Focus Filtered Fluid #my3words

Focus, Filtered & Fluid  (My Three Words for 2017)

Way back in 2006, when I was struggling to hold it all together in a corporate world heading off the rails, a guy by the name of Chris Brogan quit making New Year’s resolutions. Instead, he chose three words he would use as a guiding principle for the year. I didn’t know it back then but within just a couple of years our paths from Maine would begin to cross regularly in Boston. Back in that first year of new actions, the words he chose were: ASK. DO. SHARE.

Like a beacon, they prompted him throughout the year to Ask more questions and ask both to help as well as ask for help. He got good at sharing what he learned and in that sharing our paths crossed and I’ve replaced resolutions with actions ever since.

In 2016, my words were:

  • Community
  • Communications
  • Commerce

And it made a huge difference in what I accomplished. But the real time web cuts no slack. Were you caught off guard by the 2016 political outcomes? Everything and nothing surprised me about the presidential elections. Talking heads got it wrong. Strategists missed the mark. Alliances now shift loosely and widely, driven in large part by spontaneous combustion on social media.  It is just so clear that we now live in a real time world that adjusts and disseminates new information rapidly. “Expecting the unexpected” doesn’t even begin to explain what is happening.

So for 2017, as we roll into uncharted territory, don’t agonize over deep analysis. Just “DO IT.” Stay nimble and your business can thrive.  My three words to guide me through 2017 are appropriate for the times and the challenges ahead:

  • FOCUS
  • FILTERED
  • FLUID

Focus – Yes, we each still need a plan of where we are going and what we want to accomplish in a year.  Having a written plan allows you to check in regularly and see if you are on target. And, in today’s world – when your target has moved – you get to readjust how to approach your new day.

Filtered – I have too often gone to the internet to search for something specific and found those shiny objects and distractions that divert my attention and send me down rabbit holes from which I emerge dazed, sometimes hours later. Have you ever gone onto Facebook or searched on Google for one thing and found yourself unexpectedly somewhere else? Fight back by organizing your time. Let the filters of search do their job and just bookmark those other things for later.

Fluid – I am learning to recognize that Google and Facebook are not my friend. They are advertising engines designed to hook me and sell me something. There is no such thing as free. Time is our most valuable possession.  When I come up against a time zapper, I am going to flow around it like water and keep going. This will not be easy. But instead of screaming into the phone “operator, operator, get me a human,” or pounding “0” a few times, I’ve learned to recognize that I am dealing with a computer algorithm not a person. I’ve learned to hang up – call the customer service line and ask- in a calm voice – for help from the human that answers in real time.

wc_my3words-bots-dsc_0003_keithspirophotoWe will hear lots about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Chat Bots in the coming months. They are taking over. No – actually – they have taken over. Most of us just haven’t thought about it that way yet. Think speech recognition and that lovely voice that offers to help you with your account; those friendly helpers with names like Siri (Apple), Julie (Amtrak) and Alexa (Amazon) that stand sentinel between you and a real person. Those are the entry points to chat bots. They save time for the business at the other end. They do repetitive tasks and they are going to eliminate millions and I do mean millions of jobs. More than will be created by new technologies. We can’t stop this process change and so, for that reason, I am going to be fluid – and simply work around the obstacles that are thrown at me – in a creative way (because we have that over bots)  and I will keep going.

I hope you do the same. Let’s make 2017 a great year!

(originally published in The CRYER January 1, 2017)

Predictions 2016 (My 3 Words)

Chris Brogan started the practice of launching each new year with just three words to live and work by. He found it more effective than making and soon thereafter breaking a slew of New Year Resolutions.  I’ve participated in this annual ritual for a number of years now.   Three words to guide my business sensibilities for the upcoming 12 months.

My three words for 2016: Community  |  Collaboration  |  Commerce

and the two businesses that epitomize the symbiotic relationship and power of community are Carii and Chimani.

logo       and   chimaniScreenShot

(More about them further down. )

Here are ways that they can play out for you and for business:

2016 will be the year of collaboration, short attention spans, high-speed communication expectations and a great deal of new and surprising interruptions across most every industry. Familiar Statements?  They should be.  Lots of changes are ongoing because of the continuing and expanding impact of social media and highly portable tools like smartphones.

Word of mouth is a very powerful influencer that spreads rapidly through our ever more connected world.  We are becoming a world that is tethered to the internet. We are always online, always available and we expect the same from all of our vendors, suppliers and friends.

I talk about Social Media as a cultural change.  Social media tools and “social business” are more than just today’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.  All of the social pathways (including email, texting, instant messaging) that people use to stay in touch have shifted into the predominant place for how we learn new things and how we communicate with others.

To make the most of these changes, think about how information is transmitted and received and put yourself into the mindset of the recipient.

There were 2.6 billion smartphones in use in 2014 and that number is predicted to surge to 6.1 billion by 2020. This means 70% of all people in the world will have smartphones and most all will be wireless.  Two billion of the new users will come from the Asia Pacific. (Ericsson)

PREDICTIONS:

  1. Community matters more than ever. Teams working together can produce more and better results than any one individual. Collaboration will rule in the for-profit and the non-profit sectors.
  2. Communications – NextGen collaboration tools and social media will find their way into common use. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are aging tools compared to what is becoming available for immediacy and collaborative function today. Visual output towers over most everything else in this environment. A picture is worth a thousand words and a less than one minute video will be worth thousands.
  3. Commerce – Getting business done should sound more and more like “we are all in this together” and “no one can do it themselves,” as we all expect instant communication and immediate results. This means doing your homework before launching a plan and understanding that the availability of multimedia and real-time messaging requires being nimble enough to pivot (change) mid plan execution.

What  should you look for?

Consider that in 2016 Twitter turns 10 years old and Facebook will be starting its 12th year. They are ancient technology. Look for a slew of new products and platforms trying to break into widespread acceptance and competing with the old guard of social platforms.  Privacy concerns and poor deployment by brands using interruption advertising has made the Wild-Wild-Web less useful to users. As advertisers and their agents desperately try to gain our attention, users will continue to screen out and block as much noise as possible.

My advice to business is to take the time to listen to your customer base, engage in conversations as participants and not as broadcast advertising machines. “Suggested” tweets and “promoted” posts are becoming less effective.

Look to collaboration and community-centric solutions.  Watch for an explosion of video and chat opportunities that take place in real time. Blab and Periscope aren’t the most graceful of the new tools but they are addressing the need for visual immediacy.  Likewise keep an eye on community platforms to start addressing the needs of Six Billion Wired Users wanting connection and not noise.

logo   My favorites are Chimani and Carii.  Both put a lot of effort into building value via community. Carii allows communities to create affiliations and screen out non-relevant advertising and noise. With Chimani you act as an  individual with the value of all that information has been accumulated at your fingertips- whether or not you can get online (smart thinking for hiking remote spaces). Everything you need for a trip to the National Parks. Congrats to them for being selected as a Google Launch Partner for the new app first indexing technology. I’ve even more respect for their Really Smart Marketing leadership with their timing coinciding with the 100th Anniversary of The National Park System.

Sign up for Chimani here and if you are curious about next gen community platforms join me here on Carii

chimani all parks home URL

Watch for the results of the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas in January where 170,000 people gather to see what’s new and trending. In the meantime, back home, think community, because, in the end, we are all in this together.

A Chance Meeting with author Walter Mosley

walter mosley photo by keith spiroThe best thing I did the other night was to decide to join Malia Lazu at Emerson’s Paramont theater Emerson Paramont theatre photo by keith spiro for an intimate book reading and signing by Walter Mosley. Future Boston Alliance co-organized the event as well as Mosley’s eleven day “Obsessive Residency”  with ArtsEmerson. I knew Malia as co-founder of Future Boston Alliance but I came to also learn about her long standing friendship with Walter Mosley. Author of over 40 books, he has won awards including a Grammy and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  Easy to see why! We learned first hand that his parents read to him as a kid, that he began drawing incessantly at age twelve – and hasn’t stopped, and that he writes something every day. When asked – he stated “a writer, writes something.” All the time. They write.
Walter had been in residence at Emerson College most of the week and when he talked about Interrogating Whiteness, he had over 200 people in the audience with the discussion spilling out onto social media for days.

I attended the more mundane evening launch of his new book The Graphomaniac’s Primer – A semi surrealist memoir.  The evening was anything but mundane. The editor didn’t like Walter’s choice of front cover, but he loved the back cover and in our fresh off the press, evening before the official release edition of the memoir  – what was the back final page is now also  – the front cover. This is the book that Walter Mosley calls “The literary home shopping network.”

Adrian Walker & Walter Mosley photo by keith spiro

Another interesting part of listening in on this intimate  conversation he was having with Boston Globe Columnist Adrian Walker and us, was watching unfold, the path of enlightenment as he discovered that he was a graphomaniac.

walter mosley photo by keith spiro

a contemplative moment by author Walter Mosley as he realizes he is a graphomaniac.

The revelation came somewhere in the middle of an overgrown letter O but it also might have been during the escape of the letter S from its assigned space while he wrestled to push it back into line.  You really needed to be there to watch the story unfold in a most amazing way.

walter mosley photo by keith spiro
If you weren’t, grab a copy of the book and get someone who was there to read it to you!  Walter said we were the first to see and hold it in our hands, and so far,  I haven’t seen it listed on Amazon or Barnes &  Noble nor on its publishers website. So keep an eye on Black Classic Press and watch for its availability. You can see my autographed copy but I’ll have to read it to you. It’s not available for loan.

MCLE seminar – Leveraging Social Media

As faculty for the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) program, Building an Online Presence for Small Firm & Solo Practitioners

I presented a session with Jared Correia, Esq. entitled:

Leveraging Social Media for Competitive Advantage
Attendees learned about the power of social media and how to safely deploy it as a tool in developing both a book of business clients as well as ambassadors for their practice. Jared and I both firmly believe that Digital online marketing begins here.

Here are the takeaways:

Ethics

-Be wary of communications with potential clients, especially via the web, particularly with respect to real-time communication methods. Before getting into a more detailed conversation: (1) process the client through an official firm channel, e.g.–website inquiry form with click-through disclaimer; and, (2) run a conflict check. If you decide not to sign a client, send a non-engagement letter.

-Don’t offer false or misleading information, e.g.–

-use ‘we’ or ‘us’, when you are a solo lawyer

-refer to law offices, when you only have one office

-guarantee results

-compare yourself to other lawyers

-omit material facts

 

General Discussion/ Takeaways

-The Value/Importance of Content Marketing/ powerful Word of Mouth tool

-The Value/Importance of Consistency/ be a beacon of consistency

-The Value/Importance of Authenticity on the Social Web/ you are what you publish

-The Value/Importance of Referral Marketing/ create cheerleaders & ambassadors

-The Value/Importance of Statistics in Legal Marketing /would your mother be proud of you?

If you are a member of MCLE, the session was recorded and will be available for viewing for the next twelve months. If you need legal based guidance, you can contact Jared Correia at jared@masslomap.org

If you’d like strategic marketing support, please contact me here.

Play4TheCure Day in Photos Keith Spiro

Play4TheCure New Hampshire

New Hampshire Youth Lacrosse Association Play4TheCure

New Hampshire Youth Lacrosse Association Play4TheCure

 http://keithspirophoto.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Play4TheCure-New-Hampshire/G000084evEwpr_qY/I0000UW80feJIqkk

 

One of the more gratifying assignments has been working with The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) and their signature fundraising

program #Play4TheCure. New Hampshire with its first in the nation primary was also the first state to sign up as an entire sport league to Play4TheCure. The New Hampshire Youth Lacrosse Association (NHYLA) recently dedicated their Annual #Lacrosse Festival to raising awareness and funds for cancer research. 6000 students, 300 teams two days of lacrosse

United States Senator Kelly Ayotte sent an awesome letter of support to the organizers which was read to the Senior Staff of The New Hampshire Youth Lacrosse Association and members of the teams that were awarded the Best Sportsmanship award.

The Boston & Maine Connection – Running Away from a Cure

This is a transcription of the original article published in The CRYER on June 1, 2015. You can see the original published article here.

The Boston & Maine Connection – Running Away from a Cure?
Shocking news to many of us, but not to the scientific community, is the future outcome of the growing gap of funded research. Recent breakthroughs to slowing terrible diseases are often the result of ten to twenty or more years of research. The breakthroughs we see today, exist because our parents generation invested in pure research. Our government in the 1980’s & 90’s saw to it that the National Institute of Health gave out significant grants for research to the nation’s colleges to insure todays breakthroughs in gene sequencing. The genome has led the way to precision medicine and precision or personal medicine is a hot topic in Boston Biotech these days. Xconomy covers this topic extensively.Noubar Afarian Flagship Ventures I learned these things at the National Press Club in Washington DC last month, where Dr. Fred Alt of Boston Children’s Hospital and a Howard Hughes Medical institute Investigator as well as a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, was being honored for his lifelong work.

Dr. Alt was in Washington DC to receive the prestigious Szent-Gyorgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research from the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR). This prize was named for 1937 Nobel Laureate Albert Szent-Gyorgyi of Vitamin C fame.  United States Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts was the keynote speaker. Both Dr. Alt and Senator Markey shared the theme that was echoed by many of the research scientists there to honor one of their own.  Our current medical breakthroughs are the result of investment in the research, twenty and more years ago, of earlier generations of scientists doing pure science.

These venues allowed for accidental discoveries that led to more focused breakthroughs in treatment of some of humankinds most feared diseases. Today, however, with significant curtailment of federal funding and the introduction of Venture Capitalist investments focused on more precise commercial results means a growing gap between Return on Investment (ROI) focused research and any chance of random discoveries to help the next and much, much smaller generation of researchers.

DSC_8938          I asked Dr. Alt about his biggest concerns for the future and his answer was as direct as it was concerning. With NIH cuts to school research labs we have all but eliminated jobs for Post Doc Researchers in labs. Potential future scientists are driven away from research right out of the starting block.  Without funding, Post Doc researchers can’t afford to stay in the field. No research. No funding. No future discoveries.

The popular campaigns for any specific human cancer of interest (breast, lung, prostrate, etc.) is really Old School when genome breakthroughs in places like Broad Institute in Cambridge Massachusetts are beginning to allow for investigations of the source of, rather than the manifestation of, a person’s disease, the metastasis of which is the real killer. Precision medicine is a new, growing and exciting frontier for health at the intersection of technology and personal, precision medicine.

I have taken an interest in the work of David Bjork and the NFCR. Their rallying cry is the purple ribbon, for all cancers because they know that funding pure research is the best thing we can do to put the next generation into the laboratory. Small grants of as little as $50,000 can provide a one year guarantee of employment for a Post Doc Candidate in a promising path of research. In the past forty years, the NFCR has distributed over $300 Million dollar to researchers all over the United States. New Hampshire, noted for First in the Nation primaries has now added another first with the New Hampshire Youth Lacrosse Association creating Statewide support by one sports league of NFCR’s cornerstone fund raising and awareness vehicle, Play for the Cure.

Play for the Cure NFCR fundraiser  Play for the Cure is in Londonderry NH June 13th  & June 14, 2015. They would love to have your organization step up and support this focus on research program. For more information, check out http://www.nfcr.org/p4tc or call NFCR at 301-654-1250. Robert will most likely answer the phone  and when you call, you’ll see why I call him the Director of First Impressions. Just tell him Keith sent you.

Boston and Maine Connection – The Amazon & Project Piaba

Imagine that if you could buy just one fish, you could save a tree, a way of life, a whole community and contribute to the preservation of nearly one fifth of the world’s fresh water reserves. Would you buy it? Would you spend the $3.79 it will cost you? There’s just one catch and it is actually a very small one; the fish needs to be one of the wild caught ones from the Amazon Rain Forest. Sidestep the cloudy controversy around farm raised vs. wild caught. These fish, if they aren’t harvested, will die off in huge numbers, so you are doing them a favor when you add them to your home or office aquarium where they can live as long as ten years. Last month, I journeyed to THE Amazon, the real and original one, not Jeff Bezo’s online emporium. In the Amazon rain forest in Brazil I discovered the close connection between Boston and Maine and yes, the Amazon Rain Forest. Most folks don’t know this yet, but there are more similarities than you might think swimming just below the surface. Here are two examples of ways to innovate. Entrepreneurship is alive and well there. Piaba festival photo by Keith Spiro  I met the founders of the first air water manufacturing plant in the world. Bottled in the heart of the forest from condensing high humidity air, Amazon Air Water will enter the premium water market while returning 25% of the profits back to the community to fund school supplies, computers, tools and the protection of local culture. They were one of the important sponsors of the Piaba Festival that I met during my travels. Project Piaba itself is the 25 year collaboration between the fishing families of Amazonas, Brazil and a non-profit organization headquartered in Boston and led by co-founder and New England Aquarium biologist Scott Dowd. New England Aquarium Biologist Scott Dowd photo by Keith SpiroTheir focus on the ornamental fish trade in the Rio Negro basin of the Amazon has created some incredible connections, friendships and good business. This region in Brazil once supplied a large percentage of the cardinal tetras and other beautiful fresh water fish for home aquariums, public aquariums and zoos worldwide. Project Piaba has quietly helped build structure and support for the entrepreneurial community of over 20,000 people in a sustainable lifestyle model. With nearly one fifth of the entire fresh water of the planet earth residing within the boundaries of the Amazon, we all have a large stake in protecting this ecosystem which does not rely on harvesting the forest or polluting the water in the pursuit of mineral extraction. These wild caught ornamental fish have a high birth rate and a major die-off in low water season so the capture and export of these live fish have worldwide benefit. Fishermen in Brazil and Maine share similar issuesI found amazing similarities between Mid Coast Maine fishing communities and those in Mid Coast Brazil once you got beyond the salt water ocean of Maine vs. freshwater for as far as the eye can see in the Amazon. The Piaba Festival photo by Keith SpiroThe annual Piaba festival was inspired by Scott Dowd’s project and celebrates the fishermen and women of Barcelos and the Rio Negro region of Brazil. For one long twenty four hour period the population doubles and friendly competitions between cardinal tetra and discus fish groups take place in a performance space built especially for it; The Piabadome. You don’t get to choose the group you represent. You are born into one or the other and you gain or lose points based on how respectful you are of the other group’s performance. Cheer them on and gain points, be passive or leave early and your team loses points! How’s that for collaboration? This August Brazil will honor the Piaberas & Piaberos, officially for the first time, by hosting a celebration the night before the start of their next fishing season. The Amazon is everything you might imagine and nothing like you think and it is at risk of being destroyed by the scarcity of traditional work, over regulation, misunderstanding, and controversy that the locals know is as much myth as reality. Sound like Maine’s fishing communities? It sure does. Want more information? Want to apply entrepreneurship principles to your community? Drop me a line and I can put you in touch with like-minded world citizens to help preserve your unique part of the world. Or click here for more information on Project Piaba.   This article originally appeared in THE CRYER of Mid Coast Maine in Keith Spiro’s Column, The Boston and Maine Connection. March 2015. You can see the original article here:B&M Connection March 2015  Project Piaba