Webconsuls Blog

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Friend


My Friend 

I have a friend from college whose name is not important but I think his life story is.   I graduated in 1966 and he in 1967. His father was an exec at a large corporation and while his upbringing included private prep school, year abroad, and a private college he was an unpretentious regular guy.

After graduation he joined the Army and served in Viet Nam. He was an RTO or Radio Telephone Operator, so he carried the communications equipment for the officer in charge. On January 25th 1969 his unit, Company C, 5th Battalion, 60th Infantry was on a reconnaissance mission near Thu Thua. They were ambushed and there was fierce fire fight. The commanding officer was mortally wounded and my friend took over and directed the maneuvers of his company. He exposed himself to the barrage of enemy fire and adjusted artillery supporting fires and tactical air strikes. For his extraordinary heroism he was awarded the Silver Star.

After leaving the military, with more than a dozen other awards including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, he went to the Law School where he did very well and made Law Review. Following graduation he went to work for a prestigious law firm in San Francisco. He met a woman who would later be his wife and life partner. Here was a guy around 30 who had a very good job, was in love, and was a well decorated war hero. Life must have looked very good.

About this time I had a business trip to San Francisco and called his office to arrange seeing him for lunch or dinner. A co-worker answered and  informed me that he had suffered a heart attack. Upon recovering he was advised that the practice of law was probably too stressful so he got a job teaching law. He taught for seven years and was so distinguished the school gives out the an award in his name each year. Unfortunately, at age 40 he suffered a stroke and had to give up teaching.

It has now been determined that his medical problems stem from exposure to Agent Orange while in Viet Nam.

For the last 25 years his intelligent caring brave man has not able to read. He lives in a retirement home. He is able to go the store, fix meals for himself, watch television. He can travel and goes to Viet Nam reunions to see his buddies. He also spends a lot of time with his wife, who has MS so bad she is confined to a wheel chair in the same retirement home.

In 2009 I and some other college friends met him in Chicago. We went to a Cubs game then drove to Milwaukee and caught a Brewers game. Last summer I was in the Midwest and was able to spend half a day and him and introduce him to my daughter and granddaughter.

Whenever I am with him or on the phone with him, he is positive and upbeat. He never bemoans his fate. He makes me realize how lucky I am.  Of course, he has his health, which is very good given the heart attack and stroke; a great relationship with his wife; nieces and nephews who love and respect him; and friends who understand his sacrifice.  I would guess that he considers himself luckier than many.

Monday, October 25, 2010

THE Can Be a Powerful Word

Did the title of this post, "THE Can Be a Powerful Word", get your attention? Think about it for a minute. Now if I say: "It's THE Real Thing" or "When you care enough to send THE very best", I'll bet you can name what brand each statement refers to without blinking an eye.  Am I right?

Branding is something every business needs to do. Establishing a brand can be taxing. You create a name, you create a product, maybe you get a patent, maybe you apply for a trademark, maybe you copyright your material, and maybe you are the product! And after all is said and done "the customer owns the brand" as Jeff Hayzlett informed us at Blog World Expo 2010.

I am not sure, but I suspect that the Mandalay Bay Resort management was thinking about their customers when (according to Wikipedia) "In 2006, the lettering at the top of the tower changed to 'THEhotel' to distinguish the property. Formerly, the lettering was identical to the 'Mandalay Bay' letters at the top of the original tower." You see the Mandalay Bay Resort opened in 1999; however, what is now referred to as THEhotel at Mandalay Bay opened in 2003.

Prior to the name change imagine the confusion a hotel guest faced: What do you tell the taxi driver, upon arrival you might not be sure which hotel tower to check-in at...or you may wander around in the casino and then make your way back to the wrong hotel tower. (Think Co-Op City in THE Bronx!)

As you know Blog World Expo 2010 was held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Convention Center. Happily I was a guest at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.  I can truly say THEhotel is a well designed beautiful hotel. Every room is a suite, no smaller than 725 square feet. And THE is the only word you need to know when you are trying to find your way around THEhotel. They don't have fancy or clever names for their on-site amenities or venues: THEpad, THEtp, baTHE (toiletries), THElounge, THEcafe, THEstore, THEcoffeebar. (click on the photo on the left) You see what I mean? Simple and understated. This customer owns the brand!

In closing, I would like to share something I rediscovered today about the word THE. Did you know: "that the pronunciation of the definite article 'the' changes, primarily depending on whether the following sound is a consonant or a vowel?" Before a consonant sound the pronunciation is thuh, before a vowel sound it is usually thee

By the way, if you think I am off base when I say THE can be a powerful word, maybe I can interest you in a UBS commercial effort.



On the other hand, THE Google never did sound right and we are told in "The Social Network" movie that it was Sean Parker who advised Mark Zuckerberg and  Eduardo Saverin to drop THE from The FACEBOOK.
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BWE10 Chief Listening Officers Wanted

This past weekend, October 14-16, I learned a little of how to be Webconsuls' Chief Listening Officer (CLO). Yes, the C-Suite at many companies does now include a CLO and happily I attended Blog World Expo 2010 to learn how to listen, engage, and as @lizstrauss says "manage the present and create the future." This is my second year participating in Blog World and I will tell you it was an entirely different experience in many ways.  Here are my "outtakes" from this year's conference:

FOUNDATION
Familiarity can make conference attendance a little easier. The on-line registration process was simple. Blog World's Blog allows potential attendees to get to know more about Blog World and the key players at Blog World. In addition to their blog, you can also stay current and engaged by "liking" them on Facebook and following them on Twitter @blogworld.

I flew Southwest Airlines again this year direct non-stop from Tucson to Las Vegas. Last year I was a bit overwhelmed by their boarding process, but what a difference a year makes. I like Southwest!

This year the conference venue was the Mandalay Bay Resort and Conference Center. I cannot say enough good about Mandalay Bay. I hope to do another post just about this experience. It was great to be able to enjoy the conference and know your suite was just upstairs, a short walk and elevator ride away.

During the past several months I "met" Deb Ng, Blog World's Conference Manager, Allison Boyer, a Blog World Blogger, and Rick Calvert, Blog World's Founder via Twitter, Facebook and blogging. I set a goal to meet them in person.

Over the past year I have also met some very interesting people, like John McLachlan, so engaging them at Blog World was a major goal for me.

KEYNOTES and SESSIONS

Deb Ng did a fantastic job of putting together a diverse conference schedule. I hope this link stays live for a while so you can peruse what life is all about at Blog World. (Disclaimer: I took advantage of the Weekend Pass, so I was not in town for the October 14 events.)

Blog World sessions are designed by tracks. For example, if you are a TRAVEL blogger you can opt to attend only sessions that deal with the travel industry or if you are non-profit you attend sessions and learn from the social media experts on how to tweak your social media campaigns. But...you can mix and match.

I attended three of the Keynote addresses, but the most provocative was Friday morning's State of Digital Communications in Politics with Mark Penn, Karen Hughes, Hugh Hewitt, and Reid Wilson. This keynote was moderated by Blog World's founder, Rick Calvert. (I learned for the first time that Rick is a self-described "political junkie.") For a few minutes Rick had to do some masterful moderating!

I chose sessions that had to do with SEO and monetization. The Social Media and Corporate America was very informative. Where else can you listen to expert strategists like Jeffrey Hayzlett (think KODAK), Frank Eliason (formerly of COMCAST, presently SVP of Social for Citi), Bonin Bough (PEPSICO) and Scott Monty (FORD Motor Company)? I think it was Mr. Hayzlett who cautioned us to remember "the customer owns the brand" and you better have a "Chief Listening Officer" in your C-Suite (no matter the size of your company).

I enjoyed meeting C.C. Chapman (I have been reading his blog for about six months) and learning from him on the panel "How to Hire a Social Media Agency."

Liz Strauss, Carol Roth and Terry St. Marie (@starbucker) are very personable and they offered valuable strategies for building your on-line business, such as "Think BIG and value your time!"

Friday afternoon I attended the Monetization Super Panel (two hour session). Learning from successful bloggers like: Anita Campbell, Darren Rowse, John Chow and Jeremy Shoemaker was exciting. They talked about affiliate marketing, Commission Junction, and provided a road map of how one can monetize their blog. The next morning I ran into Darren Rowse walking through the lobby of Thehotel at Mandalay Bay. We had a nice conversation.


Socialization, Exhibitors and More
I did meet Deb Ng and Allison Boyer. This took a little time as there were over 4000 people attending the conference. You would be surprised how hard it can be to spot someone with PINK hair...hello Allison! I saw Rick Calvert a lot, but he was BUSY. I did not meet him personally, maybe next year.

I was able to meet and spend some good time with John McLachlan. You can see our photo here. We were able to attend some sessions together and had a nice dinner.

For the first time GOOGLE was an exhibitor, specifically BLOGGER.  This was wonderful as Webconsuls is a BLOGGER house, that is we use and recommend the BLOGGER platform. Imagine my surprise to meet Brett Wiltshire manning the BLOGGER/GOOGLE booth. Brett has been working on a question we posed about BLOGGER, so it was great to meet Brett in person. Also, I answered a BLOGGER survey and received a BLOGGER T-shirt.


I have a friend MaryAnn Martinez; she is a news reporter for Fox5News in Las Vegas. MaryAnn called me Saturday afternoon to tell me she had passes to see Shakira. Shakira's concert was Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Event Center(see photo below).  Can you beat that?  What a night!

Finally, while leaving Las Vegas, I had $7 in quarters that Dennis has given me prior to leaving Tucson. I played a slot machine at the Las Vegas airport and won $120. I put it in my pocket and waited for my flight home.

Ok, that is about it. I need to get back to work. If you were at BWE10, let me hear from you.

Hope to see you at Blog World Expo 2011.

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