Saturday, May 3, 2008

Social Media Meets Social Responsibility

Find out about how social media can help your socially responsible organization or your business. People, planet, profit--they don't have to be separate from each other!

read more | digg story



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Looking for new content?

We've officially moved to ClaraKuo.com.
New content on social media, marketing and Silicon Valley can be found at this new address. In addition, the RSS feed should still be the same: http://feeds.feedburner.com/marketdreams

Thanks for reading!



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We're Moving

I've finally succumbed to the yourname.com URL recommendation that I've heard a number of times. As in, "Do you have your own URL?"
"Err...I have a blogspot URL."

Well, it's no longer going to be at blogspot because I'm importing to Wordpress soon.
You might even call it spring cleaning for blogs.

I decided Wordpress would be the best place for my blog because it has the ability to create additional pages. I could do things in HTML and the like, but it's much simpler to get content up when I want it rather than spend a lot of time developing HTML coding.

I also got some new business cards printed. Nothing much, just a 100 cards.

So change, here I come. *sigh* I will be a little bit sad to move away from this address but it will be easier to find me.

So come check out my new home at: clarakuo.com
Update:I'm having trouble directing my DNS and my e-mail server to the same place, so please read: clarakuo.wordpress.com



Blog writing - The Long and Short of It

When blogs started to get popular and hit the mainstream media, there was (and still is) talk about how blogging is a very different experience from traditional journalism. Both genres of writing are supposed to be very short and concise.

The difference is traditional journalism often tends to give summaries of events. It's the long camera view of an event seen from afar. Here is an example from today's Wall Street Journal "What's News" column:

Bush will propose stopping growth in U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025 and signal he is open to legislative action to curb power-plant pollution.

The internet influenced the writing format very differently. It started with personal home pages, based on individual hobbies and interests, and then blogging just became another form of expressing individual interests. It suggests more of people's reactions to events and favorite hobbies rather than the cold, hard facts. Wouldn't it be interesting to see the perspective of a politician involved with this speech? Let's suppose that George Dubya is a blogger. What if he wrote this instead:
"I was in the White House gardens and for some reason or another, I started to cough and could not stop. That is when I realized that it is just about time we need to truly make a commitment to stopping greenhouse gas emissions."

This would be the short, honed-in camera shot of blogging.We can all relate to pain, like incessant coughing or discomfort, which makes the experience more relevant to the reader, even if they aren't big on politics. It's also a very effective tactic in spoken presentations that are being given to a wide audience. There's been some research done that people remember things better if it ties in to their memories or are being entertained while being taught or convinced of something.

In PR, I've been warned about being careful when speaking to bloggers because they have to be treated differently from the mainstream media. I wasn't sure why exactly, but since posting my own posts online, it seems more apparent to me. Any conversation that I have with someone can potentially turn into a blogpost, but I'm usually fairly scrupulous about this. It's happened before, though, with PR agents who have written e-mails to bloggers, which have resulted in rants about PR people.

Bottom line: Anyone's interaction can turn into a story, which is both the coolness and caveat of new media.



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Repetitive Wrist Injury

Well every once in a while a blogger has to take a break. I am writing this with two pens punching the keys one by one, which means it takes quite a long time to write a sentece. :)

So I'll be back on tomorrow with some of the origins of blog-writing...stay tuned.



Monday, April 14, 2008

The Tatiana Project for Social Media and Generation Gaps

The power of blogs and commenting. A comment on Beth Kanter's blog last week yielded a couple of new conversations with other bloggers.

Now the Tatiana Senior Project has reached my virtual doorstep via my Facebook mailbox.

Hi, Clara!
How are you?

My name is Tatiana and I am currently a senior at the University of Tampa. You have recently commented on Beth Kanter's blog post that featured my project on the impact of the internet marketing of social media and its users.

You have a very interesting and unique perspective on this issue and I was wondering if your could share it on my blog and contribute to my project.

http://tatianatugbaevafinalproject.blogspot.com/

Tatiana's personal branding strategy is impressive. She has a regular blog and a project that communicate the online phenomenon about individual self-marketing, thoughtful research and writing.

Young people today, like Tatiana, are very cognizant of the web, and you could even say they definitely use it more intelligently than those of us who were weaned off of early AOL IM, chat or even intra net BBS green-type systems with MS DOS commands. I used to think I was of the privileged technology generation, able to code simple HTML on Geocities, but now it's really changing beyond that.

I would even go so far as to say that Tatiana's peers and college students are smarter about using the web than those of us who got used to the web tech in the 90s.

The differences between Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Me
In my peer group, some have heard of wikis, but most think of Wikipedia. Others may have a Facebook profile but avoid it like the plague because of spammy apps. Some use IM to communicate incessantly, but others don't. This is the group most likely to possess "information fatigue," because generically speaking, I've observed that we don't digest information as well as the younger crowd.

Too much internet information doesn't sit well with us, because we did grow up with our parents reading the local brand newspapers and magazines. My dad has stacks of the National Geographic and the San Jose Mercury that he refused to throw away.

We're a little bit harder to reach online. I still have friends who are very active on LiveJournal with very private profiles available to only a select few, while I prefer Facebook or IM. (More on social media hierarchies and usage soon.)

How Internet Media and Professional Profiles has Evolved
Gone are the days when profile surveys are sent in the form of email-chain-letter-forwards between friends. This evolved to LinkedIn professional profiles, then of course there were HR crises on MySpace where your boss finds your drunken pictures (thus giving social networks a bad rep). Now all that has moved outwards where some are pro-actively taking a stand on which pages show up on Google through blogs and the form of online portfolios. Now we've almost made the full circle to Geocities homepages, but instead of focusing on our hobbies or interest, like dogs, or random pictures and animated gifs, the web 2.0 era has a strong interest in aesthetic, design and professional image.

This means we've got a powerful advertising vehicle on our hands that could be tackled...or not. The questions to ask are: Which Audience and Which Type of Media?



Thursday, April 10, 2008

On Writing & Creativity

Unless you want to be a "hack"...
Strong writers and bloggers need cross-training just like good athletes do. In otherwords, non-fiction writers need to know creative writing techniques to keep fit and creative writers have to be versatile. Staying in a comfort zone is an easy way for people to stagnate. Nowadays, change is the name of the game.

There are a few things that can help you get out of a writing rut:

1. Take the pressure off and just write. I write for B2B and if fear creeps in that I won't write something spectacular, it is harder to write anything at all. Have a writing practice aside from your "usual" (be it blog, freelancing or otherwise) and if the writing is full of spelling errors, not the best content, not meant for an audience, then it's OK. The goal is to change habits and innovate. And, an interesting idea might come out of flow-of-consciousness writing.

2. Change your writing style. You may have a really distinctive voice that has been developed over the years. How about changing it? Have fun with simpler words if you like jargon, or write with new vocabulary if you write simply. Try writing a paragraph using only alliteration, only metaphor, etc.

2. Paint a verbal picture with pen and paper. Go outside or someplace new, pick a focal point and get out the old pen & paper. Write what you see in very minute detail. Scribbling furiously on paper will change some of your habits and force you to think differently. Go back to your computer and rewrite what you wrote. You may skip words, details, and you'll notice that you get a different perspective than when you wrote with pen and paper.

3. The short and long of it: Pick something to write about. Write a bunch of long sentences stringed together. Write short sentences. Write a long sentence and a short sentence. Look at how that changes the tone.

A short sentence: Stop right there!
A long sentence: She stopped when the policeman cut her off in her tracks.

4. Another exercise in succintness for effect: Try writing haikus.
Each line should represent a visual concept. And if you write a line that is too long, that's OK too. The editing process will help to get you to where you want to go.
Roses in sunlight
Dew iced over from morning
It's a new day.

Also, it's better to expect OK writing on first attempts rather than a masterpiece. You don't want to set yourself up for disappointment, and it's the editing (or even deletion in exchange for innovation) process that takes you one step closer to perfection.



Yahoo, the New Hi-Tech Soap Opera

Microsoft: "Yahoo, you just don't understand. I really need you."
Yahoo: "Oh, no, you really don't need me. I'm not really worth it! And anyway, it's too late! I've already promised 3% of myself to Google, so how could you possibly want me now?"
There's quite an interesting discussion going on at Tech Crunch today about the finagling of Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft. As one commenter said, "These days I have stopped watching movies for entertainment. YHOO vs MSFT and Hillary vs Obama are more entertaining..."

I have to agree that this is one of those very strange soap operas in an age of acquisitions, mergers and where everyone is just trying to catch up with the competition. It's not absolutely smart for Yahoo to hide behind Google, and I would agree that this is a weird way to go. If it's to get their name in the news more often, then they're doing a good job of it, but maybe they need to take a lesson from Google.

Google, interestingly enough, hasn't been affected so much by any of this hullaballoo. The stealthy giant stands on the sidelines, not saying much, while still having the ability to make deals with Yahoo as if in a back alley way.

But then again...maybe, just maybe...Yahoo's founders are ready for an exit strategy?

Read the TechCrunch debate



Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Millennium Marketer Revamp

In the interest of web transparency, and because this is in essence a Start-Up Blog, I should probably mention that this blog is still going through some growing pains at the moment. The characteristics of start-ups are often connected to their owners, so I will admit that the changes on this blog are probably because I'm going through a few growing pains myself.

I've been a writer and poet all my life and now as a marketing communications specialist/consultant, the challenge to revamp is really huge, especially in the Web 2.0 Era. The question often comes up: "How do I start a blog?" Sippey agreed with me at a SVAMA panel last year (I was an attendee to this panel) that in the end it's about experimenting with these technologies. Of course, it definitely helps, too, to do the research and learn from other bloggers.

My decision to revamp came from the fact that I did an ego search on myself a couple of days ago. In the 90s, it used to be that if you do a Google search on yourself, it's just a silly thing to do. Web 2.0 is a totally different ball game.

Most people will believe your Google search (or for trivia facts, usually they believe Wikipedia) rather than believe you first. So I have a LinkedIn profile, my blog and some other minor results. This is just as much as I can manage at the moment in addition to all my other projects with a number of different organizations.

In short, the Millennium Marketer is going to go through some changes, and I will post more on this process, hopefully to offer some firsthand insight into blog development.

Necessary Elements of Blogs:
1) Good graphic design that draws the eye in. See Graphic Design: A List Apart Blog
2) Clear topics and days that readers can expect to pick up that information they want and most important content towards the top. Most blog posts are scanned for an average of 1 to 3 minutes.
3) A focused, but wide enough audience (Silicon Valley, Entrepreneurship, Social Media, Marketing)
4) A clear goal as to what you want your blog to do (Share information? Create a community? A place to put your findings?)
5) Transparency with your readers about who you are and what you stand for.
6) Your own URL...I am going to transfer this blog over when I can figure out the best and easiest way to do it.



Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Web 2.0 Revenue Models

Here's the challenge in the web 2.0 world. A lot of services are offered for free, and as Mapping the Web points out, this could well mean that all those entrepreneurs out there advocating a totally free model are saying that revenue = exit strategy.

And that in itself sounds silly, because starting a business should mean sustainability and "revenue-ability." You have to create revenue if you want to continue to run your business.

So here's an interesting idea--when you create your business idea, your revenue model should be incorporated. Of course, there's the idea of the "Long Tail," meaning that you don't always create revenue via money transactions as is in Web 1.0.

The Long Tail blog has some great ideas on different kinds of revenue models that are used in media.

Now there's something to mull over for a good long time. Dion Hinchcliff at ZDNet talks about business value in web 2.0 often, which emphasizes that Web 2.0 is not just "another cool idea." Yes, this post is more than a year or more old, but it's still very relevant.



Monday, April 7, 2008

Word of the Day: Bonking

I heard this very weird-sounding term from a rock climber friend, but he says it applies to any type of exercise, biking, hiking, etc.

Bonking: "Expression to describe exercise induced low blood sugar levels; being a feeling of light-headedness and weakness in all limbs."
Usage: "I ran 10 miles and bonked out at 5 miles."

OK, so I know that there are people out there who work so hard that they forget to eat. I do it sometimes. In fact, this happened to me just yesterday at a barbecue. I ended up being the cook and being so industrious, I forgot to grab a bite. This was a grad student barbecue so no one was shy about taking food.

I hadn't had any lunch either, so I bonked out halfway through the barbecue. I had a turkey burger, but that really wasn't enough to make up for the day

And I am really feeling the effects of low blood sugar today. If I didn't, I would probably have an amazing post about something in marketing or social media.

So the lesson to this story is: Make a point of eating when you're supposed to, because the effects can last longer than just a day.



Friday, April 4, 2008

Time is on Your Side--Ways to Prioritize and Organize

I am finding life is becoming more fulfilling, challenging and interesting lately. I think a lot of people who are motivated and very busy can easily get overwhelmed in the number of things that are to "get done." How do you stay on top of all of your clients, your co-workers, friends, family...?

This week has been very interesting and rewarding as I made some changes to my organization system so that I could be better at keeping track of my goals and making meetings on time. Tasks are boring, but goals are always interesting.

1) The Zenhabits Most Important Tasks rule. You will always have to decide on whether something can be done now or later. Of course you don't want to base it on what you FEEL like doing, because there isn't much reward in that. Just don't be surprised if your dishes don't get done right away...unless that is a Most Important Task for you. (On that note, I stick my dishes in the dishwasher to save time and water.)

Also, there are things that I don't schedule anymore, like if I am going to meet a friend or have an informal meeting, I am a little more relaxed about the time. I think that also makes my friends feel more relaxed and then everyone is happy.

2) Don't get sidetracked. It's easy to pull up your e-mail if you're doing something very uninteresting, but it's actually better to set times up when you check your e-mail rather than doing it throughout the day.

Also props to Remember the Milk for creating a really cool plugin for Firefox & Gmail so that when I wake up in the morning and check my e-mail, all my to-dos are right there next to my e-mail. It's like having my own personal assistant tell me what I should be doing instead of checking my e-mail.

3) Have an emergency toolkit for on-the-go occasions. Sometimes I have day trips to San Francisco and I am overly prepared on those days. I keep extra pens and pencils in my bag, my laptop, iPod nano, porfolio with a notepad, laptop, lunch, snack, everything! It makes it easier to keep all supplies in one bag so that when I do go mobile, I have my entire toolkit on me.

The result: At the end of the week, I am less stressed, happier, and more productive. Now, one more yoga class for the week and I will have done as much as I could--without stressing myself out, because extra stress is the last thing anyone wants.



Thursday, April 3, 2008

Start-Up 101: 15 Reasons Not to Be An Entrepreneur

Props to the blogger who wrote this article on Business Pundit. It's true. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, so it's best to think twice. Some of the interesting points on this list are "long working hours" and "sacrificing quality time." A lot of people think that you become an entrepreneur and you work less hours and have more time to play, but the reality is you while you do have more flexibility, you have an obligation towards yourself and your business. Check out the article and let me know what you think!

Top 15 Reasons
15. Long Working Hours
14. Sacrificing Quality Time
13. Hard Work
12. Difficulty Finding Investment
11. Uncertainty
10. Dealing With The Problem Of Inconsistent Income
9. Risk Of Failure
8. Lack Of Reward Begats Lower Motivation
7. Personality Problems
6. Finding Good Staff Is A Challenge
5. Dealing With The Possibility Of Failure
4. Working With A Tight Budget
3. Managing Cashflow Is Tricky
2. The Lack of Benefits
1. Dealing With Negative Feedback



Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Start-Up 101: How to Be a Media Darling (And What Not to Do)

Just starting your own business or need a refresher on how to speak to the media? If you want to get your message across, don't forget these three tips:
1) Craft a well-spun story that will inspire your targeted audience--offer anecdotes and examples that will encourage the audience to relate to you
2) Train yourself to read industry news and research the publications and have a solid idea about who you want to talk to.
3) Tailor your story to the needs of the blog or publication and the interests of the blogger or reporter

...and What Not to Do
Last week, I interviewed a very nice gentleman who was starting a fundraising company targeted at helping the Christian community do their fundraising. I should mention that he has a lot of optimism and drive to see his company through, but there were definite challenges in trying to get the story. Also, he is OK with the idea that I'm using this as a blog post.

First of all, it's a challenging story to write because religion is a sensitive subject. I felt that with the right story, I could dance around the religion subject, to meet the needs of The Millennium Marketer, a corporate-targeted, social media-oriented, start-up mentality blog.

1) Don't forget to read the publication that you are speaking to. In other words, make your ideas relevant.
Unfortunately, my friend with the Christian start-up company tied every message that he had to God. It sounded to me that Jesus is the CEO and he is the sub-CEO, but that is the message he was telling me. Every other word was, "I did this to follow God's word...my motivation is God...my role model is God...my passion is church." That is totally fine for a Christian blog or publication, but maybe that won't work so well for other media outlets that you want to reach out to.

2) Don't come unprepared. Practice makes perfect.
This goes back to the first point. This friend didn't have quick answers for simple questions, such as what are your hobbies, what do you enjoy doing? You have to know yourself, your company, and be able to pull up all the history of your company on the spot. Lack of preparation is probably one of the reasons for the fall-back "God" answer.

3) Don't forget what your message is and the reason why you want to get in front of the media.
At different times of the interview, this gentleman also mentioned his weaknesses, which wasn't part of any question that I asked him. I didn't have any choice but to record this information. He didn't seem quite sure what the story was that he wanted to tell me.

There are many great Christians out there in the world, but many people have heard about the Bible, a thousand-year document, for many, many years.

Bottom line: If you want to inspire others, come up with an original story and message that will get people excited about you and the product that you are trying to sell.



Monday, March 31, 2008

Stay Tuned for More Content

There are some new developments coming up soon on the Millennium Marketer. I hadn't had time to post recently, so my apologies. There is still some discussion as to what will happen with Yahoo! and Microsoft, so I would love to see some conversation around this.
Here's a quick preview on what will be posted next:

  • Environmentally friendly articles
  • More profiles on Silicon Valley entrepreneurs
  • More industry news and new perspectives on corporate marketing
  • Some more tactical tips on using social media for your business

    Stay tuned folks!



  • Thursday, March 27, 2008

    Open Social - Yahoogle?!

    Last week, I saw something about OpenSocial being used through Google Gadgets.

    Open Social still has a lot of kinks in it as a newly released October 2007 source code interface, although as more social networking applications are created, the more important it will be from a developer or marketing standpoint to implement this API. It's uncertain how quickly adoption of the API will pick up.

    Even more astonishing--Yahoo! is combining forces with Google to strengthen the Open Social platform. And then you say, "What? Aren't they rivals??"

    Yes, but according to BusinessWeek, "Yahoo is still fighting off Microsoft's marriage proposal, but it is still open to making friends."

    Another site, Techtree.com, India, says the plot of the story is like many Bollywood potboilers. "Now Google and Yahoo! seem to be becoming the new best friends for each other."

    As rivals, they have their interests much more aligned than with Microsoft, and it's no secret that Google is constantly pursuing products to reduce market share for Microsoft. Well, that explains the drama, at least for now.



    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Start-Up 101: Goal Setting and Visioning

    Usually, I post about other entrepreneurs but today, I decided it was about time I wrote from my own experience.

    I am sure many people have experienced this situation: you wake up in the morning, practice all matters of human morning rituals and then get to work. When you arrive, you are faced with a long to-do list, and all anyone cares about is results.

    I will admit that today is not an easy day for me. My to-do list is long and it is easy to forget why these tasks were created in the first place.

    On days like this, I remember my goal-setting mantra: "Strive through the narrow gate." It means that if you want to something, anything, you must work to achieve it.

    This mantra gets me through my most frustrating moments. Entrepreneurs won't tell you this, but they have these moments too.

    Three things a person must do to continue to strive through the narrow gate:

    1) Determine the goal you want to set and when you want to accomplish it.
    I set a goal to run on the treadmill for 40 minutes (10 minutes more than my usual 30) in addition to 5 minutes for warm up and 5 minutes to cool down.

    2) Consider the motivation behind this goal. What will be your reward for your achievement? I decided that if I could run the treadmill for 40 minutes, then I could prove to myself that I was capable of completing any goal that I set. The reward in this case was the accomplishment itself. It may not always be the case, however.

    3) And most importantly, celebrate the goals that you accomplish and evaluate the ones that did not have the outcomes you anticipated. Find meaning in yourself as a human being before you commit yourself to accomplishing tasks like a robot.

    For me, this is the toughest part of goal setting, because routine was not a part of my life as a child. My parents tended towards the unexpected. But it is also the most important because it sets the stage for consistent, successful goal-setting.

    Whenever you feel yourself getting frantic and thinking about the next task when the one in front of you is unfinished, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Try to feel comfortable with yourself as a person in the present. It is difficult to do because it is a human state to be dissatisfied. We worry constantly about what is next on the to-do list.

    If you can admire yourself for being who you are, then you won't be worried about job titles or stay with in-the-box thinking. I have found that if I give myself more credit for my accomplishments, I can trust myself well enough to try more daring things. When I set the goal to run on the treadmill for 40 minutes and I succeeded, this event led to a 1 hour rock climbing session and I had no fear of what anyone would think of my rock climbing abilities. I was able to ask more questions and learn more tricks. Because I was open to myself, I was open to others.

    Entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship is about "striving through the narrow gate" and staying optimistic. When things get hard, it's best not to get angry, but to step back and look at the opportunities to do things differently.



    Sunday, March 23, 2008

    Social Media Marketing - Observations

    Social media-ites say that companies have to get into the conversation and that this is the "it" trend. Yet according to Charlene Li's Groundswell/Forrester blog, from a 2007 Forrester survey, most people in the overall US fall under the "Spectators" (people who read online content) or "Inactives" (Do not use online media at all) category.

    It could be that we are in social media bubble. Some companies will rise and fall--thus is the name of the game, as competition is the main motive behind business.

    The reaction that I have to the Forrester tool is that if they are using random samples of people across the US and other nations, and most people fall under the "Spectators" category (around 48% of the sampled US population), how do you increase participation? Marketers are often challenged with creating brand loyalty and only few companies, like Apple do it well.

    Here are a few ideas:

    1) Blogs are an easy way to transition from traditional PR to social media PR.
    It's highly involved, however and so some way of building analytics into your blog is important as well. Most people read online content and the lines between traditional media and online media are becoming blurred.

    2) Your Brand Followers will respond to some ideas more than others. Listen to what they have to say and continue on those avenues but don't be shy about introducing other relevant content.

    3) Relevance is important. Sports fans won't be interested in a conversation about cooking, although you can have sports fans that are avid cooks--it's just a smaller group of people, and ideally you want to reach out to a larger group. I try to keep random topics to the weekends, and industry talk and peripheral marketing stuff seems to be OK because my objective is to offer my point of view.

    4) Think Viral Marketing and how to employ those same kinds of strategies to proliferate talk about your company, but be ready to listen to negative comments as well as positive.

    5) Since there are different levels of participation, think about ways to reach out to people on those different levels. While some might enjoy creating content, the majority of people are happy just reading a few things and then moving on.

    Feel free to add to this list!

    Updated Monday, March 24, 2008



    Friday, March 21, 2008

    Blog like a Winner

    There is an article on NY Times today that appeals to my blogger ego. How do you get people to read what you write? There is so much "noise" out there that is near impossible to get eyes on the page, although there are some great tools out there, like Feedburner and Facebook that have worked well for me to publicize and analyze my traffic.

    Some great tips on the New York Times article that I thought were really interesting:
    1) Don't blog for money...it takes tons of readers to make those pennies and nickels become a fat check.
    2) Write about what you are passionate about (but I think this means you can't forget that you do have an audience)
    3) Fit blogging into holes in your schedule--who would have thought, it's not something you add to your to do list, but when you have a gap between your to-dos?

    It would be cool to get some comments from other bloggers on what has worked for them. This is one of those weird conversations that people have a lot because the internet is still so complex. A guy I met the other day said the Internet is the "modern unconsciousness."



    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    Yahoo Decides to Regroup

    I jumped on to the web today to find out the most recent verdict on the Microhoo! investment. Yahoo has received a lot of pressure from stockholders and consumers who have complained that Yahoo would be a sell out if it sells to Microsoft.

    I mentioned previously that Yahoo! and Microsoft would have had trouble merging, even though Microsoft has been adamant that a Yahoo! acquisition would strengthen their presence on the web. And of course, many questions arise about what happens with Yahoo mail and Hotmail if they were combined.

    In any case, Yahoo finally concluded to Microsoft that they would have to step out of the offer because Microsoft had largely undervalued the company with its February 1st bid of $44.6 billion.

    More on this in Infoworld's article, "Cheapskate."



    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    Gas and Traffic on Mapquest

    I was on Mashable and apparently MapQuest, which I think gives really bad directions for a map service now has a traffic report service. Maybe they will rival Google?

    One thing that is cool, which does not rely on directions is MapQuest's Gas Prices feature. Good to see a brand name associated with this kind of service. It looks like in my area we are up to $3.50 for regular gas at the low end and $3.60 at the high end. It won't be long before we reach the $4 mark, and even if there is such thing as inflation, gas prices are just ridiculous.



    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    China Blocks YouTube

    So the story on BoingBoing today is huge. I had heard the news through the Facebook RSS grapevine and an old high school classmate's status feed.

    China has blocked YouTube due to religious issues or what not and generally being the big bully, turning a cold shoulder against Tibet and YouTube lovers in China are also suffering.

    Not such a smart move right before the Beijing Olympics creeping up in August.



    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    The Social Media Bubble

    OK...this is a bit of a gripe. But I have to say since Facebook is announcing an IM program, just how many IM programs do we need to have, how many blogs and how many microblogs à la Twitter do we really, really need just to connect to the people we care about?

    Sure, there's a great potential for competition in this market space, but at some point, it has to scale enough so that the consumer feels like he/she has enough buying power. Most people have no idea that these technologies exist at this point.



    Friday, March 14, 2008

    Angry Journalist Gripes About Social Media

    Whenever a journalist writes a blogpost with an angry rant against public relations practitioners, the word spreads like wildfire. Agencies cross their fingers and close their eyes before reading the forward that gets past around.

    I didn't really believe it before but journalists apparently do get angry about being under appreciated for their talents. Good writers are getting quickly trumped by technology and the paper boy isn't worth much to me either. As far as I am concerned, I don't want a wad of paper delivered to my home every day, especially when my News Central is right at my desktop after I check my e-mail.

    I visited The Angry Journalist and the most recent gripe by Angry Journalist #2201 is a fairly amusing gripe about Social Media:

    "Does journalism even exist anymore? A five-line blurb on the Web? Whoop de doo. Get a real job."

    It's not really clear what his gripe is about exactly, it could be the idea that newspapers don't publish new news and blogs are ubiquitous at this point. But yeah, I get that. Journalists are struggling to keep up, but just like everybody else, journalists have to innovate themselves. After a few months at a local daily paper, entirely paid by local advertisers, I knew I had to get out. The newspaper's publisher at the time refused to even archive their paper on the web.

    As a girl who met her first Apple computer at age 9, I thought this was just ridiculous.

    Angry Journalist #2201, I get where you are coming from. News quality is decreasing and the level of information on the web is just crazy. But maybe, just maybe, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Who said journalism has to be owned by a select few? The first newspaper was probably started by a guy who was experimenting with a printing press and just went around talking to people. No joke.



    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Start-Up 101: The Beat of a Different Drum

    This may be stepping away from the norm but one of the challenges in the hi-tech world, but it seems necessary to take a different perspective. Social media-ists are really into their social media world and just waiting for creative tools to take off.

    We really forget that Silicon Valley isn't made up of just social media-ists or web 2.0 or those who support all these new ventures made possible by the Internet.
    True--Silicon Valley is a place for start-ups and it is only here that people are willing to try, financial pros are willing to fund and overall, everyone is prepared for failure, if it happens.

    I spoke with a professional drummer with a 20+ year career, Dave Gary, Jr. and asked him what he thought about Silicon Valley. Dave has talent--at age 14, he picked up a drum set for the first time and impressed a teacher.

    I couldn't tease much information out of him with the typical interview questions. When asked about his professional goals, he asked in return, "What is the goal in life?"

    When asked about his passions other than drumming, he wouldn't answer. "I do what most people do as a hobby, and that's just what I do."

    But really, Dave isn't any different from your VC, entrepreneur or the next CEO. His biggest frustration is "bad musicians that think they're good, and they just don't have any idea what it takes to be good." Not even people with talent cannot take their gifts for granted.

    He says that whoever you are, whether a doctor or a businessman, you will always face challenges. "A lot of college kids come out of college thinking they can just get a job. But what about the guy next to you who also has that piece of paper?"

    He also sees Silicon Valley as a working beehive and he isn't sure if most people know how to think for themselves. "Most people in Silicon Valley attend (music) shows, but they don't really listen. They hang out because they have money to pour into The Place (whatever is trendy) but they don't really listen. They don't know what to do--they're a bit robotic."

    He talks about passion and doing what you love. At age 18, he majored in accounting at university for "almost a semester--I quit right before finals." But when he went to college, he realized fast that an accounting major may please his parents but it wasn't making him money. When he played music, he was making money--at 16, "I made more money than most of my friends playing music than they made working at McDonald's."

    But Dave is making money because he is doing what is important to him. He says people in Silicon Valley face a lot of competition and work hard, but it's not enough to just work hard. "Make money or invent something--those without vision perish."

    As I spoke to Dave, it was simply clear that it's not enough to just work a 9 to 5 job, not enough to do what everybody else does. And, career paths aren't linear. Without redacting the message, it seemed to me that this was just a man who has done what he is passionate about all his life. It has made his personal life simple and his professional life challenging.



    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    Cookie Monster Goes on a Diet



    I noticed an article in Point-of-Purchase Times, an in-store marketing trade magazine about how fruit vendors in grocery stores are putting Cookie Monster and Elmo as spokespeople in their stores to diminish child obesity.

    I love the ingenuity of this campaign and the irony. It's comical that Cookie Monster would start motivating children to eat fruit. He isn't named the Cookie Monster for nothing. Can Cookie Monster throw around crumbs of fruit the same entertaining way he has done with cookies over the past 20 years?

    But from a marketing standpoint, this isn't a bad transition. Some stats show that the rate of obesity in children 2 to 19 is about 17% and it's great to see marketers putting themselves out there to truly benefit customers.



    Monday, March 10, 2008

    Social Media for Everyone

    Well, I can't say it's not true. There are still very few people who use the wide range of social media tools that are out there and most people think it is about YouTube and Facebook or MySpace.

    Mack Collier on Marketing Profs is talking about social media tools like Twitter, Seesmic, and Viddler.

    I don't know what it is about these social media tools but the average person doesn't just integrate social media tools into their life, probably because they aren't quick software gadget adopters. Sure, if you go to the South by Southwest conference, you have a microcosm of bloggers and social media chatters. Unfortunately, this won't catch on with everybody.

    It would be cool to see Twitter grow big but Facebook status messages seem to work nicely for most people. This is a dilemma for those who want to add more social media tools to the webosphere.

    By the way, here's a video posted by Guy Kawasaki on his blog about how he and Steve Ballmer had a witty tete-a-tete. To me, this is like web 1.0 vs. web 2.0



    Friday, March 7, 2008

    The Start-Up 101 Series: Sumaya Kazi

    The Young Entrepreneur in Millenia 2.0

    With the rise of web 2.0, social networking and RSS feeds, there is a lot of noise out there in the marketing world. But how about marketing yourself?

    I had the pleasure of speaking with Sumaya Kazi over the phone last weekend. Recognized as one of CNN’s Young People Who Rock last year, we spoke from our individual home offices—she in San Francisco East Bay and me in San Jose.

    So how exactly does Sumaya rock? Nicknamed the “media maven” by Brass Magazine, she’s got the stuff to rival Mark Zuckerberg because she practically holds down three jobs as a social media manager at Sun Microsystems and the founder of two entrepreneurial ventures: The Cultural Connect and I Give a Damn! (IGAD) network. She is also incredibly smart: she can identify pressure points quickly and qualify questions to get her message across.

    Sumaya has accurately identified two pressure points for young people in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. In Silicon Valley, entry-level jobs are hard to come by and with her website, The Cultural Connect, Sumaya pushed the envelope on entry-level jobs. Job titles don't faze her. Her belief is that it doesn’t matter how old or young you are, all it takes a little creativity and resource management.

    Second, the need for role models and inspiration is fierce and The Cultural Connect inspires people to consider that young people (particularly those with hyphenated cultural backgrounds who aren’t as exposed in the media) have the tools and skill sets that they need to succeed. The Cultural Connect features five separate media outlets (DesiConnect, AsiaConnect, MidEast Connect, LatinConnect and AfricanaConnect) to showcase young professionals and encourages others to connect if they are interested in learning more about someone in their profession.

    Sumaya may not think of herself as an entrepreneur, but she tells me that opportunities for business stem from complaints that people have. “If there is a problem and there’s an ability to fix a need, then you have a business.”

    But while most people have one business, Sumaya is juggling three. What is her secret? Like Grégoire Gentil, she says it’s important to delegate.

    Delegating tasks is key. It is what allows her to have time for friends and family, salsa dancing, and other activities that let her bring stress levels down. "The busier I get the more I would go out dancing."

    She admits that juggling three businesses is tough, but she keeps going because it’s exciting to work with young people who are so inspired themselves. Some are recent college graduates and they are the people who make The Cultural Connect and IGAD network come alive.

    In other words, young people aren't limited by the opportunities that are out there. All we have to do is open our eyes to the fact, create our own opportunities and chase after our dreams in a new way.



    Monday, March 3, 2008

    Montreal Canadiens vs. San Jose Sharks




    I have a special place in my heart for the French Canadians due to informal family ties but there really isn't any other place like home. The game is on the radio while I babysit my nephew.

    His French Canadian parents are out at the game for the first two sessions and I can't help but think it would be a lot more fun if I were there too. I could add to the suspense, holler myself silly for the San Jose Sharks amongst the Montreal Canadien fans and release tension.

    The funny thing is that I've never been a team sport fan and I'm not super patriotic seeing that I am more of a global citizen than a San Jose local. But San Jose is the closest place to home I have in my adult life, so when the American anthem came on, I could not help myself. I had to sing along.

    It's Round 1 and San Jose Sharks are leading 2 to 1.

    GO SHARKS!!!

    More on the game on Yahoo! Sports.

    UPDATE:Sharks won 6 to 4 and Campbell scored a very last shot and he says he did it "just for the fans." Canadiens played a little bit sloppy which gave Sharks a bit of an advantage but it was a fun game. I saw the last 10 minutes at HP Pavilion!



    Sunday, March 2, 2008

    Clean Tech Trade-offs Affect Trees, Birds

    As more residential homes are outfitted with solar panels, these zero-emission homes are demanding that neighboring homes
    cut down their redwoods. While there is a suggestion of ironic humor, it becomes more apparent that clean air technologies also demand trade-offs compared to traditional methods of energy.

    For example, some animal rights groups have raised an issue around wind power turbines. Some say that wind power farms are endangering bird species, including the current population of 255 whooping cranes.

    While it's great that engineers are making progress with discovering new technologies, sometimes it seems that these engineers haven't considered contingency planning in their design. Of course, there's been a lot of controversy around clean tech for some years now and it's challenging to solve these kinds of problems. I just wish there was some way that humans, plants and animals can get along so that we can all live on this planet in balance.



    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    Getting Things Done

    We've all struggled to achieve our goals and look at those who have done it successfully and think "oh, they're naturals--I'm not like that." I'm starting to think about this differently and although I've been aware that there are strategies out there to help achieve goals rather than think of goals to achieve.

    Recently, I've been getting in over my head with a ton of projects, because I keep thinking that if I can do it all, then I would be like one of the amazing people that I admire so much. I didn't used to be like this and I didn't use to value perfectionism in this way before, but I think going to B-school can change that quickly, because it's hard to tell what your classmates will do to get ahead.

    So I came across this blog article, the "Top 20 Motivation Hacks" and it talks about goal setting, how to stay disciplined, how to focus.

    The funny thing about this is that when I first started college, I thought of myself as something Zen and hippy. I wanted to be relaxed and have no set expectations. I was also vegetarian. Ironically, I felt more disciplined, less stressed and got more things done. The vegetarianism set a precedent for my life, because it kept me disciplined and in other areas of my life, I did not let myself go too crazy with my impulses, and made the practice of staying consistent a focus of my daily life.

    The Zenhabits blog really reminded me to keep things in perspective. This is the overall message: Try not to achieve perfectionism, but instead, focus on being in the moment, remember that every goal is a way to create something good and be forgiving towards the Self when things don't go as planned. This is the way to allow room for improvement and growth.

    There's apparently a book out there which is famous for these ideas called Getting Things Done by David Allen. I think between motivation blogs and reality TV shows like Project Runway, Top Chef and Next Top Model, I might just have a solid recipe for keeping on track. Weird, I know, but those reality shows remind me that people who don't typically work in offices also have to commit to working hard to stay ahead.



    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Global Warming Affects Deluxe Foods

    Well, get ready because global warming is affecting our food, some say. The delicious high end foods like black truffles that some of us enjoy with reckless abandon are going to disintegrate into our memories if nothing is done to save this earth that nurtures us.

    I always feel anxious when I start thinking about global warming and what it could do to us. What if we drown? I think of the image of the polar bear searching for a nice platform of ice to rest upon and how Al Gore says in the Inconvenient Truth that more polar bears are drowning than has ever been recorded in history.

    I have a surf board and it makes a fairly good boat, but imagine being on a boat with no food on earth to survive. Eerie. Very contrary, too, to Cormac McCarthy's version of an apocalypse in The Road where the world is ablaze in flames but I dare say it's the same concept.

    The famous Donner Family up in Lake Tahoe ate each other while stuck in the snow and in hunger, so who is to say that we won't do the same?



    Monday, February 25, 2008

    Your Story Matters

    Ever see Pursuit of Happyness, the movie starring Will Smith? The movie was based on the life of Chris Gardner, who took an unpaid internship and homeless, he and his two year old son slept in a BART restroom for the duration of the internship. Whenever I think of this story, I think that this man must have been made of something superhuman. "Could I have survived like this?"

    Did you know that no matter who you are, whether an individual or a company, you have a compelling story to tell? Last Saturday, I attended my graduate school's yearly networking event, the Fisher Fiesta. Prior to the usual dinner, Carmine Gallo spoke to us about his latest book, Fire Them Up!

    Leaders who inspire, he said, don't do it through numbers and technical facts. They paint a picture of their vision for the future. And, Gallo said, leaders like Steve Jobs, Suze Orman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chris Gardner are not the only ones who can motivate and inspire. Everyone has a story to tell.

    There was another message that Gallo did not illustrate outright but it became very clear to me during his talk. People have a really strong ability to influence each other. Our words and actions have impact on others and that is a power that we can learn to wield through practice and dedication. Each individual has the unique ability to inspire others and make a difference in the world.



    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    Splog

    I got splogged...so apologies for re-posting the post previously written around 4 p.m.

    For more information, please check The Splog Reporter. If you clicked on the comments link previously posted to this page, my apologies for any viruses this may have caused you.

    Actually it was not exactly "splog" it was more like a virus that spawns on your computer once you click on it. Brings up a webpage of sorts. Not sure what it is for.



    The Start Up 101 Series - Zonbu

    *I was going to post about revenue models today but I met with one of the co-founders of Zonbu today and could not resist posting this instead.*

    Business is often an elusive practice. For some odd reason, some businesses succeed and others fail simply by trial and error. So is the term entrepreneurship, and so I should point out here that for all the academic theory and research surrounding this idea, it is those who have been able to embody the spirit of entrepreneurship who have been truly successful.

    As for Grégoire Gentil, when I met him in his office on El Camino Real, it became evident that whatever the traits are for an entrepreneur, he is inexplicably an individual that embodies those traits not only in spirit but in action.

    Gentil launched three businesses since 1996. In 2006, Gentil and his colleague Alain Rossman created Zonbu.

    So what is Zonbu? The technology has the look and feel of the traditional desktop (for $99) or laptop (for $279) but isn't quite the desktop or laptop that we know. Aimed at casual laptop users, Zonbu provides an open source software where the computer is more of a portal to the data stored on a server somewhere rather than a computer.

    In addition to that, most of the company's revenue comes from a subscription based service rather than the device itself--a type of HP printer model where the printer itself is a cheap base price, but you pay more for the print cartridges later.

    Gentil, as a technology geek and avid trendwatcher, has been able to create what he calls a "disruptive technology"--the very thing that will keep away corporate giants like Dell and Microsoft from his market niche.

    As a disruptive technology, it tends to just elusive enough for the corporate giants not to move into this space, and Gentil attributes this to defining a very clear and specific niche where larger players may not be able to support.

    So how has Gentil been so successful at creating 4 start-ups to date? Gentil had no direct answer, except to say, "You have to be stubborn enough to believe in yourself and what you are doing, because others may not believe in what you are doing."

    He has also been very good at simply identifying solid trends and opportunities. Zonbu is the intersection between cloud computing, sound hardware design and open source. It's an ambitious idea for sure, as he has also been able to integrate poignant environmental issues into the benefits of the technology.

    For those of us who want to start a business, Gentil advises, "You have to start early." The older you are the less opportunity there is to succeed. My perception of this is that perhaps the more responsibilities and pressures there are to succeed. This is centrally against the principle that entrepreneurs must be able to pursue risk without boundaries because entrepreneurs risk failure just as much as success.

    However it seems that Gentil's skill at identifying opportunities, "stubborn" nature and technology knowledge have contributed most to Gentil's success thus far.

    In addition to that, it also helps if you "hire people who are smarter than you."



    Monday, February 18, 2008

    Microsoft loses sight of company goals



    I read Dean Takahashi's column today about how Apple has been very successful at innovating their products recently and taken away some of Microsoft's market share.

    Recently I wrote about Microsoft's offer to purchase Yahoo and I think Takahashi is right. Microsoft has to solidify their core business before they tackle the internet space. Yahoo as well seems to be losing sight of their core business by engaging in the Microsoft deal although more recent news suggests that stockholders are holding Yahoo back from making any deals, not to mention that such a merger would be challenging with two very different cultures.

    Microsoft may have been largely successful due to the large market share in PC products versus Apple in early years, but if the price point is right, consumers may just switch to Apple, and especially since it seems to have more intuitive and better software than Microsoft's products.

    *Updated: Photo to represent not the iPhone but the core business of computers, laptops and OS software. Courtesy of 65 Bit Computers.com



    Friday, February 15, 2008

    Robots to replace animal testing

    The BBC News today said that robots could be used to analyze chemicals and toxic effects of drugs on humans in place of animals.

    "The long-term goal is to reduce the cost, time and number of animals used in screening everything from pesticides to household chemicals."

    Cool idea, but the problem with robots is that they can only analyze facts and do not have the ability to make connections between two separate pieces of data, so that could be a problem currently.



    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    The Start Up 101 Series - The Opportunity

    Last week, I posted a little bit about what makes an entrepreneur, and that's the drive to succeed, stay focused and know when you see a good opportunity.
    There's a joke that I hear often in Silicon Valley that whenever someone says "I have a good idea," the common response is "You should start a company and get some VCs on that."

    A lot of times they don't mean it and anyway, it never matters what your friends or family say if you have an entrepreneurial idea. The only exception to that rule is if your friends are in the market that you want to appeal to.

    It's important to get it straight: opportunities and ideas are two different entities. An idea is something creative, fun and can certainly spark opportunities, but opportunities mean that you have something with which to create a business.

    Here's an example:
    At the Girl Geek Dinner hosted at Google, Katherine Barr of Mohr Davidow Ventures made a great suggestion to me. "If you think you have an opportunity, do some research first, test out your idea and ask them if they will buy your product or service."

    Let's say I am a former veterinarian with lots of experience and I decide that I want to sell fancy, customized natural dog food diet because I find that it's easy to make at home in manageable batches in my home oven.

    Will anyone buy it? If I do my research, I could go to a dog park and chat with the owners because that is where they all hang out and ask them, "I have this great customizable dog food product that is good for your dog, would you buy it?" It's best if I find places where dog fans, breeders, and owners hang out. Maybe at a dog park or a breeder's association gathering.

    If I talk to one hundred people and they all say "yes, I would buy it" then I have an opportunity. If they all say no, then I have a great idea but no opportunity. Maybe you have an 80 out of 100, then your chances are still high.

    Basic, but hard to put into practice. Next week, we'll talk about risk and revenue models specific to Web 2.0



    Wednesday, February 6, 2008

    The Start Up 101 Series - Traits of the Entrepreneur

    In the next week or so, I will be writing a series of articles that I will call "The Start Up 101" Series which will be my observations on entrepreneurship from meeting entrepreneurs and what makes a start-up opportunity successful. Not only that--but people can be entrepreneurial while working at corporate companies and there are several Silicon Valley companies prefer this approach than the traditional corporate style.

    Some of things that I will cover in the next week based on my observations:
    - Characteristics of an entrepreneur
    - Identifying opportunities
    - Goal setting and creating benchmarks
    - Surveying the competitive landscape
    - And more as I think of other related topics.

    Today is about defining characteristics of entrepreneurs.

    First, I'll start by defining my personally coined term "Rookie Stylie." I don't think I had a chance up to now to define what "Rookie Stylie" really means to me. It is finesse, confidence and individuality to make connections and think critically about the business world. Not only that, I will have to say that it is also about being a young professional, maybe in your twenties and having a ton of potential to live up to your passions versus the old skool paradigm of working for the Man.

    Entrepreneurship is the art of "taking or entering into opportunities" and many people here have dreams of having their own start-up or company. In Silicon Valley, where everyone is trying to stay competitive, we have to be our own agents or consultants, even if we are working in the corporate world. I don't think you have to be a public figure in your community to be an entrepreneur, per se, but you can be an aspiring entrepreneur if you have passion and motivation to work towards dreams and life goals. The fame comes afterwards (and only if it really is fame that you are seeking. Personally I think being a strong thought leader is a service to the community not a celebrity role.)

    Another aspect that is important is to stay focused. I learned recently that it is easy to get distracted because there are a lot of wonderful things in the world that can pull away one's attention, but having an entrepreneurial spirit means you're able to seperate the important stuff from the "crap" much like we have to do with a lot of the information that is available us through the internet today.

    Next up: how can you recognize you have a good opportunity to pursue?

    Resources

  • New Venture Creation by Timmons & Spinelli
  • Women 2.0
  • Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs



  • Tuesday, February 5, 2008

    Fashion at Work

    There's always an issue with how women should dress at work and what is too revealing and what's just right. An article on WSJ discusses this. Not much to comment on except, you would think that as "highly evolved" human beings in the internet age, we wouldn't be so stuck on appearance. But people create visual cues on a professional's status level based on appearance. This is probably the most frustrating thing about working as a young professional woman, as I do try to uphold personal finance and spend within my limits. While a man can buy a single suit, women can't often wear the same piece of clothing twice and get away with it.

    If truth be told, carnal traditions of status, hierarchy and power that have existed for centuries still exist today. For a country that values democracy and equality we can still say those are still values because no man or woman can climb the ranks in rags.



    Friday, February 1, 2008

    Microsoft-Yahoo

    The world is abuzz today as Microsoft has proposed to buy Yahoo! AND Yahoo! is actually considering the offer. There are often mixed feelings for users of services acquisitions happen like this. Microsoft isn't great when it comes to innovation and has been better at simply buying companies who innovate well.

    I'm surprised because in some ways, I felt like I should have seen this coming. Microsoft started to go after the big players when they made a bid on Facebook and it's starting to be come clearer now that they want a bigger share of the online space, while they have been leaders in desktop software for a long time.

    Economically speaking, mergers are never good for consumers. First of all, Yahoo's problem recently has been in scalability and Microsoft can't solve that problem. There is going to be a lot of organizational change if and when the merger takes place. Second, Microsoft's goals and Yahoo's don't seem well aligned. Microsoft is a stodgy old, uninnovative company and Yahoo needs to figure out some way to act quicker, stay nimble against their number 1 competitor Google.

    Maybe it's because I am a user of Yahoo products, but this just sounds like a bad idea.

    Other articles fielded on this story:

  • TechCrunch-"Wow"
  • The Guardian UK - "What would a Microsoft-Yahoo deal mean for web users?"
  • InformationWeek - "Microsoft Proposes To Buy Yahoo For $31 Share, In $44.6-Billion Deal"



  • Thursday, January 31, 2008

    Girl Geek

    Sorry I did not post anything yesterday but I had a real world experience with synergy and building human relationships offline at the SVAMA Networking event last night. There was such a diverse crowd ranging from consultants, graphic designers, young people just getting their feet wet to seasoned professionals.

    There were a few fab Rookie Stylie marketing professionals
    and I was just impressed by their finesse, so much that I think I will just have to work a little harder to keep up with them.

    I met another Asian-American guy there too and we were having a good time talking and joking. I am all about diversity and sometimes extremely pro-diversity but sometimes it's good to meet someone of the same cultural background who immediately understands where you are coming from.

    I am going to the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner tonight in Mountain View, so I will have something to report on that later.

    It is totally sold out and I am going to be so shocked to see *this* many girls in Silicon Valley all at one place.

    Hasta.



    Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    Logo play



    I've been trying to learn some Photoshop techniques and made up my own logo in the process.

    This logo goes with a pitch that says, "I help entrepreneurs understand how to develop their business strategies clearly and easily."

    There are a ton of Photoshop tutorials on YouTube that can help and of course, obviously I can't do anything fancy like graphic designers do. Not sure which tagline would sound better, so if any thoughts, I'm open to your ideas on this creative endeavor.



    Monday, January 28, 2008

    The Pity Scam

    A high school junior from Del Mar High School came to my door this evening. I've been fairly disappointed lately after the Fed cut and the overall state of the economy recently and worried about how that would affect the future.

    So when a high school kid with a 3.7 GPA comes to your door and asks you to sign up for the newspaper so he can get money to go to college while you're thinking about the state of the economy, then you've been scammed. A previous article in the Stanford Review talks about how the California Newspaper Sales & Marketing group targets lower income students to get them to sell newspapers.

    If you see a young kid asking you to help out in his fate for success in college, it's better not to listen. It's a smart scheme on the part of the company because they know that the people most likely to buy the newspapers in print are people who value education and will have some expendable income.

    In my case, curiosity killed the cat. Turns out these kids are paid for their part time jobs and the kid who seemed so motivated at first, when asked, didn't know what school he wanted to go to but wants to become a CSI investigator.

    This is one of those cases when marketing is not educating, it's deceiving.



    Sunday, January 27, 2008

    On working and the workforce

    It's Sunday so I thought to indulge in a little bit of blogging transparency, because after all, we are in a post-consumerism age where most people are used to being marketed to and I know that for myself, I'm just looking for a bit of honesty in the world.* I'm taking a stand on this in the perspective spirit of Cormac McCarthy's The Road and his book has a very scary but beautiful quality to it which I can't match up here, but at least that will help create the idea of why this blog post should be shrouded with a spray of misty fear.

    On Friday, I alluded to this idea that according to the sociological belief about the different generations in the workforce, Millenials may not grasp the idea of what it means to hit "rock bottom" because we're spoiled. (PINK Magazine has a great article about "Gen Y" which will offer some perspective.)

    Well, I'd like to disagree a little bit about Millenials being spoiled. I think a lot of us are willing to work and work hard, but our definition is probably a little bit different from generations of workers before us. One thing that has always perturbed me about the job marketing for young people entering the workforce in Silicon Valley is its highly competitive nature, relative to other cities, as it is full of seasoned workers. So, perhaps I am not looking the right places because the Hidden Job Market plays a huge role here, but it's tough going to win a job, especially for someone who is just starting out and looking for experience. Also, the pricing isn't a great motivator: I scanned a few job boards today just to get an idea of how I can illustrate this point. There are a lot of internships with exciting descriptions which are either don't pay or offer a small stipend. This means most of the money better be coming from somewhere else and it's scary to think, it's really true that survival is not easy.

    And then there is something else that I find a little bit scary about working. Social networking tools definitely make networking easier and creating individual publicity easier but the economy is going up and down so much that people are working harder and harder. Work is a good thing, it keeps people busy and hopefully it leads to living fulfilling lives.

    But since we're no longer confined to the 9 to 5 in professional jobs, and the internet is pervasive in all its ways, I've been debating whether this affects families and general human relationships, "in person" versus over your social network.

    Sometimes I look at the myriad of ways people can communicate over the internet and the amount of time people may spend working just to survive; and maybe I'm being naive but it doesn't always make a lot of sense that families don't have a lot of time to spend together.

    Also, I read this article called What should I do With My Life? and look at the comments. There are so many people who expressed their struggle and troubles trying to find passion. A lot of them sound disjointed and I think that is scary.

    So, readers out there, what do you think? Is it possible to have a fulfilling family life and a good job? What does the "Pursuit of Happyness" really mean now in 2008?



    Friday, January 25, 2008

    Classic Black Must Come Back

    How does it happen that the entire health of the stock market is affected by one Rogue Trader can mobilize the Fed to do something?

    My former accounting and personal finance professor once said that the best way to buy stocks is to go by the old saying "Buy in May and Go Away." If you believe in the health of the company that you paid for and the health of the US economy, then there shouldn't be any need to micromanage the company.

    Now that is going to change because the US economy is not so stable. China, the sleeping giant, is just at the birth of the Industrial revolution and moving fast. A lot of Americans still think of credit cards as free money and look beyond interest rates as negative incentives not to pay off their debts, which is probably what gave in to the subprime crisis anyway.

    Fellow Millenials: Listen up! USE that altruistic nature that you so value and help the US prepare for a healthier economic future. You don't want to end up on the streets smelling more like ammonia than Coco Chanel.

    Yes, I am a millenial too and yes, perhaps I was spoiled by doting parents but once they let go, you get the real idea about what rock bottom looks like.

    Living in the "now" is not as important as living comfortably. We're most likely not going to remember the fancy Coach bag at age 80 and in need of health treatment that probably costs just as much as the bag, which won't be trendy any longer.

    The way the financial sector has structured their marketing tactics (0% APR, Health Services on Credit, Buy Two for One, etc) just to increase market size has to change. It's done nothing but taught us that everything is for free, even if temporarily. And it's obvious that today's market simply has the kind of behavior that expects everything for free: free internet, free services and instant cash. Young people have to become more educated about the way they spend their money. The color black is almost always in fashion, so ladies, gents and metrosexuals, let's try to remember that red should only be used in moderation.

    And for the anti-consumers out there: you know you're just as bad toting lululemon gear, $50 to $100 fair trade yoga bag and taking yoga classes that most likely cost you $150 per month. This is enough to feed a family in Cambodia for half a year.

    Let's get real here. Do something huge, save the world economy by SAVING. And if you're going to make an investment, do it but don't expect instant gains. We're going to need it when Hydroxatone becomes our new best friend.



    Thursday, January 24, 2008

    Facebook

    This is just a random observation but I daresay in my group of friends, those who are reaching their 30s are less likely to use Facebook and then you have the oddball professor or teacher or parent who is trying to stay hip and connect with their teenagers. Are these non-Facebook users laggards or simply not interested?



    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Your Social Media Voice, Locally

    I feel the need to tip my hat towards a former client, whose most recent project is in the social media space. He calls it Locavox or "Local Voice" and is currently serving Monterey, CA as well as a global, generic community.

    While Locavox gives a nod to sites like Truemors and other social bookmarking sites like Digg.com there is a bit of a twist that makes it really unique.

    Locavox can also write their own articles or link to their own blogs about local events and the idea is to create an online community for people who live in the same area. It's a bit like how Facebook is able to create online networks or groups. But not only that, it the news that you posted appears the most newsworthy to the community in any given week, it will be published in print.

    The print option should appeal to the retiree community in Monterey who can enjoy the news a second time. What do you think?



    Tuesday, January 22, 2008

    Intoxicating rosemary

    This is really a divergence from the usual subject matter but I just can't think straight. I bought some really fragrant rosemary from Trader Joe's and was making a sauce with it, hung it over my kitchen sink to dry, then started to get blurry, spotty vision and now nausea. It's really odd, actually because I have not had this kind of reaction before.

    I searched a few articles on the internet and it's said that some people can be allergic to rosemary oils and experience nausea.

    Need to get out of the house but I am so dizzy....



    Hooray for Readius

    Just read on Reuters.com today that a Dutch company is going to launch Readius, a handheld mobile device with a Kindle Reader like screen. It's a Phillips subsidiary that is launching the product and I must say, we all love mobile and we like the idea of the Kindle Reader which is why I'm getting really interested in this product. Reviewers of the Kindle have commented that the Kindle is kind of clunky and 70s-ish and I think Readius could solve that problem. It sounds like a good idea to have a phone that you can use and a reader that you can pull out when you feel like reading.

    Now all we have to do is wait for the reviewers to start giving their pros and cons on this product.

    It's going to be priced the same as the iPhone, though, so that will really put up some barriers for people like me who are laggards and tend to wait and see what they early adopters do with such a thing.



    Sunday, January 20, 2008

    Oh, Cellie, Where Art Thou?

    I lost my phone between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 17 and it's a bit like losing a third ear. The last place I saw it was on my kitchen table on silent mode and I don't remember moving it, although it could have gone to Peet's Coffee with me between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m. but I don't recall taking it.

    I have not been so bummed in my life.

    We now live in an age where cell phones are our primary, private lines. I doubt teenagers nowadays ask for a private line in their room. They probably ask for an internet connection and a cell phone. Even Grandma might use a cell phone to text her BFF (can't remember which cell phone commercial that is from).

    That is partly why I have not written in the past couple of days, too, because when I am mobile without internet connection, my cell phone is my mouthpiece, my method to contact a friend who can navigate me out when I am lost (which is often) and my meeting maker. It's tough to make weekend plans without a cell phone, especially in a day where I plan to meet different people at different times of the day but we haven't decided what time exactly we will meet, which is after the other thing I am doing. Also hard to call people to let them know if I will meet them and find out where to meet because I don't have phone numbers anywhere but on my cell phone.

    I also miss out on who's planning to do what and when, and who is involved or planning on joining.

    The other thing that is annoying about not having a cell phone is that I cannot text the Google 411 line to get information about a place if I just need a phone number or an address without bothering anybody I know and without paying $1.75 or more for a 411 call.

    Last, it's the "not-knowing" how many missed calls I have and from whom that really gets to me. I have about a dozen of missed calls on it from my house but besides that I have no idea.



    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    Social Media for B2B


    I'm still debating whether social media applies to the B2B market. For example, if government niche marketers most likely won't be using social media because of the bureaucracy that remains in the market, but surely governments talk to each other and complain and have some way of communicating.

    Social media right now is dominated by all kinds of people who have caught the internet bug and are blogging, posting reviews on everything from restaurants on Yelp!to software on CNet and all this influence through non-marketer authorities in a peer group is really changing the way people buy things. Products these days have to be sold by "organic" product evangelists, not by marketers. So the marketing role is changing because marketers now have to mobilize product evangelists rather than educate the market on what they should or should not buy.

    Hark back to the 1990s and you will remember commercials that tell you why Pepsi is better than Coke and vice versa. I don't think products are sold that way anymore--it's more about who buys the product and if they are in the same peer group.

    Do we see this kind of behavior happening in the B2B side? In a way, yes, because if we didn't, then companies would not post case studies on their websites. Companies are highly risk adverse where costs are concerned and they often don't want to purchase something if their partners or competitors are not buying the same product.

    Therein lies an answer: corporations may be more slow moving in comparison to individual consumers and as the overall population gets more educated with social media, then perhaps we will see a different dynamic in the B2B market. However, this sort of thing is still emerging and there are different issues such as security, IT management and brand management that will come into play.



    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    Value Is as Value Does


    Today I've been looking at different companies and trying culminate a few ideas floating around about "value add" and either beating or staying ahead of the competition as well as what it means to work in high-tech where innovation is "a moving target". I read a case study today which Norman R. Augustine wrote about Lockheed Martin's attempt to restructure and survive while thinking about where I would fit into the management mix when I get that first dream job and why a company would need my insights as an employee. Yes, there is a bit of ego in this post, but I figured I needed the extra boost today as part of my introspective research of the day.

    There really are very few people like me and that is a cliché statement because everyone is unique and there is no one person like the other. But if you were to define the market segment that I would fall under, it would be "Gen Y girl geek* in Silicon Valley who has lived in three other countries outside of the US and has seen how economic development can affect people in third world countries." Take a sample size: Out of 100 students of the class of 2000 at the Hong Kong International School high school, I am 1 in 100 and out of those students who live in Silicon Valley, I am maybe 1 in 5, (based on my connections on Facebook).

    Take that number and try to find the number of people in the sample size of 5 people (a non-representative sample at best) that really wants to understand the history of our modern world through the fast-changing, fast-paced landscape of high-tech business and you are down to a sample of one. Which says nothing except that I am 100% me and if every competing entity on the free market has varied strengths and weaknesses giving each a fair competitive advantage, then it's true that I am totally and economically unique.

    The question that often comes up these days is what is your value add and can you compete in this fast-paced, non-traditional, non "9 to 5" industry? Can you chase a moving target and hit a bull's eye? Do you understand what innovation means? I like to think that in about five years from now I will be more of an expert with a stronger understanding of the high-tech landscape. Right now, like our friend Linus Caldwell, I have the right skills for my profession and they have to be put into practice. Hopefully, within the next 5 years, I will have the means and experience to give back to the community and empower young people.

    But for now, give me a challenging question to try and provide intelligent recommendations for your industry, and I will work with you to come up with some relevant answers. In addition to that (and I say this with tongue-in-cheek), if required I can get other examples in three Romance languages and maybe one or two major Asian languages.

    *No "Geek" doesn't mean braces, awkward fashion, bad breath and oversized glasses. Believe it or not, in Silicon Valley, it's become a sub-culture and says Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, "After all to be geeky is to be intelligent, have passion for a subject and to know that subject in depth."



    Monday, January 14, 2008

    Tension between Culture and Innovation

    The dance of life is a peculiar thing. I stumbled upon the Google GMail blog today which led me to an extraordinary blog where I am many months behind on learning about.

    A grandmother at 95 years old was given a blog by her nephew who continues to transcribe her blog for her. You can read a summar about this in a news article here. Other than the fact that this is a compelling example of how the perspective of one's life can become transparent on the web and inspire many people, it also says a lot about our grandparents' generation.

    If we are to look at our own grandparents, we would find that it is true that life is a fleeting thing. One day, you wake up and you are old with many memories and young people are not always interested in hearing what you have to say about the 1920s or 1930s because it's not the "in" thing. To know of a story where the "now" and the "then" converged is really something.

    There's a gap between innovation and preserving traditions and culture. I spoke with my fiance yesterday about holograms after we saw The Illusionist and he was trying to think of a way to create a new disruptive technology. We also talked a bit about the evolving internet and how it was the start of a disruptive technology that has changed our lives. It's a long way from our grandparents generation, that's for sure.

    Across sectors, there have been a number of disruptive technologies. In my mind, some of these would be: blogging changes media and web 2.0 software changes the fact that we no longer have to download software onto our hard drives; the Nintendo Wii broke the couch potato paradigm; internet search changed the way we viewed information and wikis changed collaboration behavior on the internet.

    It could be that I am jaded, but I do feel like there is less focus nowadays on enriching the culture that we live in and making meaning out of life experiences. There is a lot of thought put into work culture and innovation and while not a negative thing, it certainly puts the current millennium and history into perspective, say when we are 95 and looking back at our lives.



    Friday, January 11, 2008

    Never a Trader Joe's that Tastes as Sweet

    Indoctrinated by Starbucks Coffee and the love of fine things, Trader Joe's (fondly named TJ's by some locals) has gained a solid reputation for providing the middle class consumer with adventurous products sometimes considered luxuries by most who I think may not hold corporate, stereotypical Silicon Valley jobs.

    I got to thinking recently about the possible correlation between sugar/caffeine and impulse buying. I read an article somewhere that has gotten lost now in the massive spider webs of the internet that mentioned that Christmas shoppers were more likely to spend money if they had consumed something containing sugar, like candy canes, hot chocolate or mochas.



    Did you know that Trader Joe's offers free coffee and orange juice while you shop in their grocery store? They do this on a regular basis and let's face it, we all know what orange juice tastes like. It's more of a service to customers that they provide and they attract you to the sampling counter with some yummy new goodies to try. And if you're hungry, samples whet your appetite and increase your impulse to buy things you don't need.

    But if you think about it--and if the likelihood that people buy more when they have something sweet in them is true, then TJ's has a good strategy going.

    Same goes for your local Starbucks or Peet's Coffee and Tea, although just from working as a barista, I know that many people don't buy products beyond coffee and tea so much because the pricing is way too high for this middle-class market that perceives $3 as a good deal and doesn't realize how much they are spending in a month as a daily latte drinker.



    Thursday, January 10, 2008

    French Drama

    Wow...not much else to say that it's been said that the Sarkozy divorce was one of the more open stories of human relationship in politics.

    On Yahoo! Buzz today, rumor has it that Sarkozy has a mistress that may have had something to do with the divorce.

    It just goes to show that everyone is human and people like stories about human conflict, especially if they can relate. Not sure how this would affect Sarkozy's rating as president though...



    Murdoch Shackles Media

    On Mashable.com today, blogger Paul Glazowski discusses Murdoch's business strategy and how Murdoch attempts to revamp the Wall Street Journal in the coming months.

    I say pony up, Murdoch. Quit stalling. Just give us the stories, and stop asking for our credit card info when registering accounts. Yes, we know, you like making the most money you can. But as we all know, news on the Net is now news without fees. Give in, dude. Now. Or at least soon. There’s simply no point in holding out any longer.


    Well, the internet is definitely taking over the media and a lot of paper-based models, like the Wall Street Journal, are going to have to ways to cope. Certainly, a lot of odd-ball pricing models are going to make their way out especially if media companies want to try to avoid the advertising revenue stream as their main pricing strategy.



    Wednesday, January 9, 2008

    Seriously, to blog or not to blog?

    Another discussion on blogging...
    http://takingtheblogosphereseriously.com/

    'Nuff said.



    Get on the Ski Bus, Gus

    Yesterday, I talked about the importance of authenticity in business relationships, which aren't as casual as with your friends, where you can wear what you want and they probably follow the same fashion trends (or lack thereof).

    Well, friends are part of your network, too. Yesterday I got into this referral program for a ski bus that takes you to Lake Tahoe and back all in one day. It got me thinking about how smart these ski bus people are. They combined some really important elements of referral marketing (sometimes negatively called the pyramid scheme) and utilized secondary relationships through their ski bus members.

    To be more specific, the ski bus solves time, money and efficiency problems that alpine lovers hate. Normally, I don't get suckered in to the things like this but money is an issue and I don't want to sacrifice the snow season either. Here's an imagined conversation with said ski bus company.

    Me: I am a snowboarder and I have friends who snowboard. We carpool together and share motel rooms and we've done the whole quick, dirty, cheap snowboarding trip thing. It's not that great, because we spend our first day of the weekend driving! This is why: Driver A thinks it sucks because he has to stay awake while everybody is napping. Then, we stop on the side of the road for gas, and Driver A switches with Driver B so that Driver A can take a nap. Then somebody absolutely has to go to the bathroom, especially the girls who have small bladders, and another wants a snack from the 7-11. We spend more time driving than snowboarding!

    Ski bus says:No problem. We'll hire someone to drive, have no stops, keep a lavatory on the bus for emergencies and everybody can take a nap on the way to the slopes.

    Me: I just updated all my gear--boots, bindings and board. I don't want to pay for a lift ticket and your bus ride. It sounds like it will be more expensive.

    Ski bus says:: You can ride our bus for the same price as a lift ticket with transportation included, because we reduce our costs by not advertising. Instead, what about YOU do our marketing for us? Tell your friends about us and we will give them SKIBUS dollar discounts if they sign up and also, you'll get more discounts if they tell their friends.

    Me: Yeah, I would totally refer my friends because I will do anything not to pay my entire year's salary just to have some fun and I know my friends don't want to pay huge amounts either. Not only that, but I'll keep using this service since I get discounts through them and don't spend all my time trying to drive up to Tahoe.

    ***
    The only thing that is a bit annoying about this site is that they have an e-mail address called "typos at skibus dot com" because who ever is doing their copy doesn't know how to spellcheck their work. They know that us snow people are the types who say "Will do anything for snowboarding/skiing" and they really employ high level participation to the max. I mean, typos--that's not our job to notice things like that. It's yours.

    If you want a $5 discount to go snowboarding, just comment to let me know. Like I said, if it works on me, it'll work on any ski bunny. OK, I admit, it is a sort of plug for said ski bus but think of it more as me glowing in admiration.