BE CLEAR: Drop the Buzzwords

Do you want your customers to be dazed and confused? All you have to do is cloak your message in a blizzard of buzzwords.

Obviously, I don’t recommend that. We all want to reside in the memory box of our (potential) clients. More words = more fog.

Instead, use simple, clear words.

See what I mean in this one-minute video:


It’s always tempting to adopt the impressive-sounding biz language that buzzes around us like a pack of mosquitoes. Swat them away and use clarity of speech if you want to have a memorable impact!

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Is your professional direction and message CLEAR? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> BE CLEAR: Narrowing Your Focus

DNA Interview: Sean McGinnis

I love sitting down with folks and finding out more about what makes them tick – their professional DNA.

Today’s Skype video interview is with my friend Sean McGinnis (@seanmcginnis on Twitter), principal of 312 Digital and well-known Chicago networker.

Sean’s mission is to help clients with Digital Customer Acquisition and Loyalty. Listen in as we chat for a few minutes… (please pardon the slight video pixelation…)

Need to gain understanding of your personal or company DNA? Contact me about Brand Therapy – you’re only a few hours away from clarity!

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DeltaFAIL? You decide…

Delta Airlines has a PR nightmare on its hands – or, is it an opportunity?

Here’s the deal – some soldiers returning from Afghanistan put up this video on YouTube (please watch) complaining about the fact that they had to pay, out-of-pocket, for a fourth piece of luggage. They had been operating under the impression that they were allowed 4 pieces of baggage.

Delta put up this apologetic response on their blog, which outlines the fact that soldiers traveling coach class are actually allowed three bags (first/business class allows four).

Military people know that you have to do things “by the book” as you do your job. And Delta employee(s) were apparently doing just that – following the rules. Clearly, we have a case of miscommunication – and maybe a policy in need of review – that has blown up and is creating a strong emotional response.

So, here’s the question – what do you think Delta Airlines should do – right now for these soldiers, this week for PR damage control, and long-term regarding their luggage policy for the military? Put your thoughts in the comments and let’s discuss.

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Are Women Better Leaders than Men? Puh-lease!

Talk about plunging our feet into controversy! What are we thinking, taking on this topic for our 2nd weekly #LeadershipChat?

Well, stirring the pot, that’s what!

Lisa Petrilli and I are reacting to this article recently published by Forbes, called “Girls Rule.” It’s an interesting read, about how well some public companies are doing under female CEOs.

Of course, as usual, people want to generalize based on exceedingly narrow data pools. Sigh. Can’t we get past these dumb, divisive approaches?

Here is Lisa’s take on the issue, in which she raises some great questions. On the other hand, below is my rant. I don’t often use the word “stupid” in video blogs. But it only takes a few seconds into this one to pull that word out the hat.

Here’s the main point: Certain people will be better leaders for certain groups of people, in certain situations. It’s not a matter of male or female superiority in leadership. It boils down to the individual case.

What do you think? Read the Forbes article, read Lisa Petrilli’s post, and give it some thought.

Then join us Tuesday night (8 pm ET) for #LeadershipChat on Twitter (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions.)

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Networked Communications (part 6): The New Digital Neighborhoods

Your community used to be your extended family, your neighbors, your schoolmates and members of various community groups.

The ties were physical and, by and large, local.

They still are – but now we take part in whole new neighborhoods. Communities built around shared interests and common causes, all brought together with digital tools.

The new neighborhoods are found on digital networks. They’re local, global, temporary, permanent, rooted in the past or purpose-built for the present and the future.

And businesses that don’t recognize this sea change – people who remain rooted in legacy thinking about communities – will lose a wealth of opportunities. People are fed up with being bombarded with one-way, manipulative marketing messages. They want to hear from people like themselves. People in the communities they choose (or even create themselves).

And just as neighbors always have, they have a powerful influence on each others’ buying decisions. Not in the game? Not part of the discussion? You lose.

Involvement in social media is not a difficult decision, when this larger context is understood. We want to be where customers are. We want to influence communities, generate neighborhood referrals, and build tribes. The fastest growing businesses will be where the most efficient networked communications occur. Social media is crucial to any strategy of reaching people “where they are” now. Because where many of them are gathering, and talking, and influencing, is on-line.

If your co-workers or clients have cold feet about social media, simply ask if they have a smart phone. If they use the Internet. If they are on Facebook. If they use these tools and more to…connect with people. If they’re influenced by ratings on Amazon, if they’ve used Yelp to find a good restaurant, if they’ve used LinkedIn Answers – all of that is taking a dip into the pool of on-line neighborhoods.

Customers are swimming in those pools, some in the shallow end, but increasingly, many in the deep end. Seems counter-productive to sit on the sidelines when buyers and influencers are already in the game…

[This post is part of a series of posts, each covering a certain aspect of the topic: see part 1, The New Normal; part 2, The New Normal is the Old Normal; part 3, The Microphone is Mine Now; part 4, The Incredibly Shrinking Middleman; part 5, Someone Took Down the Fences, part 6, The New Digital Neighborhood; and the summary post - Social Media: Start Here]

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“So, Can Your iPhone…?”

Yes, I guess it can.

I was at a conference last week, and someone who is trying to justify, in his own mind, the purchase of an iPhone (go for it, John!) asked me if my iPhone was capable of storing video of an entire presentation.

I didn’t know the answer. So, it was time for an experiment. Could my iPhone capture my entire 50-minute presentation? And, from a distance of ~15-20 feet, would the audio even be discernible?

The results surprised me a bit. While the end product won’t make anyone’s Top 10 List of anything, the iPhone did capture the entire presentation with no problem, and (if your speaker is up loud enough), you can actually hear what I’m saying in this brief clip:

[From a presentation on Pharma Social Media - Where's the Low-hanging Fruit?]

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Five in the Morning 022409

Seth Godin, on the milestone of his 3,000th blog posts, considers himself the “luckiest guy” – and, lets everyone know that the first 2,500 are the hardest! If you like what he does, send him a note of congratulations (seth at squidoo dot com).

Marketing Basics: Conversation. An excellent summary and set of links from that folliclly-challenged Texas marketer, Jay Ehret.

Top Documentary films – an interesting on-line resource for your viewing pleasure. Hat tip: Director Tom Clifford.

Your Pitch Sucks? An interesting service provided by Jim Kukral and a team of PR pros. I like this business model – using on-line tools to rapidly offer distributed, scalable, on-demand expertise. In this case, in the much-needed area of creating GOOD press releases! My question for some of you: can you create a similar business model in your niche area of expertise?

Tom Peters. From Action to Excellence. 57 very pithy points.

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(Image credit – created via Spell with Flickr)

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Five in the Morning 011309

Jason Falls brings us an interesting list of the Top 50 Educational blogs, with links aplenty. Nice.

Busy, busy. Jeremiah Owyang has been cranking out great content on his blog. First, reflections on his 20-day holiday from Twitter. Then, for lovers of statistics, a collection of Social Media Stats for 2009. Then, a summary of Forresters Wave Report on Social Media Platforms.

In recent days, Fast Company has highlighted some cool technology trends and products. Such as tiny pico-projectors that can fit in your hand. Or electricity without wires. And how does Sony’s new mini video cam match up against the Flip?

Is there room for anyone else besides Twitter in the micro-blogging space? Louis Gray has an interesting analysis.

Doug Karr talks coffee, and the lies of packaging. It’s what’s in the cup that matters!

————- Come on by tomorrow to find out who is guest-hosting Five in the Morning!

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Five in the Morning 120908

Negative PR in advertising travels fast! Just ask Dr. Pepper (from USA Today – hat tip to @prsarahevans)

Will MLM kill Twitter? What do you think so? I doubt it, but some interesting points made nonetheless. From Karl Long.

Fun - Superlist of what NOT to do in Social Media. Courtesy of Robin Broitman at IIG. On the flip side, Lee Odden shares 26 tips on being Social Media Smart.

Thank you very much for the link, Mike Sansone. Now THIS is how to search for that perfect image in Flickr!!!

How do you compare with other Twitter users? Jeremiah Owyang brings out some very interesting stats from HP Lab’s research on Twitter use.

BONUS – As a rule I don’t watch long videos on the web, in particular not 15-minute ones. Yet, very late one night, when unable to fall back asleep, I stumbled across this one on Cheryl Smith‘s site, and it captured my attention. The message continues to resonate in my mind and heart. It may seem hokey the first few minutes, but stick with it. You may need, as I did, a reminder about the importance of Validation.

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Five in the Morning 103008

10 Branding brownie points, offered by Ed Roach (of the Brand Corral blog). Not high-tech stuff; just simple ways to add significant value.

Laura Ries, on How and When to Attack (in Marketing). With good/bad examples.

Small Business Trends introduces Jim Kukral as a (video expert) contributor. Here is his post on how and why a small business should use Twitter, including a screencast (Jim is good people, by the way. Be sure to follow him if you’re not already).

Why I blog. From Susan Murphy (SuzeMuse). I think Suze speaks for many of us.

Dan Schawbel interviewed at MSNBC website. Theme: social networking and business.

PLUS: Free Wi-Fi at locations nationwide for iPhone users? Sweeeet!

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Five in the Morning 102808

Chris Brogan with some tips on Reaching outside your Fishbowl to Build Community.

A series of video snippets (of Seth Godin and Tom Peters) commenting on social media. Courtesy of Doug Karr.

Beth Harte gets even more passionate. Good for her (and for you)! Similar thoughts from Amber Naslund.

Start buying! The Age of Conversation (2) is here. David Reich gives a plug.

The problem: Defining the problem. So says Tom Clifford – and this principle applies for many areas beyond creating a video!

PLUS – Do some people still have a heart, even for a stranger? Wow.

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Five in the Morning 100308

How to create on-line videos – a nice post by Deborah Brown with helpful links, including one to the ever-helpful Jim Kukral.

Telling your company’s story: Good stuff from Drew McLellan, and from Director Tom (for the video/documentary perspective!)

What’s a clig? Find out on the Livingston Buzz blog!

50 brands for 50 years – see this celebration of 50 top brands over the last 5 decades. Hat tip: Plaid (Brand Flakes for Breakfast blog)

Start-up stories – great new series from Scott Allen kicks off with links to informative stories about people who followed their dreams.

FRIDAY PHOTO BONUS: Top contenders for  Nikon’s Small World photography contest. Awesome micro-photography!

FRIDAY VIDEO BONUS: From last year: surely by now you know the story about Paul Potts, right? The opera-singing winner of Britain’s Got Talent? If you didn’t catch this one, you’re in for a treat; and even if you did, here’s the whole sequence of videos all together for you:

If you haven’t seen the sequence of videos from this stirring event, here they are, in order:

First Audition:

Semi-final Performance:

Final Performance:

Winner Announced, and Encore:

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Bud Light and Sausages

Disclaimer: I don’t care for Bud Light, or any light beer for that matter. I don’t drink any Bud products in fact – I’m a microbrew kinda guy, with a preference for stouts, porters, hearty ales – and lagers with at least a little bit of attitude.

That said, I do admire the creativity that goes into Bud Light advertising. My favorite of the most recent batch is the talking animals clip…

Just. Plain. Funny.

Do you ooVoo??

I was hit with a flurry of invitations in the last two weeks to “ooVoo” – which I resisted initially, as I sometimes feel overloaded with all the new collaborative/on-line toys.

Then I got a more personalized invite from one of my favorite local bloggers, C.B. Whittemore. And it hit me – a free service to enable on-line video conferencing – including free calls and chat? And even though C.B. is only 25 minutes away, how fun would it be to just have a quick on-line talk including live video feed?

steve-w-oovoo.jpgSo I bought a webcam (Logitech Pro 9000 – pretty sweet, includes audio), downloaded ooVoo, and voila! – instant ooVooing.

Just finished up a quick session with Cam Beck (who types faster than I talk), and I see that a number of other bloggers have already begun ooVooing. But I’m thinking about more than just social fun – now that video uploads are so simple, how am I going to employ this for business?

What are some of your ideas?

Steve’s Sticky Stuff 2_11

How would you react if you walked into Grand Central Station and saw hundreds of people “frozen in time”? Probably a lot like this (video).Admit it – you’ve always wanted to do something like this.

Making holographs in minutes – if you groove on interesting technology, you’ll enjoy this.

Extreme hail pictures. Cars don’t stand a chance against this stuff!

The evolution of Tech Company logos, from Neatorama.

Game-changer? What do you think?

Very cool – an “open-source” hackable and universal digital video recorder (article from the NY Times). The manufacturer is inviting people to improve both the hardware and software, and the device sounds downright versatile.

neuros-osd.jpg

What do you think – a portent of things to come?

(image credit)

Steve’s Sticky Stuff 12_18

A high-end narrated 3-D animation of the “inner life of a cell.” Very cool. Warning: lots of medical terminology.
Where can you find some good (low-cost or no-cost) images? Here’s a helpful list.

If you use Facebook at all, you’ll get a kick out of this spoof glimpse into Facebook 30 years in the future.

And finally, an inspirational year-end treat. Patrick Hughes – born without eyes, crippled from birth, gifted musician – and a member of the University of Louisville marching band. Amazing.

The Lecture of a Lifetime, reprise (with complete video)

Last week on my Impactiviti blog, I wrote about a moving speech by Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon professor dying of pacreatic cancer, who delivered “the lecture of a lifetime.”

This story, which was featured by the Wall Street Journal and grew viral on the Internet, led to an explosion of attention and has deeply impacted many.

Today, the WSJ does a follow up story (below; site link is here, subscription may be required) about the aftermath. Also, at the bottom of this post, a link to the full video of his speech.

The Professor’s Manifesto; What it Meant to Readers

As a boy, Randy Pausch painted an elevator door, a submarine and mathematical formulas on his bedroom walls. His parents let him do it, encouraging his creativity.

Last week, Dr. Pausch, a computer-science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, told this story in a lecture to 400 students and colleagues.

“If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let ‘em do it,” he said. “Don’t worry about resale values.”

As I wrote last week, his talk was a riveting and rollicking journey through the lessons of his life. It was also his last lecture, since he has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months.

After he spoke, his only plans were to quietly spend whatever time he has left with his wife and three young children. He never imagined the whirlwind that would envelop him. As video clips of his speech spread across the Internet, thousands of people contacted him to say he had made a profound impact on their lives. Many were moved to tears by his words — and moved to action. Parents everywhere vowed to let their kids do what they’d like on their bedroom walls.

“I am going to go right home and let my daughter paint her wall the bright pink she has been desiring instead of the “resalable” vanilla I wanted,” Carol Castle of Spring Creek, Nev., wrote to me to forward to Dr. Pausch.

People wanted Dr. Pausch to know that his talk had inspired them to quit pitying themselves, or to move on from divorces, or to pay more attention to their families. One woman wrote that his words had given her the strength to leave an abusive relationship. And terminally ill people wrote that they would try to live their lives as the 46-year-old Dr. Pausch is living his. “I’m dying and I’m having fun,” he said in the lecture. “And I’m going to keep having fun every day, because there’s no other way to play it.”

For Don Frankenfeld of Rapid City, S.D., watching the full lecture was “the best hour I have spent in years.” Many echoed that sentiment.

ABC News, which featured Dr. Pausch on “Good Morning America,” named him its “Person of the Week.” Other media descended on him. And hundreds of bloggers world-wide wrote essays celebrating him as their new hero. Their headlines were effusive: “Best Lecture Ever,” “The Most Important Thing I’ve Ever Seen,” “Randy Pausch, Worth Every Second.”

In his lecture, Dr. Pausch had said, “Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things.” Scores of Web sites now feature those words. Some include photos of brick walls for emphasis. Meanwhile, rabbis and ministers shared his brick-wall metaphor in sermons this past weekend.

Some compared the lecture to Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man Alive” speech. Celina Levin, 15, of Marlton, N.J., told Dr. Pausch that her AP English class had been analyzing the Gehrig speech, and “I have a feeling that we’ll be analyzing your speech for years to come.” Already, the Naperville, Ill., Central High School speech team plans to have a student deliver the Pausch speech word for word in competition.

As Dr. Pausch’s fans emailed links of his speech to friends, some were sheepish about it. “I am a deeply cynical person who reminds people frequently not to send me those sappy feel-good emails,” wrote Mark Pfeifer, a technology project manager at a New York investment bank. “Randy Pausch’s lecture moved me deeply, and I intend to forward it on.”

In Miami, retiree Ronald Trazenfeld emailed the lecture to friends with a note to “stop complaining about bad service and shoddy merchandise.” He suggested they instead hug someone they love.

Near the end of his lecture, Dr. Pausch had talked about earning his Ph.D., and how his mother would kiddingly introduce him: “This is my son. He’s a doctor, but not the kind who helps people.”

It was a laugh line, but it led dozens of people to reassure Dr. Pausch: “You ARE the kind of doctor who helps people,” wrote Cheryl Davis of Oakland, Calif.

Dr. Pausch feels overwhelmed and moved that what started in a lecture hall with 400 people has now been experienced by millions. Still, he has retained his sense of humor. “There’s a limit to how many times you can read how great you are and what an inspiration you are,” he says, “but I’m not there yet.”

Carnegie Mellon has a plan to honor Dr. Pausch. As a techie with the heart of a performer, he was always a link between the arts and sciences on campus. A new computer-science building is being built, and a footbridge will connect it to the nearby arts building. The bridge will be named the Randy Pausch Memorial Footbridge.

“Based on your talk, we’re thinking of putting a brick wall on either end,” joked the university’s president, Jared Cohon, announcing the honor. He went on to say: “Randy, there will be generations of students and faculty who will not know you, but they will cross that bridge and see your name and they’ll ask those of us who did know you. And we will tell them.”

Dr. Pausch has asked Carnegie Mellon not to copyright his last lecture, and instead to leave it in the public domain. It will remain his legacy, and his footbridge, to the world.

(The complete 1.5 hour speech is here on Google Video)

Steve’s Sticky Stuff 8_31

You think your commute is wild? I used to think driving over an hour each way (thankfully, that’s in the past) was an adventure…until I saw this. A rusty cable, a hook, a stick…and an amazing ride 1,200 feet up.

Is your Help Desk a bit short of friendly? Check out this approach.

Here’s a golf shot by Fuzzy Zoeller that will blow your mind.

aerogel_hand-sm.jpgFinally…wouldn’t you like to get your hand(s) on some aerogel? This stuff – also called “frozen smoke” - sounds simply amazing.

Steve’s Sticky Stuff 8_24

duct-tape.jpgSteve’s Sticky Stuff is a weekly collection of random interesting stuff I’ve found during my voyages hither and yon. Enjoy!

Is Steve Woodruff actually a Swedish policeman toting an AK-47 to work?

I wish I’d know about this sooner. Kids are now being diagnosed with Youthful Tendency Disorder.

Google Earth now expands to Google Sky. Very, very cool. UPDATE: They hid an “easter egg” flight simulator in there! Here is how to access it.

Truveo. May be the best interface/search engine yet for finding videos on the net (hat tip: Wall Street Journal). Here’s a very funny prank video that you may enjoy.

Love Technology? Check this out…

I have a pretty good grasp of technology, in general. But this…I’m not sure I can parallel-process all the implications. In fact, I’m not even sure I can explain what this is. How would this be used for some emergent marketing approaches that have only been dreamed of thus far?

Watch and wonder.

Paul Potts – now on CD-ROM!

You remember Paul Potts, the winner this spring of Britain’s Got Talent? His astounding performance of opera captured many hearts, certainly including my own.

His first CD is now out. We just got it in from Amazon. I am not, natively, an opera fan, but if you enjoyed Paul’s performances from BGT, you’ll like this disk – very good stuff on it!

Web 3.0 – What is it?

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, attempts a brief thumbnail (90 second) overview, with some compelling concepts.

What do you think?

Weekend Video Fun

For your amusement, two very funny videos:

You know the voices. You’re sitting down in the movie theatre, and the “voiceover” guy is narrating the previews. What would happen if 5 of them got together for a limo ride?

And, one of the best trick football plays ever. “Coach, this isn’t our ball!!”

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