Summary: Content strategy insights from big social data mining.

Tactical Value: Regardless of platform, regardless of the focus of your social content and conversations, regardless of your business or interest type as a publisher, “Caption This” promos and campaigns are the highest performing social content/ engagement on the web. Add them to your editorial calendar yesterday.


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As a caveat, if you’re a small business owner, I am hand delivering a 70% competitive advantage on facebook.

Over the last four years, I’ve received much flack for my use of social media, both in form and function. Most of it, I own. I do not keep my messaging open ended. I talk about and promote highly contentious content, often rife with profanity. I don’t blow sunshine up people’s asses unless it is deserved. But for those in marketing and technology that still talk to me, the chief inquisition from new professionals in social media that ask for suggested tools or entrepereneurs launching new social products:

“I don’t get it. You suggest I use/I develop [social media publishing platform de jure], and yet you don’t use it yourself. What gives?”

Check it out for yourself or just take my word for it: While my companies have accounts, pages, etc., I do not publish as a company; I publish as an individual. When I do publish, I almost always publish on platform, or “from web.” I rarely use third-party services. If and when I do use third-party tools, it is from a mobile app owned by the social network, or I am testing the API call and/or the UI/UX of the tool to get a better understanding of where the market is going, who is doing what, when, where, how and why. Testing an API call is telling: The test confirms or changes your assumption about the developer’s intended use of the network. But I digress.

There is a method to my madness.

EdgeRank: What It Is and What the Calculation Is Missing

The super smart folks at EdgeRank Checker recently tested and studied how the use of third-party publishing tools affected Facebook EdgeRank. (If you’re unfamiliar with what “EdgeRank” is, it’s a proprietary measure of a brands’ social engagement  with consumers on facebook.) The published study confirmed a widely held  hypothesis for people that monitor this stuff: Using third-party publishing tools hurts, inhibits, and otherwise decreases engagement. By 70%.

Allyson Kapin wrote a great follow up post at Care2frogloop. The post generated some great comments. It’s a conversation worth checking out. (HT to Bryan Person of LiveWorld for retweeting Allyson’s link (ironically enough via Hootsuite.)

I’ve believe the commonly held formula for measuring Facebook EdgeRank (Affinity X Weight X Time Decay) is flawed; it does not account for the publisher’s (in this case, a brand’s) time on site (until now?)… Proximity… In Product… On Platform.

What You See is What You Get

Some secrets to facebook are pretty obvious. Some of the world’s brightest and most technologically savvy people clock into work at facebook every day. The API’s suck? It’s for a reason. Tunneling through via an API is not a comprehensive use of the product/property. The APi wasn’t designed for you.

If you’ve ever sold or heard a pitch on a social advertising product or display product, what does the pitch always open with? Users. In Product. On Platform. Time on Site.

The same applies for other networks, too (not exclusive to social networks, though it could be argued that any community on the internet is in an antic sense a social network.)

By way of analogy, I own a retail storefront. Let’s call it “facebook.” Who is more valuable to me? On-property visitors or those that send proxies or correspondence or call?  I can directly engage with the on-property visitors. I can answer questions, and with direct one-to-one answers, promote additional activity, services and products.  I can also monitor behavior, directly. I can learn from each and every experience in order to serve and make the experience better. Direct communication is exchange. Exchange is conversion.

The inverse principle applies to third-party publishing on facebook. Facebook’s preference is for users (any user, regardless if they are acting on behalf of a brand) in product, on platform. Facebook serves over 1/4th of all display advertising on the internet, and at over 30% margin to boot. This is their billion dollar cash cow which will no doubt make the inevitable IPO very attractive to investors. Facebook cannot and will not serve ads to a third-party tool.Why give away the margin? Why possibly compromise the experience that facebook cannot control?

Also consider facebook’s transition to iframes. Within seconds, a brand (even the Mom and Pop shop down the road) has the ability to clone web pages and pull them directly into a fan page. I am betting facebook will develop or acquire a merchant platform (written in html5,) thus bringing the point of sale directly into the facebook experience. Colleagues and I might be working on this as I write.

This, in my opinion, is by and large why Google has not opened the Google+ API and are not in a hurry to do so… they want users in product, on platform. In an effort to truly reach critical mass, it is absolutely necessary in order for Google to compete for mindshare, marketshare and local advertising dollars. Google can push user numbers (largely acquired and onboarded via gmail) via a press release to Mashable all day long, but how many of those users are in the Google+ product, on platform?

My golfing buddy, friend and goto colleague for all things paid search, Matt Kelly of Paid Search Geeks and I discussed PPC numbers a couple of months ago. Based on his paid search campaigns, facebook not withstanding, Matt’s clients get the best conversion ratio and return on paid search investment from ads displayed in gmail. Again, if  a user is in product, on platform, ad delivery can be targeted, monitored, optimized, and controlled. Completely different experience and result in an email client. But email marketing is a different subject altogether.

The examples are endless; the point is singular: Marketers and advertisers should use networks and channels the way they were designed to be used. It’s a win for the network which ultimately is a win for you. And believe me when I tell you that in product, on platform has its benefits. 70% is a good start.

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collage of book covers written by past and present candidates for political office.

This is not a political post. The hope is that it will generate discussion about “personal branding.”

Can you identify the like book covers? The book cover that is different? Without knowing anything about the individuals pictured, is it not obvious that they are selling themselves? In some circles this is called whoring, while in others this is called personal branding. Is there a difference?

Do you find yourself asking “Why is the candidate I voted for and elected so different than the person in office?”

How about, “Why is the person I hired so different than the person taking three hour lunches?”

Like it or not, the cult of personality is alive and well.  Everywhere you look, everyday people are “marketing” themselves as if they are a house of fashion, a professional athlete, a media personality, a candidate for president.

You become an It.

You are hard pressed to identify what these everyday people do, what they believe in and in the event that you do discover characteristics, values, principles, beliefs, along the way, their doing and their believing readily changes, often to sustain the artificial object they’ve created, their personal brand. The same people rarely communicate their values unless they are absolutely certain it will not jeopardize their brand–the identity they have artificially manufactured–because it might jeopardize an opportunity at personal gain… With personal branding its compulsory to be everything to everyone. At its core, this is relativism; it is sophism. In its application it is compromise. And not the good kind.

Over time, the personal brand is harnessed with layers of compromise. Liability multiplies. Integrity is compromised.

Specifically to individuals actively branding themselves: What you’re doing is impossible to scale without breaking a categorical imperative, without eating your own young. You’re actively developing yourself as a means to an end, not and end in and of yourself. Inevitably, you break or you break others along the way. If you have no problems advancing megalomaniacal behavior, setting yourself up for failure, and/or destroying others along the way, have at it. Just know when the current shifts, no one will have your back when you’re up against the wall. Ask Tiger Woods. Then email EA Sports and inquire about Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2011 game sales.

Growing up, my parents taught me that people are inherently fallible: People make mistakes. This was usually accompanied by some moral tale about “love the sinner hate the sin.” And while religious maxims do not directly apply, if you establish YOUR SELF as the axiom from which everything orbits around knowing you will make devstating mistakes along the way, you’re establishing a fatality that you can never return from.

Hours after Congressman Ron Paul announced his presidential candidacy, Evan Smith, CEO of the Texas Tribune texted me and asked me if I was supporting him. “Of course, he is like a second father to me. But keep in mind that I am not supporting him because I think he will win. Ron does not intend to win. Ron is running to promulgate a principle that he believes in, he always has and he always will. And he’s never once compromised on this.”

Just look at his book cover.

This post is dedicated to Beth Harte

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Whereas this is a very personal post, I do business very personally. Maybe you can glean some insight, here. I have some things to get off my chest.

Debt, Fear, Loathing and Anxiety on an Otherwise Serene Afternoon*

If you’re here, you’re either 1) a regular reader of this blog or 2) you’ve been sent a link after enjoying(?) a conversation with Cynthia, myself or both of us only to ask us when we are getting married. or 3) you’ve been sent a link after a conversation with me about your project and plan to generate mad Zuck’s Bucks. Either, or: Please read on.

I am engaged to a wonderful woman. Her name is Cynthia. Cynthia and I made a commitment to one another to be debt free before getting married. We thought we’d be there by now. Alas, we’re not.

About twelve years ago, I made a decision that effectively changed the course of my young adult life. I am contractually obligated not to talk about this decision. However, I can say that chances are the way you see the world is very different than the way I see the world. I can also tell you that I have never had an open line of credit. I have financed nothing in my entire life. Talk of monetary policy, the international credit conspiracy, fractional reserve lending, straw men, etc., is academic conversation for another day.

Suffice it to say, I tend to do things differently than most people. In the ways I err, I usually pay for it three or four times before I flip off the insanity switch and amend the course. My way is not necessarily better, it is simply the only way I know. Cynthia loves me because of these differences; she often reminds me to be different. I have struggled with this. I can anticipate the future. Now it is a matter of having the confidence in my own ability to bridge to that future. This used to give me much anxiety. I would smoke. Jason the idea guy might light a cigarette and call you. This won’t happen anymore. That guy is as extinguished as that last cigarette.

Now, I am going to monetize those ideas through action, and I am going to do it my way, in the world.

I am an entrepreneur; I am a self-directed and self-governing agent within a series of exchange systems, acting in uncertainty. It is in my DNA. The ornery rebel-yells on a carousel pepper my family tree. We experiment. We test. We tinker. We succeed. We fail. We’ll place everything on zero and roll the dice with intelligent and often foolish speculation. We genuinely try to wake up everyday and create something before we go to sleep. In the past, most of my actions within these exchange systems were hidden. (One day, this will make for a best selling work of fiction.) Now, everything will be out in the open.

I’ve learned that it is impossible to scale a business without some form of credit, however small; I include intelligent capital (venture, angel, PE or otherwise) and private loans as credit. Believe me when I tell you that I have tried. The swings can be ridiculously sick. Over the course of the last year I’ve worked with and for some people who did not honor their commitments. This has affected my primary commitment. This too affected my ability to honor secondary commitments. In no particular order: Amanda knows; Spencer knows; Keri knows; Andy knows; Tom knows; Jennifer knows; Chris knows. Cynthia definitely knows. Others might suspect as much. I internalized much of this. Told myself to learn from it, honor it, take the loss, and move on. The lines were blurred. Now, everything is quite clear.

By my own volition, and after serious thinking, I am making some profound changes in addition to the changes I’ve already made or have been made for me.

Cynthia is the most amazing human being I have ever met. I want nothing more than to be her husband. She doesn’t know this, but I am awake, feigning sleep every morning when she kisses me on the forehead before leaving for work. There were days that if not for that kiss, I might not get out of bed. I want nothing more than to be her best friend, confidant, the defender of her solitude, a lover, a father to our [future?] children, and because of the way I have been raised, a provider. This is my primary commitment. This is my only commitment.

Cynthia and I just finished our final budget and debt snowball to get us financially free as a couple. The outlook is very good. Chances are invitations to our very modest wedding will go out sometime before the end of the year. However modest or extravagant, it will be all about her. Just as every day should and will be all about her.

In the meantime, a coupla things:

  • Please do not ask us when we’re getting married or setting a date. We really do appreciate your interest and concern, but the answer will always be the same. We might even just say to hell with you and elope. (Sorry Mom.)
  • Your experience is not our experience. Conversation is one thing, but projecting your values and your insights only to judge us for our decision and values is sick. Maturity is the ability to defer pleasure. If you’re the “grown-up” I would think you know this and stop yourself before rattling off unsolicited advice. Frankly, it really is none of your business. Go buy a tabloid.
  • I may take a job.
  • I may go after and capture intelligent capital.
  • I am reentering the soft money system.
  • I will no longer produce work in advance without some form of partial payment and an airtight agreement that is favorable to me. Remember, you came to me. I did not come to you. I am grateful you elected to call on me. However, you need a solution and in order to provide that solution, requires money. The frequency of my ideas and subsequent execution should not devalue the solution. You know you’ll be raking in cash from sustainable growth long after the project is over. Otherwise, you would not have called on me. Added bonus: I hold the liability. That does not make me your indentured servant. I have a new mantra.
  • (For those clients that conduct business with sacred honor, you’re the best. This is why I take the call at 3 AM when you can’t sleep. Despite [her] better judgment, I will always take those calls.)
  • I may get out of the “services business” completely; maybe work gratis for those small businesses/start-ups once I am at a place where I can comfortably afford to do so without compromising my primary commitment. (I love small business almost more than I love Cynthia. But not quite.)
  • I will create and produce something that will create enough resource and value to support a small country or I will die trying. It’s already in the can.
  • I am exclusively focused on creating tangible value, wealth and resource for me and mine with integrity, honesty, fairness and chutzpah.

If on rare occasion you see us out, drinks are you until the debt is paid. Plus, we have better stories and I know you steal my material.

** Photo credit: Cantanker, …might be good


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Dedicated to my Dad, on his birthday. I love you. Despite the fact that I did everything to be your opposite, as I write this, I’m through at least a pot of coffee, wearing a v-neck white tee, and my toe nails could use some attention.

Nothing is sacred

Or more precisely, everything is sacred. Either way, a self-reflection/reminder when setting or re-setting frames to assume nothing, take nothing for granted. Everything is ripe for questioning; everything has both intended and latent consequences, thus relevant.

Stagira Inc unSummit speakers

Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan’s recent post “Frames and Assumptions” is an implicit warning: beware the frame error; mind the gap(s).Wait, you didn’t get that from his post? Perhaps one of us misinterpreted. Probably you. Hubris? Nope.

Frame-error is generally defined as an error caused by the inherent limitations of input data, or by delays, errors, and unilateral perspective in knowledge acquisition and processing.

In business strategy and planning, when emanating from a singular identity, a frame (and with it, a body of conceptual assumptions,) the beginnings of mastery in any subject, any discipline, unequivocally blind the Master to 98% of the world; in other words, most practices enjoin the would-be Master  of any practice to maintain assumptions, thus take things for granted. Blindness. Frame-error. Rest assured residing in any one or your roles and responsibilities, exclusively, and you are not fully conscious of what’s possible. You’re compromising.

A review of most “discovery and innovation” in any field, results in the conclusion that there is nothing new under the sun, only a new application of two or more seemingly dissimilar elements, concepts, and or processes that give rise to a new perspective.

Real innovation is seeing and comprehensively exploring beyond your expertise, beyond your place of power, beyond your inherent frames and assumptions, beyond your audience and/or clients’/customers’ expectation, even when they want to crucify you for it, only to permit its place in their lives after your death. In entrepreneurship, small business (SMB), branding, marketing, advertising and communications, this is “The New Creative.”
As I was quoted back in 2004 regarding Austin Outdoor School and the application of a discovery learning based business model and excursion adventures for young adults and corporate management teams,
“Real genius, real innovation, is the perfect nexus of two or more seemingly dissimilar concepts.”
In other words, find the VENN convergence of two or more seemingly dissimilar perspectives and therein you find the home of the Outlier. Color outside the lines, not for the sake of it, not for the sake of differentiation, and not just with Seth’s purple crayon. History is riddled with evidence of frame-error, and consequently, inventors and innovators reconciling their frame-error.
E.O. Wilson’s book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge resurrected this concept when promoting a new Enlightenment, designed [for]:
“Literally a ‘jumping together’ of knowledge by the linking of facts and fact-based theory across disciplines to create a common groundwork of conceptualization.”

Notes on EO Wilson by Mark Larson

Wilson is promoting a two-fold consciousness. Many people often forget that Wilson, a humble Alabama-boy  interested in ants from a very young age, expanded his quest for a higher understanding only to go about the business of resurrecting and questioning Enlightenment Scientific Inquiry. His original frame was ants. He expanded to a multi-fold consciousness in an attempt at breaking down the silos that divide the scientific community. Wilson’s empirical, consilient approach is as revolutionary as that of Darwin, that of Aristotle. It is Wilson that is no doubt asking, “What would ants do to cap the Gulf Oil gusher, BP?”

The mortality rate at the hands of frame-error for small business owners (SMB’s), brand specialists, marketers, communicators and advertisers is small; rarely does anyone die. That said, however, frame-errors can and will put you out of business and or out of a job.
But in other disciplines, frame-error is often life threatening, if not a misdirection of such exponential proportion that it blinds us from answers to the Big Questions.

The Lessons of the Ice Comet, Bazooka Ed, and the “Library”

My freshmen year at Texas State University, before the start of classes, I was a declared philosophy major.

Old Main, Texas State by darktiger on Flickr

Dad thought I would never get a job. What Dad didn’t know is that I didn’t want  job. As the first person in my family to attend college, I was brimming with the idealism that comes with the pursuit of knowledge and concepts for its own sake: not as an means to an end, but an end in and of itself. This milestone, this beautiful accident, was both the beginning of conflict between my Dad and I, and the early gestation of my entrepreneurial pursuits. I wanted to get into everything and philosophy was as good a starting point as any. At the time, I thought I was a Marxist. Dad being Dad, despite his thinking that my decision to pursue philosophy was impractical, supported me (though he kept relatively quiet about his lack of support for my decision, only saying, “At least you’ll be the smartest comrade in the unemployment line.”) What I did not communicate at the time (because, frankly, I had not really worked out the explanation/justification) is that I genuinely believed hyper-specialization in any one subject was a creative death sentence.

On my birthday in early December, towards the close of the first semester, my GPA was a perfect 4.0. To celebrate my success, my birthday, and my impending place in the unemployment line of socialist-idealists, Mom and Dad took me the local outlet mall, budget in tow, and gave me full reign. Our last stop was a large book store, the common clearing-house-type-of-book-seller that retails books that have sold less than five copies, and those proverbial classics that most people have on their bookshelves but have never read. After compiling a cart of books, I had $12 left against the budget, and not unlike picking a Preakness Pony for no other reason than its clever name, I picked up Louis A. Frank’s The Big Splash. It was cheap enough that I could afford Stud Terkel’s The Good War, a selection that pleased Dad, a life long war history enthusiast… an enthusiasm we shared. (I might add that Terkel’s oral history of World War II is probably the best ever produced. Give special attention to the vignette, “Bubble Boy” should you pick it up.)

The Ice Comets: Black Spots Invisible to the Naked Eye

The Big Splash by Louis Frank

Dr. Louis Frank of “Big Splash” fame  is a physicist at the University of Iowa specializing in satellite technology. Back in the early-eighties through the early-nineties, Frank was tasked by the federal government to produce and launch satellite instruments “designed to examine Earth for certain light emissions that are invisible to the naked eye.”  In the name of brevity (the full story here,) what Frank discovered would obliterate commonly held truths and assumptions even going so far as to question the origins of life on Earth, creating an entirely new vertical of scientific study. The instruments designed to examine the Earth’s atmosphere for  certain light emissions identified thousands of black spots in the frames of atmospheric photograph facsimiles. At first blush, given his education and training, Frank wrote them off as anomalies, inferior technology, specs of space dust on the lens. But as the transmissions consistently delivered the same result, Frank was compelled to investigate more deeply, eschewing his assumptions. Frank discovered that on average, 20-30 ice comets, covered in extraterrestrial carbon, space muck were entering Earth’s atmosphere every minute. And while this may not seem “earth shattering” (pun intended), when Frank reported his findings back to the scientific community, he stepped upon what amounted to said community’s “road to Calgary.” Frank’s findings challenged the old tradition with the sovereignty of a new empirical Truth…and crucifixes were constructed with Frank’s name on them.

You see, if Frank was right, every book on science would have to be rewritten: And Frank was presenting a paper that challenged assumptions about the predominant source of water on Earth, about the origin of life on Earth, the genesis. Frank was, in an antic sense, positing that the entire scientific community maintained a frame-error, while simultaneously chunking carbon-covered, extraterrestrial snowballs at fire and brimstone Creationists. And though Frank was ultimately vindicated, he was asked to compromise his findings, asked to submit to the majority’s blindness, only to work in the dark. Blindness. Frame-error. Let there be ice.

Memorializing Bazooka Ed

Time Magazine reported on May 9th of this year, that Edward Uhl–a relatively obscure American Army Lieutenant (Army Corps of Engineers) and aerospace engineer of World War II fame (or infamy if you were a German tank driver)– passed away at age 92 of heart failure.

bazooka design by Edward Uhl

You might have missed the small notice of Uhl’s passing as it was included in the same issue that covered Dan Fletcher’s [banal-to-be-expected] article on Facebook (not a dig on Fletcher, he did, after all, capitulate to formalism only to write for Time’s audience. Missions Accomplished, Dan.) When I read the Times’ obituary, the name and the corresponding narrative resonated: Ed Uhl is an even more obscure citation in Terkel’s The Good War.

Edward Uhl is the co-inventor of the “stovepipe,” the bazooka– an American impromptu innovation as original (if not, coincidental) as Jazz. As the story goes, Army infantry divisions consistently sustained heavy losses against German Panzers, dating back to the end of World War I. At the time, the only successful ground defense to render a Panzer immobile was a direct grenade hit. Grenade attacks require proximal, close-distance engagement. Because of the Panzer’s diverse fire power, proximal engagement was dangerous if not impossible. From wikipedia:

…a truly capable anti-tank weapon had yet to be found, and following the lead of other countries at the time, the U.S. Army prepared to evaluate competing designs for a large and powerful anti-tank rifle.

The combination of rocket motor and shaped charge warhead would put paid to Army development of light antitank guns.

In 1942, U.S. Army Colonel Leslie Skinner received the M10 shaped-charge grenade which was capable of stopping German tanks. He tasked Lieutenant Edward Uhl with creating a delivery system for the grenade. Uhl created a small rocket, but needed to protect the firer from the rocket exhaust and aim the weapon. According to Uhl, “I was walking by this scrap pile, and there was a tube that … happened to be the same size as the grenade that we were turning into a rocket. I said, That’s the answer! Put the tube on a soldier’s shoulder with the rocket inside, and away it goes.”

Uhl developed the rocket launcher and is known as father of the Bazooka.

Uhl’s industrial design saved untold American lives after a casual walk by a junk yard. God bless Edward Uhl on this Memorial Day weekend. Blindness. Frame-error. And away it goes.

New Creatives at the “Library”

May and early June is a time for hope and enthusiasm: Recent graduates, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed embark out on the world, a world they often want to save from itself, if not make for their own. News of commencement addresses by household names and personalities pepper current events, some political and/or sociological in nature, some humorous, some just plain terrible. Combing commencement address listings for the past five years, no sign of Louis Jenkins. To bring everything full circle (assuming you’ve read this far and can still read between the lines), whether you’re a recent graduate or an old salty veteran setting and resetting frames, Jenkins’ verse “Library” published in News of the Universe: Poems of Two-fold Consciousness, edited by Robert Bly and printed and published by The  Sierra Club Press is as good if not better reminder to the “New Creatives”:

“Library” by Louis Jenkins

(republished without permission (Sierra Club Press is not returning inquiries))

I sit down at a table and open a book of poems and move slowly into the shadow of tall trees. They are white pines I think. The ground is covered with soft brown needles and there are signs that animals have come here silently and vanished before I could catch sight of them. But here the trail edges into a cedar swamp; wet ground, deadfall and rotting leaves. I move carefully but rapidly, pleased with myself.

Someone else comes and sits down at the table, a serious looking young man with a large stack of books. He takes a book from the top of the stack and opens it. The book is called How to Get a High Paying Job. He flips through it and lays it down and picks up another and pages through it quickly. It is titled Moving Ahead.

We are moving ahead very rapidly now, through a second growth of popple and birch, our faces scratched and our clothes torn by the underbrush. We are moving ahead even faster now, marking the trail, followed closely by bulldozers and crews with chain saws and representatives of the paper company.

Blindness. Frame-error. We are moving ahead rapidly now…let’s hope with two-fold consciousness. It begs the question: what are your frame-errors?

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Whether you observed Valentine’s Day with your beloved, or cynically reminded your single friends of “Singles Awareness Day”, or completely bypassed what @badbanana on twitter referred to as “…a Hallmark tax on the married,” or some combination of the three, Greeting Card giant, Hallmark Cards, Inc. is sitting back in satisfaction after launching and implementing one of the broadest (analog to digital) cross-media initiatives in its company’s history (a campaign that coincides with the company’s centennial anniversary); at the campaigns’ center– augmented reality.

Along Comes @whurley

Months ago, you couldn’t swing a “painting BMW Z4 roadster” or “USPS flat rate parcel” without hitting the Evil Genius of Open Source, William Hurley (@whurley), speaking on his latest technology fetish–the present and future application of augmented reality. Despite the buzz about the technology on the social networks and around the blogosphere, whurley’s presentation at the Austin Technology Council Rave in November was my first meaningful conversation on the subject. It got me thinking about communication,  brand extensions, SMB markets,  and some variant of Moore’s Law. (More on whurley.) Time marched on, and with it, a new technology was in the process of being delivered to tens of thousands of people, from young and old, to newbie and Gates-Geeky, across the globe.

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours…”

My Valentine from Cynthia

visual and text instructions to get online for a surprise

Fast forward to the recent past: a relatively quiet Valentine’s Day in Austin, Texas. I woke to breakfast and my gift from @cynthiaisgr8 : a jar filled with hand-made forget-me-not’s and reminders about who loves me (and why and how). But I digress… A year ago, yesterday, Cynthia gifted me my first Hoops&YoYo™ Hallmark™ card (admittedly, I love these guys). It was only fitting that this year, Cynthia continue the tradition. But this year my valentine card had the stuff of geek love… enclosed inside, instructions to get online and head to http://www.hallmark.com/extra (pictured here) for an online radass surprise. (Notice, the words “augmented reality” do not appear.) So, of course, I headed online.

I pointed my browser to the Hallmark Card, Inc. augmented reality page (someone on their interactive team no doubt knows a thing or two about SEO/SEM as the url headlines are peppered with the phrase,) and to my surprise, Hallmark has its stuff together…the whole experience was a piece of cake. Here’s what I found:

Step 1: Hallmark AR Home Page

Step 2: Select Your Card

Step 3: download executable file and launch

Then, enjoy the comedic styling of Hoops&YoYo™ (all apologies on the AV quality; I shot this myself and in the interest of time.)

The Future of Augmented Reality?

As development costs associated with AR technology decrease, more and more social tools will come to market fostering augmented reality’s second wave of social augmented experiences. These tools will empower entrepreneurs, SMB, and community managers and change agents within enterprise  to address  customer service, communications, operations, processes, and training needs in real time.  Couple this with the development of new hardware, not unlike Apple’s iPad, and the world could very well be on the cusp of a paradigm shift. In the mean time, me and my valentine are cool with Hoops&YoYo™, unicorns and love.


Note: I should add that if you’re not familiar with whurley, I highly suggest you check out what will probably be his Opus, Chaotic Moon Studios (facebook fan page). Last we spoke,  the shroud of mystery and the web site are weeks if not days away from unveiling. But based on what he has told me, whurley’s working”MIA hiatus” (read: not speaking in front of people ever other day spreading the gospel of open source)  will invariably support entrepreneurs and enterprise with a menu of  digital voodoo, pixel hoodoo, products and services…augmented reality included. He’s literally killing himself over a production kanban that integrates everything he and his partners have learned about crowdsourcing, imobile development, interactive, technology and the open source community for 30 new clients, including some of the biggest brands out there. In short, observe and learn; once whurley comes up for air, introduce yourself, engage him and he’ll no doubt share the story of his new baby and how one might apply that story to their efforts (operative phrase: “once he comes up for air”)).

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Marketing, Advertising, Entrepreneurship and Communications Internship

Arbitrary quotation [that always leads stuff like this]:

“What’s good or bad doesn’t matter to me; what does matter is feeling and not feeling. If only people would take more of a true view and think in terms of feelings. Your name and your Daddy’s name doesn’t mean a damn, it’s your talents and feelings that matter. You’ve got to know much more than just the technicalities of notes; you’ve got to know what goes between the notes.”

-Jimi Hendrix


About: Stagira, Inc. is a full-service, ubiquity brand marketing™ and advertising agency founded on the principle of Purpose. Stagira, Inc. serves entrepreneurs and global enterprise committed to authentic, transparent, and virtuous leadership in the market place of ideas and exchange.

Location: Austin, TX

School of Athens by Raphael

School of Athens by Raphael

Compensation: Paid Internship; hourlycommensurate with participation and experience; some candidates will be eligible for tuition reimbursement.

Duration: 2009 Winter Break thru the close of the 2010 Spring semester.

Benefits: Compensation; valuable hands on experience: direct client engagement, direct creative participation; experience in entrepreneurship and managing multiple projects, simultaneously; class credit if applicable

Employment Type: Part Time/ Internship (~20 hours weekly); Temp to hire

Application deadline: December 11, 2009

Submit Applications to:

Jason Stoddard

Stagira, Inc., Founder & Principal
Jason at StagiraInc dot com
On LinkedIn
On facebook
On twitter


  • Generalists, welcome. Must be a college Junior, or higher, pursuing a degree in advertising, communications, Liberal Arts (specifically political science, philosophy/rhetoric, and/or [positivist] economics), Business (economics, entrepreneurship, marketing, finance), Radio/Television/Film (RTF). Bonus Points for University of Texas Plan II/ Honors student-candidates and/or those candidates that have created their own coursework/degree plan. (Hyper-specialization, as evident by the rising body count at large agencies named after dead white guys, is dead.)
  • Strong desire to learn, create, and innovate with deference to leadership and oversight of agency owner.
  • Advanced written, verbal and aural communication skills.
  • Must be able to participate at work a minimum of ~20 hours a week
  • Must maintain a fondness for high fives and fist pumps
  • Must have a valid drivers license with no more than 3 moving violations and/or at fault accidents in the past 3 years.
  • Internship is a 12+ week course depending on length of semester
    Must be proficient in MacOSX and MS Office (particularly Word, Excel, PowerPoint (despite the fact that we love us some Keynote))
  • Must have a strong attention to detail (like if “Rainman” and Martha Stewart had a baby, detail)

Duties: to include, but not limited to:

  • Concept development and ideation;
  • Assist with creative, strategy and implementation of integrated marketing campaigns;
  • Assist and support management of partner, client, vendor, and internal processes/ relations;
  • Research;
  • Managing project tracking and metrics
  • Copyediting and writing;
  • interactive/web marketing duties as assigned with a heavy emphasis in social media marketing and cross-media lemming wrangling

Abstract, description and requirements:

Core Values: Ideation–>Execution | Passion | Integrity | Accountability | Innovation | Transparency

Stagira, Inc. is an appreciation for working hard and playing hard. Both beget the other.

We do not own a copier; we press all our own coffee; we often begin client meetings by dancing and/or playing a game of Connect Four. Our boiler plate documentation is created. Candidates will eat well, and learn to love the following: David Bowie; Otis Redding; esthetic services; the difference between American, German and Alsatian Gewürztraminer; the enjoyment of raw oysters with beer and/or sparkling wine from the Loire; cupcakes; and how and why the correct employment of the semi-colon is an immediate need in written communication.

All member of the Stagira, Inc. team are required to read Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, David Allen’s Getting Things Done and excerpts from Aristotle, Sennett’s The Fall of Public Man, Mises’ Human Action, Chris Brogan’s and Julien Smith’s Trust Agents, Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It, Sam Wyly’s 1,000 Dollars & an Idea and Fletcher’s The Art of Looking Sideways. Additionally, all members of the team are required to study, compose and publish (to a blog) a public facing critical essay on Beethoven’s “Consecration of the House” as it relates to the binary theory inherent in Radiohead’s discography (1998-present). All members of the Stagira, Inc. team are required to complete and publish (to a blog) a 90-day action plan before their first day. Said action plan is public facing to ensure accountability with colleagues, friends and family only to drive conversation; this is also a very good demonstration of directional thinking so that clients, vendors, and competitors have the opportunity to cherry pick your skills and hire you away for truck loads of money and experience. (Once you realize you have been hired into a cabal of racketeering and misdirection, you will then be compelled to compose electronic messages in cipher to Stagira, Inc. owner about the travails of life as a young, urban denizen trapped in an antiquated world of anomie and alienation, only to be instructed to move to Quepos, Costa Rica, declare political asylum, found your own agency, and land the Costa Rican tuna industry as a client.)

Candidates will provide direct administrative support to agency owner, project management, creative development, and client services on an on-going basis. Candidates should have hands-on experience with social media applications – blogging, Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, wiki, social bookmarking, and related areas, in addition to web-based productivity applications, content management systems (wordpress, drupal, joomla, etc.) and project management suites (basecamp, etc.). Candidates are required to have experience in a Mac environment (the computer stuff, not the noodle stuff.)

Candidates will provide marketing and communications support for a series of educational seminars and classes on integrated marketing with an emphasis in social media marketing. Specific tasks may include:

direct administrative support, scheduling, partner/vendor communication, authoring blog posts, posting tweets/updates and engaging users via social networks, researching and identifying potential PR opportunities (within and outside the framework of PR professionals with which Stagira, Inc. is currently engaged) and exploring ways in which Stagira, Inc. might engage clients’ and the agency’s communities within existing sites/web properties, through cross media execution, mobile marketing, event and seminar marketing, on external social media platforms, and sandwich at a restaurant on a Tuesday.

Should we find a match, please trust that agency, its partners and affiliates will do everything in their respective power to advance the candidate’s career and objectives both as a person and as a professional. All “We” ask in return is purpose, passion, enthusiastic (yet focused) execution and an attitude of “I GET to do this” rather than “I HAVE to do this.” After all, what we do is the highest order of the hierarchy of needs: the act of creation, creative fidelity.

Feel free to repost elsewhere, however:

  • Candidate Applications/Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
  • No brokerage
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

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This post is dedicated to Cynthia Fedor , Bryan Person on his 33rd birthday, and Mr. Seth Godin for recognizing love where he finds it.

Every second of every day, a new world premier experience is born. Think about it: as you read this, a vessel, a life force, a consciousness, and a fundamental creative fidelity necessary to solving current and future, functional problems, globally, is born.

You, your Self, are a world premier experience: No one in human history, extant or extinct, for good, bad or otherwise has experienced life in quite the same way as you and no one ever will. For me, this is the gravity of a birthday and the number one cause to celebrate.

A World Premier Experience Deserves Cake

A World Premier Experience Deserves More Than Cake

The Social Media Phenomenon has, if nothing else, created a people-centric worldview: it IS the individual, not the brand, not the nation-state, not the institution, not the corporation, not the political party, not the publication, not the product, not the service front and center. It is you.

Twitter, specifically, has accelerated the velocity of your individual voice– a voice born from identity and purpose, friends fostered, enemies vested, preferences, opinions, thoughts, feelings–the canon of your journey, to date. This began the day you were born.

Sunday morning I had breakfast with my favorite person on her birthday. As ridiculous as it reads, I did not realize how much I take much for granted as she spread Nutella over a waffle (gross, right?). And maybe she did not realize how much she took for granted when I mixed and spread sausage gravy and blueberry/Pinot Noir jelly over a homemade biscuit (gross, right?). People and their unique preferences, voluntarily coming together, understanding and being understood, only to love one another.

We can find a litany of reasons to disagree and even dislike one another. But if we can agree on any one thing, perhaps we can agree there is Sovereignty in the unique world premier experience that gives rise to the opportunity to converse, to respect and to love. Sovereignty and opportunity: operative words.

In the spirit of Sovereignty and opportunity, an idea (that invites your thoughts and participation): Twitter, in addition to being an open, global preference engine, is unfettered velocity emanating from singular voices. We often take for granted that (more often than not (damn you spam bots)) there is a world premier experience on the ground, on the other side of that avatar skipping through the tweet stream.

We have the axiom: Sovereignty. We evidently have the will to vocalize and converse. We have the means to pay forward the axiom to bridge to opportunity. But do we have the will to create opportunity for others when celebrating individual sovereignty? After all, what is sovereignty if there is no one to share it with? How do we bring it all together? Project #IamSovereign:

  • Send me the month and day (mm/dd) of your birth via Twitter to @JasonStoddard
  • I will create a Twitter list based on this birthday data set (in this case, for today, @JasonStoddard/November3-birthdays)
  • As more people with the same birthday send me their info, the ~365 respective lists will populate until each respective list reaches 500. (I’ll include February 29th in February 28th’s list, unless those cheeky bastards demand their own list.)
  • For each birthday, I will ask three random individuals on the birthday list to designate a for-benefit/NGO/charitable organization/individual cause.
  • A landing page with an embedded micro-donation widget will be created on this domain.
  • The birthday list on that respective day will receive a message at in the early morning. If they choose to participate, cool. If not, that is cool too… it is your birthday. But as vocal as the twitter crow can be, maybe we can even have friendly competitions between birthday lists.
  • 85% of the donation will go directly to the designated causes; 10% of the donations will go to twitter (executed ideas that create global opportunity are valuable and deserve to be supported financially… and who knows, maybe we’ll create a very small revenue stream/model for one of our favorite social media network pals (@Biz could buy alot of tea with 10% of donations from an ad hoc fundaraising campaign.)) 5% will support the overhead associated transaction fees.

Starting on December 3, 2009 (which happens to be my birthday,) we’ll give it a-go. In the meantime, I will establish a third party escrow account, configure the technology, and start placing people that choose to participate in Project #IamSoverign into their respective birthday lists.

Individuals make the difference,


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Dedicated to Brandi Clark, The Austin Eco Network, Founder

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

Bell Telephone Labs ((formerly Lucent Technologies) and now Alcatel-Lucent, NYSE: ALU) of Holdel/Murray Hill, New Jersey began the testing and reporting phases of Project Echo in late 1960 as part of a passive communications satellite initiative. The primary instrument: the Horn Antennae–a monolithic structure shaped like its namesake. By 1962, the technology was obsolete. And not unlike most projects of its scale during the proliferation of the military-industrial complex (MIC), the cost of the antennae justified keeping it around… Bell’s scientists continued to experiment, if only half-heartedly.

Artistic Interpretation of the Genesis of the Universe

Artistic Interpretation of the Genesis of the Universe

As the story goes, Arno Penzias’ and Robert Wilson’s plan, like the scientists before them, was to use the antennae to detect and measure radio signals between galaxies. Previous attempts to detect radio transmissions resulted in a fant static–an aberration– and though most of the scientists wrote it off as a byproduct of the antennae itself–hardware that was essentially deemed antiquated and obsolete–Penzias and Wilson were not altogether convinced. They methodically investigated possibilities–isolating variables to test and eliminate in pursuit of the root cause. Their efforts were exhaustive even going so far as to isolate and eliminate underground nuclear testing, nesting pigeons in the antennae, dismantling and rebuilding the equipment hundreds of times, as possibilities. All attempts failed to identify the source of the “static bath.” Meanwhile, Robert Dicke of Princeton University was investigating theories suggesting the Universe began in the distant past as an explosion of epic, unprecedented proportions. If, in fact, the genesis of the universe began as Dicke theorized, there should be “echo evidence” of the event in the form of microwave radiation… a background static that continually bathed the Universe. And the rest as they say, is history. Essentially, two scientists, Penzias and Wilson persisted through abject failure and accidentally discovered the first empirical evidence and news of the Universe’s birth.   They,

…stumbled on the microwave background radiation that permeates the universe. Cosmologists quickly realized that Penzias and Wilson had made the most important discovery in modern astronomy since Edwin Hubble demonstrated in the 1920s that the universe was expanding. This discovery provided the evidence that confirmed George Gamow‘s and Georges Lemaitre‘s “Big Bang” theory of the creation of the universe and forever changed the science of cosmology — the study of the history of the universe — from a field for unlimited theoretical speculation into a subject disciplined by direct observation.

Though they never intended the discovery, Penzias and Wilson were not satisfied when the intended results of their effort proved fruitless. Hard-headed and harnessed with dumb-luck, they went looking for a needle in a haystack only to discover the needle was the haystack; the fools persisted in their foolishness inevitably inherited wisdom.  Penzias and Wilson were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978 for their discovery.

Robert Wilson explains “cosmic noise” (recorded audio, download, length- 6:25) MP3 [3.6 MB, 44 kHz 80 Kbps]

The story of Penzias and Wilson naturally, or in this case, supernaturally, begs the question: what does this anecdote have to do with lessons learned in entrepreneurship? Everything and nothing.

The story, both in fact and subtext, extends far beyond a passing interest in cosmology, because it presents the sophisticated complexities and humbling limitations of the human condition. Something of Penzias and Wilson, for me, whispers, “Keep failing. Just fail faster. The fool persisting in his foolishness shall inevitably inherit wisdom.”

Entrepreneurs, by definition, see the world differently; there is something entrepreneurial in each of us and that something expresses itself differently for everyone, too. For at least five years, I’ve hung my hat on entrepreneurship–jack of many trades, master of none. As October expires and I head into planning for 2010, I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’ve been and where I want to go… thought and emotions that fostered this post.

From this point forward as a matter of ritual, every Sunday, I will flesh out one of the fifty-two lessons learned in entrepreneurship enclosed below. Said “lessons” are in no particular order. If you do the math, the plan is to cover all fifty-two lessons in one calendar year.I may throw an extra “lesson” in for good measure as no doubt Mom will be reading (don’t call me about this; I’ll call you. :-) )

I definitely encourage feedback: I have not “been at this” for very long, consider myself a student of life and hope the concept in and of itself fosters conversation of the fellowship-kind.

Towards a Bigger Bang,


52 Lessons Learned in Entrepreneurship

1. There is a Yes to every challenge. Don’t be so sure about the Question.

2. Don’t fire all of your ammunition at once.

3. Don’t get mad except on purpose.

4. Effort is admirable. Achievement is valuable.

5. Make every effort more than it’s worth.

6. Give them a title and get them involved. Expand the leadership.

7. Pay your self last, and always honor the agreed terms, even when your support does not deserve it.

8. You can’t beat a plan with no plan.

9. Business technology determines business success.

10. Sound doctrine is sound policy.

11. In business, you have your word and your colleagues’; go back on either and you’re dead.

12. Keep your eye on the main opportunity and don’t stop to kick every barking dog.

13. Don’t make the perfect enemy of the good.

14. Remember: the other side has troubles too.

15. Don’t treat the good guys like you treat the bad guys.

16. A well-run project takes care of its own.

17. Hire at least as many to the right as to the left (both traditional and innovative; gorillas and gazelles.)

18. You can’t save the world if you can’t pay the rent.

19. All gains are incremental; some increments are gains.

20. A stable project requires a healthy, reciprocal I.O.U. flow among its participants. Don’t keep a careful tally.

21. Real Innovation is the perfect nexus between two or more seemingly dissimilar concepts

22. Market segments are shared motivations within a group of people; isolate motivation, not people.

23. An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.

24. Never miss a business meeting if you think there’s the slightest chance you’ll wish you were there.

25. In volunteer efforts, a builder can build faster than a destroyer can destroy.

26. Actions have consequences, both intended and latent. The latter is often more poignant than the former.

27. The mind can absorb no more than the seat can endure. Collaborate in short iterations.

28. Personnel is policy. What your Mom said about “the company you keep…” is true.

29. Remember: it’s a long ball game.

30. The test of business ideas is business results.

31. You can’t beat somebody with nobody.

32. Better a snake in the grass than a viper in your bosom.

33. Don’t fully trust anyone until they have stuck with a good cause which they saw was losing.

34. Be prompt. A generous letter of thanks can seal a commitment which otherwise might disappear when the going gets tough.

35. Marketing and customer service are dating/courting by different means.

36. You cannot make friends of your enemies by making enemies of your friends.

37. Choose your enemies as carefully as you choose your friends.

38. Keep a secure, organized home base. GTD, FTW!

39. Don’t rely on being given anything you do not ask for.

40. In business, nothing moves unless it’s pushed.

41. Winners aren’t perfect. They made fewer mistakes than their rivals or won the business equivalent of the lotto.

42. One big reason is more equal than many little reasons.

43. In a moment of crisis, the initiative passes to those that are best prepared. The initiative is accomplished by the ready, willing and able.

44. Business is of the heart as well as the mind. People do not know how much you know until they know how much you care.

45. Always promptly report your action to the one who requested it.

46. Moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in the Universe.

47. Pray as if all depended on God; work as if all depended on You.

48. Don’t fire people for failure. Reward them. Terminate for Inaction.

49. Nothing static can multiply (despite what Keynesian economists have told you your entire life.)

50. Whether failure or success, stop reliving your past projects. No one really gives a shit, especially you.

51. You are a world premier experience. Second only to the people that fostered that experience, what you embody is your greater asset.

52. Every second of every waking day is an opportunity to create. Tens of thousands of choices. Create wisely.

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Community Management FTW!  (extending the conversation from the Ubiquity Marketing unSummit)

Join us for a Webinar “flashcast”  today at 3:00 pm CST Community Management FTW! Registration

Aaron Strout and Kyle Flaherty

Aaron Strout and Kyle Flaherty

The boys from bean town and recent transplants to the Live Music and Social Media Capital of the World, Kyle Flaherty, Director of Marketing at BreakingPoint Systems, and Aaron Strout, CMO of Powered Inc. do a “re-do” on their panel from last week’s Ubiquity Marketing UnSummit on Community Management. During this 45 minute webinar, they’ll cover the “do’s” and “don’ts” of community building. We’ll also leave some time to harass Aaron and Kyle for the RedSox trailing the Yankees for the division championship, live “chat” questions, and attendee participation.

Title: Community Management FTW!
Date: Friday, September 11, 2009
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM CDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
System Requirements

PC-based attendees Require: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista
Macintosh®-based attendees Require: Mac OS® X 10.4 (Tiger®) or newer

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
Community Management FTW! Registration

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