit of business and multimedia while on the go. My travels took me from my home base in San Antonio, TX to Destin, FL where I was a speaker at the Educating For Success Home Business Conference. This coincided with the launch of a new company that my partner, Jackie Adame and I launched called Media Fuse. It is a company focused on Modern Marketing Practices, Mobile Tools and Social Media. Here is a sneak peek of what happened during the trip: I was able to visit with the online and social media team behind the highly successful Beaumont Convention and Visitors Bureau campaigns.  I also met with prolific foodie video blogger Daniel Delaney of What’s This Food at a neighborhood coffee shop in New Orleans. An interview with Tom Martin and Kami Huyse on my return trip helped to complete the adventure. A full synopsis of the trip which allowed me to interview folks I had never met before who were doing some amazing things in the social space can be found on Media Fuse. If you’ve been wondering how hard it is to use mobile tools for your business, let me give you a hint: It wasn’t.

 

Social Media Lounge at the San Antonio Manufacturing Association Trade Show. Photo courtesy of Larry Lentz aka @CRMLarry

For the last couple of years I have successfully hosted “Social Media Lounges” at trade shows. The main goal being to show business folks just how easy it is to use the social and mobile tools for their business. From live video stream interviews to audio interviews via a smartphone. The tools are simple but extremely effective. Interviews for my most recent shows at Innotech San Antonio and the San Antonio Manufacturer Association’s Trade Show can be found here and here.

There are some more exciting projects  in the works which I will be sharing with you soon. Things that are in the early stages but exciting none the less. If you have some fun things you are doing in the social space let me hear from you. I enjoy hearing success stories and the unique ways folks are using all the tools at our fingertips.

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jennifer on April 4, 2011

One of the cool things about being so active in this space are the opportunities that come my way. In a recent interview with George and Paula Roberts about Fitness and Social Media, the idea for a Fitness Tweetup was born. We all know that spending an inordinate amount of time on sedentary tasks leads to a phenomenon called “Blogger Butt”. Sheila Scarborough coined this term a few years back when she began to notice that as her online persona was becoming more widely known her behind followed suit. She is not alone in the observation. Many of us who spend most of our lives online have noticed our own “widening and expanding” presence.

There have been all kinds of tweetups around various topics: Networking, Drinking, Cupcakes, Movies, Entertainment, Comedy, Sneak Peeks, etc… However, I had never heard or seen a Fitness Tweetup. I RSVP’d for my first ever Fitness Tweetup with a little bit of trepidation. I’ve done a few 1/2 Marathon’s (13.1 miles) and can run on a treadmill for anywhere from 2-5 miles, but I am not in what I would consider “fighting shape”. Would I show up to a room of hard bodies? Would the instructors take a look at me and go into drill sergeant mode? I imagined Gunny yelling in my face demanding, “Drop and give me 20!” and any other number of scenarios in which I was likely to fail.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that although the 30 minute workout at the Fitness Tweetup was challenging, it was something a newbie like myself could do. By no means was I graceful, but by the end of 30 minutes I was sweaty and felt a sense of accomplishment. The workout was comprised of simple but effective moves and changed up so much and so often that before I had time to realize it, we were done. For me the hardest part of the entire workout was the Yoga Warmup.

Over the next couple of days I pondered the effectiveness of a Fitness Tweetup. Could this be something the geek and social media community could benefit from? The answer for me was a resounding, “Yes!” Even my husband who does weekly bike rides of 17-20 miles with the Otra Vez Biking and Adventure Club felt the soreness over the next couple of days. It really gave me food for thought when someone who I consider physically fit says, “Man, that was a workout”.

I admire this new and innovative approach to fitness and the online social community which George and Paula Roberts have embarked on.  I encourage folks to join them for their next Fitness Tweetup. It’s the kind of event we can all benefit from both physically and mentally which has a long-tail impact for the years to come.

Here is an interview I did with George, Paula and John post workout:

 

 

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