My Message: “Dismiss the skeptics with the middle finger!”

Hilarious Middle Finger

Yes…I said it…give them the middle finger and prove them wrong!

What is your passion?
Many times, I am asked to speak to college students and they always want to know my path. They want to know what I do and how I was able to get where I am today. I always ask them, what is their dream job? I ask them to tell me, what would they do if money did not matter!

Many students struggle with that question, having a hard time to frame the wisdom of what tomorrow might hold, given the frankness and reality of their upcoming graduation. I ask them…what is you passion?

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Disrupt Hackathon Got Hacked – Own Your Media

Ownership of our media is something that I have been exploring and researching. As I was reading Techcrunch, I found these videos. Todd Bonnewell took to the stage to share his thoughts…that we must reclaim ownership of the content and media we create.

Todd Bonnewell took to the Disrupt Hackathon stage and hacked the 60 Second Pitches with his own pitch. This stage is typically for individuals to share new apps or concepts, but instead…he had a message for the audience of hackers, not for the judges.

Here is his interview after his message:

You can find him online at https://twitter.com/madeopen

Here is the link to the original article on Techcruch: CLICK HERE

Reminders from those who inspired us! #Passion

So it was the other day I was cleaning out my old office and moving everything to the new location. I was looking through some old boxes, pulling out old memorabilia…and look what I found.

One of my favorite people…one of the few that I truly admired in the broadcast television business gave me this card. While working for WCNC-TV in Charlotte, NC…I had the pleasure to work on a yearly project called Road Show. We would take the news to a different city each day for a whole month…putting our main anchors and brand right in the middle of the public.

The leader of the Road Show is a very talented producer, writer, wordsmith, and cat header. Yes…she crafted the show daily with special stories pre-produced showcasing the area we were visiting. It was lots of fun, we met lots of great people…but most importantly…we really grew together like a family.

I ended up working for Allison in Special Projects after a few years of the Road Show. During my time in Special Projects, I truly grew a tremendous respect for Allison not only as creative but as a person.

I remember I had only been working directly for Allison for a few months, and a great opportunity emerged to transition to the business side of the television industry. I will never forget that night I had to tell her. I shed tears and was worried I had damaged both our personal and professional relationship.

To this day…she has been one of my strongest advocates. Why? I am not sure…but she knew I had a passion for something bigger. She gave me this card shown above during Road Show. I have kept it ever since as a reminder.

“Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.”– Denis Diderot

I have to agree and thank you to Allison for pushing to chase my passions.

Passbook & NFC: Social Commerce in small town South Carolina

So Wednesday morning, I received my new iPhone 5 in the mail. I am a gadget freak and yes I upgraded from the iPhone 4s. One of the new features released with the new iPhone (iOS6) is the the Passbook application. This allows you to find businesses that offer incentives to use your iPhone as your wallet.

So I downloaded the Starbucks application and immediately created an account and loaded $25.00, sort of like buying a pre-paid credit card, except using your iPhone. Off I went to carry out my morning errands, and as I passed Starbucks in Anderson…I thought I might have to give this little application a try.

So I walked in and ordered me a Pumpkin Spice Latte with no whipped cream, hmm! It feels like fall outside. When it was time to pay, I asked the cashier, “How do I use the Starbucks application on my iPhone to pay?” She told me to open the application, push the button to pay, and a barcode appeared on the screen. She then used her scanner next to the cash register to scan the barcode on my screen, and POOF…transaction complete.

It deducted the $4.91 from my phone and off I was on my merry way with a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I was so excited, I opened Facebook and checked into Starbucks by writing this status update:

I immediately called my wife to share my experience. After she listened to my gadget success story for the morning, she scolded me and said…”You need to buy local. Stop going to Starbucks and walk across the street from your office downtown and go to Figs. Figs is the new coffee, ice-cream, soda shop downtown Anderson owned locally.

The Digital Divide
Hmm…I wonder, do they have a little application for the phone so I can pay? Do they have a check-in option on Facebook so I can share my love for their store? Hmm…let me go see. So off I went to Figs, and noticed a few things. Great food, great shop, nice ownership…limited social interaction. Well, they are new…but this leads me to my though process. Buying local in socially connected community has a HUGE barrier to cross when competing against big box groups. You are probably thinking…well, tell me something you do not already know.

Ok, back-up…notice what happened Starbucks. They have an app that allows me to use technology to not only purchase with my phone, but they made it easy to take part in the social share. The check-in location rapidly appeared in Facebook allowing me to share my little success with technology.

The digital wallet leading to the social share…big business leads the way in social commerce. So how do the little guys compete? What is going remind me about Figs over Starbucks for coffee (other than my wife screaming buy local)? Figs is kind-of a outlier, they have only been in business for a few months. They are still trying to establish their digital footprint.

So, I took a walk through downtown Anderson and spent some time using my Facebook and Foursquare apps to see if retailers had check-in points established. Most were established including having those check-in points connected to a social outlet like a Facebook page.

But the part that is missing for most of these small retailers is the digital tool for commerce.

Passbook and NFC
Passbook on the iPhone is a brand new concept and Starbucks was one of the first to take part in this concept. Passbook was Apple’s alternative to NFC (near-field communication).

Wired.com states, “NFC chips in smartphones let you pay by waving your device over a scanner at the store. The chip is tied to an app that is tied to your bank account and credit card. Volià, no more cash, no more wallet.”

“Passbook lets you keep in your iPhone virtual versions of some items you might normally carry in your analog wallet or bag: boarding passes, movie and sports tickets, coupons, and gift cards. Passbook stores these items as barcodes, but some wondered if Apple would tie NFC to Passbook to make direct payments possible.”

Matt on the Nerd Wallet blog shares his thoughts:

“While loyalty programs are popular amongst customers and merchants alike – the number of loyalty memberships in the U.S. exceeds 2.1 billion – it’s not clear how effective these programs are. According to a white paper published by COLLOQUY, 17% of U.S. consumers felt that loyalty programs were a “very influential” factor in their purchasing decisions and an even smaller 12% said they “strongly agree” when asked whether it pays to be loyal to a favorite brand.”

So is NFC and Passbook just another coupon”ing” option or loyalty program? Or is the combination of NFC/Passbook concept on your smart phone as a one-stop shop for your to purchase and share with your friends. Connivence makes us happy and we love to share within our social outlets when something makes us happy.

Social Commerce & Economic Development
So how does a small coffee shop in little ole Anderson, SC compete with a Starbucks and their Passbook app? Well…first of all, building these applications are expensive and you have to find a a company that has the experience to build these types of mobile commerce tools. I am not sure if Figs would have the budget to have one of these applications built, and it probably makes no sense for them to do so…especially given small town word-of-mouth always prevails.

BUT…from a digital concept, local business should team up and build one mobile application for those local retailers that can add to the pot. Imagine an initiative in Anderson, SC where a group of local retailers teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce and local Economic Development groups like Innovate Anderson or Upstate SC Alliance to find the funding to build a one-size fits all.

Yes…this would be an economic development tool for small town Anderson, SC. Access to digital tools that not only power commerce but power the idea of the social share, building online reputation for a town trying to attract more growing businesses.

For those who want to read more about developing apps for Apple’s Passbook –> CLICK HERE

Does Passionate Writing (Blogs) Generate Revenue?



This post is in response to a great post by Margie Clayman’s Post: “Does Passion Pay The Bills?”

It was also feature as a response to her thoughtful post!

For over four years now, I have been preaching to my clients and my business relationships to write passionately. I have been writing in my blog about passionate writing for close to six months. I am a firm believer in passionate writing and telling rich stories. Do I think passionate writing in the context of a blog secures business…maybe yes and maybe no. There is no universal right or wrong answer. But I know this…my business is built around clients and relationships who have the same passion and fire for the advocacy we choose. I write with heart and passion and I encourage those I work with to do the same. I encourage them to dig deep and find the stories in their organization that brings passion to their readers and audiences.

Passionate writing and storytelling does a few things. First, it allows our audience to see the world through our lens. For that moment in time, they can see life through our senses. We want to help our audiences, our communities see our view as if they were sitting in a theater and their peripheral vision disappeared, fully engaged. This is true sensory engagement, allowing the audience to feel our vision.

From a business standpoint, passionate writing via a blog is a credibility piece. When we meet someone for the first time, they go out and “Google” us. They look at our digital resume. Our blog is a part of that digital resume. We want potential business relationships to make the right choice by wanting to work with us. This passionate writing allows those potential clients to see our viewpoints, understand our positions, relate to our business practices. As entrepreneurs, we want to work with people that are equally as passionate. So this allows potential business relationships have a barometer on our business practices. Writing passionately, with focus, allows potential relationships make an informed decision.

I do not think writing passionately is this new digital discovery that is going to break open the spectrum of blogging. Blogging is just another tool that allows readers to connect with our thoughts. Why not use it a way to reveal the true editorial side of our business. It is the place where we can communicate in our own voice…that is how blogging began. Writing about the topics that make us get up in the morning and enjoy life is what fuels our fire. And if people connect with us through our passion, then it is time well worth it…IMHO.

Passionate writing in the blog paradigm is a no-brainer.

Greg Hartle Interview – Part One

So I met Greg Hartle in Chicago at SOBCON2011 and his story is one of inspiration and somewhat crazy. Who would be willing to give up a great career, great house, great financial resources to travel the country with only $10 and a laptop. Some people think he is crazy. Some find it inspiring. Some think, he will fail. Some think, there is no way I would not be able not to use my previous resources to travel the country. I know I would struggle with this since I am married with a kid on the way.

So I decided to conduct a series of interviews with Greg to learn more about his story, his passion, and his mission to travel the country. His goal is to stop in all 50 states, interview an entrepreneur in each state, and create a new business to sustain the “new life.” He started with only $10 and a laptop, hence his website (http://tendollarsandalaptop.com), and to generate income along the way to sustain life including fulfilling his mission.

Why do you ask? Well…I hope to learn more during these short little interviews! This is part one in a seven part series of interviews to learn more about Greg Hartle!

Sparks will fly…InnoVenture Southeast 2011

A few years ago, I was chatting with John Warner and he was describing the InnoVenture experience to a group of people. As he described this conversation, this conference, this experience…he explained that “Sparks will fly!” I was wondering what the heck he was talking about…and it was not until today that I fully grasped this statement.

InnoVenture Southeast 2011 Day One…and it all started with watching my friend and client Lonnie Emard of IT-oLogy present in front of close to 200 people. As I sat and listened, more and more folks became recognizable. More and more of my close friends, colleagues, and clients began to walk through the door.

As I was walking around the follow-up conversation in the center of the room, I walked into a conversation of my own. Yes…a colleague from Clemson. This led to a conversation that led to an idea. As we were brainstorming this idea, another friend walked up and joined the conversation. This idea was growing…three minds are better than one. For some reason, something caused us to stop chatting and walk away.

A few minutes later, as I was standing in-front of IT-oLogy’s booth chatting, those two people who were brainstorming with me a few minutes ago walked over and said, “hey, remember what we were talking about…how can we make it happen?” Then it started right back up again. The brainstorming continued and before you know it…we set up a meeting for next steps and action items.

THEN…and only THEN…another friend walked up. I made introductions and after the exchange of business cards, my friend said, “I have an idea.” This sparked a whole new conversation, a whole new set of ideas, a whole new brainstorming session. This session could only happen if the right people are present and the right innovative thinking was in progress. Sparks were flying.

What you do not know, each of these people were decision makers in their organization. They had the ability to use their entrepreneurial spirit and engage in a conversation around a common theme…innovation. These were two conversations that I was a part of during day one of InnoVenture Southeast 2011. Imagine the numerous other conversations happening that led to exchange of ideas, ideas of innovation, contact information, and follow-up emails that night.

I was so excited, so struck by these ideas…I could not wait to get back to the office to send follow-up emails. We were already emailing ideas back and forth…Sparks were flying! Innovation is a funny thing…all it takes, get like minded people together and a open forum of conversation and innovative exchange. I walked away inspired!

Passion is not easily expressed…

It is hard to be passionate. It is hard to express passion. It is hard to let loose in front of tons of unfamiliar people and express our deepest passion. Failure is a scary thing. We are afraid to share our passion to unleash the inner being that makes us breath freely.

Think about the biggest idea you have ever thought of, written about, meditated over. The one thing that you believe could define your very being. What makes us keep from sharing that idea? Failure? Why is failure so bad?

I have a mentor that has hit it out of the park a few times. He does not look at as failure just bumps along the way, stories to laugh over one day. We are taught that an “F” is a failure. That loosing money or not living up to the status-quo is failure. This idea of failure keeps us from expression of our inner most passions…the things that make us tick.

We have to move past looking at failure as a bad thing. I met an unbelievable person at SOBCON2011. His hame is Mark Horvath. He was once a successful television man who ended up a homeless person. He took his situation and turned into gold. He began telling stories of the homelessness in America, interview people on the streets. He found his passion. People listened. Was he a failure? Or did something special happen that helped him find his passion.

What is your passion. How can we help lead those to find their passion?

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