Thursday, April 29, 2010

Facebook Group Praying for Obama's Death? Are you Kidding Me?

Though I don't write regularly about politics on this blog, I am more than aware of the daily (even hourly) ugliness President Obama and his family have had to endure. I won't be recounting any of that in this piece. But, I do want to shed light on something that wasn't on my radar until today: a Facebook Group with a million followers praying for the death of Barack Obama.

Truly, disgusting.

I am not going to argue the First Amendment about this matter. But, I believe Facebook has a duty, and a responsibility to take the page down. Not because millions more find it offensive, but, because of the record number of death threats to President Obama. I don't know what can be done, but I am mortified.

I spent two years (Spring 2007 to Fall 2008) volunteering for the Obama Campaign, and creating a 50 State "email" Strategy to combat the vicious rumors and innuendo that were circulating about him on the web. If I have to dust off my old operation to assist him in what will likely be an ugly, hysteria filled 2012, I'll likely point to this Facebook page of "Obama Death Proponents" as the thing that drove me out of retirement.

Monday, April 19, 2010

16 People on Twitter Who Inspire the World

This is the latest post in the series, TwitterPowerhouses. It focuses on the contributions of people who've helped to expand, influence, and redefine how we view social networking. This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Living Section.

What inspires you? The answer to that question can be found in the timeless words of a visionary leader or literary giant, the stunning beauty of historical landmarks and modern marvels, or the fighting spirit and the responsibility to support causes that speak to the very best of what humanity has to offer. Or, all of the above.

Truly, inspiration is a brand than can never be oversold. This is why I am excited about profiling the 16 people below. They are among the most respected, motivational voices on Twitter today. They inspire hundreds of thousands with their daily dose of gratitude, use of icons, thought-provoking blogs, support for nonprofits, and a great mix of uplifting quotes and affirmations.

In one of his great pieces on inspiration, Russell Simmons writes,

We are thinking about the question "What inspires you?" and we are inspired by compassionate love. With great love all things are possible. This is true. In Mahatma Gandhi's words, "love is the strongest force the world possesses, and yet it is the humblest imaginable." Mother Teresa spent her life working to give a voice to the poor and to promoting love as an essential ingredient to life. Her life devoted to the poor was among the richest in human history. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years imprisoned because of his actions to end the loveless and dehumanizing oppression of Apartheid.
Indeed, our lives are wonderfully defined, and refined, by the gravitational pull of positive people. We're drawn to what they promote, how they express themselves, and most of all, how their words line up with their actions. This is what Simmons is talking about. And just as we are inspired by the figures he mentioned, legions are also inspired by the 16 TwitterPowerhouses below. Men and women who are as richly diverse and captivating as the world we all inhabit.

Marcome / @Marcome
An accomplished singer/songwriter from Canada, she created
"Twitter me Some Love", an inspirational song which has become a
certified viral hit. Her "New World Music" is truly fascinating.

Lotay Yang / @Lotay
Based in Los Angeles, CA, he is the founder of Black Card Circle, an
elite social network of prominent business professionals, who use their access, connections and wealth to benefit charitable organizations worldwide.

Mia Rose / @DrMiaRose
One of Australia's most celebrated and respected
photographers and relationship therapists. Her blog is a great read
that tackles a variety of issues. Her Healing Love Notes are hot!

Joseph Ranseth / @JosephRanseth
Ranseth routinely travel throughout North America to meet
and connect with his friends on Twitter. His life's mission is to
touch lives & love using social media.

Ann Farkas / @TrendyDC
Ann has spent the last two years concentrating on the needs of
others: traveling, supporting an orphanage in Peru. This former
corporate exec is a serious Twitter favorite.

Lori Moreno / @LoriMoreno
A former corporate attorney, Moreno has found her calling, and
maintains a great site with news, love and romance, and her unique
brand of feel-good content.

Arun Charles / @LiveTorque
This awesome feed is maintained by Arun Charles, and has one of
the most pleasant and distinctive avatars on the site. A smile will
surely become your best friend in the world.

LollyDaskal / @LollyDaskal
Daskal is a speaker and author who uses her popular blog
Lead from Within to help others overcome obstacles and setbacks,
and empowering others to be their most Successful Self.

Mlomb / Mlomb
A mobile apps developer who also blogs, his page includes
interesting "cool facts" about civilization. He lives by the words:
"Creativity requires the courage to let go of uncertainties."

Amy Neumann / @CharityIdeas
Neumann is apart of The United Way Emerging Leaders Council, and
tweets about ways to use social media for non-profits. Her website
details her dedication to helping people and giving back.

Dr Jefferson Boggs / @DrJeffersnBoggs
More than anything else, Love anchors his feed. Love for art.
Love for social networks. And, love for humanity. His tweets reflect
his travels to Paris and Rio, as well as the positive experiences shaping his life.

Eleesha / @Eleesha
Eleesha is a popular author, blogger, and "sharer of words of
inspiration", affirmations, and positive thoughts. Her blend of
words and icons is intoxicating.

Ariaa Jaeger / @AriaaJaeger
Life coach, vocalist, and humanitarian, Jaeger uses her popular
music and words to help foster and create the positive things she
wants to see in the world. Her Ariaaisms are real jewels.

Marvin Towler / @MarvinTowler
A consciousness explorer, Towler believes inspiration is a necessary
component to achieving anything in life. The historical and contemporary substance of his tweets reflect his association with the Agape Spiritual Center.

Dahara / @Dahara
Business owner, lawyer, and artist, Dahara's tweets have propelled
her to one of the most retweeted individuals on the site. Her
rescue work with animals is truly inspiring.

Farrukh Siddiqui / @FarrukhSiddiqui
Siddiqui's tweets not give the reader a glimpse into his soul,
but also his love and passion for the people, geography and history
of Pakistan. His blog rocks.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pioneering Program for the Homeless

There haven't been a great deal of inspiring stories coming out about the homeless. This is why I was excited to hear about Haven for Hope, located in San Antonio. It's a new, 37-acre campus that will begin housing the homeless in a few weeks.

Thousands will live in the dorms, and will receive meals and mental health services. This was created to help the the homeless transition into meaningful employment and stable housing.

There's a lot of buzz around the program. The talk is that if this works as well as its organizers believe, it could become a model for homeless services worldwide.

The CNN video below provides more context.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Twitter, and the Inspiration of Iconic88

This is the fourth post in our 12-part 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 it with fellow Huffingtonpost blogger Yasamin Beitollahi. This is cross-posted in the Huffingtonpost Living Section.

The world has always had a thirst, and a yearning for positive engagement. The more we connect, the more we become committed to bridging cultural divides; to evolving solutions to centuries old conflicts; and to moving the conversation forward about what it means to be a global citizen.

Twitter has become a powerful medium to achieve this vision, and Mahei Foliaki, who tweets under the name Iconic88, has come to represent its unmistakable substance. Affectionately known as the 'Chief Happiness Officer', Foliaki is one of the most dynamic personalities in social media today.

His Twitter page is a great mix of quotes, affirmations, and fantastic tips and info. We tell all of our friends that only surgery could remove the smiles generated by his content. This is true. Both substantively and stylistically, his page a great experience, and a huge platform for the big ideas that keep his followers informed, and empowered.

Pulitzer Prize winning writer Edith Wharton once said, "There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." It's easy to see how Mahei Foliaki embodies this statement. We guarantee that you'll be enlightened by the positive words, and impressed with the vision, of this true Twitter powerhouse.

How have you used Twitter to connect with your audience?

Twitter has been an amazing force in my life. I've made so many meaning connections on continent after continent. Words are powerful, so I am careful about what I put out in the universe. Yes, there are people on Twitter who've try to be divisive and self-centered, but they've not had success. And this is a key point. I don't define "success" in terms of followers and massive self-promoting tweets. I define it in terms of the people I've connected with. And if you want to connect and grow in Twitter's 140 character format, I have two pieces of advice, especially for new tweeters: (1) "Twitter Success = sharing, caring, listening, humor and being yourself"; (2) The Power of Twitter is in your sharing, not your selling". If you follow these tips, you can't go wrong. The bottom line is: "be real". It pays to tweet a nicer version of yourself. Are you tweeting or retweeting something that will make a difference in your life, or in the lives of others? Elevate the medium. You need to develop a WOW experience or else you'll just be apart of the "noise". WOW is a signal and a frequency. It's the fuel for stimulating meaningful conversation. You're going to meet some amazing people on Twitter, so enjoy the experience.

What inspires you?

For me, this is a question of who inspires me and where it all started. My parents and my extended family inspire me. Both my parents moved from a small country in the South Pacific called the Kingdom of Tonga, to New Zealand many years ago. You can imagine the challenges they had to overcome: new language, new traditions, and new people. They adapted to survive in a new country. My parents taught me something powerful: in an environment of unconditional love and support, and with an unshakable belief in achieving your dreams, we are all capable of overcoming the challenges that life throws our way.

My family, friends, and countless others have helped shape me into the person I am today. We Tongans lead with love ('Ofa' in our language) and humility. So my objective is to always ensure that someone leaves me more enriched than we met. I am only a reflection of the foundation of these rich cultural values. This is what I try to transmit through Twitter. I am grateful for every day that I live, and I am inspired by the sense of humanity I learned at an early age.

What is the story behind the name Iconic88?

It's a name I've been using B.T. (Before Twitter). To me, it's about the people, architecture, words, and events that mean so much to us. You know, those moments that are timeless, and yes, iconic. Stay with me on this for a second. Years ago I was in India standing in front of the Taj Mahal, and it really hit home for me. It was a childhood dream come true. See, my family has an orphanage we support in Fiji, and some of the children there are Indian. This is where my affection for India and desire to see the world grew. I spent a lot of time there growing up. It made me appreciate my family, and the very basic things. In fact, my aunt, who started the home, is known as the "Mother Teresa of the South Pacific". She gives the very best of herself to children have no family, no home, and most of all, no love. She's an amazing woman. My time at the orphanage was an iconic moment in my life. The number 88 in my name stems from my love for the number 8. Not only is it my favourite number, but it also represents infinity and timelessness, and represents two 'kava circles'. In Tonga, we have a traditional ceremonial drink called 'kava', which is an integral part of our cultural heritage. This is a drink that is shared within a circle, a circle of 'talanoa' or conversation. So 88 represents 4 kava circles to double the power. Thus, the name Iconic88 was born.

Tell us about your unique Twitter avatar. It has to be among of the most instantly recognizable.

My first avatar was a picture of myself standing in front of the Taj_Mahal. That evolved into a picture of the ice cream. One day, I was out with Bridget Davis near the famous Opera House here in Sydney (Australia). I am happy we took a picture because when I made it my avatar, people loved it. Since that day, its grown into its own brand, so to speak. So I kept it. I think it reinforces the positive, fun vibe I like to foster on my Twitter feed. The world needs to feel good. Hopefully I'm doing my part.

How would you define yourself in 140 characters?

Thankful for everyone who has helped shape my presence on Twitter.

To read more about Mahei Foliaki's awesome approach to social media, follow him on his Twitter feed.

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 3 of the series: Jazz Baker: Social Media Visionary.