Then and Now

Boston and Maine Connection – Then and Now

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Then and Now is both the title of the Topsham Library’s recent show of work by six Maine fiber artists as well as the title of this installment of the B&M Connection.

photo of Connie Bailey & Natasha Kempers-Cullen

Topsham Library gallery coordinator Connie Bailey with Natasha Kempers-Cullen

The show at the library’s Crooker Gallery was curated by Natasha Kempers- Cullen.  This was the first time founding volunteer gallery coordinator Connie Bailey, selected an artist to both exhibit and curate the entire show.  Being a founding member, partner or entrepreneur usually comes with a strong vision and sometimes difficult choice between “doing it your own way” and opening up to encompass the ideas and direction of others.  I congratulate the Topsham Library and Connie for the long term vision and implementation of programming and the confidence to grow and experiment – as every great entrepreneurial endeavor must – in order to stay fresh and relevant.

Kempers-Cullen, brought together Susan Mills, Arlene Morris, Kathleen Bird, Kirsti Sandoy and Jill Vendituoli and encouraged each artist to explore and display their own early works and more recent pieces.  Their show bios are an interesting discussion of motivation and growth in their medium of choice. From Jill Vendituoli’s  observation that “the needle has long been a part of a woman’s work” and “escape from the mundane activities of daily life” to Arlene Morris’ willingness to following art where it takes you “trusting you shall discover something” each artist had a strong statement of worth, of exploration and the fearlessness of an entrepreneur to just put it out there for the world to see.

These thoughts fit well in keeping with my long standing business theme that Art Makes a Difference. Art humanizes business. It can often simplify a message and get straight to your soul.  It is the modern marketing equivalent of “a call to action” just more deeply satisfying.  In fact, with art, you don’t have to try to rise above the noise. You and your most important messages and endeavors can be found in a more friendly way; more human; less technological.

Implementation is the most important and powerful force for the success of any enterprise. I have consciously chosen to submit my photography to the Cryer because Charles Crosby is driven by his need for ever improving representation – of images – of stories – that make a difference to community.  Then, way back in 1985, it started as a small one town newsy update. Color was like most other papers haphazard and sometimes muddled. Now, it has become a monthly compendium of activities and events in the Southern Maine Midcoast but the drive for better color, better centering of images and layout is what helps make it a success.

The Cryer champions high quality production from their vendor. This high standard supports the artist and showcases art in its best possible light.  They have given over much space to telling community stories and by direct mailing much of the print run, they insure the stories are seen heard and acted upon rather than leaving it to a chance pick up from the overflowing stacks.

The same attention to community can be said of Jim Howard’s Priority Real Estate Group.  Over the years, if you’ve been involved with non-profits, you’ve seen the generosity of PREG in its cash donations to area non-profits. Their long term community development  philosophy matches their business development philosophy.  They listen to the community, take action and give back to insure the least provided for, the hungry, the lonely, or homeless are watched out for and helped.

photo of people interacting and touching fiber art

We humans gravitate toward the tactile and the physical connection with others

This is a time of great change in how people get information, gather together in community and communicate with one another.  But despite all the technological advancements, most of us do best when we feel part of a community. The best businesses are those that recognize and honor these connections.

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One Person Can Make a Difference

b&m nov banner onePersonMakesAdiffDo you need some inspiration right now? Do you despair that your voice can’t be heard above the well-funded highly divisive world of social media promotion and politics? Here are just two examples of individuals who have inspired hundreds to take tangible action and made a difference in their respective communities.

Just recently in Bath, Maine, my favorite City of Ships, Fred Hersom pulled a few friends together in what became a celebration of the Mid Coast Hospital’s ALS Clinic. In Fred’s words, “all I wanted to do was raise awareness of the clinic and the devastating disease that ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is.”  Because Fred & Sally have touched so many of us (myself included) with their friendship and generosity, a standing room only crowd came together to support the people affected by ALS and to put a stake in the ground supporting the Clinic which began in 2017 “as a joint collaboration of Mid Coast Medical Group–Neurology and Mid Coast Hospital Rehabilitation in partnership with the ALS Association of Northern New England.”

This is the only ALS clinic in Maine. Mid Coast is a not for profit hospital and their commitment to this clinic brings together in one place evaluation and treatment by specialists in neurology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech evaluation, and social work with support from the ALS Association. Everything in one place without having to travel as far away as Boston!  Those few friends turned into several hundred people inside and outside the building working together toward a goal and having some fun at the same time. And though sadly Sally passed away on November 16th, we all remember her and that night the community came together.

Boston on the other hand is a big city full of life science organizations and large hospitals. Easy for a small organization to be lost in but just a month ago Dave Bjork accomplished his long held dream of getting a few biotech companies together and they created The FRAXA BioTech Games held on the lawn in front of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Here, 40 teams of not yet household names in the life science space brought together more than 150 friends, vendors and employees to celebrate and to raise awareness of this lesser known disease called Fragile X. One gene (FMR1 if you want to know) shuts down and it’s Fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common inherited cause of autism and intellectual disabilities. FRAXA, a non-profit organization puts better than 90 cents of every dollar raised directly into research. But these games brought together researchers, marketers and entrepreneurs who got a chance to learn about each other’s work and perhaps scout out the next serendipitous breakthrough.

Dave is a research evangelist who I have had the pleasure of working alongside on several research funding causes over the years and today he is Director of Community Relations at FRAXA. Fred and Sally were among the first people to introduce themselves and welcome me to their community with a pint at our friendly local Byrnes Irish Pub.

What they share in common is a deeply felt sense of gratitude, friendship and concern for their community along with a willingness to reach out and help wherever needed. Each raises the level of awareness to a point where one person’s action gets multiplied by hundreds of others who join in and bring success to a goal.

These folks create relevant conversations opening new pathways to discovery of a clinic, a medical protocol or a research opportunity that can help a person at the time they need this help the most. They raise awareness of devastating diseases that create members of a club nobody wants to belong to.

Big City versus small city, it still comes down to an individual taking action to raise awareness and make the difference. In both these examples, social media amplified both the message and the call to action. Word of Mouth increased the number of friends or colleagues who came out in support. And, most importantly, anyone involved could see the incredible cross-section of generations and cultures coming together in one place at the same time to make a difference.

I started 2018 with this column talking about Business Art and Technology and how getting all three working together can amplify the positive. My #BAT2018 recognition has gone to institutions like Jackson Labs in Bar Harbor and MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research in Cambridge Massachusetts. Today I recognize individuals like Fred and Sally & Dave who make that same type of difference every single day. Sláinte – to your good health!

Do Me a Favor -Facebook

Boston and Maine Connection – Do me a favor, Facebook.

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If you are reading this article, do me and yourself a favor and share it with 26 friends. Quickly. Please. I want to make myself feel better that my voice is heard. I know that some 60,000 views per month are possible – that’s what my publisher tells me. I want this to go viral.  I want to trick Facebook’s algorithm into promoting me, me, me…

“If you are reading this message leave me a quick comment, a “hello”, a sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my news feed!  Otherwise Facebook chooses who to show me and I don’t need Facebook to choose my friends!”

This story line in various forms has been circulating around Facebook since the first of the year when Facebook announced changes to its algorithm and individuals, brands and their social media guru’s scrambled to make sense of what that meant.  As a student of marketing and communications, I can tell you that it really doesn’t mean a whole lot – to anyone.  Google reportedly changes its search algorithm more than 600 times a year. That is more than once a day, and there have been some ten major updates in the past couple of years. I think it unlikely that they or any social media platform wants any of us to figure it out when we are the product being sold.

Take a minute and think about this. In the old days newspapers put the best headlines “above the fold”  to catch your attention. TV news had lead off stories with “more details to follow at 7pm” when everyone tuned in to one of the big three network stations. Well today, the big three are Google, Facebook, and (name your own third favorite platform here).  If the platform is free for you to use, then you are the product being sold. That is, the information about your likes, dislikes and shares are incredibly rich data to be parsed and used as bait for someone to pay to reach you.

But nearly everyone is on Facebook. That’s right. Facebook has 2.19 Billion monthly active users. You can find that out by just asking Google which by the way has a mere 40,000 search queries per second  equating to 3.5 Billion searches per day “of all the world’s knowledge.” So if you are one of those people who think if I follow you on Facebook I will see your post, think again. The system does indeed choose which people might be exposed to your post but that is not the same as seeing it. Do you have a Facebook business page or Linked-In Profile?  You can spend a lot of time and effort to grow the ‘likes’ and follows for your business or cause. But, you are still very much at the mercy of those pesky and ever changing algorithms.

I was at a meeting last month where several people were complaining that they had never gotten notice of previous sessions where the community was invited to voice their opinions. One of the organizers took offense and defended the openness and availability for input by stating “but we posted the event on Facebook.”  What a sad commentary on expectations vs. communications.  Facebook defines active users as “being online at least once a month.” Some folks are there nine or more times a day and just snickered when they read the previous sentence. But, remember, there are four generations actively pursuing information daily- each in their own way. While much information is pushed to us via our hand held phone like tools, there are still many who respond to tactile experiences.

Here are some useful thought starters for staying in touch in a better more assured way:

  1. If you want to choose what friends you want to hear from – reach out and search for them by name and Tag or Comment on something they’ve posted. You are more likely to connect than if you passively DSC_6074p headshotKSbestrespond only to feeds that are, well, fed to you.
  1. If you need fast results – pick up the phone. Those telemarketers and robo-callers do. But today, we can recognize a call from a known vs. unknown party. And yes, if you both have smartphones – by all means text message each other. Fast. Direct and still somewhat secure unless you’ve given your cell phone number out beyond your close friends and family connections.
  1. If you have a brand or business – think WEBSITE & EMAIL – your own!! But also think about your messaging and where your customers are. Reach them on social media but bring them back to properties that you fully control – like your own website, email lists and video channel. You want control over content- where it is and how it is presented. Don’t just take the easy path of Facebook live.
  1. Use a combination of print and digital communications
  2. Build your own email list– it is still the most effective and direct means of communication even if it is considered by many to be too slow
  3. Even slower but more deliberate – the US Mail is required by law to deliver to the addressee. Use it to stand out.
  4. When you go online – be sure to encourage your new friends to seek you out or permission you to reach them outside of the social media platform that has already changed how you access them in the time it took you to read this article.

Want more specific guidance? Call, write or email me about any of this via your favorite communication tool and just ask.

Sir Paul McCartney Beatle Memory Marketing #FreshenUpTour #BAT2018

B&M July McCartneyHave you seen the Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke video yet? James Corden’s Late Late Night Show from London has been doing a whole series on carpool karaoke with stars that has been great fun. But the one released Friday June 22nd with Paul McCartney was simply amazing in so many ways.

For Corden fans, the opening lines set us up to guess which star singer might be joining him in Liverpool but what followed can best be described as a lovefest between the Iconic Paul McCartney, his hometown and fans that transcend the generations. Catch it on Facebook from Paul McCartney’s Page and you’ll avoid the old style interruption advertising of old distribution channels. This 23 minute and 39 second video deserves to be watched without commercial break (shame on you Google’s YouTube) and banner ads popping up. McCartney’s Page presents it best.

Imagine driving around with Sir Paul and visiting his childhood home while reminiscing about his parents influence, the rooms where he composed songs and practiced with John Lennon, then driving along Penny Lane and dropping in on the Barber Shop and wrapping up with a small juke box style concert in a tiny Liverpool pub that had once hosted him to far less acclaim.

The video posted at 6am East Coast time and received an average million views per hour over the first three days; nearly 70 million views logged on Paul McCartney’s site as I wrote this. The YouTube version linked by other writers (with some 13 million views) is an inferior experience marred by commercial interruption. Something folks of that age would expect from the remnants of the big three TV stations. Avoid it and get the full seamless experience right from Sir Paul McCartney’s website or Facebook page.

This pathway of viewing the collaboration is simply outstanding in its attention to detail to the customer experience. Corden’s regular viewers are already stoked to roll with whatever zany experience comes their way and his particular audience is masterfully integrated into our online experience which serves to further amplify the communal enjoyment.

There had to have been a lot of backstage planning to pull this off but it was also obvious (let’s use the word transparent) that the barber showing photographs, the people walking down Penny Lane and the folks in the pub were clearly just lucky random everyday people who were in the right place at the right time. Transparency and authenticity delivered in an electrifying way and without commercial interruption.  Paul visits the house he grew up in for the first time since he left and James talks about his own grandfather –a fan who would have gotten a kick out of seeing this amazing video session unfurl.

The music is so full of love, joy and positive things and remains relevant today despite Paul’s original expectations of just a ten year run. But indeed, in times of trouble – these tunes still resonate today. That the whole escapade is part of one very high class new product (album) launch was taken fully in stride. In fact, being part of the audience makes us even more open to the experience. Yes, an experience, not a jarring commercial interruption.

Marketers and businesses take careful note here. This is what we, the consumer, expect from our internet interactions. A pleasant experience or a great one. A visit that shows the seller knows something about our likes and dislikes and insures that there is a fair trade for our time and attention.

When we arrive on the internet we want a fast seamless experience. We are not looking for a jarring interruption or disclaimers plastered all over the place. We don’t want you grabbing credit for a video viewed when it is mandatory (“your video will start after this ad ends” or “you can skip the video in 4 seconds”) the time it takes for someone to charge the supplier perhaps?  No thank you. Those are old rules.

The best brands and best creators of content know that the better they fit in to our experience the more we’re actually likely to pay attention to their message. We speak with our time, our attention and our money. Sir Paul’s #FreshenUpTour is certain to be a winner and clearly deserves one of my #BAT2018 awards for combining Business, Art and Technology with a good dose of authenticity fueled by wisdom!

Speaking words of wisdom – I’ve gone back multiple times now to share with friends this trip down Penny Lane and warm up to Paul McCartney’s new album. We laugh and cry and remember an all-around great experience and as a bonus, we’ve already been exposed to the new songs that are coming out officially September 7th.

Well done, Sir Paul McCartney who more than got by with a little help from his friends.

#BAT2018 Technology; the Third Pillar of Biz – Art – Tech = Success

Technology #BAT2018 –  the third of a three part series on success in business utilizing a focus on Business, Art & Technology.

When I launched this series, I stated that use of technology is no longer an option, it needs to be an integral part of nearly every action you take in running a successful business.  Technology itself, however, is just a tool – one that can be used for good or for evil. I had mentioned that we don’t have to be relegated to the role of being the product being sold, but we do have to be aware of how technology and in particular – gathered data – is used.

photo by Keith Spiro of high tech broadcasting towerOne can’t write a column today without acknowledging the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica uproar, the probable Russian interference with USA elections, and the driverless car running over & killing a pedestrian in a crosswalk. These headlines come screaming at you regularly from your favorite source of unverified internet social media mongering delivered straight to your handheld device.

We have also just witnessed the power of motivation combined with technology in March for our Lives, which like Me Too, and Arab Spring pay no attention to the old rule boundaries set up by the powerful or the bullies or the government functionaries that like things – just status quo.

We live in a time of technology distributed media and we can’t always be sure of the source or the selection process that delivers information to us. But we can be sure that much of our personal information is already out there. Those 50M compromised records in facebook are a fraction of the total information available to be gleaned. There are 1.5 Billion daily active users on facebook and if you check some of the permissions of your new easy to use tools – they often state that – while you may not give them permission to post for you – you do give permission for them to read your friends list – and addresses – Yup – one click of a button and you’ve just compromised MY privacy. Think about that for a moment. Then think about what your mother might have told you growing up – if two people know something- it is no longer a secret.

So the cat is out of the bag. There is little accountability but a grand free-for-all with your information which by the way- all of us willingly gave up in exchange for ease and access. There will always be a way to capture, sort and license information – there always has been it just wasn’t as precise and fast in the past.

Technology is just a tool and a means to an end result. Since you can’t always know if it’s a Mother Teresa or a Steve Bannon behind the tools, you need to choose your partners and suppliers carefully. If you are that business or organization gathering information and building a community of followers, you will gain credibility and open yourself to less risk of a Public Relations disaster if you are as transparent and consistent as possible. Technology Forensics will eventually identify the source or manipulation. It’s all data. It’s all waiting to be reviewed.

Whatever you do in life and in business, you will find a myriad of tools to help you. Information is only as good as the data collected and the same data can be bent or interpreted to serve many different points of view. We find that now in the everyday fights that break out between friends online. So, take the time to look around at who you’re connected to and what kind of community you want to build. With a mix of good business sense, some artist creative grounding to keep it human and the technology harnessed to be fully under your own control, you will be able to reach far beyond anything previously possible.  Own your own website and your email list. Carefully consider the tradeoffs of convenience vs building a base you can truly count on.

Want more ideas on how to grow your organization or your business ethically with stronger connections and less chance of your data disappearing or being misused?

Just drop me a line.

The #ART component of Business-Art-Technology for 2018

B&M photo Keith Spiro article Cryer excerpt #BAT2018ART  – The #ART component of Business-Art-Technology for 2018.  The next set of #BAT2018 awards.

Previously we recognized the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, founded in 1929, as an organization worthy of #BAT2018 note.  Now let’s explore what it takes to be heard. Winning organizations captures our imagination and move us to action.  Whether the message is subtle or loud, we take note because a vision of possibility appeals to us. Cancer is a myriad of diseases and the painstaking attention to detail and large funding requirements need solid coordination.

MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research was formed just 8 years ago to bring together biologists, chemists and engineers. These top-of-field researchers and post docs come from focus areas of chemical and mechanical engineering, material and computer science in a collaborative approach to develop new insights and new tools to diagnose, treat and or prevent the disease.

Their ranks are filled with people elected to the National Academy of Engineering, Sciences or Medicine and five current or former faculty members have been awarded the Nobel Prize.  PhilSharp_DSC5998KSwC_©KeithSpiroPhoto I’ve had the opportunity to hear and speak with Nobel Laureate Phillip Sharp, a geneticist.  He was keynote speaker at the 8th annual Kendall Square Association meeting and used humor and video clips to drive home the message to the audience: Research is Important. The money spent today delivers life-saving miracles down the road through meticulous research and collaborative efforts.  The time-frame is a long one and the fundraising efforts to put money directly in the hands of researchers is often convoluted and confusing. Fundraising costs and overhead often eat away at the net sum delivered to a laboratory.

One way Phillip Sharp reached beyond the boundaries was to get involved with the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Stand Up to Cancer initiative as chair of their Scientific Committee. Just imagine the exchange of skill sets when Hollywood and a Nobel Laureate collaborate.

On the ground floor of the building in which he and his collaborators work is a public gallery.B&M_Maria KSwC_20180122_153145_©KeithSpiroPhoto From the outside it looks like an art exhibit with these huge wall hangings. Executive Director Anne E. Deconinck explained that the annual Koch Institute Image Awards were established to recognize and publicly display the extraordinary visuals that can give scientists and non-scientists alike a glimpse into what was previously the nearly invisible biological world. There’s engineering and biology and a bit of humor because upon close inspection of the works, you find inspiring titles like “shape shifters: cancer cells in motion” and “Hashtag no filter: visualizing breast cancer conversations.”

The public galleries help educate and engage the non-science public. The images are amazingly effective. What might have been viewed as an everyday object to scientists with limited audience is now a cloth printed window display into their world. Most importantly, it is now understandable and viewable by the public, a necessary part of transforming health by supporting and funding research.

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Explaining the concept of the public gallery and annual image contest

Traveling with me on my most recent trip to the Koch Institute was Maine Acrylic artist Maria Castellano-Usery looking to gain additional insights to accelerate the fundraising efforts of her Brushstrokes with Impact™ program. Where Koch is a research institution using social media and visual displays to humanize and raise awareness for the need of everyday citizens to support research, Maria is an artist using real-time events and social media to raise funds for and increase awareness of critical programs in the underfunded areas where an engaged citizenry rather than government entities can make a difference.

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Artist Maria Castellano-Usery & Ki Executive Director Anne E. Deconinck

Both The Koch Institute and Maria Castellano-Usery create strong community engagement through social media, posted content and video. They key in on effective communication with a clear, concise message that uses visuals. Each in their own way are raising awareness and encouraging a community to support and take action. Their work today insures tomorrow’s health miracles will happen.

Business, Art and Technology are working seamlessly here.  The internet is a great equalizer – and amplifier.  It doesn’t matter if you are a large institution with lots of walls to overcome or an individual contributor with a message to share,  B- A – T spell success on many levels.

For compelling use of Art, I give a #BAT2018 award to artists like Maria and institutions like the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

The Business component of #BAT2018 Business-Art-Technology

B&M feb 2018 JAX

BUSINESS  – The #Business component of #BAT2018 -Business-Art-Technology for 2018

I launched the year with a column talking about going to #BAT in 2018 and I’ve received a whole lot of feedback and acknowledgement that I’ve touched on something important. The speed of change and the need for human adaptation leaves many of us trying to figure it all out.

The most oft asked question has been for me to give examples of organizations that do a good job integrating business, art and technology to stand out above the crowd in this disconnected communications environment. Most appropriately – my best examples come from Maine & Boston.  Coincidentally, they are both making a difference in human health.

My very first #BAT2018 award goes to The Jackson Laboratory headquartered in Bar Harbor Maine. Founded in 1929 they are an independent, nonprofit biomedical research organization who dares to assert their vision imagining “a world free of devastating disease.”

I have no insider’s view here. I am aware of them because of my work with biomed and medtech research organizations. Mostly, however, I continue to learn about them because of their internet and social media activity. This organization has integrated business art and technology with a very human approach to everything they do. I have never really “met” anyone from that organization and yet I feel like I know the CEO and their social media strategist very well. In reality – that discovery of @jacksonlab on twitter – led to a series of real time exchanges and my warm inclusion as a friend of their social media community. Community by its very nature must have dialogue between members. Community is not a brand pitching every single moment with outbound broadcasts. Jackson Labs acknowledges and responds to online comments and makes it fun to be involved with what they do and what they offer.

One very popular item with me was their 2018 calendar. It’s a salute to a dozen famous artists thru a wickedly wonderful re-interpretation of their work. Roy Lichtenstein, Peter Max and Idelle Weber highlight the lab’s commitment to women in science as well as the joy of discovery while science and lab mice remain center stage.

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Does this poster style look familiar?  The most popular mouse in the house delivered in a clever Andy Warhol style.

A business is successful because of its people. When it comes to Jackson Labs, I’ve seen some team photos online and I’ve looked at their job postings.  The employees clearly reflect the wide diversity you should expect of an impactful organization. I’ve said it before. You either are or are not diverse. There is no maybe and no hiding behind geography, availability or other excuses.

Business attitude is also readily revealed in job postings. Collaborative and Interdisciplinary, Jackson Laboratory ideal candidates pay attention to coveted values of: Integrity, People, One Team, Excellence, Innovation and Stewardship. Job descriptions acknowledge that every position contributes to JAX’s mission of discovering precise genomic solutions and empowering the global biomedical community in a shared quest to improve human health.

WOW! Whether its research or media and communications, cross disciplined creativity is encouraged and their benefits package reinforces the expectations and opportunities at every step.

JAX is one of those best practice examples of integration of Art & Technology, Social media and Community, Outreach and Diversity in everything they do. In a world full of noise, they are Creative & their mission is  compelling.

 Follow them online on Facebook and Twitter

You can support their work!  Click Here! They will gladly accept donations. You can make a tribute gift, have your business  step up and partner with them. You can even help fund a scientist!

 

Next installment, we’ll take a look at the other end of the rail line down by Boston.

b&m20180122_151358_KSPwC ©KeithSpiroPhotoAnother organization devoted to integrative approaches to health. Technology, depicted here, looks like something out of a Peter Max poster and they too are amazing.