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.

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

The Big Lies in Online Dating

This is what I do at 1am in the morning. I troll Quora for interesting data. I discovered a string about public relations strategies for startup companies. The post suggested taking an OkCupid, OkTrends approach of “always keeping data fresh” since it recommends to constantly be coming up with new product, new features, new data after launch. OkCupid is an online dating site which produces a blog called OkTrends which reports on trends based on their users. And this data is always re-freshed with new insights, graphs and visuals. I personally don’t do online dating but most of my girlfriends do. And I respect that. It’s just another approach to dating. But here are two reasons why I personally prefer not to adopt that approach: (1) You cannot feel a person’s essence online (first impression/chemistry). So therefore it becomes a huge time-waster if you are interested in their online profile and then let down when you initially meet them in person. (2) People will embellish their personal profile when it comes to finding a date or a mate. Here is an OkTrends post based on user data which supports my second reason. So at the end of the day (at 1am in the morning), I would prefer mining for data than reading about some guy who says he is something he is not. Yes, people also lie in person; both men and women could lie regardless of whether they are looking online or offline but the first impression/chemistry qualifier is a more important starting point for me in this process of discovery. I would prefer to take the organic approach in the dating world and meet a live human being from the beginning. So call me a geek since I’d rather be trolling for data than trolling for dates online.

Celebrities in the Digital Age: Why James Bond Thinks the Kardashians are Idiots

In the upcoming January issue of British GQ magazine, Daniel Craig the latest James Bond incarnation will tell you why the Kardashians are lame. His Big Rant is about celebrities demanding privacy when they choose to sell out their privacy. (think back to Kim’s failed foray into marriage and her request for privacy.) To me it’s as simple as “If you don’t want the attention, then get off the stage.”

Regardless of whether you are a reality tv star or celebrity, is it possible to live privately in the digital age? Social networking sites are ubiquitous ~ Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and now Google+ permeate the Web. Technology is ubiquitous and I hardly know anyone who does not participate in online living. When was the last time you logged on? Can you imagine life without a smart phone and a computer? You can choose to remove yourself from participating in the online world but would that make you irrelevant?

The irony is that these non-private networks or online communities which can be built can also transform a nobody into somebody. Anybody can be somebody. Any human being can feel like they are a big deal. Let’s face it. People like recognition. Create a twitter profile, gain a massive following, become influential and you’re a star.

In the same vein that James Bond seems to perpetually be in his mid-thirties, creating an online persona presents an opportunity (and perhaps a danger) to create a fantasy. How do you distinguish a fact from an opinion, a self-labled journalist from an attention seeking fictional storyteller? Are opinions becoming construed as fact in the digital age? How many different truths are floating out there on the Internet?

I would add Daniel Craig’s Twitter handle here but I don’t know which one is real. There are also multiple James Bond Twitter handles.  In any case, the next James Bond movie “Skyfall” is scheduled for its United States release in November 2012.  Here are the worldwide release dates for globetrotters.

My San Francisco Week in Review

Thanksgiving week was delightful and an eclectic bag of experiences from learning a new skill to spending time with important people in my life. I started learning how to code (so I can build something big someday), I went to the San Francisco Opera’s production of Turandot, I had German food in the Mission, I discovered this fantastic San Francisco stairway (think “street connector”) in my neighborhood for working out and I created my first set on this fabulous site called Polyvore which merges fashion, creativity and technology.  Brilliant to discover a smart fashion site making an impact in Silicon Valley. Polyvore also happens to be based in Mountain View, San Francisco’s backyard. The highlight of the week however was Thanksgiving Day ~ great food and discussion with an intimate group of old and new friends.

And the weekend was topped off when I enjoyed a nice Italian meal with a friend who I’ve known for 16 years but get to see maybe four times a year despite living in the same city! (you know who you are!) San Francisco is the best place to spend time with people who you are thankful to be in your life.

San Francisco Style ~ Forever Young

San Francisco Style ~ Forever Young