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!


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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.

A New Voice for Asian Americans

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

Eighty-years ago, in his best-seller The Epic of America, historian James Truslow Adams coined the phrase “American Dream”. He defined it as not merely the acquisition of riches and luxury vehicles, but rather as the opportunity to prosper and succeed according to one’s own ability. Sung Lee, the President of AMN Radio, couldn’t agree more. His newest venture is giving vision and voice to those who are helping to redefine the dream, and its significance, for a new generation.

In a major move, Lee’s AMN Radio has partnered with Radio Seoul to create a radio programming that speaks to the Asian-American experience. Their first show called “The CL Show” went on air July 30th of this year. Its host, Christina Lee, is well known in the digital entertainment industry and in the Asian community. She’s also the host of “Pulse”, an online show from the PlayStation Network.

Photo Courtesy of AMN Radio

“The CL Show” originates from Los Angeles. It’s the only English language radio show currently in the United for Asian-Americans. It’s available to listen live on the Radio Seoul app on iPhone, and soon will be available to download on podcast. These are necessary steps to reach every possible demographic, especially the elusive 18-34 range, which is not being properly served or represented.

Which brings us back to the pursuit of the “American Dream”.

Christina Lee does an extraordinary job. She’s perfect for twenty-first media: someone who brilliantly articulates the culture-neutral commonalities that bring us together, and the culture-specific differences that make us unique. In an America more diverse and vibrant than ever before, Lee’s show is a necessary platform to discuss, debate and design the issues that engage our communities. Though designed with Asian-Americans in mind, it easily appeals across ethnicity, gender, race, and region.

AMN Radio’s Sung Lee told me that his goal was to create a network with tremendous value. And he’s done just that. After all, the American Dream is about value. Always has been. Not just tolerating each other, but valuing each other. With that kind of appeal, AMN Radio will soar. Yes, America is at its best when it creates, builds, and thrives on the strength of many voices. And host Christina Lee is certainly a voice worth listening to.

For more info on AMN Radio and its upcoming projects, follow them on Twitter feed and friend them on Facebook page.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Monica Sethi and e-Buzz Edge Bring the Sizzle

ebuzzedgeA recent post in The Next Web detailed just how much technology has revolutionized the food industry: photo sharing apps, food specific apps, location aware review sites, and the multitude of networked restaurant reviewers. To navigate through the changes, many entrepreneurs are turning to tech-savvy foodies like Monica Sethi.
Specializing in digital marketing and website development, Sethi started e-BuzzEdge. In a relatively short time, she has managed to convince hesitant, food industry entrepreneurs to be aggressive about embracing technology. Not simply to remain relevant, but to increase revenue and brand awareness by tapping into the ever-expanding world of social media.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nonprofit Uses Social Media to Make an Impact

One of the most powerful ways a nonprofit can win over donors is to ensure transparency and accountability. This is at the core of the mission of, a new non-profit that uses social media to report back to donors where their money went. Founded by former Microsoft executives Scott Oki and Digvijay Chauhan, it’s a revolutionary model for how nonprofits can use technology in the twenty-first century.

When we give a donation, each of us says, with justification: “How is my money being spent?” You want to know that your money is being spent wisely. The SeeYourImpact model directly addresses this. One hundred percent of your donation goes to the cause or gift that you select. And in 2 weeks, you receive and email detailing how your money was spent and who benefited.

A well for a family in Cambodia. Job training for a single mother in the United States. $18 School uniforms for school children in Guatemala. A $10 malaria bed net for a child in Sierra Leone. SeeYourImpact has close to 200 gifts to help you make a difference in 18 countries and on 4 continents.

It is about bringing excitement to the giving process, and empowering the small donor. $5, $10, $20. Anyone, anywhere in the world can change lives. And when they do, they can share it on Facebook, Twitter, hey, why not Circle it? Because for the first time, people can actually see the real people their gifts are helping.

Mama Magisha and Family in their Sustainble Garden

Apolo Ohno calls it "the Future of Philanthropy." Celebrity health consultant Kimberly Snyder is leading a fundraiser for sustainable gardens in Rwanda.

Another way people are helping is by using their birthday, wedding, school reunion, office gathering or any special occasion to fundraise. When done this way, the impact is that much greater. In fact, the model is so respected that New York Times writer Nick Kristof tweeted: “Here's a nifty Kiva-like website that lets donors see the impact of their dollars.”

Social media has been the most effective way SeeYourImpact has connected do-gooders and the causes they’re passionate about. It’s also been a way to have its message resonate with the community that’s been thirsty for a new way of approaching philanthropy and global giving.

Note: The writer is the SeeYourImpact community manager. This is also cross-posted on the Smedio blog.

To see how you can make a difference, connect with SeeYourImpact through its Facebook page. and follow them on Twitter.