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!

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Do Me a Favor -Facebook

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

header B&M do me a favor

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 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.

The Creatives

The Creatives

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The baker of USA has a website, a craft and a portfolio

When I look back on five years of connecting urban & rural Business, Art & Technology in a monthly column called The Boston & Maine Connection,  I clearly see both the power of tight communities and the vibrancy of large cities.  As my connections have expanded globally so too has my sense of how to utilize technology for the good of community.  Rapid technological changes have impacted both our sense of what makes up a community as well as how we approach communication and commerce.  Today, certain aspects of small town living apply across the web. People in small towns have always known that your personal history follows you forever. The locals never forget who you were and what you did and now – neither does Facebook nor Google.

The opportunity for global cooperation and competition has never been greater. As the Gregorian calendar turned the page to 2018, I took note that Gujarat India had already celebrated Diwali and it’s new year and Brisbane Australia & Dublin Ireland leapt  into 2018 fifteen and five hours respectively ahead of the USA. Whether you think of the world as competitive or your opportunity as collaborative, know that Australia is ranked as #1 for what I see as the most pivotal of all groups – the Creatives. The rising Creative Class is an area for intense but oftentimes overlooked opportunities.

The Creative Class includes the digital native who is comfortable around technology as a skillset as well as others who have learned to merge art and creative skills into the technology marketplace. Quite frankly, not many tech people can grasp the intangibles and boundary-free thinking that true Creatives have and in today’s fast paced world, Creatives are more important than ever.

Richard Florida wrote a book in 2002 positing the rise of this socio-economic class in a post-urbanized age. The battle for world class cities vs. the rest of the population will continue to play out on the ground as well as in the cloud. You may have heard of the “gig economy.” Well, it will be the Creatives who become the glue binding together our humanity and the machine world.

Here’s a quote from Steven Jobs in his introduction of the iPad2 in 2011:

“Technology alone is not enough—

it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

Business cries out for new markets and new customers and laments the difficulty of being heard in a digital world full of noise. With our “swipe left or swipe right” attention spans – it will be the visual and the creative that catches and holds our attention.

As brands seek to dominate and capture new clients and as technology moves people into a sales funnel and as artificial intelligence tends to predict your choices, the opportunity to succeed may very well come down to the human element of – that which catches your attention, – wins!

Australian writer and brand strategist Jess Thoms defined Creative Tech as the combination of Technology with Art and Design to create better experiences, products and brands. She goes on to say  “Working in creative tech doesn’t mean you need to learn how to code, or suddenly become a robotics engineer. It’s about the application of your creative skills and ideas to a technical platform so it performs better. Technology is made for humans, after all. So who better than storytellers, artists, poets, and psychologists to make this technology more personable?”

Perhaps the name Mark Cuban is more familiar?  Jess quotes him as saying liberal arts degrees are the future. And indeed, I agree.  I have long been an advocate of liberal arts education in a science driven world. Our humanity depends on it!

If you are a Creative, you need to find your way onto tech teams – those AI and robotics people need you to insure the inevitable future will function better.  Humanities shape language, psychology colors empathy, and trust comes from repetition, consistently, of the best experiences.  Starving artists are a thing of the past. The future belongs to those who can bring understanding to the rest of us and you will be paid handsomely for doing so.  #BAT2018

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My Three Words: 2018 Going to BAT

My Three Words for 2018 – Business, Art & Technology

Continuing a long standing tradition started by Waterville Maine native Chris Brogan, I have been starting out each year with three words to guide my success in the year ahead rather than a series of New Year resolutions that are too easily broken. There is genius behind Chris’ process in having three words always there to focus attention and minimize distraction.

photo by Keith Spiro poet for hire NYCFor 2018 my words to navigate by are Business, Art and Technology and in a unique twist, I will be mindful that all three are intricately interwoven in any successful endeavor in our tumultuous cultural and political climate.  They fit well with my personal goals of learning, sharing and enjoying the use of my creative skills and my art daily for family, friends and business.  Previously, my three words could stand alone and reflect totally different considerations but with the news streamed across our devices, 2018 is the year where the best way for an individual to be seen, be heard or be found will be to employ and deploy the best of skills, design and technology in everything we do.  I truly believe that we each can accomplish nearly anything we set our mind to more easily than ever.  While strategy and community building is the methodology, it will be the business mindset along with technology and a creative arts touch that will permit great achievements.

Whether you are acting as an individual on a mission, or on behalf of a marketing agency, a small business or a big brand, you need to recognize the significant change in human information gathering and activation.  We have less power to sell but more power to influence with best results occurring when someone self-activates for your cause because they have accumulated enough information and desire to take action on your behalf. Word of mouth sharing by friends and other trusted influencers is what drives the bus these days. Marketers spend a lot of time and a lot of your money to measure and track influence but the reality is much simpler than the experts want you to believe.

How you make others feel combined with being part of a community will determine your true ability to get things done.  You don’t need 10,000 “followers” you only need a small core group who have been touched by and affected by you to take action to a dramatically powerful result.  “Me too”  is a real emotional trigger for more than just today’s firestorm. In calmer times, the inclusive nature of a group will be just as powerful for a wide range of changes that can be brought to the forefront.

By moving beyond the disjointed nature of communications today and focusing on nurturing a community of like-minded souls, you can turn most any cause into a movement and be seen, heard and found. For me, 2018 represents my concerted effort to insure that my business acumen and my human story blend well every day.

Business – including the business of life, is getting things done in an organized and team driven manner. You don’t have to do it alone. There are others who share your thinking and will help if only you reach out and ask.

Art –  We humans are influenced by our emotions. We take action because we are happy, angry, sad, excited or a whole lot of other nuanced emotional feelings. The arts are a sometimes overlooked but fantastic way to draw attention and engage support. Long before the internet, humans depended on creative and artistic skills to communicate to a broader audience. People of letters and visual artists galvanized us into action through visual and oral storytelling. Stories move us.  Art is an integral part of what makes a society whole and art is powerful in creating dialogue and change. The winning organization is one that captures our imagination and moves us to action.  Sometimes it is subtle, sometimes not. But, always – it is the artist who crafts a vision in ways that first cause us to stop and take note.  Hire an artist and be amazed at what can be accomplished by rising above all the noise.

Technology – is no longer an option, it is an integral part of most every set of actions. Rather than be lulled into the passive “swipe right/swipe left” mentality of the followers, take action and use technology to gather your community, inform them and move them to coordinated action. We don’t have to go it alone. We don’t have to be the product being sold. As social media matures into social business, we too can use the tools and compete with the Goliath of big funders with the deft creative skills of a David. Time to use our voices and our creative talents and make a difference.

BAT2018perfect JaxMiceWarholTweetHere’s my first pick for an organization going to #BAT2018- The Jackson Labs make a huge difference in global health – and I have both intersected with & followed their work for years. They are a best practice example of integration of Art & Technology, Social media and Community, Outreach and Diversity in everything they do. Check out the client calendar they offer. Creative – compelling. Follow them.       Support their work!

#BAT2018 #my3words

Last year my words were Focused, Filtered and Fluid and they each played a strong role in keeping me on my plan and not getting overly distracted by all the incoming noise of today’s internet experience.

Now its your turn – Pick any three words share them with me if you like (I’ll publish them online https://keithspiro.wordpress.com/ ) – but be sure to spend a few minutes daily insuring that your beacon and path is clear and make it a great year.