Building Communities is a lot more FUN!

Why do we use Social Media technologies? To me…to connect and build communities of like minded individuals. Why do you use Facebook for your business? Do you use it to just update with information and events? How about use it for what it was originally designed to do, build a community of people to share and connect.

One of my favorite Facebook Page communities is the Clemson Alumni Association’s Facebook Page. You should check it out some time. If you look at the image in this post from the Facebook Page (look below), you will see how the community engages with each other. This was a video post letting everyone know that homecoming is right around the corner, bottom-line a reminder to mark your calendar. If you look below the video, someone that was new to the Clemson Homecoming experience posted a question. People from the community stepped in and engaged the conversation, reinforcing the experience. You do not see the Clemson Alumni Association respond till later, but the community of fans were the ones leading the conversation.

Do you want to control your community or do you want to let your community grow…let the technology be the platform to connect and engage. I choose the 2nd option. Are you building Social Media platforms to push information or a creating a place that connects and engages like minded people. Does it have to be a Facebook Page, Twitter Account, YouTube Account…could it just be a regular lunch meeting using a calendar as the technology that allows to connect.

I want to thank my buddy Dave Lee for inviting me to join his NFL Fantasy Football League this season. This has been a fun place for us to connect, share in our love for the game, and meet new people. Oh, by the way…it has helped me get into the NFL and follow the success of one of my favorite Clemson Tiger Alums, CJ Spiller. What a cool Social Media technology that has connected like minded people.

Collaborative Editing – A Lesson in Listening

Collaborative writing…well that can be tough, but collaborative video editing? This can be difficult, exhausting, time consuming, etc….but maybe not? Collaborative storytelling is the way I like to look at it. Five months ago, I was asked to work with the Call Me MISTER program to help create a 10 year anniversary video project for their big summit. The goal was to interview many of the “MISTER’s” and supporters of the program, allowing them to talk about the program through their eyes.

It was a team of us traveling all over North and South Carolina to interview each of the 20 individuals, our guide was just a few questions. What we found…a lot of stories to be told, each with a different viewpoint of the Call Me MISTER program.

The Call Me MISTER program is an initiative to place black males as elementary teachers in the class room. That is it…you can look beyond the initiative and derive more underlying themes, but there is a need especially here in South Carolina to change the face of our educational system. What a better way to do so than to place educated, black males as role models, as educators. Not football players, not rappers, not drug dealers…but teachers, leaders, educators. This initiative is based at Clemson University with many black colleges in South Carolina with this program in place.

We interviewed many of the “MISTERS,” the graduates of this program. We interview the presidents of each of the South Carolina institutions (Clemson, Benedict, Claflin, and Morris). We interviewed those who support the program including Wachovia, Doris Buffet (Sunshine Lady Foundation), Mott Foundation, DuPont, and the Self Foundation. We found so many stories, so much passion, so much that needed to be conveyed.

So when all the interviews were complete, this team worked together in a room and took close to five hours worth of video interviews, and collaboratively constructed four final video messages. We collaboratively decided beginning, middle, and end. We created criteria which helped us clarify what was to be cut and what was to be included; to support the mission and the audience’s needs.

Each one of us had our own predispositions, our own viewpoints, and we learned to identify what comment was purposeful and what did not add value to the mission. We all had a deciding factor in the construction of the storyline, all four of us. We listened to the stories and to each other; and we let the MISTER movement dictate the message.

What a great way to tell a story, a collaborative way to find the story within the story. We listened.

We all need a breather…a refresher!

When I became self-employeed…I knew I was going to work hard! I knew that my tendancy was to invest myself in my work, commit myself to my clients, and build a sustainable business. My moto…”Work Hard and Play Hard!” So that is what I try to do, take a break from the 60 plus hours a week and enjoy time with family, friends, and my sanity.

So, Sarah and I decided last year to plan three vacations a year…regardless of where and the costs. We decided to take three, one week vacations that force me not to use digital technology that keeps me connected. Find places that are cost effective and have limited technology access so that we can enjoy down time.

Why is it necessary for business owners, self-employed individuals to get away from our work? To REGENERATE! We need to step away, reflect, enjoy what is important, and go back to our work refreshed with new ideas and energy.

I took two books with me on my cruise, “Brains on Fire,” and “Unmarketing.” Both great books within my discipline insiring a revivied approach to my business and clients. Guess what, I am looking forward to my Christmas vacation in the Georgia mountains.

Bridging the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots”

For about six months, my wife and I did not have health insurance. Yes…no health insurance. This was probably the first time in my life that I walked around, drove a car, existed without health insurance. At the end of 2009, my wife and I decided it was best for me to un-invest in a company in which I was part owner. This company was my last health insurance provider before becoming self-employed. For years, I have worked for major companies, all of which offered major health coverage. But when December 1, 2009 rolled around…Sarah and I were un-insured. You never think about it until the first time you fall, get sick, or even have that one moment in the car when you think you were close to an accident.

Carrying health insurance is more than just something that is a luxury, in the world of small business…it is a line item. It is that one thing that is tough to justify, especially when building a business…trying to decide whether to pay yourself (which pays the mortgage) or have health insurance. We set benchmarks for the business, and when we felt the revenue reached a certain goal, investing in health insurance became a reality. That is why we invest in an HSA Program through Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC.

So, on August 6, 2010…I worked with South Carolina Hospital Association to find and document stories of the un-insured. AccessHealth’s SC Mission 2010 put together a free medical clinic in Greenville, SC at the Carolina First Center. Over 2000 people came from all over the Southeast, some as far as Virginia. Each one, seeking medical care.

I met a nice lady named Judy. Judy was a sassy lady, but one with tremendous conviction. She was determined to be seen and determined to seek help with her medications. She was so determined to be seen by a physician, she arrived a day early and spent the night outside the front doors of the Carolina First Center. I do not mean she slept in her car, she propped a chair against the front door and maintained her spot in line, overnight, outside, during a huge thunderstorm. She was determined to be seen the moment the doors opened. You never know what it is like to go without health insurance, until one day…you do not have that opportunity.

So many Americans today are without basic health insurance, access to care. They have no primary physician. This lack of insurance takes them to the Emergency Departments across America. Our Emergency Departments are today’s primary physician for most un-insured. Hospitals everyday write-off services because those who seek care come without insurance and the inability to pay the inflated costs dictated by insurance providers. Hospitals are struggling, trying to find the balance between providing quality care and declining reimbursements for the un-insured.

I met Sid at the Carolina First Center while waiting to have his eyes checked. Sid told me about a time he had to go to the hospital and the final bill was $13,000.00. He said, ” $13,000…I will never see $13,000.” This statement is the epitome of today’s un-insured population. America is slowly spreading the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots.” No wonder the idea of providing basic medical attention and simple health insurance is a promise of care for today’s struggling population. Imagine not having insurance, falling and breaking a bone, and then no idea what to do! So many small business survive everyday with this basic fear, the fear of the unknown.

AccessHealth’s SC Mission 2010 was just one event, bridging the gap just a little more between the “haves” and the “have nots.”

Read more about the day at by CLICKING HERE.