Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year



Wow. It was great 2011. Thanks to all of my readers for making it the best year yet. It's been rewarding responding to comments, researching tips emailed to me from readers, and simply trying to keep my blog updated, readable, and relevant. So much to look forward to in 2012...

Expect the same analysis of trends and shifts in technology, charity, sustainablity, business, media, and other areas. Readers love this blog's inclusion of guest posts, and are strongly supportive of pieces where I collaborate with other bloggers. I read your emails, tweets, comments, and I am constantly figuring out how to improve the brand.

There will also be a greater emphasis on interviews in 2012. I recently posted something on my Facebook Timeline"When writing the story of your life, don't let anyone else hold the pen." I love this.  So many people around the world itching to share their story, and aren't being heard. I want to make sure that my blog (and my work in general) remains a reliable platform for them. So look for the Twitter Powerhouses Series I co-founded with Huffington Post blogger Yasamin Beitollahi to "take it up a notch", so to speak. The same goes for my work with Smedio. More interviews, and few awesome surprises. Stay tuned...

A quick note to my readers... It's important to be mindful of the past, while always looking forward, shooting for greater heights. I've had success in 2011, and I've experienced failure too. What is life without the highs and the lows, right? I've learned so much from all of it, and I'm using it as a foundation for 2012. So apply the lessons you've learned and make it the best year ever. Again, I thank you.

Serious in my thoughts and actions,

~2morrowKnight

Friday, December 16, 2011

Like Water, For Charity

Water covers less than 70% of the earth, but less than 70% is drinkable. In fact, 443 million school days are lost each year due to water related-illnesses. So 'clean water' is not simply a health issue, but a way to empower families and communities. It is one of the defining, moral issues of our time, and it requires serious action.

This is why I joined the #12DaysofGiving, a twelve-day bonanza of giving, sharing, and promoting social good from December 13th to Christmas Eve. Spearheading this amazing effort are do-gooders Amy Neumann, Joseph Ranseth, and Katie McCormick. They are aiming to raise a combined $12,000 for the causes and charities highlighted.

Of the twelve charities, I chose Charity: Water, because of their amazing efforts to bring clean, safe drinking water to billions of people who don't have it. A billion people. That's one in every 8 of us. Charity: Water responds to the need by building freshwater wells, rainwater catchments and sand filters. These are transforming lives in places where "the only source of water is a polluted swamp."

Photo Courtesy of Charity: Water

So far, in nineteen countries, over forty-hundred projects have been funded, meaning two million people will receive clean water.Over the years, Twitter's Alyssa Milano has been a consistent supporter of their work, raising both money and awareness. This CBS story cemented just how highly regarded their work is.

How can you help? Go to social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, LinkedIn, Chime.in and then share this post. You can also make a small donation at the Charity: Water page on Crowdrise.com/12DaysofGiving. The World Health Organization says that for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, there is an economic return between $3 and $34. So your Charity: Water donation will be a gift that truly keeps on giving.

I am so honored to work with the amazing #12DaysofGiving Team. This inspiring, twelve-day initiative is just what we need for the holiday season. Something that greatly connects us to the world's pain, and moves us to do something extraordinary.

Happy holidays everyone! Keep on giving.

~2K :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

TIME Magazine's 2011 "Person of the Year"

As a kid, I always looked forward to whom TIME Magazine was going to pick for its "Person of the Year". In my family, it was always something we talked about and debated. So when TIME chose "the protestor" as its 2011 Person of The Year this morning, I received lots of emails and calls from family elders. Some thought Steve Jobs deserved it, while others (like me) thought Congresswoman Gabby Giffords would get it.

But as TIME Magazine (and everyone who corresponded with me today) acknowledges, 2011 protests worldwide - from New York City to Cairo to London - have profoundly impacted the way we live, and what we are discussing. These demonstrations were aided largely by social media giants like Facebook and Twitter. I wrote about social media's role in the Cairo protests back in February.

Certainly, the 2011 choice is very timely. Great analysis of their selection on the website, and in the video below.

WATCH:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Awesome Podcast with Claire Diaz-Ortiz and Amy Neumann

Excuse my over-excited title. I'm just excited about the newest podcast (below) from Twitter's Claire Diaz-Ortiz. For those of you unfamiliar with her, she is the head of social innovation at Twitter, and writes about trends and shifts in international philanthropy. In other words, she rocks.

So does my good friend Amy Neumann, who Claire interviews. Anyone into all things "social good" will consider this a treat. Both women symbolize what is fantastic about philanthropy and "giving back". This is a great, fascinating interview: relevant information, interesting tips, social media figures, etc. 

LISTEN:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why Chime.in is Worth the Login


Above is my page on Chime.in, the new social network that is one of the most exciting new things in tech. You connect with groups of people and build communities around their interests. I love it. Though shopped by some as a "twitter competitor", I believe it stands strong by itself without any need for comparisons. 

Yes, there will be comparisons. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and GooglePlus have all tried to carve out an identity separate from other sites. This looks to be even harder in the coming years as smaller networks are expected to emerge to take their share of the social landscape. 

Right now, Chime.in is one of the best in social media. Seriously. It is clear that Uber Media founder Bill Gross and his team have done their homework on the other sites, and have integrated their own specific ideas to create something unique. Tech editor Bianca Bosker explains:
The site allows users to tag their chimes with up to five interests such as "Apple" or "architecture", and let's people subscribe to updates about a particular topic, essentially a stream of "chimes"that are aggregated based on the tags authors have added to their posts. As on Twitter, users can subscribe to each others' feeds, though Chime.in offers additional control over what appears in their "chimeline": Individuals can choose to receive only updates pertaining to a particular subject..."
This is why Gross calls Chime.in an "interest network", a term that is also a recognition of its creative genius. It's worth a try. So when you get moment, sign up, log in and chime in.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Amit Gupta Needs Your Help

Social media has toppled governments, marketed products, and is always inspiring and generating ideas for greater innovation. But when it involves the social good, the results are often amazing. The campaign to get Amit Gupta a bone marrow transplant is a prime example. Gupta, the founder of photojojo, was diagnosed with acute leukemia.

Through mostly Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, people - from India to the United States - are spreading the word, participating in donor drives, and ordering a free test kit. As of November 11, 2011, there are just less than 20 days left to find him a match.

Can Social Media Save Amit Gupta? Porter Gale asks. I'm optimistic that it can.

WATCH:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

International Brands (Infographic)

A great infographic from Havas Media! It was in the brilliant new post - "Meaningful Brands" - by strategist Christel Quek, one of Havas' rising stars, and one of the most respected voices in social media today. When you discuss global brands and how they impact our lives, you have to analyze all of the relevant aspects. No shortcuts.

This is value of this infographic. The scope and depth is impressive. So is Christel's spot on analysis of the ten statistics that make it standout. It's hard to not be impressed. This could easily fit in with the consistently effective infographics we see from the Gates Foundation.

http://ladyxtel.com/meaningful-brands-havas-media/

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Passionistas

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 it with Ann Tran and Elianne Ramos


This is cross-posted in the Huffington Post Women Section.


We are all impressed by those who create value in the lives of others, work tirelessly to accomplish their dreams and embody the purpose-driven life they often reference in their conversation. Passion is their fuel. It adds depth and energy to their vision, and provides a spark to create something timeless and substantive. As Arianna Huffington so brilliantly states, "passion is the key to success." Writer Gretchen Rubin shares a similar thought:
A passion gives you a reason to keep learning and to work toward mastery. It can often give you a reason to travel, and therefore to have the new experiences so key to happiness. It gives you something in common with other people, and so fosters social bonds. It gives you purpose. It often has a satisfying physical aspect -- rock-climbing, fly-fishing, knitting. It gives meaningful structure to your time. It makes the world a richer place.
In the Nineteenth Century, inventor Ada Augusta Lovelace provided concepts and technical framework for what is recognized as an early computer. Over 100 years later, in the latter part of the Twentieth Century, leaders Patsy Takemoto Mink, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Shirley Chisholm would all make history of their own. Their accomplishments, and those of many, many others, are rightly celebrated for the lasting impact they have had on our lives. Indeed, centuries and decades come and go, but the passion to make it happen remains the same.


If it's true that passion is defined as an intense, driving, or excitable feeling or conviction, then these women profiled in this post are its prime example. The fact that each one of them is passionate about different things is not coincidental: they represent the diversity of voices in our world who have found a channel for their ideas and use them to better not just their own life, but the lives of those around them. What makes their work unique is its focus, determination, and intensity. What drives it, as evident by their actions, is passion.


Porter Gale 
Porter Gale, former VP at Virgin America, is a bonafide global citizen. A popular and respected
blogger for Huffington Post and AdAge, she’s very passionate about new media and how we can
use it to create positive change and develop connections. She’s launching a highly-anticipated
business venture in 2012. She told us: “Every day is a gift. My happiness level is
increasing with age.”


The Single Woman
TheSinglewoman, brimming with quotes and affirmations to help you ‘Seize the Day’! When
Oprah Winfrey expressed gratitude about it on her Twitter feed, there was no doubt that it had
struck a chord with a global audience. It’s a phenomenon. The posts are not only passionate,
but elegant.


Olivia Zaleski
A world-renowned authority on environmental issues, Olivia Zaleski is passionate about green technology. She promotes green alternatives in her speeches and public appearances. The first editor of the
Huffington Post Green Section and a former reporter with CNN, Zaleski is now a new media correspondent with The Daily, the first national daily news publication created for the iPad.


Lily Jang
The beautiful world of Lily Jang: she speaks three languages and is one of the most celebrated journalists in social media because of the way she stays connected to her fans. Her great profiles and reports reverberate far beyond her viewership.


Isa Zapata
Isa Zapata brings a whimsical and vibrant element to her art, combining her
Latin roots with eclectic sensibility. Using social media for social good, Isa Zapata is using Twitter, Facebook and her blog to spread the word about her nonprofit endeavors. Her statement to us: "I want to make people happy with my art, and remind everyone that life is simple and beautiful."


Britt Michaelian
Britt Michaelian is known as the Smart Start Up Coach for Lifestyle
Entrepreneurs at Work Smart Lifestyle, where she helps aspiring entrepreneurs design businesses
that allow them to pursue their dream lifestyle. Britt is also Co-Founder of Social Media Girlfriends,
a fast-growing social media community for women to connect, support and encourage each other to be the best they can be.


Carla Young
Founder & Publisher of  Momeo Magazine and Entrepreneurial Moms, Carla Young is an inspiration many. With a dedicated staff and loyal following, she is able to focus singularly on her passion for helping ‘mom bloggers’ and momprepreneurs.


Natalie McNeal
A specialist on career development and a savings expert for geezeo.com, Natalie P. McNeal is the author The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up the Fabulous Life.
In fact, the word “Frugalista”, which she owns a trademark for, was a ‘Word of the Year’ finalist by
Oxford University Press.


Green Girls
GreenGirls, the creation of the eco-minded Apple Levy, is a great resource of articles, blogs,
videos and other content highlighting a green lifestyle. Her work with eco-conscious
celebrities is well-known


Sarah Austin
A smart popular culture observer with keen eye for what’s hot, and a knack for epic videography.
This is how many describe Sarah Austin. And they’re correct. She's an angel investor in a
tech start-up, and her Pop17 site, which deserves its own prime time show,
profiles great names in the world of social media.

Click here to see the entire list of 41 women in this Passionistas post.
Authors Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 21 of the series: 39 Inspiring Men and Their Passion for Charity.

Hillary Clinton on the World Stage


Back in 2008, a mere two weeks after the presidential election, Huffington Post blogger Matt Littman, in a piece titled What Makes a Great Secretary of State?, cheered openly for Hillary Clinton to take her current position:
At a time when the world is yearning to see America return to the forefront of global leadership, Secretary Clinton can lead the charge. She already may be a historic figure, embraced by the world community, but in this role, she would add significant international achievements to her legend.
That was 2008. And three years later, we see just how brilliant Clinton's foreign policy leadership has been.  She has been an amazing force in front of the cameras and behind the scenes. From the uprisings in Northern Africa, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestine conflict, and the perpetually perplexing negotiations with North Korea, her vision is making a big difference.


Whatever differences Obama and Clinton have, they have buried them for the good of diplomacy and national security. And we have all benefited from their partnership. So its easy to see why TIME Magazine (above) put her on their current cover. She has used her power in a very smart way, and this has only elevated her throughout the world.


Though Clinton wants to step down from her post in November 2012, I hope she stays another four years. She is already one of the best U.S. Secretaries of State in history.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

For Tessa Kravitz, Social is the Business

I must admit: it’s always great talking with someone who doesn’t think being business-savvy and social media inspired are incompatible. This is what you get when you have an extended conversation with Tessa Kravitz, one of the busiest people I know. It’s not just about building a large following she told me, but doing your best to consistently and engage that following, no matter the size.


From the Business Examiner to small business clients, her digital philosophy of “engage, empower and share” has its fans. Including me. While some are still unwilling to embrace and utilize popular platforms like Twitter and Facebook, Kravitz believes they are vital to thriving in the 21st Century Economy. As an entrepreneur, she looks at both sides of the coin, and tests every angle before making her judgment. This approach works well, and often wins over the social media skeptics.


You have a diverse group of business clients. How do you manage all of them online, and connect with a wide range of customers? 

Business visionary Teresa Kravitz
I use a few different tools to manage their online presence.  TweetDeck for Chrome is my favorite for managing Twitter from a computer (versus a phone), I like it because I can see all the mentions from the various accounts I manage in one column. On my phone I use Plume, which also gives me the mentions for multiple accounts in one column. For Facebook notifications I use Postling so I am instantly notified when someone posts and I can send the email to my contact when I need to get additional information to post. 

To find content I use Stumbleupon and also look over content that companies in their industry post and sometimes share that too.  I aim for 'informative and interesting' when I post, trying to keep the sales pitches to a minimum. We do use social media to showcase new items, sales, events, and anything else followers might want to know. 

I also have a Google Alert set up to find mentions across the web and reply to those as needed.  Which sometimes brings me to random forums that are related to their industry. For Twitter, I use Bufferapp to space out tweets and not blast a lot out at once. I collaborate with clients, I maintain a shared google document so they can see what I have in store to post next, and so they can drop in ideas as well, but they usually just email things that come up for me to consider posting.

In terms of who I connect with, I use Northsocial to connect with new followers and rally the troops to get current followers excited. We launched a sweepstakes recently and grew the page from 3100 to 5000 in a week and saw increase in activity on posts and random questions and comments coming in to us. 

How were you able to convince companies that social media would benefit them?

For the most part, my clients have come to me, so there hasn't been much convincing.  A lot of that is because the Business Examiner has a pretty strong presence in the local business community so most of my clients came from those relationships.  

For people that are hesitant to get on Social Media I tell them that they could be missing referrals, opportunities to say thank you to kudos from customers, and ensure that any negative comments are dealt with... having an open channel for customers to connect with you is amazing!

Even having a small presence is better than nothing at all. For instance, having a presence but never saying anything... as long as you answer when people take the time to reach out to you, that would be a step in the right direction.  To me, refusing to put your company out there where customers can find you, just doesn't make sense... you're missing out on so much.

To get a better understanding of how she combines social media and commerce, follow her on her Twitter feed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Rise of the Tweet-Ready Marketing Event


It's one of the newest trends: companies inviting notable names in social media to a grand opening or product launch so they can post about it on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. As the Wall Street Journal vlogger Elva Ramirez (above) notes about the arrangement: "they're getting you to engage with their brand but they're getting you to tell all your friends about it too." So look for this type of marketing to catch fire in 2012.

Businesses have taken a big hit for not being responsive to consumers on social media platforms. But if done right, the "tweet ready marketing event" could go a long way towards reversing the bad press for their non-responsiveness. A failure to reach out to consumers is potentially damaging behavior in the short- and long-term, especially with a tech savvy generation more comfortable in the online world.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Art of Healing Our Wounded U.S. Veterans

This is my recent piece, cross-posted in the Huffington Post Impact Section.

Russell Simmons once said, "Art allows people a way to dream their way out of their struggle." The co-writer of this post, Lori McNee, couldn't agree more. Her work is extraordinary. As an artist, she gives back to her community through the expression of art. Recently, she had the unique honor to convey the healing power of art to a group of veteran women who have been severely wounded in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

 This opportunity was made possible through Higher Ground, an amazing nonprofit that taps into a network of resources to aid long-term rehabilitative efforts for veterans with traumatic brain injuries, blindness, severe burns, and much more.

Because we are particularly supportive of charitable efforts to look after veterans and their families, art therapy for wounded warriors is something to really get excited about. In fact, McNee's art session was a huge success. The majority of the women warriors had never painted before. So in order to alleviate any of their anxieties, they were assured that they were not there to impress anyone with the end result.

One healing factor of art is that it gives the participant some measure of control over what they do. It also allows the creator to focus on something positive, which takes them away from their discomfort and benefits their health in the long run. A safe environment was provided where the women could explore and courageously express their intuitive feelings on their own canvas, in a non-verbal way with the support of Higher Ground therapist, Cara Barrett.

Lori McNee and Women Veterans. Photo Courtesy of Higher Ground
The women were distracted at first, and some had a hard time listening to some of the instructions. This behavior is a common symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, once they started freely playing with the beautiful acrylic paints, brushes and other fun tools, the ladies became engrossed in their art.

They were taught about the hidden meaning of color and how artists can use color to express themselves, and to create a mood in their paintings. Some of the ladies chose cool, calming colors like blues and purples that represented the peace they were feeling during this art activity. A few of the others gravitated toward the warmer tones like red, orange and yellow to represent their courage, determination or optimism.

One lady even depicted an emotional memory of her late Troop Leader, while others painted abstract designs. Each woman enjoyed the process of creating her own work of art. Afterwards, the project was assessed and the women were asked how they felt while they were painting. The majority of them said painting felt wonderful; they didn't think about any of their injuries, pain and stress.

Another awesome activity from Higher Ground! Their summer and winter camps in the picturesque mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho are extraordinary. The veterans leave the camps with a restored sense of independence, a desire to improve work and school performance, and an increased ability to cope with combat related stress. Indeed, our veterans should also be cared for when they return home, and not simply on the field of battle.

This post was co-written by Lori McNee. To learn how you can help, please contact Sun Valley Adaptive Sports and Higher Ground.

The New Google Doodle: Claymation!


Google's new doodle pays tribute to claymation pioneer
Art Clokey. Image Courtesy of Google

There are few things I look forward to in tech more than Google’s Doodles. They have paid tribute to figures, historical periods, and the best of innovation. They are always creative, thought-provoking, and educational. Simply put, the folks at Google always swing for the fences.

Their new doodle doesn’t disappoint. It celebrates the work of Art Clokey, the godfather of claymation. I remember his work as a kid. He was a trailblazer in his field, so it seems fitting that he would be recognized in this way.


See more of his work here, in the Washington Post.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs: iVisionary

Steve Jobs. Photo Courtesy of Apple
Yesterday was truly a sad day. Steve Jobs passed away at the age of 56. He had a long battle with cancer, and he was visibly thinner, so we figured this day was coming. But Jobs was one of my heroes. And we want our heroes, and she-roes, to live forever. Jobs was admired on nearly every continent. A thought-leader and creative genius who believed in taking risks, and inspiring humanity to achieve the impossible through revolutionary design and cutting edge technology.

He started Apple Computers in his garage in 1976 with $1300. He failed, made lots of mistakes, and was repeatedly told no, but it never stopped him from working hard, and believing that he could give full substance to the scope and depth of his vision. He invented the personal computer, and revolutionized the music and phone industries with the iPod and iPhone. And changed the way we consume media with the iPad.

He also helped change the way we see animation with Pixar, the company responsible for some of the most stunning animated movies of the past 15 years. As Boing Boing editor Xeni Jardin pointed out, Jobs studied Buddhism, Hinduism, calligraphy and a host of other subjects - things that assisted his seemingly seamless merge of people with the power of technology. My mom met him in Los Angeles in 1982, and they had a great tech conversation. She remembered him as a great salesman for the Apple brand, and a serious "ideas" person. And she was right.

He created and debated ideas, but never let them sit on the shelf and just catch dust. I loved that! He was all about the WOW factor. Like Henry Ford, Maggie Lena Walker, Milton Hershey, Reginald Lewis, John D. Rockefeller and many, many others, his legacy will be celebrated long after his passing. As Steve Jobs himself once said:
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
Indeed. Great words from one of civilization's greatest minds. R.I.P. Mr. Jobs.

Artwork by Jonathan Mak

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cory Booker's Amazing Speech at the Google Zeigeist


I love how Cory Booker starts his speech at the Google Zeitgeist Conference: about being optimistic regarding what can be, while having a "deep sobered understanding of what is". I have followed his career for almost seven years, observing the way he has greatly transformed the landscape of Newark, NJ. This has to be one of his best speeches. You'll be moved when he discusses the boy whose life he tried to save and his father's "grand conspiracy of love". From beginning to end, you'll see why he is one of the world's most inspiring and most talked about figures.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Facebook's New Changes

Mark Zuckerberg has done it again. Love him or dislike him, he understands technology and trends, and takes full advantage of them to the benefit of Facebook. He saw that GooglePlus debuted with a roar, and clearly won over a lot of people with interesting new features like “circles” and “the hangout”.

But it is doubtless that Zuckerberg lost any sleep. Here’s why: because he joined GooglePlus, and his status on that site as the most followed (or “circled” person) focused attention back to Facebook. His strategy worked, and worked well.

Personally, I’m a Twitter guy. Yes, I have a bias. Twitter rocks baby! And so does Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. But when something great emerges, I point it out. And Facebook’s new moves are great on so many levels. It’s partnership with Hulu and Spotify - allowing you to view films and listen to music on the site - could turn it into an entertainment hub, and its “subscribe” and "lists" features dramatically improve the overall usability. The amazing Timeline is just icing on the cake.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Photo Courtesy of Facebook.
To be clear, GooglePlus remains as relevant as ever. But Facebook has made changes and tweaks that clearly redirect the conversation. There are lots of people who are uncomfortable with Facebook’s size and reach, and are tired of adjusting their settings. LOL! But the site's numbers aren’t taking a beating: it just passed 800 million users. Solid by any standard.

I’m certain that Mark Zuckerberg laughed himself silly over the wild predictions about Facebook being destroyed by GooglePlus. I didn’t see it in June or July, and I don’t see it now. I just believe we are in a period of robust innovation, and social networking in general will benefit. And that's a good thing.

Twitter is on a different track all together, and will also continue to surge. But...if GooglePlus responds to Facebook's changes with the force, things could get exciting in the short term. We will see. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

39 Inspiring Men and their Passion for Charity

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 it with fellow Huffington Post bloggers Amy Neumann and Yasamin Beitollahi.

This is cross-posted in the Huffington Post Impact Section.

A life of kindness and gratitude is tremendously powerful. And when applied to the charitable efforts making the world a better place, the results are often extraordinary. From across diverse backgrounds and all ends of the globe, these gentlemen exemplify a global view of sharing and helping others in their daily lives, and through the amazing networked nonprofits they support. They all embody the spirit of Booker T. Washington's famous words: "If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."

Reluctant to talk about themselves, they deftly shift conversations from themselves to other people, or to one of their many projects. They are dreamers and visionaries. They like to imagine vibrant communities bursting with culture -- music, art, history, theater, film -- and full of people realizing their potential. But they're not only dreamers, they want people to be a part of their dreams.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz, leader of Social Innovation at Twitter Inc., and author of the book Twitter for Good, is brilliant in the international community of philanthropy and is someone all three writers on this post respect. Her ideas, and Twitter, have led countless people toward social good. The Networked Nonprofits we support - 2morrowknight with SeeYourImpact, Amy with United Way, and Yasamin with The 1010Project - are impacted by her work. And by Twitter. As are all of the men highlighted here. In fact, if it weren't for Twitter, we may not have had the honor of talking with all of them and sharing their insights.

In a world that will soon have 7 billion people, these men understand how important it is to engage non-profits that help raise our standard of living, expand our worldview, and give us hope for the future. Indeed, together, we thrive!



Andy Baldwin
Why he rocks:
U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Andrew Baldwin, M.D. is a physician, humanitarian,
U.S. Navy diver and media personality serving as a family medicine resident at the
Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton in Southern California. AndyBaldwin.com
On Twitter: @DrAndyBaldwin



His favorite non-profit:
@GotYourBackNet (GotYourBackNetwork.org) As the founder, he makes sure it
provides an avenue for the children of fallen soldiers to learn and be inspired by
the most successful leaders of our generation.



Jeff Rago
Why he rocks:  
Pop Culture Explorer. Belly Laugher. Spirit Seeker. Talent Lover. Red Wine Sipper.
Dessert Eater. Tongue-In-Cheek Talker. On Twitter:  @jeffrago

His favorite non-profit:
  “The NOH8 campaign @NOH8campaign is a grassroots effort which started as a silent 
protest on the passing of proposition 8 in California and  has grown into a national 
campaign for equality, tolerance and love. I am proud to play a small part in this effort as 
I deeply believe ALL human beings deserve the right to love and be loved freely 
and without consequence.”



Clement Yeung
Why he rocks:
A Huffington Post contributor, Clément Yeung is also the founder and co-director of Easisell Ltd.
a digital marketing and conversion optimization consultancy based in the UK. Clément and his team 
provide businesses of all sizes with marketing materials & website real-estate designed to reap the highest returns in today's world wide web.  On Twitter: @ClementYeung

His favorite non-profit:
@KIVA “There's something that feels so right about "investing" in a person that has little money, a big heart and an idea to create something that will have a deep, lasting positive impact for others. As employers, we understand the power that building a profitable business can have on the lives of those in and around it. Kiva's microloans may have a considerable impact many factors greater than serving their initial benefactor alone.”



Reg Saddler
Why he rocks:
For many, there is no need for an introduction here. He’s a tech wizard who is one of the most
humble you’ll ever meet. A social media guy who lives and breathes all aspects of tech,
business and news. On Twitter: @zaibatsu

His favorite non-profit:
Reg suppports the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation  @GatesFoundation because, as Bill puts it,
“Our friend and co-trustee Warren Buffett once gave us some great advice about philanthropy:
‘Don’t just go for safe projects,’ he said. ‘Take on the really tough problems.’”
Those problems include global health concerns, agricultural efficiency, and education.





Sunil Jain
Why he rocks: 
A blogger and WordPress pro, and owns Tech18, an emerging blog about all aspects of Technology. He loves helping friends worldwide, and values education.  On Twitter: @gupshupblog

His favorite non-profit:
“I would like to tell everyone about @Nisha360, a 20 year old girl who is using Social Media
(Twitter) to start "The Water Project,Inc" - an organisation which will provide water to communities
all over the world, suffering needlessly without it. To support her project, you can donate here and
she also updates her blog daily to get the support from everyone and until now
she has reached 70% of her goal.

Click HERE to see all of the 39 inspiring men and the nonprofits they support.

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 20 of the series: The Social Media Vision of Jessica Northey.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ending Malaria (Infographic)

I love infographics. And there is no doubt that the Gates Foundation consistently has some of the best ones. On ending polio, boosting nutrition, explaining the benefits of breast feeding, and extolling the virtues of education. This one below on Malaria is equally powerful. This is a must-see. We need even more cause-based infographics to sharpen our focus of what's being done to make a difference in every corner of the world.

GOOD Magazine also has some great ones, including one on the issue of water in developing nations. Nonprofits and charities don't get the kind of attention in social media that they should. So if it take infographics and other tools to create awareness, then that's awesome.

I'm an optimist and a realist. And I know we can put an end to malaria in our lifetime. (CLICK THE IMAGE below to see why millions are enthusiastic about the progress being made.)
  We Can End Malaria

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Style With a Smile: The Fashionable Mollie Ruiz-Hopper

Photos by Chad Coleman
Bold colors. Cutting-edge designs. A sense of adventure with a twist of daring! I love the ideas and energy that infuse the world of fashion. These are also the very things that have come to characterize Twitter's Mollie Ruiz-Hopper, one of the emerging, exciting voices in international style.

As a writer for an ABC News affiliate, and creator and editor of Mollie In Seattle, Ruiz-Hopper has cultivated an impressive fan base that gives her support and feedback. A fan base she keeps rock solid by being approachable, relevant, and gracious.

Like the catwalk itself, she uses the grand stage of social media to express her passion for fashion. She manages to pull all the threads together - the innovators driving her industry and the trends we’ll be talking about. So it was truly an honor to connect with this philanthropist, noted ‘ideas woman’, and fabuloso fashionista.

How do you believe social media has changed your industry? I'm a blogger/writer and I also work in PR. Social media has really revolutionized the way people communicate with one another in such a great way. It kind of puts people on a level playing field where we can now communicate with virtually anyone, anywhere, anytime. News comes to us in real-time. I can watch a live stream of my favorite designer's fashion show and get up to date information on the latest trends in shoes. Information is now endless and available to me all the time whether I'm on my computer, smart phone or iPad. This is all a result of the awesome-ness that is social media.

Photo by Mike Luong
I know you have a love for Nordstrom, which has emerged as one of big companies greatly benefiting from social media. What are they specifically doing right? Nordstrom is doing a terrific job with their social media. They're constantly posting great links about clothes and products new to their stores, information on upcoming events, and are always quick to respond whenever I have a question or comment. There are a lot of other big companies out there who have Twitter and only push information about themselves. What I love about Nordstrom and appreciate as a devoted customer is that they're always talking to people, responding to my tweets, following up on recent purchases and even suggesting things to me that I might not have thought of for myself. I just love that Nordstrom is now a presence that is always with me. If I have a question about mascara, they're there to answer it right away.

You are quite the fashionista. Everything you're doing is just consistently buzz-worthy. And that's hot! How are you managing to thrive in Seattle, which is particularly strong in the fields of technology and sustainability? First, thank you very much! Fashion is something I've been crazy about ever since I can remember, I think it rubbed off on me from my mother and grandmother who were very fashion forward and my style role models. I think the most important element in anything is that you have to be genuinely passionate about what you do, whether it's technology, wine or in my case fashion. I love waking up every morning and dressing up in something that makes me feel good. I also have a smart phone that helps me stay connected with my friends, family and social media all the time. I can update my Twitter feed whenever I need to, take a picture of a pair of shoes I want, or friend someone on Facebook I just met at an event. I attend different networking events, sometimes it's weekly, and sometimes it's monthly. An important part in remaining relevant in any industry is showing up, being an actual body and face that people can shake hands with and relate to. Finally, it's very simple: be a nice and pleasant person to be around, if you're happy and positive others will want to share in that.

To find out more about Mollie Ruiz-Hopper and her great insight about the world of fashion, follow her on her Twitter feed and read her work on FacebookThis is cross-posted in Smedio.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Famine in East Africa Moves Mom, Female Bloggers to Act

This is cross-posted in the Huffington Post Impact Section.

I am a huge fan of everyday people who push the boundaries of convention to raise awareness for causes that matter. And few causes are as urgent right now as the deadly famine in east Africa.

 A population equivalent to entire state of Ohio is at risk of starvation in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and other parts of East Africa. Hundreds of thousands refugees have fled the drought-stricken region, and in the past three months, nearly 30,000 children have died.

 Now, one mom is using social tools like video, blogs and an unconventional fundraising platform to change that.

 Blogger Sarah Lenssen decided she had had enough of watching a famine unfold - and get buried - in the news. So she dreamed up a powerful campaign to help people take action, called #Ask5for5. It works like this: you donate $5 to provide food and water in east Africa. Then, you get five of your friends to give $5.


Ask5for5 and help save a life! from Ask 5 for 5 on Vimeo.

Sarah's an inspiring change-maker that models what it means to be a citizen philanthropist. She likes to imagine what would happen if that circle got extended out 9 times (5 x 5 x 5 x 5...). In just nine iterations, the campaign would raise over $2.4 million dollars. 

I had a chance to ask her a few questions about what motivated her to start #Ask5for5 and how female bloggers worldwide have powered her campaign. Here's what she said: 

 Why did you start #Ask5for5? I have two children who were adopted from Ethiopia in 2007 and 2010 respectively, and both of them were born in the regions that are experiencing extreme drought. The situation is very personal for me. It could be my son or daughter suffering. The idea that they would go day after day without food or water is a thought I want to push fromy mind. But the thing is, I have to imagine it -- because although they aren't mine, they are many daughters and sons suffering.
 
John Harrison, BlueSkyhill Creative.

I knew I couldn't sit by and let the news overwhelm me (although that's hard when you see the grave images of what's happening). It was time for me to do something. But I knew that in order to make an impact, that it couldn't just be me. And that's where #Ask5for5 was born. 

 If you could tell people one thing, what would it be? 

I'd want to tell people about Khaleed. Last week, his mom took him and his siblings on a harrowing 15-day journey through Somalia in search of food. Two of his siblings, ages 2 and 4, died on the way to help. After arriving at a camp for internally displaced people, 6-year old Khaleed was on the verge of death. Jon Warren, a friend and staff member at the development NGO World Vision, has seen too many children die, and he was worried. While Jon left on a two-day assignment elsewhere in Somalia, his colleagues treated Khaleed with rehydration salts and Plumpy Nut, a peanut-based food that rushes nutrients into the body. When Jon saw Khaleed again, just 2 days after he started receiving treatment, he said the difference was night and day.

   

When Khaleed arrived, he couldn't move. Now, he had the energy to sit up on his own. The vomiting and diarrhea had passed. He had made it through the worst. So if I could tell people one thing, it would be that there is hope. We can make thousands of stories like Khaleed's come true. We have to work together.

What inspired you to recruit female bloggers to your cause? 

I've been blown away by the number of moms who resonate with what's happening, and who want to step in for the forgotten voices of other mothers and children. Blogging is a grassroots way of getting the word out to people that we CAN do something. I've connected with many other adoptive moms who've blogged over the last five years since I began blogging. And over 25 moms (adoptive and non-adoptive) I asked to join me by allowing me to guest post about #Ask5for5 last Thursday, did so with enthusiasm. I think many people are just waiting for the opportunity to do something, and #Ask5for5 has been just that: an easy way to DO something rather than feel overwhelmed. One more reason? Research done by The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported Wednesday that 4 percent of Americans were primarily following the story of the famine. But five times as many said the stock market was their top story. Bloggers are stepping up and using their influence to spread the word about causes that normal channels of media often struggle with. 

If people can do one thing next with their five minutes, what should it be? 

They should go donate $5. Then, they should email all their friends and ask them to get involved. It's simple, fast and effective. I'm telling everyone I know: we may not be able to change the world on our own, but together, we absolutely can. 

What's next? 

You! Please join us. 

We need your help. Last week, over 30 bloggers joined with me to spread the word about Ask5for5, and it was so successful, we want to get hundreds more! I'm looking for at least 200 bloggers who will allow me to guest post on their blogs during Social Media Week - the week of September 19th- 23rd. If you're willing to use your blog as a medium to spur action and help save lives in East Africa, please email me at this address! And by the way, while it's been mostly women who have jumped at the chance to allow me to guest post, men are equally powerful advocates and we're so grateful for that. 

 For more info, on #Ask5for5, visit SeeYourImpact.org.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Power of Networking


Ask anyone who knows me: I love social media. It is a tremendous platform, and I am blessed to have met and worked with some amazing people all over the planet. Establishing those relationships meant that I had to reach out to people, inquire about what fuels them, and had to be consistent in what I've done from the beginning: share and communicate with everyone, whether you have 500 Twitter followers, or 500,000.

I bring this up because of a Huffington Post piece ("Serendipity in the Sky") I saw today from outgoing Virgin America V.P. Porter Gale. A smart, accomplished and connected woman, she has been the architect of Virgin's social media strategy. I loved her piece so much that I had to share a passage from it:

I was recently asked to speak on social media at a conference. After some thought, I emailed the host group and inquired if I could speak on networking. The reason? My thoughts are that networking is all about making the most of random moments. It's not always about building your Twitter following or increasing the number of folks in your G+ circles or maintaining your Klout score.

Sometimes, the most powerful person in your future is randomly sitting next to you at an event, in the grocery store or on a plane.

I relate wholeheartedly with her point. Over the past two years, I've worked with entrepreneurs, social media strategists and bloggers who have major reach and respect - but don't have a huge social media presence. If I was hung up on the size of their following, instead of "the quality of their following" and didn't make the most of those random moments, I would have missed out on some valuable relationships. I am passionate about connecting with people who add value to my social media experience.

Porter Gale's words remind us to never lose sight of the power of networking. No matter where you are in the world, the possibilities are indeed endless, and so are the opportunities to elevate, empower, educate, and enrich. Let's do it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How Zoo Animals Anticipated the Washington DC Earthquake

Fascinating discussion. Famed conservationist Jeff Corwin explains how animals at the Washington DC Zoo knew (well in advance) about the earthquake that shook much of the Eastern United States - from DC to New York City to Boston. This reminds me of similar stories about animals in Southeast Asia who sensed the roar and power of the deadly 2004 Tsunami - well before it crashed into the shores of India, Thailand and other countries.

Great insight!

WATCH:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Heart of a Twitter Artist

This is cross-posted in the Huffington Post Culture Section.

Art has always been an important part of civilization. It provides a road map of where we have been, shows us who we are, and gives us an idea of what's possible. Stylistically and substantively, social media is increasingly playing a part in the work of some 21st century artists like Gaby Zwaan.

Originally from The Netherlands, Zwaan made a huge splash at this year's 140 Conference, which is long respected as a winning platform for both emerging talent and dynamic personalities. And he clearly made the most of his appearance. Dressed in a cool suit and sneakers, his energetic presentation and Twitter-themed art made him an instant audience favorite.

Zwaan's work is masterful, thought-provoking, visually-stunning, and brilliantly expressive. I'm sure this is what the Tour de France organization saw when they approached him in 2010 for a project. As an arts geek, I can tell you that there are probably 140 reasons to love and appreciate the work of Gaby Zwaan. Maybe even 141. Either way, his star is on the rise.


You were the big draw at Jeff Pulver's huge 140 Conference back in June. Everyone loved your art. What has the experience been for you since then?

I really liked being at the #140conf. It was interesting and a great way for me to show myself. Speaking on stage with Jeffrey Hayzlett was really great and painting two twitter-inspired pieces the next day topped it off. But what was the icing on the cake was the love of all the people that where there and came to talk to me. I always love it when people tell me what my work makes them feel like or what it reminds them off. After the 140 conference, I was also in New York for a meeting with a gallery. They loved my work and in early October, I will be showing in New York City. A dream come true! I also signed on with an agency that will represent me in the USA.Once home I started painting for my NYC show and got all 14 pieces done.


I can tell you love Twitter from some of your artwork. How does the site's 140 character platform appeal to you?


Yes I do like twitter. I see it as a way to show people what I'm doing, and more important, what I'm all about. When Van Gogh, another famous Dutch painter had something to share he always wrote letters to his brother. I was in the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and I saw some of those letters on the walls there. I have a vision that one day my tweets will be on a wall in a museum. I see twitter as part of my DNA. It is just as important to me as the paint I use. Could not do what I do without both.


One of Zwaan's Twitter-inspired paintings.

Courtesy of Gaby Zwaan.


How important do you think art has been to civilization?


When I check the news every day I almost have to think there is no civilization anymore. So I hope art was not important to getting us into this mess. What I do think is that all forms of art will bring us some positive light that will get us through this mess and hopefully back to a bit more civilized world. And I can only hope that at least one person that looks at my work and has a better day then he/she would have had if my art was not there.


Who are some of the artist who have influenced, inspired, and/or shaped your artistic vision?


I have to say none actually. I only started painting in the summer of 2007 and before that I thought art was uninteresting. I never went to a museum. Well, once but that was to impress a girl (laughs). I knew some painters, mostly the Dutch masters but that was about it. Once I started painting I started to get interested in art. Somehow people always want to compare your work/style to other artists and I've been compared to many many but different ones all the time.


What influenced me is the way street artists think and the way they act. I like that and I think that it helped me to do just what I feel like doing. I like doing stuff with balls and that is what street artist do too. I like to take on the impossible, like showing in a amazing gallery in New York. That's something I just went for even though some people said it was not going to happen at this point in my career. When people tell me I will not get there, it inspires me the most. I'm like an athlete, I want to win. And then once I cross the finish line, I put the bar higher again. I thrive on challenges.


For more info on Gaby Zwaan and his amazing, eclectic work, follow him on his Twitter feed and check out his personal site.