Donating my birthday to charity: water

When is the last time you drank clean water? Probably today. Certainly within the last 24 hours. You showered and brushed your teeth with clean water this morning.

There are 1 billion people on the earth who don’t have access to clean water.

charity: water is changing that. Please take a few minutes to watch the following video.

charity: water 2010 September Campaign: Clean Water for the Bayaka from charity: water on Vimeo.

Here’s the deal. In four days, on September 20th, I turn 34 years old. I don’t need any more “stuff”. Most of us don’t. The U.S. storage unit industry does over $20 billion in annual revenue. So I’m donating my birthday to charity: water.

I’m also donating my dad’s birthday, although he doesn’t know it yet. You see, we share a birthday. I was born on his birthday back in 1976. I didn’t come gift-wrapped but he kept me anyway.

You can read all of the details on my campaign page here.
http://bit.ly/letsdrillawell

Our goal is to raise $5,000, which is enough for charity: water to build a well that will provide a village of 250 people with clean water for years.

$5000 buys a well. And it is an attainable goal. What is $5000?

$5 from 1000 people.
$10 from 500 people.
$20 from 250 people.
$50 from only 100 people.

We can do this.

On charity: water’s site, you can download photos, watch and share videos, blog banners and twitter backgrounds. I just updated mine. (Free marketing lesson from charity: water – make it easy for your tribe to share your message.)

So please, donate. Spread the word. Email friends. Tweet it. Post it on Facebook.

If you have a September birthday, start your own campaign.

The short link is:
http://bit.ly/letsdrillawell

Thank you.

Survival of Ideas

Darwin was right.

So is Federov.

2 sites to upgrade your e-cards

If you’re sending someone a card, whether physical or digital, the goal should be to trigger an emotion.

Isn’t that why we send cards?

If that’s not the reason, it’s just a selfish act on the sender’s part to communicate that they did remember the recipient’s birthday/graduation/Bat Mitzvah.

So if triggering an emotion is the goal, why do so many cards fail to do so? Between physical stores and e-card sites, there are tens of thousands of card options, yet maybe 1% are written well enough to trigger an emotion?

99% look something like this.

Really? Who sends cards like this?

(To be fair, I guess this card does trigger an emotion with me, but it’s not the desired one.)

Well in my never-ending quest to serve you, my brilliant and attractive Daily Sense readers, I have researched and found two sites to use to permanently upgrade your e-cards.

Someecards
This site is brilliant. The humor is often sarcastic and crass, something you would expect when one of the co-founders is a former writer for The Onion. Not all cards are safe to send to grandma, but it’s easy to find the perfect card to remind a friend or significant other of that inside joke or funny memory.

One of my favorite things about someecards.com is that users can customize their own cards and submit to the site. Leveraging the Wisdom of Crowds, The Editor’s Picks in the User Cards section are often some of the best.

Story People
This is the site of artist Brian Andreas. Story People is much more than e-cards. Brian has built a nice little empire out of his inspirational snippets and whimsical artwork. You can browse the entire collection, creating your own e-cards by combining any of the text with any of the images. You can also order the physical prints for framing and other products.

The Story People cards are often amazing and emotionally moving.

[The full "Hi, Mom" disclaimer: My mother originally introduced me to Story People and she's been a fan for a long time. As always, all credit goes to her.]

Use these two sites to save you from ever sending another forgettable e-card.

I’m sure there are more than just these two. What other sites have emotion-triggering e-cards?

Vinny the Linchpin won’t let you make a waffle

(Seth Godin’s new book, “Linchpin – Are you Indispensible?” just hit the New York Times bestseller list. It’s an amazing, life-changing book and my review is coming soon. If you don’t know the term Linchpin yet, you will. Until then, read this. Now, on to Vinny)

You don’t have to be an artist or a musician or a creative to be a Linchpin.

Sometimes all it takes is a waffle.

My client Altec Lansing is based in Milford, Pennsylvania and when I’m there, I stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Matamoras.

There is a self serve breakfast buffet just like at every Hampton Inn & Suites. Except this one isn’t like every one. And Vinny makes it so much more than self-serve.

I’ve only met Vinny three times but it only took once to realize what kind of guy he is. He waits on you hand and foot, transforming the experience from a self-serve breakfast buffet into a four-star restaurant.

Every time, Vinny enthusiastically lets me know what the hot dish of the day is. Sometimes it’s pancakes, sometimes it’s a eggs on a bagel sandwich. Vinny sells it and somehow, I’m always convinced it’s a good choice to start my day.

Vinny makes small talk if you’re interested but it’s never probing or bothersome.

Vinny insists on making your waffle for you, even though the machine is self-serve.

Vinny bustles around, making sure every item at the buffet is stocked completely at all times.

Vinny always wishes everyone a wonderful day but it’s his actions that ensure they start the day delighted.

Vinny doesn’t do his art only on good days. He does it every day.

It’s pretty clear Vinny doesn’t do this job for the money. He does it to give a gift and because he enjoys making people feel special.

To be a Linchpin, location doesn’t matter. Neither does title or how big your office is.

If Vinny can be a Linchpin working at a Hampton Inn & Suites breakfast buffet in Matamoras, what’s stopping you?

Tools for thrashing early

If you’re building something, it’s critical to thrash early. The biggest and loudest changes should be vocalized early on.

Everyone gets heard, opinions are out in the open and the design gets refined from there.

If it’s done right, there is little to no thrashing at the end and the project ships on time and on budget.

Here are two resources that will help if your project involves any kind of prototyping or wireframing.

Balsamiq
is a really neat online tool for creating and sharing mock ups.

If you’re more of a hardcopy person (I sometimes use both), Geek Chix has a super handy list of sketch templates you can print for wireframing.

Thrash early.

Ship on time.

Godspeed.

Best Business Books of 2009 – a list of lists

Beantown Web compiled a neat list of lists of the Best Business Books of 2009.

Congratulations to Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Their NYT bestselller Trust Agents made four of the lists.

I’m following Julien’s advice and trying to read one book a week in 2010. I am currently on track and have read some absolutely amazing books in January.

Reviews coming soon…

[photo credit: blu blue]

Woody Allen was right

Woody Allen used to say 90% of success in business was just showing up.

He’s right. Now more than ever.

In the social web, showing up is 90%. The other 10% is knowing what to do when you show up.

It doesn’t mean tweeting about your latest product or service or why someone should do business with you.

It means listening and engaging.

It means reacting quickly to negativity.

It means being generous. To a fault.

It means being transparent and building trust.

It means being a Connector.

It means being there before the sale.

It means being consistent and reliable.

Showing up isn’t hard but it’s critical. It means more than it ever has.

Reducing friction

There is a lot of friction in buying a new house. Agents. Lawyers. Notaries. More agents.

I recently helped design a social media campaign for a client. The campaign was less successful than it could have been because there was too much friction. The process to participate had too many hurdles and some people abandoned it before completing.

One of the most effective things to do to improve your business (not always the simplest but the most effective) is to remove as much friction as humanly possible.

Then remove a little more.

I know a lot of companies that ‘secret shop’ their competitors. Many should secret shop themselves first, with an open mind and a critical eye toward removing friction.

Mint.com beat Intuit’s Quickbooks because it was web-based, but they weren’t the first web-based money management system. A tool called Wesabe was around first. But to use Wesabe (back then), users had to download a .csv from their bank’s website and upload it to their Wesabe account. (I can’t fathom the meeting where that level of friction got approved.)

Friction killed Wesabe.

The lack of friction made Mint.com millions. $187m to be exact.

Netflix took share from Blockbuster by removing friction. With Blockbuster, you had to drive to the store. With Netflix, you just had to go to your mailbox. (Blockbuster quickly followed suit.)

Redbox is taking share from both by removing even more friction. With Redbox, you don’t need a mailbox or even an account.

Think of the amount of friction in a typical Verizon store. Now think of the lack of friction in an Apple store or a Chipotle or a Starbucks.

The simple act of not having to sign certain credit card transactions under $25 removes friction and saves both the retailer and the customer time, saving companies like McDonald’s and others millions of dollars.

Most airlines did a decent job of removing some friction with online check-in and handy touch-screen kiosks. Unfortunately, they stopped there.

Think of the loads of friction in a typical primary care doctor visit. My friend Jay Parkinson is completely reinventing health care delivery, and he’s doing so by removing friction from the process.

I can stop by my local dry-cleaner, leave my shirts on the front counter and smile and wave to the owner in the back. In three days, I come back and my shirts are clean with light starch.

If he can remove friction from his business, you can too, right?

The Same People

Do you constantly hang out with the same people?

The concept of Dunbar’s number is an interesting one. Recently, I have seen more discussion on it and how it relates to social connections.

In short, Dunbar suggests there’s an upper limit to the amount of relationships we can maintain. That number, for the record, is 150.

You can read much more about Dubnbar’s number at Wikipedia.

Mashable wrote about how it relates to Facebook.

Jacob Morgan wrote an interesting piece on how Dunbar’s number is irrelevant and the importance of weak ties.

Chris Brogan talks about beating Dunbar’s number.

Personally, I think it’s all very interesting, but since I’m not a Ph.D., I’m not going to add any scientific arguments to the fray. I’m going to bring it down a level.

If you always go to the same networking events, switch it up. Try some new ones. Meet some new people. Your current network won’t (really) exclude you and you’ll probably meet some new people and learn some new ideas.

If you have a big social network, go out of your way to meet some of them in person or “IRL” (In Real Life – a popular abbreviation on twitter). Often, some of the real-life contacts can introduce you to other real-life contacts.

I have a list of people I want to meet this year, in real life. Some are people I’ve connected with online, others I haven’t. Others are a handshake or two away. It’s an aggressive list but I’m confident I can get it done. To do so, I’ll have to pass on some networking events that are frequented by current friends. In the end, I think they’ll forgive me.

While I find Dunbar’s number interesting, I’m not particularly concerned about managing my 150. I’d much rather venture out and meet some remarkable new people.

Your new competition

Quick. Take 30 seconds and list your main competitors.

(don’t worry, I’ll wait)

Done?

Good.

Sorry, but your list is wrong.

Unless of course, you listed Zappos, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s, Netflix, The Container Store and Apple.

Your customers are doing business with these companies, who are constantly raising the bar on engagement and customer delight.

Every time your customer’s online order arrives earlier than expected from Zappos…

Every time your customer chuckles at a Southwest flight attendant who weaves humor into the emergency exit script…

Every time your customer feels a human connection with a checker in line at Trader Joe’s…

Every time your customer is glad that there are so many helpful colored shirts at the Apple Store…

It’s happening right now. Your customers are experiencing this kind of interaction (notice I didn’t say transaction) today.

The bar has been raised.

What are you going to do?

Crocodiles and free pizza

“With every drink order, you get a free pizza.”

It sounds crazy. Or at least backwards.

But that’s the deal at Crocodile Lounge in the Gramercy / East Village neighborhood of New York City. With every single drink order, you get a ticket for a free pizza. All the time.

It’s not just a story, it’s a story that spreads. Friends tell friends. Friends bring friends.

They tweet about it.

They Yelp about it.

They blog about it. A lot. Photo credit by Smack Factor.

They check in on Foursquare.
.

Crocodile Lounge isn’t even active in social media themselves. They gave their fans a story that is easy to explain and fun to tell and the fans are carrying the message in person and online.

People are incredulous when you tell them about the free pizza per drink deal. “That’s impossible?! How do they make any money?”.

This only helps the story to spread, of course.

For you spreadsheet and ROI jockeys (I used to be one) here is my take on the short version of how it works (I’ll guess conservatively on the #’s):

Costs
The two guys who make pizzas all night probably make $10 / hour plus tips. Call it 10 hours per day * $10 / hour * two guys = $200.
Dough is cheap. The raw materials to make all the pizzas in a night probably costs about $200.

So, being conservative, the incremental cost of Crocodile offering free pizza is $400 per night.

Revenue
A tap beer is about $5.
Cost to the bar = less than $1.

So at a profit of $4 per beer, once the free pizza gimmick brings in an incremental 100 drinks per night, it’s now making money, at a very high profit margin.

Plus all the word of mouth, social mentions and positive press.

Once you do the math, it’s no longer crazy. It’s not backwards. It’s brilliant.

[NB: They also have two skee ball lanes in back. Here's the throwdown. I can beat any of my readers in skee ball. If I lose, I'll buy you a pizza.]

What crazy and backwards idea can think up for your business? What story can you give your fans to tell?

How TED got even better

One of the best websites in the world just got even better.

TED.com recently rolled out a “Best of the Web” section, designed to be a “one-stop portal to the very best talks on the Internet”.

You can view some of the early selections at the TED Talks page here. In the ‘Show by Event’ selector on the left, scroll down to the bottom to “Best of the Web”.

Martin Luther King Jr.: I Have a Dream
Steve Jobs: How to Live Before You Die
Michael Sandel: What is the Right Thing to Do?
Robert Sapolsky: The Uniqueness of Humans
and the famous “last lecture” of Randy Pausch.

Wisely, TED is crowdsourcing new content for the page from their intelligent and connected tribe. If you find video worthy of TED’s new page, email contact@ted.com with “Best of the Web suggestion” in the subject line, and a link to where the talk can be seen.

That’s some strong cheddar

One video, two lessons.

1) Never give up. (Which is different than strategic quitting, as outlined in The Dip.)
2) If you’re going to make ads, don’t drone on about your features, low price or celebrity endorsers. Tell a story. Make us laugh. Make it memorable and remarkable so we want to tell others (like I just did).

How many car commercials have you seen where the car winds up a curvy mountain road while displaying the latest price. Hundreds? Thousands?

Contrast that with this. It’s impossible to watch this video and not smile, laugh AND remember the brand message.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go order some Nolan’s Cheddar.

If you can’t see the video, click here.

Inspiration, not information

At every presentation, the level of understanding of the subject matter by the audience varies widely.

If you’re giving a presentation on social media, some people are well educated and understand it’s place in business (and it’s not always the people live-tweeting your thoughts). There are others who know a little but are less familiar than the first group. Still others may know little to nothing.

The audience’s knowledge and experience lies along a wide spectrum.

So what is a good presenter to do? How do you make sure that the experts aren’t bored and the others aren’t left behind?

Use inspiration, not information.

Use the information to illustrate a key point or concept. Tell a story. Take them to a place.

Sir Ken Robinson presented to a room full of TED folks who knew (in varying degrees) that our current education system is sub-optimal.

Steve Jobs presents to hundreds of thousands of people, in person and online, who have literally been predicting and prototyping what he’s going to tell them.

Don’t give information. Give inspiration.

Then, you’ll have the whole room.

Speed and edges

When I first learned to snowboard, I fell. Often and hard. I fell on my wrists. I fell on my ass. I was black and blue and wet.

The second time, I got a little better.

The third time, something clicked. A light bulb went on and I realized the two things that make snowboarding easier.

Speed and edges.

Speed
Unlike learning to downhill ski, you need to build up a certain amount of speed in snowboarding for your edges to work. Starting on the bunny hill doesn’t work for snowboarding because it’s hard to build up enough speed to make a turn.

Edges
You’re always on your edges. This simple truth is the one thing I would tell any beginning snowboarder (and the one thing I wish someone had told me). The only time your snowboard is flat against the mountain is when you’re transitioning from one edge to the other. You go from heel edge to toe edge and back again. It’s only when your board is flat against the snow that it’s easy to catch an edge and fall hard.

The same is true in business.

Inertia kills.

Going faster is actually safer.

Speed begets speed and allows you to find and use your edges.

What can you do to go faster?

[Photo credit: Gatto Ashutto]

Remember when you were a kid?

Thanks to Jimmy for pointing out this great video that he found on Tristan Walker’s blog.

My wish for Martin Luther King Jr. day is for all of us to have a dream. And act on it.

If you can’t see the video, click here.

Flowtown knows what you’re wearing

OK, they may not know what you’re wearing but there is a good chance they know your customers better than you do.

Flowtown uses emails from your customer database, (you do have an email database for your customers, right?) and can tell you interesting and valuable information about those customers.

I recently met the founders of Flowtown online. They are wicked smart guys with a product that is immediately useful to almost any business.

Below is my interview with Ethan Bloch.

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Ethan Bloch and I’m the Co-founder and CEO of Flowtown.

Why should companies use Flowtown?
Because social media is hard and Flowtown turns social data in dollars.

How much does Flowtown know about someone from their email address?
Name, Age Group, Gender, Occupation, Location, Influence and almost every Social network they’re on.

Really? Wow. Do you know what I’m wearing right now?
I think you’d prefer I didn’t say ;)

So this would allow companies to do more targeted campaigns. For instance, if only 10,000 of their 100,000 members are twitter users, they could do a focused campaign, right?
Totally, way more focused. For example if you’re not on Twitter it would be annoying to get an email saying ‘Hi Clay, we’re building out our presence on Twitter…” you’d be like “I’m not on there, why are you sending me this?” On the flip side we’ve found that if you know someone is on a network and you mention that in your email, the performance of that campaign skyrockets.

Is Flowtown a replacement for traditional email systems like Flowtown, AWeber or MailChimp?
In the case of mainstream email service providers, I don’t think Flowtown is a replacement but rather an enhancement. For example we’ve built an integration with MailChimp where any MailChimp user can come to Flowtown and in 3 clicks dump a ton of demographic and social graphic information back into their MailChimp list and then use MailChimp’s segmentation feature to get more relevant with their subscribers.

You guys are adding interesting new features to Flowtown pretty quickly. Tell us about some of them.
We just launched an influence calculation (powered by Klout), where now when you import a contact list we’ll show you your top 50 influencers, which you can use to do 1-on-1 outreach i.e. we’re showing you the 20% that will drive 80% of the results, in respect to getting noticed and building buzz.

In fact everything we do at Flowtown is ran through this ‘Pareto Lens’ – early on, internally, Dan and I would speak of Flowtown as the 80/20 marketing filter for business.

Tell me about your partner, Dan Martell. How did you guys meet?
He’s a Rockstar – we wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are today without Dan.

We actually met on Twitter back in September 2008. Did an IRL meetup, discovered we’re both passionate about marketing and moving the needle for business and the rest is history…

Tell us what your typical day at Flowtown is like.
I wake up around 6:30 and immediately touch base with David (VP of Engineering), he’s on EST so by the time I get up I’m already playing catchup.

(I jumpstart my day by using a strategy from Leo at Zen Habits: http://zenhabits.net/2007/02/jumpstart-your-day-night-before-evening/)

I’ll do a brief skim of all the new email that’s came in make sure there’s no bombs going off and then then I’ll work on 1-2 of the most important tasks I have scheduled for the day, for the next 3 hours, usually product, sales or biz dev focused, this could include new product mocks, coding, emails, phone calls, brainstorming and white boarding.

After those 3-hours are up I start going into a more ad-hoc mode, where I’m answering email/tweets, talking to customers, closing new customers, working with David on new features, bouncing around the bay for meetings, testing new features, breaking things and syncing up with Dan.

Later in the day/evening is when I go to the 30,000+ foot view of life, this includes research, reading (going through my Instapaper) and planning.

What did you do before you started Flowtown?
Right before I started Flowtown I was producing/hosting a video show called WSYK? (What Should You Know?) which was syndicated by Revision3. And I was a marketer full time at Cake Financial, a start-up that was recently sold to E-Trade.

Where do you hope Flowtown will be in 3 years?
Flowtown will be responsible for raising the bar on customer experience/service, by helping all businesses care for their customers like Zappos cares for theirs.

What’s the plan then?
Not sure if I’ll be ready, but I want to help fill the massive void in education. I hated school growing up and think there’s a lot we can do to improve the experience for children everywhere.

You’re from Baltimore. Please tell me you’ve seen the Wire or we’re ending this interview right now.

“You come at the king you best not miss.”

I love The Wire. My favorite character is Omar and if you don’t know why just watch this.

Thanks, Ethan.

If you want to try Flowtown yourself, enter your email address here.

Keynote For A Cause – Help Haiti

Taking a cue from Joseph Jaffe’s idea and Mitch Joel’s post, I’m auctioning off a keynote presentation with 100% of the proceeds going to the Red Cross / Haiti Relief.

In addition to the keynote, the winning bidder will also get 100 copies of Seth’s Godin’s new book, Linchpin.

My reserve is set at $5,000.

If you want to put in a “bid”, DM me on Twitter (@clayhebert) or e-mail me: clay [at] tribeswin [dot] com.

I’ll update any bids on this post.

Bidding ends Friday, January 22nd at midnight.

Travel outside of NYC would be over and above.

Step up. And while you’re at it, text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 or text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 via Salvation Army (in Canada).

Thank you.

[photo credit: hiddedevries]

Layering snowballs

With the right temperature and a little wet snow, anyone can make a snowball, but my friend Jimmy makes them all day, everyday, in sunny San Diego.

I had another excellent call with Jimmy and a potential client today. After the call, a light bulb went on and I realized what makes Jimmy such a great entrepreneur.

He only thinks in snowball.

Every component of every deal has the capability to snowball. Everything has high probability growth potential. I can’t ever remember Jimmy discussing a deal by saying, “that’s what we’ll sell. That’s that and we’ll move on to the next deal.”

It’s always designed to snowball.

But here’s the key. The snowball isn’t just for Jimmy, it’s for the clients too. He is a master at layering snowballs. Many deals involve three or four parties and Jimmy is particularly skilled at identifying each party’s needs; what they want and what they can give up without much pain. He sees multi-faceted win-wins like a Grand Master chess player sees so many moves ahead. And then he authentically articulates these win-wins so the clients see them too, which makes the sale that much easier.

How do I know Jimmy will be successful?

Eventually, a bunch of layered snowballs create an avalanche.

[photo by: nata]

8 Reasons Why Conan Should Go Direct

There is an important lesson in this whole Conan vs. Leno debacle.

No matter how famous you are or how many fans you have, if you work for a huge corporation, they own you.

NBC wanted to put Conan’s show at 12:05am. Technically, that’s not even The Tonight Show. It’s The Tomorrow Show.

Conan is so frustrated, he just put the show up for sale on Craigslist.

Sure, Conan could make $40 million over at Fox and probably kill in the ratings but you can bet someday, some rube network exec would move his time slot in favor of The Sarah Palin Variety Hour. Then Conan would completely lose his marbles and he would spend the rest of his days walking around Central Park mumbling like Rain Man…

“……should have had the 11:30 slot…..18 pigeons, definitely 18 pigeons……I’m an excellent comedian…….23 times funnier than Jay Leno……definitely deserved the 11:30 slot…….”

Here are 8 reasons Conan should go direct.

1) Full creative control over his own content

Now he writes a lot of his own stuff but imagine if he wasn’t censored at all. Look out.

2) Not working for Jeff Zucker

3) Not working for anyone

4) Online video worked well for Gary V. and the Monty Python guys.

5) Never having to worry about ratings again
Let Leno have the “ratings” on NBC. His demographic is not Conan’s anyway, so why try to fight for it. It’s sort of like Newhart and Family Guy jockeying for position.

6) Any format, any device
Conan’s demographic consumes content differently. He could make videos of any length that his audience could consume and stream anywhere. iPhones, iPods, Droids, iSlates, other tablets. Design the content to be snackable and sharable and we will snack and we will share.

7) Watching a show at its original time slot is obsolete
I’ve seen plenty of clips of Saturday Night Live in the last few years, but never on Saturday night. My social network does the filtering and the best and funniest clips bubble to me on twitter and Facebook.

8 ) Your own channel means your own audience and unlimited bandwidth
You don’t see Chris Brogan and Seth Godin arguing over timeslots, do you?

It’s your world, Conan. Step out from behind the network execs and own it.

Haiti: How you can help

(REUTERS/Reuters TV)

Today, it seems irresponsible to post about anything except the tragic earthquake in Haiti. The death toll is currently estimated between 30,000 and 100,000 but could be much higher.

The two best sites I’ve seen for clarifying how anyone can help are:

ReadWriteWeb’s post

Google’s Disaster Relief site (thanks to my friend Chris Czerwonka for pointing this one out)

It’s inspiring to see that the Red Cross has already raised over $800,000 by their text HAITI to 90999 to donate, program.

Retailer Lowe’s has also donated $1M and turned all Lowe’s locations into Red Cross donation sites.

Anonymous donors are stepping up:

As are well known celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

Others are on their way to Haiti

And some docs and nurses are flying free, courtesy of American Airlines:

Alltop has a page with lots of links.

Boston.com has posted many photos from the quake.

I’m impressed by the way that America and other countries have rallied to help Haiti and I’m thankful for the social tools that enable the information and aid to spread and grow faster than ever.

Please help in any way you can. Thank you.

Tools Tuesday: S2H Replay Watch

Adult and child obesity is a huge problem in America. The statistics are staggering and the future impact on healthcare costs is terrifying.

So what does the cure look like?

Years of nutritional education?

Mandatory Wii Fit summer camps?

Another complete overhaul of the food pyramid?

What if the answer is actually much simpler? What if it’s a colorful $20 rubber watch?

What S2H Replay Is

Imagine a Livestrong bracelet and a Polar heart rate monitor had a drunken tryst one night after the Ironman triathalon. The offspring would be the Switch To Health Replay Watch.

Switch To Health Relpay Watch

How It Works

After 60 minutes of physical activity (which doesn’t need to be consecutive), the S2H Replay watch displays a unique Reward Code. Users can go to S2H.com and enter their reward code to accumulate S2H Points, which can then be used to earn rewards such as movies, music and magazines.

Why It Will Work

Making It A Game
We’ve already seen the massive success Foursquare has had, turning going places into a game. S2H can do the same for working out.

Imagine the possibilities…

    Parents challenging children and children challenging parents
    Friends challenging friends (which we’ve already seen work with the Nike+ iPod model)
    Teachers challenging students

Community & Tribes
On S2H.com, users can post challenges, view leaderboards and join teams.

Imagine the long-term health benefits if an entire school district adopted S2H and designed specific exercise and reward programs around it?

Simplicity
No cables. No software. Anyone can upload the simple code at S2H.com in any browser.

What Can You Do?

Please spread the word and check them out at S2H.com and on twitter and Facebook.

If you’re a parent, buy a few and challenge each other. Make it a family thing.

If you’re an educator, figure out how to make S2H part of your curriculum or school.

If you’re a company, partner with S2H (they also make branded Kintetic Fit Bands) to help your employees or customers get fit.

Switch To Health is changing the game and really has the potential to increase fitness and decrease obesity in America.

Thanks for listening.

[Full Disclosure: I met the S2H founders and they sent me an S2H watch to demo. It's my new favorite watch.]

The Second Sale

Too many marketers focus solely on the first sale.

I was leaving Las Vegas today (Nicholas Cage was nowhere in sight) and with my stomach sensing that my culinary options would be limited once on board, I decided to grab lunch while at the gate.

My best option was Moe’s Mexican Grill. I had never eaten at a Moe’s but a burrito sounded good and it was very close to my gate. The next option was a Starbucks five gates away. Clearly, my first visit to Moe’s was one of impulse and convenience.

While waiting in line, I perused the menu.

The Homewrecker brought to mind a joke a friend recently made about about Gisele Bundchen.

The Jon Coctostan quesadilla brought me back to about 136 hilarious late night viewings of Fletch with my good friend Ben Lower.

Joey Bag Of Donuts made me think of the former Green Bay Packers center Frank Winters, who teammates would lovingly refer to as Frankie Bag Of Donuts.

Ruprict triggered memories of laughing uncontrollably at Steve Martin’s hilarious character in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. (Why is the cork on the fork?)

I physically smiled. A few funny item names on a menu immediately triggered happy memories.

Then something happened.

Moe’s workers seemed more upbeat than your typical airport food service employees.

Moe’s customers seemed happier and less haggard.

Moe’s burrito tasted a little better than I expected.

Was all this real or a placebo effect leftover from the menu that made me smile?

It doesn’t matter.

I won’t drive miles out of my way to go to Moe’s but if I’m hungry and they are an option, the choice is easy.

If I’m alone, I get to smile at the menu again (maybe they’ll have some new items by then – I would love to see an Underhill Steak Sandwich). If I’m with a friend, I get to share their enjoyment of the inside joke.

By having a little fun with their menu, Moe’s locked up the second sale.

Director of Phone

How absurd would it be to hire a “Director of Phone”?

Imagine proposing a job requisition for an “Email Manager” position?

Where would you go to hire a “Czar of FAX”?

Yet companies are hiring “social media managers” and “social media directors” to lead the “social media team”.

In a couple years, these titles will seem just as absurd as those above.

Social media needs to and will become (for those who get it right) integrated with all other functions and part of the fabric of the organization, just like phone, FAX and email did.

(The huge difference is that social media is the first of these kind tools that allows you to listen first.)

It won’t be a skill and it won’t be a department.

Precious Moments

At the end of a long day, you’re heading back to your hotel room. Alone in the elevator, you push the button for floor 26 and want nothing more than room service and maybe a shower before working a few more hours. Before the elevator door closes, a hand slices past the sensor and the doors reopen.

Richard Branson gets on and clicks floor 27.

What do you say?

(Replace Branson with Steve Jobs, Marissa Mayer, Russell Simmons or the person you would most like to meet, either professionally or personally.)

This used to be called having your elevator pitch ready. The truth is, most people don’t want to be pitched, although Sir Richard may be the exception.

Still, it’s important to be able to make the most of this precious moment.

How do you introduce yourself? What do you say after that? Is it a statement or a question? Do you praise them? Talk about yourself? Ask them an interesting question? Tell a joke?

The doors just closed. What do you say?

Add your thoughts in the comments. I’m really interested in what you all think on this one. Don’t forget to include who you would want to meet.

photo credit: Chris Heuer

Living your brand aftershocks

If customer engagement is the new marketing, customer experience is the new brand.

Brand in 2010 is the collective gut feel that customers have about your company. With the internet and social media, companies need to realize that they can no longer control their brand, as they have tried to do in the past, but instead they need to join the conversation and impact it by their actions.

When consumers think of most brands, certain words consciously or unconsciously come to mind.

Volvo = safety
Disney = imagination
Mercedes Benz = luxury
FedEx = reliable
Nike = sport

But in this age of being assaulted by brand messages all day everyday, brands also have what I’ll call aftershocks, brand thoughts that reverberate beyond the initial one like aftershocks after an earthquake.

While walking among the massive booths of the CES show floor on Day 2, I paid attention to whether the brands were living their aftershocks.

My client Altec Lansing’s brand is all about music. The aftershocks, the words that describe the gut feel we want to cause are “sound”, “fun” and “loud”. All day at the Altec Lansing booth, there was a huge Rockband contest with fun giveaways. Crowds formed, friends played against each other and everyone had a great time. Neighboring booths occasionally told us to turn it down a notch. At the end of the day, James Kyson Lee who plays Ando Masahashi on NBC’s hit show Heroes stopped by and jammed for a while.

In my admittedly biased opinion, Altec Lansing did a great job of living not only their brand but also their aftershocks.

Other booths that I visited that did a good job of living their brand and aftershocks:

Motorola – hip, fun, techy, useful
Intel – fast, cutting edge
Kodak – digital, new, capturing memories

Ford’s keynote was very impressive. They have not only reinvented their brand over the last few years, they have aligned everyone in the organization to live and breathe the brand and the aftershocks. Their SYNC and MyTouch technology will completely change the driving experience and it’s clear from listening to all of their keynote speakers that Ford’s brand is part of the fabric of the company.

What is your brand? What gut feeling are you trying to inspire in your customers?

What are your brand aftershocks? Are you living them?

CES isn’t about tech

Photo credit: CNET

Social media isn’t about the tools, it’s about the relationships and connections that the tools enable.

It’s the same with CES and similar conferences. They aren’t about consumer electronics or the sessions or the swag. The real value is in the relationships and connections (personal, business and both) that can be developed or rekindled.

Via twitter, I connected with Sarah Austin and attended the opening keynote with Ford CEO Alan Mullaly and got to learn about the amazing new technology Ford is putting in their cars. Think of a Batmobile designed for a digitally savvy James Bond. I never thought a keynote speech could sell me on a car but I really want a new Ford tricked out with all the latest technology.

Through Sarah, I got to meet Scott Monty (head of social media at Ford Motor Co.), Ian Sohn and Karen Untereker, both cool people who work for Ogilvy.

While working the Altec Lansing (client) booth during the middle of the day, I met a bunch of cool people, including customers and other Altec employees I hadn’t met yet. I also met Cory, who dominated our Rockband contest and is better at that game than I am at anything.

At 3pm, I headed up to the Kodak K-Zone booth to listen to Chris Brogan, Jeff Pulver, Adam Ostrow and Daniel Brusilovsky do a great and fun little panel on what the year 2025 will look like. Afterward, I got to reconnect with Chris and meet Justin Levy and Colin Bower in person for the first time – both are super smart guys.

After wrapping up the booth, I met my good friend Donavon Roberson from Zappos for dinner and we both met John Bergquist, a good online friend, in person for the first time. I also met their three of their friends, who I will surely be keeping in touch with.

It’s great to learn about and enjoy the 3D TVs and underwater HD cameras but the gadgets will be different and new and shiny next year. Focus on the relationships and connections you make. They are what endures.

I wouldn’t trade the meetings & connections I had yesterday for any gadget at CES.

(Except a new Ford with the SYNC & myFord technology. Sorry guys, it’s just too cool.)

Enjoy CES and if you’re still here and want to connect, I’m here.

Thinking outside the (Four)square

Today I was at the Consumer Electronics Show helping Altec Lansing (a Tribes Win client) setup their booth. In between unpacking and displaying product and setting up the booth’s wifi, I was tweeting on my iPhone and decided to check in on Foursquare.

(Tip: If you ever need to setup wifi at a conference, I highly recommend Trade Show Internet – it all came in a nice little box and setup was a snap. Great service.)

If you don’t know about Foursquare, it’s a location based social network and game. Mashable did a great overview post on it here. The potential for Foursqaure is huge and just this week, they went global.

While I was setting up the booth amidst the thousands of others, the marketing portion of my mind (the rest is just Wire episodes) started thinking of fun ways to encourage people to stop by the Altec Lansing booth.

The progression of my thought process was as follows:

1) CES is filled with early adopter tech geeks like myself.

2) Many of these tech geeks will be using their geeky smartphones and many will be checking in on Foursquare.

3) People like to win things.

So I setup a “special” on Foursquare. Businesses can setup almost any special they can think of for Foursqaure users. For instance, they can setup a special where the mayor (the person who has checked in the most times at a given venue) gets a free drink, like in the example below.

So I setup a Foursquare special where anyone who comes by the Altec Lansing CES booth and checks in gets entered in a drawing to win the Mix boom box. If you haven’t seen or heard this thing, it’s the quickest bass-booming way to punch your ticket to cool-kid status, especially for us tech & gadget geeks.

So now when anyone checks in anywhere near our Altec Lansing booth at CES, Foursquare will notify them of the “special” we have and they can stop by to enter and win a Mix.

Is this the intended use of Foursquare? Not exactly.

Will our “venue” even exist past Sunday? Nope.

Is it a way for us to meet and connect with more people at the show and have some fun? Definitely.

Sometimes you have to think outside the (four) square.

(I also tweeted that if you stop by, play RockBand and beat Angel’s score, you can win a Stage Gig. If you’re at CES, come by and say hi.)

Launching Untemplater

From when we are young, most of us are taught that there are a few specific templates to follow to a successful life.

Template 1

  • Get into a good college
  • Study hard
  • Get a good job at a big corporation
  • Work hard for 35 years
  • Retire and collect pension and gold watch.
  • Template 2

  • Get into a good college
  • Study hard
  • Meet and marry someone who will follow Template 1.
  • Not only don’t those templates work anymore, they aren’t very fun. How many people do you know who can’t WAIT to get to their cubicle every Monday?

    I bet you didn’t run out of fingers.

    Enter Untemplater.com.

    Launching today (they just opened the doors a couple hours ago….if you hurry, there should still be doughnuts and coffee), Untemplater is a unique site that helps you shatter the template lifestyle.

    Unlike similar sites and books (like Tim Ferris’ The Four Hour Work Week) Untemplater isn’t a retrospective of someone who escaped and is now looking back and telling you how they did it.

    They are, in their own words:

    …real people who are in the trenches, working hard to live the life that we want to live. It’s not easy, nor is it glamorous. Untemplater was founded by six twentysomethings who’ve done it: Jun Loayza, Adam Baker, Cody McKibben, Monica O’Brien, Carlos Miceli, and Andrew Norcross. You’ll see our pain, struggles, successes, and failures as we create an existence that we are proud of and enjoy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    We are MBAs; we are husbands, wives, and fathers; we are scrappy entrepreneurs, authors, and freelancers. We live all over the globe. We’re a small group of unconventional folks who hope to build a thriving community for anyone who ever sought more out of life—and we hope to help you learn how to sidestep the traditional life to find the career, relationships, and lifestyle that makes you come alive!

    Sound interesting?

    Download the free Untemplater Manifesto

    If it speaks to you, check out the site. Join Untemplater on Facebook and follow them on twitter.

    If it doesn’t……enjoy your gold watch.

    Asking why

    When phones were first introduced into workplaces, there was widespread resistance by management.

    “Why should everyone have a phone? They’ll just call home.”

    When FAX machines were introduced, there was a great deal of skepticism.

    “Why do we need a FAX machine? We’ll never use it.”

    When email became available for enterprise organizations, it was not quickly adopted.

    “Why would anyone need their own email account? They’ll just email their friends.”

    We’re seeing the same thing with social media. Some companies are embracing the new channels and opportunities and learning how to use them to improve their business.

    Many are still stuck asking why.