Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CollegeWeekLive -- World's Largest College Fair: Online or Off

If any of you know anyone who’s in the process of applying to college--- there’s a great free online resource--- that’s a super alternative to the traditional college road trip (driving campus to campus in the family SUV). Parents and college-bound kids and their can check out their and evaluate their future alma mater online.

Taking place today and tomorrow (Wednesday March 25th and Thursday March 26th ). CollegeWeekLive, is the world's LARGEST college fair—an event that doesn’t “take place” because it is a massive online-only event. CollegeWeekLive is a revolutionary concept for college admissions, bringing together students, parents, counselors, and colleges in an online forum that eliminates the barriers of time and distance. The interactive and live component allows attendees to speak with hundreds of college admissions representatives, ask questions, learn about financial aid opportunities, and learn what college life is really like.

CWL features a wide range of live keynotes and panesl in which students and parents can text questions to the expert speakers, a tradeshow floor of virtual booths representing hundreds of colleges and universities (in North America, Europe, Australia).

It’s fun and free…. Go to

Full disclosure--- It’s been my pleasure to promote CollegeWeekLive and its sister event The Virtual Energy Forum. I’ve helped secure a swath of press coverage of these innovative virtual events with stories atfrom leading media including CNN’s Situation Room, Newsweek, The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, BusinessWeek, and Seventeen.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Going Tribal with Seth Godin

I’ve read and appreciated Seth Godin’s marketing blog for a long time.

While I didn’t know Seth when he and I were both undergrads at Tufts, I’ve been following him for awhile. His posts continue to stand out in the crowd as fresh insights that make mesay: “how true.” He’s an original (vs. derivative borrower) blogger.

If you haven’t read it yet---Godin's latest book Tribes is a quick, though-provoking read. Seth defines a tribe as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea that inspires their passion.” Thus his book is on how leaders of business, government and non-profit organizations can rally members of the tribe to build shared destiny and a commitment to succeed. In these tough times, it’s nice to read something that shows and encourages unity and common purpose. You may want to download the free audio version.

The book’s companion (The Tribes Case Book) is a free Ebook (comprised of submissions by a group of 3,000 “co-authors” with their perspectives on tribal living and leadership (everything from Star Wars to iPods, from surfers to broomball players, and Online Villages to Mary Kay saleswomen) Check out the E-triiibe’s list of tactics, Seth’s list of 58 books “to check out”, and/or download the Case Book at

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Aldus, The Death of Seattle’s Newspaper, and the Birth of Peer Publishing

Clay Shirky has written an excellent and thoughtful article on the revolution taking place in how news is created, published, distributed, paid for and consumed:

“Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable”

While I urge you to read the full article, here are some incisive quotes from the article:

  • The problem newspapers face isn’t that they didn’t see the internet coming.

  • The core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.

  • What real revolutions are like…The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place.

  • The importance of any given experiment isn’t apparent at the moment it appears; big changes stall, small changes spread

  • Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.

In his article Shirky takes note of great publishers (e.g. Gutenberg, Wikipedia) whose innovations fueled the ever growing “democratization of the printed word.”

I found Clay’s article especially interesting because he paid special homage to the Renaissance Venetian printer and publisher Aldus Manutius whose invention of the smaller octavo volume along with italic type— led to a subsequent revolution in the cost to printers to print books, and the costs for book buyers to purchase books.

Centuries later (in the mid-late 1980s) Aldus’s first name was associated with another innovation in the democratization of the printed word: Aldus Corporation—the Seattle-based company whose PageMaker desktop publishing software (combined with PostScript and the Apple Macintosh) let thousands around the world to be able to become publishers themselves.

Twenty years ago, I had the good fortune of working for Aldus Corp for 4 years--- our crew of Aldusians (including CEO Paul Brainerd, Sales Goddess Jennifer Saffo, Tech Whizzes Ted Johnson & Jeremy Jaech, and countless other brilliant colleagues) felt we were linked in a worthy crusade to share technologies that could radically simplify the means and cost of producing printed works.

At the time, I remember occasional grousing from professional printers and Linotype operators (their hands marked with lead burns), telling me... "this desktop publishing thing will never fly,
our craft and skill can't be replaced by a machine."

In my four years at Aldus, I gave hundreds of presentations on the process and possibilities of desktop publishing but would often conclude my sessions with the timeless quote from A.J. Liebling: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those that own one.”

The economics of media/publishing have been decimated by the efficiencies and reach of the Internet—now anyone who has a blog really owns a printing press. Instantaneous worldwide distribution through essentially free Web-based tools has done away with middlemen. The trade and craft of newspapering (dating back to Ben Franklin’s day) is fast becoming a historical artifact.

Amy Wohl once joked with me that “Stovetop Stuffing and Desktop Publishing both take place somewhere.” The products of the new age of peer-to-peer personal publishing will not be limited by physical restraints like time or location--- they will arise and be shared with thousands (who may choose to also participate in the creative process). Whereas journalists were often gatekeepers between the newsmakers and a reading audience--- peer publishing is more direct, honest, and interactive. Conversations are always better when there’s more than one participant.

As Clay Shirky comments “we don’t know who the Aldus Manutius of the current age is,” but today (on the last day of Seattle’s Post Intelligencer as a print newspaper) we can certainly anticipate that quality journalism will continue to be valued. Web 2.0/3.0 tools, social networks and inbound marketing will let us connect and engage with others who share our interests. Return-on-Interaction ROI will yield benefits in multiple directions.
Communications will improve.

The tagline of my friend Paul Gillin’s neatly sums up the new status quo: “Chronicling the Decline of Newspapers and the Rebirth of Journalism.”

Unthinkable 20 years ago. Very real today.

Let us remember that revolutions are born out of chaos and true democracies are self-derived. Let us create value, community and opportunities for many---in the midst of the maelstrom.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Leveraging 4 Generations of Talented Workers

Leveraging 4 Generations of Talented Workers
(or “Is your Workplace Age-Friendly?”)

In the current economy, there’s no doubt that it’s a buyer’s market in the workplace(i.e. employers have their pick of available and abundant talent).The triple convergence of a bad economy, with new technologies for Web-enabled communications, and new work methodologies (telecommuting, job-sharing, E-Collaboration, outsourcing, flex-time)—has created an opportunity for creative talent strategies/programs that can align to benefit both employers and employees.

Recruiters and HR departments charted with retaining, attracting and re-hiring top talent to their workplace would be wise to ask themselves 2 questions:

1) Are we an “age-friendly” employer?

2) Do our policies and practices encourage the best from-and-between workers of all ages in our organization?

For the first time in history, four different generations are at work in the workplace simultaneously. This demographic alignment creates opportunities and challenges for management who should seek to ensure cross-generational alignment, improved understanding and cooperation so that workers “play well with each other”—whether an employee is 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, or beyond…

This topic has been ably explored in the current edition of the SHRM Research Quarterly (Q1-09), and featured in an article in the March 2009 issue of HR Magazine:“The Multigenerational Workforce: Opportunity for Competitive Success”

The chart at the top of this article (from the SHRM Research) describes “Assets to the Workplace” that each of the 4 generations provide. The SHRM report is well worth reading and concludes by noting that in order for organizations to optimize their talent “it is critical to leverage the strengths of each generation.”

Pioneering the value of “Age Friendly Employers” is the leading career website for workers over 50. Through a process of age-friendly employer certification, qualifies employers who’ve shown through their example that they value workers of all ages, and in particular—see that the career and life experience, common worker characteristics offered by “mature” workers are qualifications that make them excellent, loyal and reliable employees.

((Full disclosure:I’m proud to have been part of the leadership team at since 2006))

Other respected workplace watchers who’ve commented on this subject include Brad Taft andmy friend Carleen MacKay, of who co-authored a helpful book (“Boom or Bust!: New Careers in a New America”) and whose“10 Myths and 10 Facts About Mature Workers” is succinct and enlightening.

In my view, a seminal opinion on multigenerational talent comes from Bridget and John Sumser, a Daughter-Father team who gave a great joint presentation at OnRec (Internet recruiting conference) back in September 2006 on “Multigenerational Recruiting”.

The Sumsers set a great example about how different generations can contribute together: Bridget graduated from Mills College in 2006 and works for a non-profit in the Bay Area focused on encouraging elementary school kids to lead healthy lifestyles, be enaged students and active in their communities. John is Founder of IBN:, a leading analyst firm for the Electronic Recruiting Industry and publisher of the Interbiznet Bugler a respected daily online update of recruiting news.

So… what can you do to make the most of employees/colleagues in your own organization (no matter their age)? Here are some thoughts…

Rafter’s Eight Tips to Leverage 4 Generations of Talent in Your Organization:
  1. Seek to combine the best of The Old and of The New
  2. Develop a workplace culture that values experience & rewards enthusiasm/creative thinking
  3. Offer your employees flexible work arrangements. In most cases it doesn’t really matter how long people work or where they work. What’s important is results. Because people ofdifferent ages have different involvements and commitments outside of the office – offer work options such as flex time, part-time, contract work, seasonal work, barters, etc. in orderto get a win-win between employer and employee. Simple accommodations can make your employees more loyal (and you’ll avoid turnover and talent flight).
  4. Always be learning: Spread knowledge, skills and wisdom up and down the age spectrum
  5. Convene interactive in-person sessions (or workshops) to re-educate your workforce to think beyond stereotypes:
    ***All Boomers aren’t technologically illiterate (Jupiter reference)
    ***All GenXers aren’t lazy, selfish people who work at Starbucks.
    ***All GenY/Millennials don’t have multiple piercings and tattoos
  6. Hierarchical organizations are atavisms of the industrial revolution—build a meritocracy in which talent and innovation are recognized, and rewarded.
  7. Teach old dogs new tricks: While Boomers may have grown up with newspapers, records and only 3 TV channels, that doesn’t mean they aren’t eager and willing to learn how to Twitter or friend a 20-something on Facebook.
  8. LinkIn with Senior Talent--- In the days before social networks, networking was more convoluted (conferences, old-boy networks, informational interviews). People who are in their early or middle career—can learn lots from the hard-won experiences of older workers. Similarly, older workers make great mentors with whom you ask questions, seek advice, bounce off ideas. Connect with them online and in-person. Often. Young and old will benefit.

Benjamin Disraeli could well be an example of the poster child for someone who was impactful at a young age and as an elder—and also as someone who navigated tough times such as our current “Great Recession.” After his failed career as a lawyer and financial ruin from the Mining Bubble of 1825--in 1832 at the age of 28, Disraeli embarked on a career in public service that would last 48 years—up until the year before he died.

Given his example and personal experience, Disraeli gets the final word:
“Experience is the child of Thought, and Thought is the child of Action.”

What are YOUR thoughts and suggestions?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rafter’s Five Commandments for Passionate PR

When not working at his day job in Ogilvy’s 360 Digital Influence Group, Rohit Bhargava regularly puts out great content on social media marketing on his Influential Marketing Blog. One of my favorite Rohit posts was “What all PR people should know about journalists” in which he made these common sense PR suggestions:

  1. Don’t BS

  2. Contact journalists when it’s a good time for them

  3. Manage your reputation and relationships with reporters

  4. Give writers a real story angle

  5. Be available, easy to contact and responsive

  6. Pitch like a peer

Rohit’s article and the comments that follow serve up a nice helping of Do’s & Don’ts for respectful and effective media relations.

Add him to you your bloglist and follow him on Twitter @rohitbhargava

Rohit shares my long-held belief that “marketing is not about selling” and has written a great new book Personality Not Included in which he notes that in the social media era “you need to think differently about how you market your products and services”

His definition of “personality”:
Personality is the unique, authentic, and talkable soul of your brand that people can get passionate about.

Rohit’s tips for PR, and his insights on personality in marketing, remind me of some important lessons learned (in my 20+ yrs of evangelising new products, services and initiatives):

People should be passionate about their work. Life's too short to spend it doing something that doesn't truly inspire and motivate you. Similarly--If someone tries to pitch you on a
product or service that they don’t truly care about--- their indifference will come through loudand clear. Passion and enthusiasm form the base for open, honest, and interactive PR.

Rafter’s Five Commandments for Passionate PR:

  1. Believe in your product, service, company

  2. Express your enthusiasm (genuinely)

  3. Engage and interact with others who share your interests

  4. Share with them

  5. Give first, and you shall Receive

What say ye?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

LinkedIn-- The Platform for Mutual Advantage

A recent article in AdAge "LinkedIn Skyrockets as Job Losses Mount" notes that fueled by the troubled economy--- LI is now up to 7.7 million unique visitors, counts 36 million members and is adding a member a second. Impressive growth. The article comments on LinkedIn's business, its profitability and multiple revenue streams.

It's no surprise to me that LinkedIn is doing so well. I've been an unabashed fan of it as one of the most powerful 'free' online tools for any communications pro. Back in October 2007,

Ragan's Media Relations Report wrote on LinkedIn as "The newest way to connect to the media" detailing how "LinkedIn is helping PR people and journalists build virtual relationships—not to mention business connections."

MRR asked me for my thoughts for the article:

“Its principal value to PR pros is that it offers a free, Web-based way to research people you want to know more about,” says Rafter. “Being able to read the profiles of individual freelancers, writers, editors, analysts, pundits and conference organizers is enormously valuable. The more I know about someone before I pitch them, the more succinct and effective my pitch will be.”


LinkedIn is a helpful service whether you're a marketing/comms pro or someone in cleantech--its a great way to locate and connect with clients, enablers, references, opinions
Whether you're an employer, an in-house employee, an independent consultant, or someone who's currently underemployed in search of your next opportunities-- you can get a lot out of it.
Personally--- I find it much more substantial than Twitter and more professionally focused than Facebook.

To get the most out of LinkedIn let me recommend helpful tips from Sharon Thomas DeLay in her article: "Step up your LinkedIn Profile to stand apart"

Hope you can all stand apart and that people who will appreciate your value will connect with you. Long live "mutual advantage."

Check out my LinkedIn profile at and let me if I can help you.