Tag Archives: lynchburg

About 90 days . . .

Has it really been that long since I wrote a blog post?  That is appalling and precisely the sort of absentee blogerism that leads to declining readership.  I am ashamed and embarrassed.  But mostly, it shows I have been too busy applying all the lessons and best practices I typically try to share.

So in one respect, the application of knowledge is worthwhile.  On the other hand, it will not make me look like such a thought leader tomorrow when I present on how readily a person can manage social media for personal, professional and business growth.

Within an hour of waking up tomorrow, I will attempt to string together enough cogent statements to convince several social media fence-sitters that they can own this domain — pun intended — without having to sequester themselves in a Nerd Bunker for hours at a time.  I will further try to impress upon them that the relationship side of their respective businesses can be well-served by using tools such as blogs, social networks and other technological options.  Whether existing employees, potential workers, clients or potential buyers of their services, the Return on their Investment would have to be relatively high, since most of the acquisition costs are approaching zero ($0).

So here are a few points I plan to make:

1.  If you can’t commit the time to building deep, intimate relationships (Facebook), you surely can build some basic ones (Twitter) and invest where it might be most profitable (LinkedIn).

2.  You don’t have to be Ashton Kutcher to build a successful social network.  Use it to engage and reward your most loyal customers.  When all else fails, FOCUS your content on the most important customers/potentials.

3.  Leverage staff strengths and let leaders emerge.

4.  Efficient management can make you appear more consumed than you are with creating content.

5. Being a content distributor can be a better entry strategy than being a content creator (Copy and Share Everything).

Using these strategies should allow you to establish a social media presence, and learn how your organization and staffing can best manage this powerful tool.

Biggest election revelation: Obama’s election easier than gaining “equality” in middle America

Here is an opportunity to infuriate all those who strain against reality to argue that Barack Obama’s election is proof that racial equality has been attained.  At one time, many felt the primary test for racial equality was the inability for an African-American to be elected president.  And before I state my case here, let me be clear: I believe the most prevalent form of discrimination in America is not racial, but soci-economic.  Racial discrimination has been pressed further into the recesses of the corners of America’s socio-political environment, but its effect is still profound.

Obama’s election demonstrates the complexity of the problem.  It may have been easier — difficult as it actually was — to get him elected POTUS than it would be for your town’s corporate and political entities to appoint him to its presidency or head position.

In 2008, not even the Supreme Court had a chance to save the race for the conservatives.  Bush II created such a hostile environment against the conservative political Right that “even a black man proved preferable to another version of Bush.”  McCain didn’t lose the election, Bush did.  But that’s another story for another day.

Its quite a confluence of historical tides that allowed Obama to be elected.  He was the right man for the right time.  He is prepared.  He has a vision that Americans are compelled to welcome.  He is qualified by any measure, and his race didn’t get him elected, it kept him from winning by an even-larger margin.  And I am not belly-aching.  Far from it.

Without the combination of an historically-low approval rating for W, flagging support for a sustained American presence in Iraq, unfathomably high fuel costs, and financial disaster on the macro and micro-level of our economy, the Democratic ticket would not have succeeded.

Thank God for it!  All those forces needed to conspire to allow the best man to win the election, and he did.  But it occurs to me that now, proponents of racism and racial discrimination, and opponents of ground-leveling legislation have new fuel to pour on the fire in the argument that everyone is truly equal.  In point of fact, the new political reality will only serve to increase the amount of racial tension in our country.

But herein lies the real opportunity for change and hope.  This, if handled with civility and honesty,  could allow for an impassioned, rational discourse.  It may be precisely what is needed to tip the nation toward acknowledging and dealing with the less-visible, and more nefarious, forms of racism that still prevail.  Even before Obama was a candidate, I am proud that my community accepted this challenge and underwent an intensive, and ongoing community-wide discours on race and racism.  Lynchburg leads the way!

Ironically, Obama’s presidency will cause latent misgivings, and shallowly-concealed disdain to bubble to the surface in areas where the courage to do the same don’t exist.  I say bring it on.  The central reason our nation has not truly realized its potential is because we have pushed too many sensitive discussions to the margins.  We have instituted political correctness in place of honest disagreement.  We have surrounded our views with comfortable compassion, and insulated ourselves only with those who share our world-view.  We have created a situation where an African-American man could be elected president of the United States, even though the vast majority of American institutions from colleges to corporations would struggle to permit equal courage in choosing leaders who don’t fit the “traditional” model.

In the few areas where I have seen data, African-Americans have lost ground, not gained: college enrollment of African-Americans lags behind the general population proportions.  There are fewer black head coaches in Division I football, for instance, than there were just a few years ago.  And our children still seem to be fighting for equal footing in the public education system.

When Obama is the rule and not the exception, then and only then can we say America has undergone the type of soul-searching and unification that allows true change.  And when we do, we will restore our pre-eminence on the world’s stage politically, socially, culturally, and economically as One America.  I long for the day.  In the meantime, I look forward to new American leadership paradigms.  I truly have hope.

Barack Obama Photo Journal: Lynchburg VA 2008

A brief case study in social networking

REVOLUTION NOT BEING TELEVISED: BARACK OBAMA IS COMING TO LYNCHBURG

This evening as I wrapped up a meeting about a significant database issue, I received a phone call that, at some point in the next hour, tickets for a heretofore-known-only-to-party-hoi-polloi visit by presidential candidate and Illinois senator, Barack Obama, would be handed out at the local Democratic headquarters.

In this region, news is normally traded over morning coffee at the Weenie Stand (no, seriously, that’s what it’s called) or at Barbara’s Dream Hut at the farmer’s market on Saturdays.  Rare is this bucolic place the epicenter of national news, and rarer still is there a need to react very quickly to information you receive through the grapevine.  But today, if you waited to hear about this on television, you totally missed out.  This revolutionary’s visit was not advertised publicly.

So on this evening, with newly-produced adrenaline coursing through my veins, I picked up a client with whom I was to meet, forced her to race out of her home without her keys and moved with deliberate speed downtown to see if we could get passes to our town’s historic evening with Barack Obama. . . in LYNCHBURG.  Are you serious?

I immediately texted my wife, then called her to see if she can drag the kids out of the pool, dry them off, end their swim date, then hustle downtown to get more tickets.  Unfortunately, even though she was in the first wave of recipients of the message, and managed to alert a couple family members, her schedule kept her from arriving at Obama HQ in time, but let me not get ahead of myself.

TWO HOURS, 1,000-plus PEOPLE

While I thought we were privy to truly insider knowledge, received at 5:10 p.m., I was shocked to arrive at 5:35, and find myself standing in a reasonable, but growing queue, of a couple hundred people.  Already, within 30 minutes of the first insiders letting their circles of influence know, their closest concentric circle of influence had assembled.

5:38: I receive a blast text message from a buddy telling me to head downtown for free Obama tix, limit two.  Thank goodness I was already in line.  But it occurred to me that someone who hadn’t even arrived to get his own tickets was telling his entire network about the opportunity.  This suddenly became about social networking.

At 5:40, we were inching toward the ticket table, but had already started to hear rumors that the tickets were beginning to run out.  This was a lie.  First responders simply enjoyed taking a poke at those of us who waited with anxiety.

5:42: A recipient of the same text message I had received text-messaged me to ask if I knew what was up with tickets.  Unfortunately, as I received his message, I was invited to take a brochure from a campaign volunteer.  I made a mental note to write him after securing my tickets.  Knowing I needed to help my Karmic cause as much as possible, I accepted the innocuous propaganda, and prayed silently that it would somehow increase my chances of getting tickets.

Or better yet, getting the last two tickets.  Yes, I am that guy.  Its not enough to get tickets.  I also wanted the distinction of being LUCKY!  Since I couldn’t be FIRST in line, I figured the second best option would be to be last.  Alas, plenty of tickets were left.  Its 5:45 p.m.

5:46: I step up to the table, sign my name promising to show up at the appointed time or to give my tix to someone who would, and finally, I can think about responding to the last text message.

As I exalted in my victory, and repeated the new ritual of ribbing those still waiting in line, I felt the  adrenaline rush out of my body, much like that sensation moments after a big hit in a football game, or the few minutes after a wrestling match (freestyle, not WWE).  Knowing well those in line would get tickets, I felt justified in helping create a sense of tension they would enjoy after getting their tickets.  Tag, you’re it.  Pass it on.

6:00: A slight buzz is going through the waiting crowd of what must now be 400 people, wrapping out of the building, around the corner, up one city block, and around a second corner.  People who must be in the second concentric circle — or two degrees of separation from the insiders — have arrived, skipping dinners, dragging reluctant kids, toting briefcases and whatever they could carry as they raced from their cubicles to lap up whatever tickets their second-degree contacts would allow.

But I need to get back to my client meeting, because we have much to do and loads to lift.

7:00: As my client and I begin charting her path to increased contracts and greater brand recognition in the consulting community, I got a text message from my wife letting me know that they were about 30 people behind the last ticket recipients.

Two hours after the first ticket recipients arrived, in an absolute hush, the last ticket to an unpublicized event was gone.

EVEN FRESH NEWS STORIES ARE HISTORICAL FACT BY THE TIME THEY AIR

The citizens of Lynchburg returned to their coffee and breakfast sandwiches, knowing that if they weren’t within two degrees of separation of the insiders, they may as well have been on another planet.  Now, primed for one of the most significant news events in the area’s recent history, the real story is all but over.

If you’re not using today’s technology du jour, you will miss many opportunities.  Its pretty simple.  Nearly 1,000 tickets to a quickly-organized, ZERO promotion event were gone.  If you want to truly be connected to the most up-to-the-minute action in your community, keep your cell phone on, learn to text, or, of course, work for years to become an insider.  Otherwise, enjoy the news coverage.  Or as its also known, HISTORY.