Get Some: School Pride

Rarely does a TV program suck me in, get me emotionally tied to it and then leave me in a sobbing mess on the edge of my couch when the credits start rolling. NBC’s School Pride did exactly that. In a good way of course.

I was flipping through channels last night and came across the show that was featuring Detroit’s Communication & Media Arts (CMA) High School. Unfortunately, like many schools around the US, the CMA was in shambles and was being set to close as the facilities were deemed unsafe for students and teachers.

The School Pride crew rolled into Detroit, ready to make a difference. This show is like Extreme Makeover, but instead of focusing on houses, they are working on schools. It is wholly cosmetic* as their goal is to take a school in dire need of repairs and fix it. They will repair leaking windows and broken doors. They will provide new paint and carpet. They will replace desks and provide equipment in the computer labs. Basically, if it can be fixed with a hammer and/or money, they will handle it. And I think this is awesome.

The best part is they are engaging the local community of students, teachers, parents and the school administration to work through these changes. Together. To develop pride of ownership. School pride.

With all the cosmetic good the show provides, it bums me out to read some of the negative reviews around the product placement. My thought is if Walmart wants to donate three TVs to the communications lab so they have better equipment to view their video work on, I will accept having to watch 5 seconds of people walking through the electronics department in Walmart. No biggie. If IKEA wants to provide new desks for a classroom in exchange for a mention, fine. The fact of the matter is people are getting so caught up in the amount of product placement that they have lost sight around the value of the donations and their effect on the school. While it would be great to have a donor give without needing recognition, some do. We should not fault them for it. These donations cost someone money. Desks are not cheap. Neither are computers or TVs. Let’s cut them a little slack and be thankful someone is willing to provide product to these schools in need. If they ask for a little media attention in exchange for it, so be it.

I will say the program hit a nerve, and launched a deep sense of need in me to help. Through Social Media Club’s #smcedu program, we are working to bring technology and learnings into Universities and Colleges, but I want to do more. I need to do more. I would love to find a way to bridge these two programs – School Pride and #smcedu to help students get the learnings they need to prep them for the real world of today and have a safe place to learn in.

I am also not adverse to picking up a hammer and helping with the infrastructure as needed. So here I am Jacob. Put me to work. What can I do?

* And once the schools are safe to learn in, we can then launch a new show that will focus on bettering the actual education piece…which is a whole other subject I need to delve into.

Social Media Club Reaches 150 Cities!

I was putting a presentation together recently on Social Media Club (‘SMC’) and needed a current count of all the cities that had an active chapter, as well as cities we were working with to launch a chapter.

I am pleased (and surprised) to report that as of July 1, 2009 – SMC crossed 150 city mark with chapters in over 15 countries. Wow.

Even more surprising (to me) is the fact that we have reached all these cities through word of mouth activities (only) via friends, attending conferences and personal travel. Crazy. Makes me wonder what we could do if we put some real marketing effort into it!’ 🙂

When Social Media Club launched three years ago (March 2006), neither Heuer or I had any idea how big it would become, or where it would go. We are thankful for the 400+ folks who have supported SMC’s activities through paid memberships and hope to see that continue to grow as we launch new educational programs and an infrastructure to help the global community come together.

Social Media Club Member Kits

SMC continues to be a labor of love project that I volunteer about 30 hours a week to, trying to put light structure in place so we can continue to grow and connect people interested in Social Media around the world. I’ll admit, it is tough some days, and SMC absolutely takes a hit when my client work requires more of me.

To solve for this, we are working to hire an Executive Director and light staff to help push the organizational pieces for SMC forward as it kills me when balls get dropped and emails go unanswered. Getting someone in here to take the reigns is high on the list and will allow Heuer and I to take a step back and focus on the media literacy and chapter related projects we wish to see get off the ground. Focus baby. Focus.

The TO DO/wish list is a mile long and there are a 1000 moving pieces at any given time. With that, I know there are exciting times ahead, and I cannot wait to see where the organization is 12 months from now.

Howling at the moon

WoolfCamp: 2009

Heuer and I spent last weekend in the Santa Cruz mountains surrounded by a handful of lovely ladies (and one gent); sipping wine, grilling filets and sharing our life stories with one another. We call this gathering ‘Woolfcamp’.

Part barcamp, part writers guild, part poetry slam, part cooking show. All awesome.

Our heartfelt thanks to our fabulous pal Grace Davis, for hosting us again this year. We will be back. 🙂

More about my Twitter experiment…

In my semi-recent post discussing my Twitter experiment, a couple of questions came up on my process, so I thought I would elaborate a little bit on ‘why’ and the ‘how’ as this ‘following’ thing can leave some folks feeling slighted, and I want to eliminate any hard feelings that might be brewing.

First the ‘why’. In my original post, I noted the following:

For a while the list of people I followed was intentionally kept small (under 150), as I am a big believer of the Dunbar Number and the power of small(er) tightly connected networks. Over time, I allowed it to squeak up to 225 which made the conversations more interesting and diverse, but also required a bigger investment of time as I try to stay attached to my ‘community’ (yes, I am one of the nut jobs who likes to try and read every tweet from the people I follow).

Fast forward eight months and I have extended my network so I now follow 400+ people, but truth be told, I am finding it extremely hard to ‘keep up’ with what everyone is doing now. There is also a sense I have lost some of the intimacy I once had when only following 150 people, but I have to admit, back then there was also a feeling I was living in the ‘echo chamber’ as my network was not very diverse – so this experiment has exposed me to a multitude of industries, beliefs, customs and ideas. While some of my new relationships may not be as deep as those in the past, I am extremely happy where this is going right now.

UPDATE: In my original post, I forgot to mention that I also manage the Social Media Club Twitter account (14k followers) and the my6sense Twitter account (not as many followers [yet]), which adds to the lack of attention mix. I swear, sometimes I wonder how I manage to keep up.

What about the ‘how’: I am still trying to do this systematically to keep it as fair as possible. As for who I am following – I started out rotating 50 people every 30 days, but found trying to rotate contacts that often is tough and does not give me enough time to learn about anyone, so I have pushed the rotation back to every 60 days. The process for the 50 people I add has been tweaked over time, as I used to add every 4th person but realized I needed to dig deeper into the follower list so now I add every 25th person from my following list to get the first 35 people. For the next 10 people, I continue along the every 25th person in my follower list, but instead of following them directly, I go into their account and pick the 5th avatar showing up in their followers list and add them. For the last 5 slots, I add a name of someone I recently met or have heard of and add them (some of them have been people that got cut from previous rotations, liked what they had to say so wanted to bring them back into rotation). It sounds complicated, but honestly, it is a simple process that simply takes a bit of time to put into effect, but has given me a well rounded information source.

For the cutting list – this is the part I absolutely hate, but realize I needed to strip emotions out of it completely to ensure a fair process. It is a bit easier than the add piece as I dig into the list of people I am following and cut every 25th one on the list. As for preserving anyone, no. Not even my husband. If he came up 25th in line, I would remove his tweets to allow for someone new to come into my view, and I have unfollowed several people I feel are close[r] friends to me – [for example] @pistachio, @chrisbrogan, @missrogue and @jowyang…so no one receives special treatment.

I have removed two people mid rotation as they were posting items I felt offensive to my belief system. I also removed @jasoncalacanis and @scobleizer mid rotation as they both posted so often, that it made it hard to keep up with everyone else. Other than that, I follow my group until the next turn.

I am trying to be as fair as I possibly can, and I thought my system allowed me to do so.

I know I have hurt people’s feelings as I am not following them. It sucks, and all I can say [right now] is ‘I am sorry’ as I simply cannot follow 1000 people and get *what I want* out of this ‘tool’. For me, I am looking to expand the network of people I know, and following a smaller group allows me the time to get to know a little about them. I am not here to build a large following list. I am here to build meaningful relationships and expand my knowledge base.

The other interesting piece in evaluating my little Twitter experiment is I started looking into how I am using the other networks I belong to and I thought I would share that with folks as well:

* Facebook – This is by far, my largest ‘network’ as I am adding anyone who friends me there. I don’t join every group and I hate throwing snowballs at people or being poked, but I am using Facebook to experiment with how big can I grow a network and still feel like I can say a name and know where they come from and how I know them from.

* LinkedIn – This is my business network. If I have worked with you, met you in real life or had a conversation with you and I want to make sure we stay connected in a professional level, I make sure to add you into LinkedIn. If you and I have never spoken before, I will not accept an invite.

* Ning – Same as Facebook, I connect with anyone who reaches out.

* Dopplr – If I know you or have some kind of personal contact with you, I am happy to share where I am spending my time with you.

* Flickr – I follow the Facebook rules here, for the most part. I have blocked a few people as their tastes drastically differ from mine and I just do not want to become a photo on their wall, but my life is pretty much an open book and searchable via Google – so friend away. 🙂

So there you go. I will continue my experiment for as long as I feel I am getting value out of it, and look forward to connecting with folks in various ways along this journey.

Northern Voice: Good Stuff Eh?


This weekend confirmed everything I thought about my Canadian friendsthey all ROCK…and I am super thankful I had a chance to spend a little more face:face time with them at Northern Voice.

It was the first time I made it up North for this event, missing the two years before due to ill timing bouts with the flu bug, and boy oh boy am I glad I got a shot this year. The weekend was filled with great dinners, amazing conversations and enough geekiness to be able to write the trip off as a work expense. Ha.

Seriously, I don’t know if it is the Canadian water or the fresh air coming off Whistler mountain that makes Vancouverans so darn nice, but thinking every city could use a little bit of what they have as every time I am around these guys, I want – scratch that – I need, more.

Photo by Robin Yap Read more