Everyday is Halloween in San Francisco

I took this picture on New Year’s Eve in Union Square, San Francisco:

The Sparkly Rainbow Guy was out in full force in Union Square. He seemed to be hustling for attention for a while until this lady approached him. San Francisco is full of performance artists. Whether you want to dress up or dress down, whether you want to dress in full regalia or or simply play a role, whether you are crazy or non-crazy, all are welcome in this town. You are free to express yourself.

2011 was an explosion of self-expression all over the digital landscape. Social media is about self-expression and we witnessed major political change globally through this medium and because of this medium. And I believe you will see more acts of self-expression committed by citizens of nations trying to make institutional change in 2012 and beyond.

I remember meeting a New York transplant who told me that his friends back East call San Francisco full of “crunchy” types. I look at it this way. New York has New Yorkers.  Paris has Parisians. And San Francisco has people who understand the value of self-expression to change the world.

Lesson One: Why Social Media Experts are Idiots

This post is for the entrepreneur or aspiring one. Guy Kawasaki worked for Apple and Steve Jobs twice. He learned some things. He shares Twelve Lessons with you that he learned from Steve Jobs. Here is the YouTube video of that presentation which was given after Mr. Jobs’ passing. It’s about 47 minutes long. I will summarize each lesson in twelve entries or if you want to listen to its entirety here it is:

Lesson One: Mr. Kawasaki thinks that experts are clueless. Especially the “social media experts” or the “social media gurus.” If someone tells you that they are one of these, run the other way. Experts can’t help you. They are arrogant and will just tell you to do the better sameness. They are disconnected from customers. Steve Jobs did not listen to experts. In fact, experts listened to him. As entrepreneurs, you are supposed to figure it out for yourself. Social media has allowed you to get close to people and influencers very fast. Use it correctly and learn something.

San Francisco 2012 New Year Style

San Francisco 2012 New Year Style

Why Mentorship is Dangerous

I’ve been thinking of this concept of mentorship. Through my young adult and professional life I have always been encouraged to seek out a mentor. And we seem to read about it a lot in career advice columns, blog posts, self-improvement literature, etc. And yes, I have had a handful of more wise, experienced individuals guide me through challenging and uncertain times, both men and women. Not sure I would call them mentors though.

Here’s the observation that I’ve made. It becomes dangerous when the mentor is treated as a hero. Then the mentorship experience becomes hero worship. This creates limitations on your self development. You fail to develop to your fullest potential because you become so focused on BEING your mentor. Do you really want to be a second-rate copy of your Mentor or a first-rate you? So here lies another meaning of “bcc”: do you want to become a Blind Carbon Copy?

Here’s a simplified analogy regarding the above. Steve Jobs died this past year in case you didn’t hear. He is probably the first person associated with that brand called Apple. There was a lot of attention focused on him after he died. Lots of people were sad. There were a lot of tributes written about him. He was worshipped and he continues to be worshipped. He has been deified.  So the question I’ve heard is “Who is the next Steve Jobs?” And it continues with “Who is the next Mark Zuckerberg?” Or “Who is the next Arianna Huffington?” Or “Who is the next Angela Merkl?” Or “Who is the next Margaret Thatcher?” (Huh? That was a curve ball, right?) Yes, I look forward to watching Meryl Streep portray the Reagan era politician in “The Iron Lady” which is coming soon to a theater near you. These questions are silly. Seeking out “The Next” whatever creates limitations and ceilings on inventing something different that can change the world in even a greater capacity. Sure, the aforementioned people have made a major impact on the world but that does not mean that they represent the absolute potential. Mentorship and learning from great leaders has value but be careful not to diminish your own ability to do amazing things. Do something different.

How the World’s Most Powerful Blogger Masters Fear

Sometimes this is what I do on Friday afternoon before an evening out. I seek to entertain and educate myself by checking out YouTube. I had a recent discussion with a date about Arianna Huffington and why she is such a Big Deal in the media and blogosphere. So I decided to find out what Search results YouTube (Google) would produce for “Arianna Huffington”, the woman who has been called the “World’s Most Powerful Blogger.” And I found this piece from 2007 uploaded by GoogleTalks where a very pregnant Sheryl Sandberg then of Google, now the COO of Facebook interviews the New Media titan.

Aside from her explanation of how she transformed from a Conservative to a Liberal what I found interesting was Ms. Huffington’s insight about the concept of fear. Women and men handle the feeling of fear differently. Nothing too earth shattering there. But what kinds of things are women fearful of? Ms. Huffington illustrates her point with the concept of the “Evil Roommate” which lives in our brain and tells us mean or undermining things. The Evil Roommate exists in the minds of both men and women. But here again lies the difference. For example, women wake up in the morning and the Evil Roommate may whisper something like this to them, “Look in the mirror, is that another wrinkle?” or “Those jeans are tighter on you because you threw them in the dryer, right?” She goes on to posit that it’s not about the absence of fear which will move us forward, but of mastering it. I think this thought approach applies to human beings in general. Both men and women have different perceptions of what may cripple them mentally and/or emotionally but  perhaps it’s a matter of first identifying the nature of the fear and why it’s given permission to exist in our minds.

Ms. Huffington is an interesting personality to listen to. Her thoughts about the perception of the “outspoken woman” and what needs to change to move women forward are not revolutionary but she speaks to the themes of human dignity and the democratization of the Voice. Human beings feel valued when they have a Voice that is acknowledged and heard. So regardless of whether you agree or disagree with her political views or maybe just don’t like her, in the big picture she reminds us about the beauty and power of the blogosphere to deliver Truth from ordinary people. The emergence of New Media has granted a voice to ordinary people who can blog about things that matter to them up to a potentially institution-changing and revolutionary way.  I do understand that a double-edged sword exists where any non-Truth can also be broadcast by an ordinary person with evil intentions to destroy the World.  But the global activism that this form of communication  has spawned just in 2011 also amplifies the new era of individual self-fulfillment and attempting to “do good” in the world. So the next time the Evil Roommate rears itself, press the mute button. That Voice does not earn the right to be heard.

You can follow Arianna Huffington @ariannahuff and her Internet Newspaper the Huffington Post @HuffingtonPost

Analytics: Are You a Fan of the Google Swag?

So this is the question: If I rave about Google Analytics (GA) does that mean I am a fan of the Google Swag? This is the general concept of what Google Swag is, although I’m not sure this is the “official” store. This creative writing instrument is another example of Google Swag.

I attended a “Google Analytics Premium Event” today sponsored by Google and Blast Advanced Media. The Google team was pitching their GA Premium product which was recently released and is offered at $150,000/year for the annual license fee. They say they have 20+ clients including Gucci, Papa John’s Pizza and Travelocity. It’s a “fixed cost” (or what they call “no penalty for growth”) for up to 1 billion hits/month compared to the free Standard version which allows for 10 million hits/month. In addition to this extra processing power, the Premium product offers data freshness (getting the data within 2-4 hours vs. up to 24 hours for Standard) and unsampled reports. I will not go into the details since all you need to do is Google “Google Analytics Premium” and you will get adequate results, I’m sure.

The Google team did talk about the Standard version (AFTER the more expensive Premium version) and I did leave with some take-aways. First, data does not exist in a vacuum. It’s easy to create segments. A segment is defined as a subset with one thing in common. An advanced segment is a subset with two things in common and a really advanced segment is an extremely specific subset. So the key is the discovery of informative segments within the data. And the purpose of segmenting is to analyze the process of acquisition, behavior and outcome. For example, social media traffic (acquisition) are visiting sites (behavior) and they become purchasing visitors at a value of x dollars (outcome). The result of this process is actionable insight. One of the Google team members referred to a quote which summarizes the essence of this approach: “Analyzing data in aggregate is a crime.” ~ Avinash Kaushik (2008)

There are other (powerful) analytics tools out there like UrchinAdobe Sitecatalyst  and Webtrends. And I’m wondering if current users there will eventually transition to GA. Will they become fans of the Google Swag?

Get On Stage Now. You Could Be a Star.

I am referring to a tweet from Arianna Huffington recently. Per @ariannahuff, “Self-expression is the new entertainment.” Translation: Get on stage with TWITTER! Anyone can be a star. Just say something in 140 characters or less. Don’t be dull. Just imagine. Try to say something that could possibly solve someone’s problem of boredom or loneliness. Be entertaining.

More importantly, you must first create your TWITTER profile. Who do you think you are? And profiles are never static so don’t worry about nailing it the first time. I’m always tweeking mine. Currently, @BayAreaCara reads as: Contemporary American Woman, Dreamer, #BayAreaNut, Sushi Snob, #Happy, Wanderlust, Silicon Valley Groupie, love love love #SanFrancisco city life

What’s your profile?