Predictions 2016 (My 3 Words)

My Three Words for 2016. 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)


  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.


Entrepreneurial Road Show – The B&M Connection

Entrepreneurial Road Show

page 8 from the Cryer story & photo by Keith SpiroTo some, new tech and entrepreneurship can only be found –or at least financed – in the big startup hotbeds of Silicon Valley – or maybe New York, if you’re a New Yorker – or Kendall Square if you’re from MIT or Harvard. But that didn’t stop a music festival called South by South West from turning into an annual celebration of technology and art near Austin Texas

So, just maybe, entrepreneurship thrives in places where a community comes together to support it. Such is the theory of Steve Case who created a project called Rise of the Rest which came to Maine via Portland last month – the end stop of a nationwide tour showcasing exciting new – communities that incubate and celebrate entrepreneurial endeavors.

Steve should know, he was the founder of America On Line, yes AOL which when sold to Time Warner turned him into a billionaire on a mission. Maine got to showcase a few visits in and around Portland and the evening culminated in a pitch contest co-hosted by Jess Knox, current head of Maine Accelerates Growth & Olympico Strategies and a co-founder of Maine Startup and Create Week. Jess Knox photo by Keith SpiroHis background includes working with Blackstone a Venture Capital Group and a stint as assistant Administrator of SBA Field Operations. He’s the right person to cheerlead this next generation of Maine Entrepreneurship.

The Revolution powered road show came into Maine with former Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick and met up with US Senator Angus King and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree for the daytime business visits. These are all folks who make a difference and take real action. Senator King and I go back to his Plus One program as governor where every Maine business that added at least one employee got gubernatorial recognition.Governor Duval Patrick photo by KeithSpiro

Duval Patrick, as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, actively participated in international trade missions to significant consumer and tech places like China, Israel and Denmark, growing Massachusetts footprint in BioPharma and mobile technology. Today he heads up Bain & Company’s Social Impact Investing initiative. Each of these folks have been regulars on the entrepreneurial and tech circuit. They always smile and take the time to say hello and more importantly to enquire and show real interest in the new businesses that they encounter.

The future of work and economic stability lies in the intersection of doing good while doing well financially. Seth Godin asks when did the community shift to chartering corporations who view their primary task as just making money for their investors? We might not have public libraries today were it not for Andrew Carnegie and his broader mission of adding community value.

The winning pitch was for a clean tech app leveraging the power of big data that is now available. LobsteRx staff photo by Keith SpiroMy personal choice went to LobsteRx, a startup based out of the University of Maine, Orono. They were one of the few finalists that exhibited leadership-team diversity in both age and gender and presented a product direction mix that could help Maine with marketing visibility and a significant number of jobs. With focus from skincare to cancer, LobsteRx can have impact on major life areas. Their source product is Lobster, something the world fully identifies with Maine.

#RiseofRest selfie photo by Keith Spiro

Selfies of Rise of the Rest participants and huge audience are another way to raise visibility and awareness. Please re-tweet and re-post.

By focusing on re-use and conversion of some of the 20-30 million pounds of lobster processing waste, we get jobs, PR and a uniquely Maine identified mascot in the mix. Even though only a part of Maine is involved with the lobster industry, there are still some compelling economic facts associated with it, like upwards of $1.7 billion in total economic impact (2012 figures), 5 to 7 changes of hands from “caught to bought” as the Press Herald called it. Maine is responsible for more than 75% of the world’s lobster catch and the US and Canada see a combined f $4 billion in economic impact. Linda Bean figured it out. We’ve got a number of entrepreneurs who will also. Let’s support the local efforts, help fund them and amplify their messages.

You can find the original print edition of this article in THE CRYER ONLINE NOVEMBER 2015 page 8 The Boston and Maine Connection.

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

The day I got to sing with Amanda Palmer & Matthew Ebel

Vintage video footage of the day I got to sing with Amanda Palmer and Matthew Ebel can be found here on YouTube. For me, in retrospect it was the turning point in how I viewed sales, service, marketing and communications……….

Back in 2010, in the early days of social media, pioneers  Amanda Palmer, Matthew Ebell and I were selected to present at Jeff Pulver’s 140 conference in Boston Massachusetts.

The 140 conference was started by Jeff, a wonderful and warm entrepreneur and early investor in Twitter, to explore “the State of Now.” This was to be the opportunity to talk about using the web and Twitter, a hundred and forty character communications tool, to leverage real-time communications and change the world. Today, we more clearly see how social and business have merged to disrupt old ways and old rules of sales, marketing and service, but back then, we were just beginning to see the amazing changes brought by speed and access.

I planned to reference Marshall McLuhan and Sesame Street and talk about sound bites and their impact on communications but I soon learned that I was to follow Amanda Palmer and Matthew Ebel and their music panel and mini concert.  Indeed, A hard act to follow.

Real Time Twitter lesson Number One: reach out immediately and call for help. People will respond. I tweeted to Jeff Pulver backstage and asked for all my new friends to come out on stage and help me. I was scrambling because the only thing I knew for sure at that point was that most everybody knew the Sesame Street song and Marshall whoever – was long ago interred in history. My new need was immediate, real and compelling.

I salvaged the rest of my presentation in the transition and while the talk may be lost to history, these most memorable moments, where I got to sing with Amanda Palmer and Matthew Ebel, live on.

Today, I continue to explore the power of social media and community building and I often reference Amanda Palmer’s famous Ted Talk

and newer work The Art of the Ask

along with proudly pointing to  Matthew Ebel’s successful alternative marketing with his robot army. They are both great examples of what is possible.  Back then, using social media and asking for help were new to all of us.

Basketball, Baseball and Ballet

Miami Heat Star Dwyane Wade, NBA MVP LeBron James and former Mets player and twelve time Major League All Star baseball player Mike Piazza share a very public presence with Ballet. The Miami City Ballet to be exact. A very creative and innovative arts organization that fears no boundaries as it reaches beyond its presumed audience to a greater humanity.

I first heard about the campaign Ballet and Basketball while listening to WBUR/ National Public Radio’s Only a Game and was impressed by a quote from the Miami Ballet’s artistic director,  Lourdes Lopez, who said “Ballet and basketball are both about grace under pressure and the pursuit of perfection.” No Miami City Ballet dancer stands alone just as HEAT players can’t win alone. It requires team work—and that’s Miami! We are talking about tremendous pride in the place we call home and being the best together.”

Check out these photos from WBUR’s photostream

Now that’s great recognition of shared values!  How much better could other communities be when organizational leadership recognizes that collaboration and shared vision will yield far greater enthusiasm and results than fighting over an ever shrinking pool of available dollars; that reaching out beyond the comfort zone can yield new ambassadors and fans and funding. Truly, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. And by the way, that oft repeated quote originated with Aristotle.

Hats off to the forward thinking folks in Miami.

Collaboration for Good

In an email last month, from one of my favored non-profits, came an invitation to participate in an online auction. While I normally eschew such programs, I was intrigued by the fact that my favored organization collaborated with two, similar minded, local organizations with which I was familiar. In fact, the more I thought about what the three organizations had done, the more willing I became to support them.

Merrymeeting Conservation and Education Alliance

Merrymeeting Conservation and Education Alliance

Instead of three separate, competing auctions or fundraisers, tapping into the same businesses multiple times, these creative organizations used some very enlightened leadership and real time technology tools to improve their results and very much enhance their good reputations.

This auction was a unique collaboration of:

the Brunswick/Topsham Land Trust,
the Cathance River Education Alliance
and the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust.

BTLT, CREA, KELT, combined forces to create their first annual on line “bidding for good” campaign. I am particularly pleased with their approach. How nice to have just one solicitation for multiple organizations that I care about and allow me to distribute the money I would want to donate in an equitable and non-pressured way. By engaging me this way, they got me to be more generous than I would have been had I needed to stop to consider who else will be tapping on my pockets in the traditional end of year ‘giving’ upon which so many organizations depend. I liked the beneficiaries, they are well aligned with each other and they eliminated the need for me to balance the financial equation of who gets how much. For a couple of images from my day in photo shoot with Gary Fogg, check out The Forecaster story here.

For the auction, I got to focus on just what items I wanted to bring home for the family. No, I didn’t  “win” the item as the automated auction email implied, I chose to outbid others because I was empowered by those organizations I care about to focus on my desired results and in so doing, I better helped them achieve theirs.

Hat’s off to the planners, leaders and collaborators of this campaign because they have invoked three key concepts needed to excel in this real-time-web world:

 COLLABORATION – easier than trying to do it all alone – no-one-organization  can really do it all alone

 REAL TIME WEB –  bidding for good allows a streamlined and real time approach to raising funds for organizations that matter

 INBOUND MARKETING – SELF IDENTIFYING DONORS- yes it really works and you are less a nuisance this way. The right people with aligned interests will find you. Thank you for allowing me to have a say in all of this.

While this particular auction will be over by the time you see this blog post, you should take a look at how they put it together and gain some ideas for your own work with 501c3 organizations.  Take advantage of the real time technology tools that are all around us and recognize the revolution in social interactions and access that is occurring.

If you need help understanding the changes, send me an email. If you’re a solicitor, don’t bother to call or add me to your grinder/donor list. I don’t respond when you and your agencies make it all about you.