Friday, December 31, 2010

Tweet Your Way to Great, Productive 2011

This is cross posted in the Huffingtonpost Impact Section.

Awesome. Life-changing. Fantastic. Amazing. Incredible. These are just some of the words I would use to describe my Twitter experience of 2010. It has been fun making sure that my feed is a force of positivity as well a great resource to those in search of information. I take it all very seriously.

I tell everyone: I’m from the school of Adventurer and Twitter Powerhouse J.D. Andrews, who always says, “Use twitter mostly for the ‘WE’, and not the ‘ME’”. And how do you do this, you ask? It’s simple: by engaging and connecting with your followers; retweeting and recommending new people whenever you can; saying “Thank You” and displaying a daily dose of gratitude; and creating more social media success stories and being happy for those who rise (and rock!) in Twitter’s 140 character format.

There are lots of numbers in social media: followers, listings, app “scores”, etc. But to me, there is one number that shines above all else: the number of people whose lives are impacted by what you do. People are always watching and taking notes. So why wouldn’t you want to put your “best tweet forward”?

If 2010 was the “Year of discussing Influence”, I believe 2011 will be the “Year of making an Impact” – as in showing tweeters practical ways to use their online influence to make an impact around the world. The way entrepreneur Lotay Yang has done with The Black Card Circle Foundation and military hero Paul Rieckhoff with his Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. I can be much better in this area myself, and I intend to be.

So embrace those people who support and contribute to the very best of what Twitter and social media has to offer. Not the takers, but the givers. You know who they are. And deep down inside, you know who, and what, you want to be. Make it happen.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Powerful Story from Haiti (VIDEO)

It has been almost a year since the devastating earthquake that shook the island nation of Haiti. The world responded in a big way. In fact, writer Jose Antonio Vargas reasoned earlier this year that the Haitian Tragedy helped to create the Global Citizen 2.0. Never before had the world spoke in nearly one voice to such a catastrophe. Certainly, technology aided the response. It was truly a beautiful moment.

As 2010 wore on, the "Rebuilding of Haiti" left the front pages. But it never left our collective hearts. There have been so many Haitian stories of hope and revival, and the pictures continue to be heart-stopping. This video below, courtesy of CNN, is nothing less than riveting. It's a great story about quake survivors reuniting, and dealing with the pain of that experience. Let's hope that stories like this will keep the world engaged into 2011 and beyond.


Monday, December 27, 2010

R.I.P. Teena Marie

Like many music fans, I am mourning the passing of one of the true giants of the music industry: Teena Marie (pictured here). She died in her sleep this past Saturday. Passionate, soulful and multi-talented, she came out of Motown Records in the 1970s. From there, she was mentored by the late Rick James, who gained fame with younger audiences through those now legendary and hilarious bits on The Dave Chappelle Show. James helped to create and mold her musical career in the early to mid 1980s.

Her songs "I Need Your Lovin" and "Square Biz" are certified classics.

But beyond all of that, Marie will always be known to fans of Rhythm and Blues (R&B). She knew the history of the music, the people who pioneered the sound, and the ambitions of those who embraced and promoted it. For that, she became one of the few white performers to be widely and enthusiastically loved by African-American audiences. This is why she was called "The Ivory Queen of Soul". I loved her music. She will be missed.

For a great write up on her, check out this piece in The Washington Post.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on creating more 'Women Leaders'

Wow!! This has to be one of the best talks I've ever seen about why there are so few women leaders . Sanberg touched on some powerful points. Though split in three parts, together is packs quite a punch. She talks about the positive correlation between "likeability and success", and drives it home with a great study about the intersection of gender and business.

Also, she gives an eye-opening account of an exchange she had with a young woman, which reveals something that society is consistently overlooking. Though she considered it to be embarrassing, I thought it was very courageous for her to admit. Trust me, this is one of the best 14 minutes you'll spend watching a video.

Fantastic speech on a necessary topic.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Google's Great Holiday Doodle

The folks at Google have taken their artistry to new heights with their new doodle. Colorful, striking and detailed, the 17 illustrations took 250 hours to complete. They will run through December 25th. It is clear that Bing, which has a new picture on its front page every day, has forced Google to step its game up - incorporating historic and special occasions with its logo. And over the last year in particular, Google has done this quite effectively.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Congratulations to the Huffingtonpost!

Huffingtonpost Editor-in-Chief and co-founder, Arianna Huffington

Andy Plesser of Beet.TV revealed in his latest blogpost what many predicted early this year: that the Huffington Post would be surging towards online supremacy by years end. In November, it had a stunning "26 Million Unique Visitors" in the United States. According to comScore, it is now the number two "Newspaper site" in the country.

The Huffington Post was launched on May 9, 2005. I remember the day as vividly as I remember the original design and page layout. There was an energy and excitement around the launch, though it was only one page. But now, five and a half years later, it has tremendous variety, and is very forward thinking with respect to social media. In addition, it has racked up an impressive number of achievements: an impressive number of Webby Awards, and it has been called the most powerful blog in the world by The Observer.

To say that I am honored to write for the Huffingtonpost is an understatement. Its a tremendous platform on which to publish your ideas, and connect with readers from all over the world. Though impressive, I know this is just the beginning of Arianna Huffington's amazing vision. She gets a huge congrats from me. Amazing woman. Amazing website.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide 2010: The Foodie and the Health and Wellness Guru (Video)

What is the holiday season without food and drinks? Chicken, turkey, yams, potato salad, egg nog...and TreeHugger! Yes, the men and women at TreeHugger are back with some great, always timely green tips about food, health, and the holidays. I love the video.

Friday, December 10, 2010

One of the World's Amazing and Forgotten Subways

I love reading about abandoned cities and underground spaces around the world. An army of people dedicate their lives to spotlighting these amazing finds. In fact, a simple google search will yield information and pictures about abandoned subway stations in New York, London, Paris, Boston, and Toronto. Amazing!

But out of them all, the abandoned Cincinnati Subway System - built in the 1920s - is the most interesting. Though originally planned as a 16 mile project, only seven miles were tunneled. Six stations were built, and no tracks were laid. Three stations remain, and the other three were demolished, with barely visible entry points into the tunnel.

According to historians, the city couldn't secure the necessary funding to complete it during the 30s or World War II. Unfortunately, the tunnel fell into disrepair, and the region was looking into other ways to accommodate residents. Cincinnati Transit has the entire history of this nearly forgotten structure. The four subway pictures below are courtesy of Cincinnati Transit's truly informative website.

A 1920s picture of the early construction phase, left, and a layout

A picture of the Linn Street Station

A picture of the Race St. Station

A picture of the Hopple St. Tunnel

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ann Curry's great interview with Actor/Activist George Clooney

The respect I have for George Clooney shot way through the roof this evening. The interview Ann Curry did with him was truly Must-See TV. The viewer got a chance to see the roots of Clooney's generosity. I've always respected those celebrities who use what I call "the full equity of their fame" to make a difference in the world: Edward Norton, Don Cheadle, Barbara Streisand, Matt Damon, Whoopi Goldberg, Brad Pitt, etc. I love their activism, and I always promote their projects.

I don't understand the belief that entertainment celebrities should not have a opinion on anything beyond movies and music. They care about the environment, pay taxes, and have a deep concern about the world future generations will inhabit.

Clooney and his buddy Brad Pitt believe that if the cameras are going to be on them, they should be socially responsible and try to focus our attention on issues not getting much-needed publicity. If you ask me, that's a brilliant strategy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"The Warrior's Way"

You will certainly enjoy the video (seen here) of Sngmoo Lee's The Warrior's Way, which is out in theatres on December 3rd. It stars Dong-Kun Jang, Kate Bosworth, Danny Huston, and Geoffrey Rush. It's quite the visual feast! Billed as a "martial arts, western fantasy", it features the kind of stylistic battles that became popular with the massive success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - one of my favorite movies of all time.

Some of the recent martial movies have used amazing battle scenes and breathtaking cinematography to enhance the story, and leave moviegoers spellbound. The aforementioned Crouching Tiger and The House of Flying Daggers always come to mind. It looks like The Warrior's Way may follow it their footsteps.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Marc Parent and the Art of Twitter Activism

This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Technology Section.

This is the latest post in our series, Twitter Powerhouses, which focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking.

Throughout history, activists have used a wide range of tools to bring about change - economic, social, political and otherwise. Letter writing campaigns, marches, boycotts, and hunger strikes are just a few of the things used to make a strong impact. Indeed, Mahatma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, and Rock the Vote's Maegan Carberry are just a few names that give vision and voice to the truly dynamic history of world activism.

Marc Parent, one of the most celebrated observers and activists on Twitter today, dedicates his thought-provoking feed to shining a spotlight on that history, and provides great links that are often the subject of great debate. If its happening in the world, it will likely show up on his feed. Parent has maximized his social media presence, allowing him to take full advantage of the huge Twitter stage on which hundreds of millions share their views.

What is a great activist, you ask? I'll tell you: one who informs you of the issues, inspires you to take action, and empowers you to make a difference. And for years now, Marc Parent has been that activist. As you will read below, he is most certainly for real, and absolutely necessary.

How do you see your role as an online activist?

I have been into "activist blogging" for 10 years, and what a great field it is. As I learned the techniques to gather information and motivate readers, I found that many appreciated this service. Handling controversial material brings on loads of criticism and frequently censorship. I have learned the value of a trustworthy and known blogging platform. For me, Twitter has become this and so much more. Frankly, I am pleasantly surprised Twitter hasn't ditched me (Laughs).

Speaking of Twitter, explain how it has helped you connect with both your fans and the issues you are passionate about?

Twitter posts cross the many boundaries between people and reach a much larger audience than on most well-known, social media platforms. Instant and positive reader responses to posts provide the comfort of knowing others are just as passionate about issues. No matter the country or continent, folks are incredibly engaged and hungry for the truth. If you want to create a deep, lasting connection with people, you have to be of value to them, and it's a blessing that many value what I post.

How important is technology to your particular kind of activism?

I am driven and dedicated to providing enlightening commentary on politics, finance, media, society, government, and the internet. Technology gives me a connection to the vast network of media outlets and independent online sources. Armed with great information - some of which the mainstream media never touches - I have great hope that I can help change political systems and atiitudes for the better. My readers understand this. It is extremely rewarding to see them take action and use all of constructive tools available to them. I can't tell you how much I love being an activist.

How would you describe yourself in 140 characters?

Persuer and sharer of truth that matters.

For more information on Marc Parent and the international issues that inspire and inform his activism, follow him on his Twitter feed and friend him on his Facebook page.

Author's Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 13 of the series: 16 Brilliant Business Minds on Twitter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Social Media "Influence"

The current social media conversation on Influence is something I really shy away from commenting on. And for good reason. I only joined Twitter and Facebook to do two things: promote my blog and meet great people. I believe I've done a fair job in that department.

But the other day, Todd Weiss, a great tweeter from New York City posted this on his feed: "If you want to be a person of influence, be of value to someone." Indeed, this completely sums up my thoughts on the matter. As we all know, social media started as an avenue for people to share. So it makes sense to use Twitter in this way. I love seeing people recommend folks in different fields or in various cities. When I log in, that's what I do. And when I log out, I take pride in knowing that I've helped enrich the Twitter Experience, and in a small or grand way, honored the roots of social media.

So let no one tell you differently: when any of us inspire, empower, share, connect and educate through social media, we are influential. Millions value this sort of engagement, so its a brand that should never be discarded. Never.

I don't mind talking about Influence. But I'll never let conversation about "what it is" get in the way of sharing practical ways to use social media influence for the greater good. That should be the ultimate goal.

Monday, November 8, 2010

President Obama's Interview on "60 Minutes" (VIDEO)

I liked President Obama's interview on 60 Minutes (above video). One of the most striking things about him is that he takes responsibility for his mistakes, miscues, and mishaps. That comes through in the interview above. Also, I like how he maintains a sense of civility with those who oppose every single piece of his agenda.

I am not one who is disappointed in the president. I remember what he promised. And, I know what he's done the last two years, and its quite significant, as this great, cleverly constructed website shows.

It doesn't matter if you voted for him or not. This interview above is a must see. It is Obama at his best.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

World's Smallest, Greenest Movie Theatre Rocks!

All Photos Courtesy of Facebook/The Sol Cinema

I saw this online and knew I had to share it. It is the world's smallest, most creative movie theatre. It seats 8 adults or 12 children. As you can see from the picture above, it also has a solar panel, making it environmentally cool. No, this is not the future of movie theatres. I see it as an example of the solutions people are putting in motion to save our planet.

This theatre is a powerful metaphor for the green revolution taking place across the globe. So let's celebrate this small marvel. And commit ourselves to saving our planet: one small, green movie theatre at a time :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Success of Twitter's Bulls and Beavers

This was cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Travel Section.

To world traveler Chris Burget, every minute of one's life should be an adventure. So he launched Bulls and Beavers, a fantastic online resource for the active outdoorsman. However, when he connected it to the excitement and global reach of Twitter, it became a social media success.

Burget has tapped into the outdoorsman market with a vengeance. He's done the research, and the outreach, and the results have been quite favorable. This has led to great partnerships with companies, and great appreciation for his content from conservation groups.

This all shows what is possible when businesses place a "targeted social media" strategy in their overall promotional efforts. Respected for his creative approach and energetic presence, Burget envisions an even bigger role for Bulls and Beavers going forward. He was kind enough to share his thoughts with me in a recent interview.


Chris Burget, Publisher of Bulls and Beavers

The "Outdoor Sportsman Culture" is huge business. How are using Twitter and social media to take advantage of that market?

I am a firm believer that the true heart of social media is the desire to share a story, to bond with others who posses similar passions and new adventures. This is my simple vision for Bulls & Beavers. I had a burning desire to share my enthusiasm and respect for nature and the outdoor sportsman lifestyle.

In the beginning, as a novice blogger, I wrote about interests and issues that were near and dear to me; things like the meaning of hunting as a tradition handed from generation to generation, as well as heate topics on current conservation issues such as protection of the grey wolf and wild horse round ups.

As my knowledge of blogging grew, I naturally encountered Twitter and found that my stories and articles resonated with the readers. From these readers came the organic, exponential growth which has now resulted in Bulls and Beavers being the number one followed Twitter account for fishing and hunting with over 20,000 engaged followers.

I like how your site embraces conservation. Certainly, as Rochelle Veturis and Olivia Zaleski point out, how we take care of our planet is one of the great issues of our time.

One of the things I am most proud of with respect to our Bulls and Beavers community is that readers of the blog consistently discuss multiple sides of complex outdoor issues with intelligence and respect.

As a nature lover, hunter, and entrepreneur, I understand and try to always communicate that the outdoor sportsman lifestyle has both impact upon, and great responsibility for the stewardship of natural resources and wildlife populations.

Our core site visitor, the outdoor sportsman or woman is an intelligent, enthusiastic, reflective and educated individual who has a sincere desire to enjoy his or her current passions, and works to ensure that those passions are available for future generations. Our readers understand that natural ecosystems are clearly impacted by the presence of man and when specie populations fluctuate there is a clear ripple effect.

Great story behind the name 'Bulls and Beavers'. Can you explain that for the readers?

The name is an interesting story with its roots grounded in homage both to my mother and father. As a young child, my dad would take me hunting for wild boar, deer and elk and deep sea salmon fishing. Before each hunt he would speak to me about respect for nature, as well as the skill and patience needed. To track a bull elk is to pursue one of the most regal and majestic creatures. This equals the bull component of the name in essence which represents not only wonderful memories with my dad, but also a deep reverence for nature and hunting.

While many people understand the icon of the majestic bull, fewer understand the rationale behind the beaver half of the logo. My maternal great-grandfather's company, Shea Construction, is a prominent company that has been involved in some iconic construction projects such as "The Golden Gate Bridge" and "The Hoover Dam." The construction industry' highest award for quality is called The Golden Beaver Award, which relates back to the Hoover Dam. To me, the beaver not only represents the industrious, likeable ecosystem builder, but it represents the "Best of the Best" which is an award given by Bulls & Beavers.

Where is your corporate headquarters?

I love answering this question. Well, prior to founding Bulls and Beavers, I had a very successful career in high-end home sales in both Colorado and Southern California. About 12 years ago I purchased a 2,000 sq. ft. cabin on the Big Lost River in the rugged mountains of central Idaho. This became my mental and physical escape and vacation spot from the demanding corporate sales regimen.

Three years ago, through the miracle of telecommunications, the cabin received the ability to have high-speed internet access. During this time, I often found myself day dreaming about my own serene riverside oasis and felt an ever-increasing desire to be based there full time. With laptop in hand, I took a relocation leap-of- faith and developed multi media outdoor brand, Bulls & Beavers, and began my first blog posts.

So, now my 2,000 sq. ft. cabin has conveniently turned into the corporate headquarters for Bulls and Beavers! Board meetings consist of a couple lounge chairs river-side, an ice chest full of cold beverages and some lucky fishing poles. When we convene for a lunch break or afternoon snack, it usually includes trying out a new bow and arrow, a game of horseshoes, or the occasional shooting contest.

Events at corporate headquarters are best described as harmonious gatherings of friends and family with sounds of children's laughter, the beauty of Idaho nature, and the warm feeling in one's soul of living the dream envisioned, and don't forget the s'mores. (Laughs)

To learn more about Chris Burget and the exciting world of camping, hunting, fishing, and the full range of the great outdoors, log on to his great website.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jon Stewart at "The Rally to Restore Sanity" (VIDEO)

No matter where you were in the world, when you saw the video above of Comedy Central's John Stewart's inspiring words at the Rally to Restore Sanity today, you felt like he was speaking to you. Democrat, Republican, Male, Female, Young Old, it didn't matter. My readers appreciate my blog for the diversity of topics I post here. But many also recognize that I rarely tackle political issues. Not because I am ill-equipped to articulate important issues, but because the conversation about domestic and foreign policy has become nasty and mean-spirited.

Everyone who follows this blog knows that I voted for President Obama, that I follow his work closely, and that 18 months later, I remain as enthusiastic and hopeful as the day I voted for for him. I don't agree with all of his policies or even his approach to policies I like. But he has remained sensible, and that is what we have to do in this country, and in this world. In disagreement, there must be sensible, civil way of engaging each other.

So I applaud Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for their efforts. Let's hope it has a major impact on our politics.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Amazing Outer Space Video by Father and Son

This has to be one of the best stories of the year. A father and son team made an absolutely amazing video of outer space with an iPhone. Yes, an iPhone. Trust me, this video is worth your time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

16 Brilliant Business Minds on Twitter

This is the latest post in our series, Twitter Powerhouses, which focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking. I co-wrote this post with my friend and fellow Huffingtonpost blogger Jim Thomas. This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Business Section.

Ideas can be powerful, and when they are combined with a strong will and a sense of optimism, they can become extraordinary. Business titans of the early 20th century - like Henry Ford, Hetty Green, and Madame C.J. Walker, to name just a few - understood this truth, and helped to build a powerful foundation upon which future generations have succeeded.

In fact, those who have succeeded in each of the three waves of the world economy, knew how to adapt to change, create opportunities for themselves and others, and how to turn an amazing dream into an economically constructive reality. This is some of what Huffington Post blogger Patricia Handschiegel has documented in her popular "The New Power Girls" series.

As we move deeper into this century, many want to know who some of the great business leaders of this millennium will be: whose work will empower the world, whose thoughts, freely shared in our new media, will be guides for other businesses, and whose legacies will inspire greatness. Each of the 16 people below more than qualify in this regard. They see business as a fascinating area where history and tradition meet new ideas and innovation. Indeed, they are dynamic examples of what is possible on the grand stage of the New Global Economy.

Sharon Hayes /@SharonHayes
A serious go-getter, she is a pro at the art of email
marketing and the selling/brokering of domain names.
Her great mix of entrepreneurial tips and
inspiration is a certified Twitter hit.

Xan Pearson /@xanpearson
She is Director of Corporate Partnerships for the youth
programs of the Chicago Bulls and White Sox. When she's
not putting together sponsorship deals, she consults clients
on the best social media strategies:

Scott Monty/@ScottMonty
As head of social media at Ford Motor Company,
Monty has (with stunning success) formed great
online relationships to promote his company's newer
fleet of greener, more fuel efficient cars.

Amy D. Howell /@HowellMarketing
For over fifteen years, her firm has been
a force in the the Memphis community, and
has partnered and/or worked with nonprofits,
government entities and Fortune 500 companies.

Ken Banks /@kenbanks
Publisher of one of my favorite sites,
Social Net Daily, he understands the
growing intersection of social media and business.

Deborah Weinstein /@DebWeinstein
President of the award-winning Strategic Objectives,
one of Toronto's shining stars. In fact, it is the only PR
firm in Canada to be recognized by the United Nations for
its great work in the PR field.

Sung Lee /@Sung_H_Lee
The head of Business Development and New Media at the
Radio Korea Media Group, his group's World Cup
viewing party was praised by the USATODAY as one of the
Top 20 Moments of the entire games. Very impressive!

Lauriana Zukowski /@LaurianaZ
Co-Founder and corporate visionary at the
excellent TweetMyJOBS, she is a popular
employment expert and observer of trends.

Susan P. Joyce /@JobHuntOrg
The operator of an awesome, award-winning site,
Joyce is also a popular employment expert and
online contributor.

Brett Petersel /@Brett
As head of Business Development, Community
& Events at Mashable, Petersel has been a key part of
that firm's amazing rise to the very top of social media.

Karima-Catherine /@karimacatherine
Respected for her quality over quantity approach,
she has the right type of Je ne sais quoi that is
powering her 3angelsmarketing.

Carrie Wilkerson /@barefoot_exec
A consultant for at home professionals, I came to
understand the importance of guestblogging by
reading The Barefoot Executive, her great business blog.

Steve Rubel /@steverubel
Though known to the world for his posts for
Forbes and AdAge, he is the Sr. Vice-President
and Director of Insights for Edelman Digital.

Christine Gallagher/@ChristineG
She started her first business at age 11. Now,
she teaches small businesses how to raise their profile
(and profits) by using the power of social media. Great insight.

Anne Deeter Gallaher/@AnneDGallaher
Her firm specializes in understanding the
"language of business" to give her clients an edge.
She gets kudos for recommending Dale Carnegie's
How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Dan Schawbel /@DanSchawbel
A partner at Millennial Branding, and
columnist at BusinessWeek,
his massive bestselling Me 2.0 is a great read.

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 12 of the series: Awesome Sauce: 16 Chefs on Twitter.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness in the Sunday Comics (VIDEO)

On Sunday, over 50 comics will be raising awareness about breast cancer, which affects both women and men. They are set to appear in American newspapers in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Friday, October 1, 2010

TwitPay: Using Twitter to Make a Difference

This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Impact Section.

Industry leaders and insiders agree: Twitter is having an amazing impact on nonprofits. Doctors Without Borders and Operation Smile use it to promote their health initiatives with underserved populations. The National Wildlife Federation and Global Green USA post facts about conservation as well as the benefits of going green.

This is tremendous news. I believe this can lay a foundation for how countless nonprofits can use Twitter going foward. Not simply as a place to post, but rather as a platform to participate. TwitPay is helping make this a reality. It has emerged as a great way to support nonprofits. It aims to create even more success stories and help them connect with their audience through social media.

When Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey tweeted "One can change the world with one hundred and forty characters," he wasn't kidding. Twitter has become a positive force for social change. And those who engage and respect the format, stand to benefit from the energy and vitality it produces. As my interview with Twitpay's staff reveals, they have done just that.

I love your concept. Explain how charities and nonprofits benefit from your program.

In today's world, social media is not optional for any nonprofit organization. Engaging supporters and advocates through social media is an effective and powerful way to create a direct and emotional connection with your cause. Also, for long-term viability, nonprofits must engage younger donors earlier, both to begin developing a giving behavior that will last a lifetime, as well as to claim advocates for your cause before someone else does. The younger demographic thrives in the social media arena and they feel empowered by it.

Social media is, without a doubt, the most efficient means of reaching that developing donor audience. However, the recurring question revolving around social media is whether or not it generates actual dollars. That's where we come in. We offer the ability to monetize social media, to allow donors to support a cause through a transaction taking place entirely within their social media interface. And unlike communication and payment tools of the past, we provide a means for the rapid (dare I say viral?) spread of the nonprofits message well beyond their direct friends and followers.

What has the response been like?

Our clients love how easy our system is to integrate and operate, the exposure and response that they're seeing, and the growth potential of the platform. Users (donors) seem to appreciate the ability to make a quick financial contribution, while also encouraging their followers to get involved. This is a new behavior, though, so new user adoption is just beginning to build. The more nonprofits that begin to use Twitpay's Social Giving application, the faster users will continue to adopt this new donation method.

Many believe programs like this will be permanent parts of nonprofit fundraising. How do you see it?

Absolutely! Fewer and fewer people are donating the "old fashioned" way with paper checks. Nonprofit organizations are looking for new programs like ours that enable social interaction. Fundraising is all about creating an emotional connection. Social media allows an organization to make that connection with a large number of people at a very low cost. Whenever that connection is made, and in whatever medium, the organization has to be ready, willing and able to accept any contribution that the individual is willing to make. Twitpay provides the means to do that.

To better understand Twipay's nonprofit, fundraising activities, contact them at

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Crusader for Charity

This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Impact Section.

Through recession, natural disaster, war, and any other challenge to humanity, one thing remains constant: the need for sharing and giving to improve lives in every corner of the globe. Drawing from her extensive background in social work and passion for service, Jessica Sweet started Wishingwell Consulting, a great way to meet that need.

Wishingwell is riding a wave of innovative thinking this year that started with Mobile Giving, which was instrumental in fundraising efforts for Haiti. As we turn the page on what has been a tough few years in the community of charities, there are so many reasons to be excited about what the next decade will bring. Wishingwell, is one of those reasons.

It's visionary founder, Jessica Sweet, is everything you would expect: constructive, focused, accomplished, and engaged. And she does not disappoint. You'll love her perspective and appreciate her commitment.

In a global economy that's struggling, how are you managing to convince people to give to charity?

It isn't my role to convince anyone to give. I talk about the benefits of giving, and encourage people to give, but I'm not going to put the "hard sell" on anyone. My philosophy is that giving should feel good, and give something back to you.

That thinking is already in place in the business world--many businesses see that giving (whether structured as cause marketing or volunteering or corporate philanthropy) is an investment in their business. There is an upfront cost, but the payoff is worth it. Individual donors usually have an intrinsic motivation to give, but they might have trouble figuring out how to give in a way that works for him or her. I help people and businesses focus on what they really value and how they believe change occurs, and help them understand their own goals for change. I concentrate on making giving a rewarding experience--so much so that the incentive to do it (and keep doing it) is built right in.

I think more and more people are beginning to understand that simply throwing money at a problem isn't enough--there has to be a strategy behind your giving. I work to give people peace of mind so that, when they go to bed at night, they know that there is a concrete plan in place that will help them do their part to make an impact on the piece of the world they care about most.

So for me, it's less about convincing people that they can give, and more about giving those with a desire to help and the means to do so a path to make a real difference while giving back to themselves as well.

Dr. Maya Angelou once noted that "the act of giving" tends to liberate the giver. What's your view?

I agree, but I don't think that just any giving accomplishes liberation. I believe Dr. Angelou is alluding to freeing ourselves from a feeling of being disconnected from the world around us--of ennui, the general lack of direction or meaning in life and disconnection from others. In my opinion, in order to reach the liberation that Dr. Angelou speaks of, our giving needs to meet a set of universal standards.

(1) Give if it comes from your heart. When some people think of giving, they think of ending up with less or going without in terms of finances, time, or energy. Sometimes this is real, and sometimes it's about a person's mindset. Whatever the source, until something changes, this person shouldn't give and expect to have great things happen for them. We need to honor ourselves and understand our limitations while growing through them. Giving should feel like a beautiful thing, and should help us feel that we have more, not less. If you give because you want to and not because you think you should, one condition is met.

(2) We should not neglect ourselves or give until it hurts. A world in which one problem is alleviated only by causing suffering for another person doesn't make sense to me. Healing can only occur if the giver isn't harmed.

(3) The cause should resonate deeply with the giver. When you care about something deeply, it feels like a privilege to be able to make a positive impact. The act of giving should help you feel empowered, and that you can do something about what's important to you, rather than feeling held hostage by what is wrong with the world.

(4) The cause should help you connect with others. Many of us struggle with feeling disconnected and that something is missing in life. Life can become mundane unless we have real human connections based on working to accomplish something meaningful. When you give in a way that helps you get in touch with a sense of brotherhood, you free yourself from the fear that you are alone and that life is meaningless.

All together, this turns giving into something that's transformative. It puts us in context as human beings and lets us see the importance--and the meaning--of taking care of others as well as taking care of ourselves. We can understand why when we feel that life is missing something, only by giving something away can we get it back; only then are we free.

Would you say that what you're doing is helping to set the tone for charitable giving for the long term?

I certainly hope so. In fact, I believe this model for charitable giving is the next generation of thinking. My goal isn't simply to help people give a few dollars. It's to help people feel empowered. I want people to understand themselves and what really matters to them; I want people to realize that there is something that can be done to improve the problems they see; and I want people to experience a sense of fulfillment from being engaged in something meaningful. This model for giving does all of that. Done the right way, giving is a powerful thing--it's much more than just writing a check to the next charity that asks. When we uncover what we, as individuals, are intrinsically motivated to accomplish, we begin to leverage a colossal force--and that is when change truly occurs.

To contact Jessica Sweet about Wishingwell and other 'Cause Marketing' projects, fan her on her Facebook Page or follow her on her Twitter feed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Jermaine's Tribute to Michael Jackson

With a little more than a year after his untimely passing, Michael Jackson may not be physically here, but his brother Jermaine is making sure he will always be with us in spirit. On October 2nd, Jermaine will pay tribute to his brother Michael and the entire Jackson Family at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

This is long overdue...and very exciting.

The Jackson Family is like royalty to me. Their music was the soundtrack of my youth. It got me through my shyness as a kid and helped me impress the girls with my dance moves. It gave so much meaning to my life, and, in a way that I've never been able to explain, it showed me what was possible with my own dreams.

Picture of Michael and Jermaine from the 1980s

I choose to embrace the positive aspects of the singers and musicians I grew up with. Michael Jackson is no different. His Off The Wall album is my all-time favorite. It came out in the disco era, but helped usher in a new sound for the early 1980s. His videos made MTV a worldwide phenomenon, and his corporate partnerships laid the foundation for future celebrity endorsement deals.

Yes, I'm sure the tribute will be quite emotional but also well-received. Complemented with an 11 piece band and vocals from younger members of the family, Jermaine will see to it that the genuis and legacy of his brother Michael is honored with respect. He will be remembered the way he should be: devoted father, world citizen, supporter of charities, and most of all, the thriller.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Amazing Video! Whoa!

This is just amazing! But even the word amazing doesn't do it any justice. Videographer Simon Christen has produced some great work over the years. But he has clearly outdone himself this time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Awesome Sauce: 16 Chefs on Twitter

This is the latest post in our series, TwitterPowerhouses, which focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking. I co-wrote this post with my friend and fellow Huffingtonpost blogger Jamie Schler. This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Food Section.

Food nourishes both the body and soul; it is an adventure in taste, sound, color, texture, and smell. Food is emotional, carrying us back to our childhood or allowing us to travel far off to a distant, exotic land. It is both sensual and healing, and preparing our favorite dish - from a bit of comfort food to a great holiday feast - is a wonderful way to offer a part of ourselves to those whom we love.

Food has always been our passion. Jamie, an expat in a culturally mixed marriage, loves experimenting with, and learning about, the foods, traditions and customs from all over the world. The Mille-feuille of France. The Bocaditos of Argentina. The Tandoori Dishes of India. And, in Ivory Coast, there's kedjenou. Like music, food is a universal language. Jamie's blog, Life's a Feast, is a beautiful, culinary playground that speaks the language.

This is why we are excited about the chefs that are profiled in this piece. They share this passion. Rather than use twitter as simply a promotional tool for their own recipes, they see it as a meeting place where food bloggers, professional foodies, cookbook authors and specialists are happy to chat, exchange links, and bring the sizzle! So pour on the awesome sauce for these 16 Twitter Powerhouses.

Helene Dujardin /@SweetTartelette
Former pastry chef, now professional food stylist and photographer, Helene
Dujardin is known to bloggers around the world as the Macaron Queen: her
flavor combinations amaze! Check out her work at Mytartelette.

John-Bryan Hopkins /@Foodimentary
A blogger for MyRecipes, Hopkins is a Twitter legend. He was one of first
people to tweet about food. His feed, with info on food culture and
trivia, is a two time Winner of the Shorty Awards, Twitter's Oscars.

Debbie Lee /@SeoultoSoul
A season 5 finalist of "The Next Food Network Star", Lee is
one of the darlings of Hollywood. She has the buzz that will
likely mean big things in 2011 for her unique Korean and Southern dishes.

Rick Bakas /@RickBakas
The author of "Quick Bites", Bakas is a noted wine expert
and social media director for Saint Supery Vineyards
and Winery in Napa Valley. He shares his food
and wine tips at

Dorie Greenspan /@doriegreenspan
The author of 10 cookbooks, including Baking With Julia (Child, of course)
and the very popular Baking From My Home to Yours, Dorie is very well
known and her recipes are recreated by many across the blogosphere!

Max Berry /@NU_Fit
This natural chef and personal trainer has great recipes ranging from
organic ketchup to wild salmon with blueberry-basil salsa. Max's passion
for heathy eating is legendary.

Shuna Fish Lydon /@shunafish
Professional pastry chef now working in NYC with a popular blog,
Shuna tweets about life behind the scenes in a restaurant,
giving valuable info and tips along the way.

Dan Lepard /@dan_lepard
An award winning baker and cookbook author based in
London, Dan's popular website with recipes and news
also has a great forum for discussion and ideas.

Laura Levy/@LaurasRecipes
Creator of the popular recipe blog LaurasBestRecipes,
this business owner and visionary has a highly anticipated book of
delicious delights on the way in early 2011.

Florentina /@CiaoFlorentina
As host of, she provides enlightened, Twitter-licious
commentary on all things "Peace, Love and Food". Her pasta and
risotto dishes are best friends to the taste buds.

Peter Minaki /@kalofagas
Kalofagas means Gourmet in Greek, and nothing describes Peter better!
A Canadian, he's an amazing cook and expert on all things Greek,
especially food! His blog and tweets are great fun!

Food Blog Forum, started by Jaden and Scott Hair (of Steamy Kitchen)
and Todd Porter and Diane Cy (of White on Rice Couple), is a fantastic website.
No, this isn't one person. But they all speak with one voice.
The tweets includes links to posts about food
styling, technology, social media, etc.

Bridget Davis /@Bridget_Cooks
"Flavor profiler and culinary craftsman", Davis' recipes are known
throughout South East Asia and Australia. Her blog,
The Internet Chef, is a certified must read.

Debbie Frangipane /@dolcedebbie
Executive Chef and Culinary Director for Savory Adventures,
Debbie hosts luxury getaways to Italy's most amazing destinations. Her recipes
and tireless work on behalf of charities gets major kudos.

Giuliano Hazan /@Giulianohazan


Lael Hazan /@educatedpalate

Giuliano is a renowned Italian chef and cookbook author, who, with his wife
Lael, runs cooking schools on two continents. They are contributing editors on
Saveur, and their blog is a warm, loving home of
fabulous Italian recipes.

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 12 of the series: Aaron Lee on Influence and the Future of Social Media.