Category Archives: Uncategorized

Resolutions, Beginnings and Ends

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Its safe to say that on many accounts 2011 was a less than stellar year. This seems to be the general consensus among most of the people I know from friends to family – finances sucked, stress sucked and health problems with close family members gave the entire year a rather dreary character. I entered 2012 without any big hurrah however, because none of those problems can I leave in the past. My aunt’s cancer isn’t going anywhere, working 16 hour days hasn’t magically made more money appear and those along with lots of other small things means that stress is probably here to stay a while longer as well. While I’d like to be an optimist, the realist in me knows that this is going to be a year of hard work, with much love and support among my family.

And so I have resigned myself to dedicating this year to work. I’ve never had an issue with work ethic, my issues are always more around finding time to play. Normally my new years resolutions have to do with making time for myself to have coffee with friends, or play cello, or do yoga. But this year I’m giving up – if I really wanted to do those things I would do them – screw being well balanced this year… I’m just going to bunker down and spend 2012 working on improving my finances, my studies and my family life.

The Resolutions:

1) By the end of the year the house will be organized

I’m loosely following the plan laid out my mysimplerlife.com for an organizational calendar. Yesterday, I took my first step towards this by roughly organizing my tupperware drawer (I couldn’t find any matching lids when it was time to put away the leftovers).

2) I will close the cabinet doors

This is one of my totally lazy tendencies – our cabinets don’t have spring hinges and so if you open them, they just stay open until you intentionally close them. It looks horrid but I’m usually going a mile a minute and don’t realize I’ve left them open until I hit my head on the corner of one 10 minutes later. It seems like a tiny little thing but makes a big impact and drives me insane.

3) The finances will be done monthly

Every year I say it and so far… hasn’t happened. I’m looking at 4 months of data entry next week so I can get taxes done because I didn’t keep up on it last year. I’ve downloaded the apps for both business and personal finance, I make like 80% of the purchases in the household and the other 20% are really predictable so I’m not sure why I can’t seem to just get myself to do the accounting as it happens and then reconcile monthly like a good little worker bee. Regardless of the reason for the failures in the past – this year I will rock the financial scene.

I feel like I should add something in there about family and education but I made a lot of progress getting both of those in good places last year and I’m happy with them both for now. I’m sure there will be little things to do along the way but for the most part I really enjoy the time and quality of time I spend with my family. And my method of studying became very organized and intentional last year – I’m hoping it can just continue this year as a followup to the relative success it provided.

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You Must Remove the Head…

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One of my favorite business phrases comes from David Gammel, it deals with the concept that ideas live and breathe as soon as we start working on them and putting resources into them. But that they also die and unfortunately some turn into Sacred Zombie Cows!

I think its the visual as much as anything that attracts me to the phrase, regardless, the idea that projects can become half-ton, four legged,  resource sucking zombies is an important one to think about. They key ofcourse to the concept of the sacred zombie cow is the sacred part. Its not just that the project/idea is dead, that happens all the time. We start something, it fails, we move on. But then there are those few ideas that just don’t go away after they have died, instead we keep feeding them, keeping them warm, even talking to them oblivious to the fact that they are zombies.

Recently I was reminded of the zombie cow while listening to NPR discuss yet more issues that are being had with the musical, Spiderman. Now, I’m not one to keep up on entertainment news so I actually thought this musical had come run its course and already left again. As it turns out, the thing hasn’t even started and doesn’t plan to do so for weeks or months longer. Listening to the  commentary on the many plights of this musical no phrase rang more true than, “Kill the sacred zombie cow.”

A quick search reveals pages and pages articles written about the failure of this show prior to its even opening. From injuries, to bad reviews, to a new plan that involves significant changes to the cast and script, it is obvious to almost everyone that this project has been killed, many times over. The fact that this dead project continues to drain resources from its supporters, who refuse to acknowledge its death, is what makes it a perfect example of a zombie cow.

As is the case with all zombies, Sacred Zombie Cows, do eventually perish as well. The worse case scenario is when a zombie cow is so sacred that no one ever shoots it in the head and it eventually eats the brains of every person in its path. An example of this would be fossil fuel consumption. Thankfully most zombies aren’t nearly that sacred and at some point it becomes clear to all that they are dead and the proper actions are taken.

The struggle is to identify zombie cows before they have the chance to take anyone else or any other living ideas/projects with them. While this may seem simple it can be considerably more difficult than you would think.

So, Have you killed your sacred zombie cow today?

Marketing Tips to Remember

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Its ALL About Connecting

A while back Kreeer published a blog about titled “Everything You Do Should Be Tweetable!” In addition to some great information about revising the way your approach your daily tasks/work to be more accommodating to the world of social networking, the blog focuses on the single principle that all social interactions on the web are really about one thing: creating meaningful connections.

Hanging On To The Long Tail

If you’re a business person then you probably are very familiar with the concept of the long tail. If however you’re like me, then this might be a new idea but one that is very much worth checking out. In short, the idea demonstrates that there is a greater chance of conversion success by going after the HUGE number of people that are searching for less popular terms then there is by fighting tooth and nail to get a top rank on a really popular search term.

Consistency is Key

For many people that live mostly IRL (in real life) it can be difficult and even at times a pain to get online and interact with twitter, feeds, blogs and other marketing tools.  While not every person has to be on the internet every day to be effective you do need to come up with a schedule. Think of it almost like book-keeping. If you prefer to write multiple blogs on one day and publish throughout the week that’s fine. This technique doesn’t work as well for other mediums (such as twitter that require more interaction). Whatever you chose as your schedule stick to it! Nothing will drive readers and followers away faster than if you disappear for weeks at a time or bombard them with info for three days straight.

Your Voice Matters

While much of the advice you receive for social marketing revolves around publishing its important to remember that what you write/say matters too. People want to connect with other people, sure they want information and whatnot but they go to blogs for experiences, accounts and anecdotes… not just information. This is why some bloggers are wildly popular and others seem to constantly struggle to maintain readers. When a blogger sounds too much like an authority they cease to be relatable and fun, at the same time the musings of a novice are only really interesting to friends and family.

 

Personal Impact

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david and clean up crewAbout a week ago I received an update through a neighborhood listserve about the death of a neighbor. The population of what I consider my Dimond neighborhood is near 4000 residents and given the size births, deaths, comings and goings are a regular if not daily occurring. But the passing of this neighbor was more than slightly shocking to me. At most we had met only two or three times and even those conversations had been fairly brief yet in those small interactions he had made his presence a fixture of what I think of when I personify my neighborhood.

I first met David and his wife Cecilia while on a walk through the park with my kids. They were arriving at the same time we were and both were dressed in nifty, yellow, construction style vests – and carrying clean-up tools. As a new resident I had heard rumor of the volunteer clean up crew but had yet to get connected with anyone involved. With two little ones running around I find myself taking full advantage of our park system and the notion of volunteering to help keep it  clean just seemed great. I heartily introduced myself to my new neighbors and proceeded to talk with them for a bit about the Keep Dimond Clean walks and their involvement as volunteers. David summarized their involvement by stating very mater of fact that the park was just an extension of their backyard and it seemed natural that they would help contribute to keeping it nice. The pureness of David’s logic for their volunteer efforts is unarguable; if the park belongs to us then we should all help in keeping the way we want it to be.

When  I received the email about David’s death I was more than a bit taken back, both at his early passing but also at the sense of loss I felt. For someone I had, had very little interaction with my value of him as a neighbor and person was tremendous and I truly mourn his passing. This made me think about what it was that made David such a significant part of the Dimond landscape. What made his impact so much greater than just the individual actions and characteristics. Cecilia wrote a beautiful statement about her interpretation of David’s work within the neighborhood and I think it gets to the gist of this impact:

The Dimond area is a piece of a large metropolis.  Here in Dimond we are the ones who live in our community and the ones who are responsible for our community.  We make feasible decisions on growth and effectiveness of such growth.  The Fruitvale area is one of the most traveled in Oakland.  We have the 580 freeway at one end and the 880 freeway.  The DIA is effective here. My beloved David had great aspirations for this area and it is too bad for the short time he was here.  He had a vision for this community that he really wanted to achieve.  Don’t forget that I am here, and I am not quitting this community.  In his name, my name remains. Thank you to all Keep Dimond Clean volunteers.
— Cecilia Miller

Cecilia’s sentiments get to the core of why David went to the park each week and continued to “keep Dimond clean.” It had everything to do with hope, intention for growth and aspirations for a greater good in the community. These are the things that made David an impactful man, not just what he did but why he did it.

Thinking about the impact that David had on the neighborhood and those of us who live here opens the obvious question of how each of us can share in these common goals that he lived for. Ofcourse it would be wonderful if everyone joined in just one hour a week volunteering to help make their neighborhood a better place, but regardless of whether or not that is a feasible possibility for us all looks past the core of David’s impact. At the heart of the matter it was the reason behind the actions that made David and continue to make Cecilia corner stones of the neighborhood. And all of us can follow this example by setting out not just to complete a task but to remember that in everything we do there is a greater goal of shared values and community.

The Caffeinated Bunny

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Once upon a time in a far away garden lived a little rabbit. While most rabbits were playing nicely together, and a few were sneaking into gardens, this rabbit was just a tad different then the rest. Unlike the other proper tea drinking bunnies this one started each morning with a healthy sized cup of straight espresso.  Thus begins the story of Manic Rabbit.

There is enough coffee table philosophy regarding the correlation between people and their names that its worth considering that even if an individual’s given name isn’t a direct reflection on them, perhaps nicknames and monikers do. A number of similar adjectives have been used to describe what is now termed “Manic Rabbit;” spastic, chaotic, fast, dizzying, scattered, overwhelming, and on the less positive side – annoying. Now, while many might consider most of that list to be less than desirable attributes, it should be understood that a critical role is kept stable by the existence of Manic Rabbit. Both the nice clam bunnies and even the garden munching variety are able to do what they do best because in the midst of it all there is Manic Rabbit running around filling in holes and gluing together the little bits and pieces that make things complete.

It is this background knowledge of elusive caffeinated bunny which clues us in to the otherwise seemingly inconsistent nature of a very necessarily body of articles.  These are the concepts and materials that bring together systems, people and projects in the fastest most efficient way possible. These are the teachings of the Manic Rabbit.