Sunday, April 22, 2012

Michelle Millman on Journalism, Social Media and Being a Survivor

What makes a great journalist? Someone who works hard to uncover the truth, stays on top of trends and issues, frames the discussion, and turns their personal struggles into teachable moments for viewers and/or readers? Yes, all of that and more. In my youth, Linda Ellerbee, Max Robinson and Cecilia Alvear were three outstanding journalists who stood out. Not just for what they reported, but for what they gave to their profession.

When you observe the stellar career of Seattle's Michelle Millman, you come to the very same conclusion. She's a veteran journalist who thinks globally about topics, and can brilliantly conceptualize and present them for "local consumption." Her intellect and command of topics is as impressive as her ability to connect with an expansive and diverse region of viewers. But what has endeared Michelle to an international audience is how she looked adversity in the face, and beat breast cancer.

When one goes through something of this magnitude, they lean on their family and friends the most. But when you are a media personality known for your uncommon generosity, tens of thousands of viewers become supporters you can lean on, too. So the power is not just in how Michelle speaks to the news camera or a teleprompter. It is also in her inspiring story of courage and triumph. I was happy when she agreed to share her thoughts about the state of her profession, and how her life has been transformed.

Photo Courtesy of Michelle Millman


In recent years, we have seen reporting that integrates traditional media with social media. How effective do you believe this has been?

Michelle Millman: I think social media, together with traditional media gathering, can be effective. Through Twitter and/or Facebook I am able to reach people who have a story to tell or have some connection to a story I am covering. I have to admit, this is a little harder to accomplish the traditional way. Don't get me wrong, the "old school" way of making calls, finding addresses or knocking on doors still works, but it's amazing how fast you can reach people through social media. Also through Twitter and Facebook I can tell my followers what story I am working on or when I'm anchoring a newscast what compelling stories are coming up -- it is my hope that immediacy drives more viewers to our newscast.

Also, with the popularity of social media traditional journalists are now competing with bloggers who live right in the community they are blogging about -- who knows an issue better than someone who lives in that neighborhood or community? At times we work with these bloggers but they are still adding more competition to the mix. There's a plus side to this added competition: they make us all better, harder working journalists: they "up" our game.

 You've covered a lot of stories -- national security, domestic politics, foreign policy, and many others. What issues do you like to cover most, and what specific issues do believe the media should be covering more?

MM: I am passionate about a story when the people I am interviewing are passionate -- whether it's a story about a loss they've suffered or a journey they've been on -- if they are passionate, I love telling their story. This storytelling comes in many forms: From teachers' strikes to Boeing strikes or from dealing with an ice storm commute to 95 degree weather, nearly everyone has a story to tell.

If I had to pick one subject though it would have to be telling the story of troops returning home from war. These stories are both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I've watched as my photographer takes video of a father holding his baby for the very first time, kissing his wife for the first time in months and then as the family walks off together, holding it together for the cameras even though you can tell they're really not sure what's ahead of them. This leads right into what story I wish media covered more: the toll war takes on families. Local media does a great job covering those 'homecomings' but what about the transition for those troops and their spouses and children once they're home? Those are the stories we need to tell.

  Let's talk media accuracy. There is a lot of pressure to be the first to break a story. How do you ensure that you're "getting it right," so to speak, before you broadcast it?

MM: I've always been competitive and have worked very hard as a journalist to be the "first" with breaking news or developments on a story I am working on, but social media has taken that to a whole new level.  We need to be extremely careful as journalists with what we tweet or put on Facebook. The immediacy of  social media and the fact we have the potential to reach thousands of people in seconds is somewhat daunting. We need to respect that part of it by making sure we have the facts straight before worrying about being first with the tweet or posting.

My tweets or postings on my Facebook fan page are generally about a story I am covering at the time (a verdict in the courtroom or a news conference with the governor).  Where journalists, or news stations, can get into trouble is seeing a tweet from someone else and repeating it on air or retweeting before checking the facts. I'm glad I don't see a lot of this happening! I've also found because of my competitive nature if I'm the only reporter on a breaking news story I want to tweet it or post it to Facebook right away. I then realize I'd be alerting the competition to a story they are missing! It's definitely a balance I have to strike every day on the job.

 Where do you see media 10 years from now?

MM: Traditional news viewing and news gathering is changing right before our eyes and 10 years from now it's hard to say exactly what it'll look like.  I do think "24 hour news" -- and now social media -- are working to build an informed society but at the same time a society with people who have a hunger for news right now and seem to want "new" stories all the time.  It's a little disheartening when a massive front page story or lead story in a newscast one day is so quickly relegated to "section B" the next.

Over the next decade I believe we will see even more bloggers, citizen journalists and contributors added to the mix (along with traditional journalists). That can only lead to even more news -- whether it's on YouTube, an iPad, or a blackberry --  breaking news stories will be everywhere. Even though viewers are already watching newscasts streamed "live" on computers and iPhones I still think turning on the television for the 11 p.m. news or in the morning before you head to work will be how most people get their news.  In my opinion this "habit" for millions of us will take years to break.

 I know you've covered breast cancer stories over the years. Many of them. As a breast cancer survivor, how has the experience shaped your perspective on life?

MM: I do see situations differently now because of my experience with breast cancer. After going through diagnosis, surgery and then months of treatment I've learned to not "stress out" over things. When I do get a little 'stressed' at life, whether it's meeting deadline or juggling two boys and a husband, I tell myself it's nothing compared to cancer. It keeps life and challenges that come with it in perspective. If I received any 'gift' from cancer it's knowing first hand life is too short to spend it worried about things you cannot change.

I will say going through a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation helped me see the health care debate in a different light. I now know early detection is the key to survival. I hope whatever direction the debate goes it will be in the best interest of everyone. Access to great health care means the millions of people diagnosed with cancer every year will have a better chance of survival because they will have (hopefully) been diagnosed in the early stages.

 To read more about Michelle Millman, click here. You can also follow her on Twitter, and friend her on Facebook.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Top 10 Social Media Week Influencers (INFOGRAPHIC)

Social Media Week is one of the most highly anticipated events in the social space. Every February and September, authors, strategists, journalists and enthusiasts gather for five days of lectures, panel discussions, and huge networking events in six continents.

OmLondon and AdobeUK formed a partnership to closely examine the tweets and online chatter for the week. They sifted through the data of more than tens of millions of people using Social Media Week hashtags, and created an infographic (pictured below) of the top influencers during that period. I was both honored and humbled upon the news that I made the top ten along with some great tweeters, including Ann Tran, one of my Huffington Post writing partners.

Social Media is an ongoing global conversation, a universal language that knows no boundaries. The numbers from OmLondon and Adobe affirm the power of the medium, and its ability to connect people in extraordinary ways. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shaun Robinson's Passion for the Social Good

This post was co-written by bloggers Ann Tran and Glen Gilmore. It's cross-posted in the Huffington Post Celebrity Section.

The words, "believe in yourself", have always played a strong part in the character and essence of celebrity journalist Shaun Robinson. The phrase infuses her professional pursuits, which have taken her around the world, and anchors her charitable activities that help engender a greater sense of self among a new generation of girls and young women. Needless to say, we're awed and impressed by the way she uses her status as a journalist to the stars to help encourage women of all ages to love themselves just the way they are.

 Her best-selling book, Exactly As I Am, provides readers with empowering advice about developing a positive self-image. Robinson reinforces the concepts of personal empowerment and developing a strong feeling of self-worth through her multi-media messages and fundraisers for organizations, such as Girls, Inc. 

Robinson recently allowed us to ask her some questions about her wonderful charitable endeavors and commitment to helping girls and women accept themselves without compromise:

Picture Courtesy of Shaun Robinson
You launched your "One Girl, One Voice -- A Million Ways to Make a Difference" campaign earlier this year. Please tell us a little bit about what inspired your book and video, Exactly As I Am? 

I was inspired to write my book, Exactly As I Am, because I wanted girls to know that everything they need to believe in themselves and develop a strong self-esteem is right inside of them. It doesn't come from being popular, being skinny, being rich, or having a certain skin color. It comes from, as Oprah says in my book, "... knowing that you are valuable because you were born."

 Because I interview celebrities for a living, so many girls ask me about the stars they see on TV, in the movies, or on the covers of magazines. They want to know if "so and so" is as beautiful in person as she is on TV, or if their lives are as perfect as they seem. I wanted girls to know that nobody is perfect and that everyone -- no matter how rich or famous -- has feelings of self-doubt now and then, just like you and me. I wrote, produced and directed the video, Ten Rules for Girls with Strong Self-Esteem as a mini rulebook for girls to follow. All the "rules" came from the dozens and dozens of teen girls I interviewed for Exactly As I Am. I love it because it's girls giving girls advice like, "I will never stay in a relationship with a guy who disrespects me." That is so important!

Your job is so glamorous. How do you convey your message to these young girls? With so many negative media images of young women today, please tell our readers about how you're using your media influence to bring awareness to girls and their families? 

My mom has always told me to use my platform for good -- never make it about me -- but to make my mission about helping others. And that's what I've always tried to do. I am well aware that the media, in general, must take responsibility for the many images girls see that make them question their own self-worth. Being in the entertainment industry, it's a constant balancing act for me and I try never to compromise my integrity. Reporting on entertainment and your favorite stars is definitely fun, but it's when girls internalize those images and use them as a measuring stick for their own value and how they should act -- that's where the danger comes in.

As a celebrity, do you find it's easier, or more difficult, to effectively impact the lives of your target audience?

Certainly as a celebrity, I have a voice that is easier heard than if I wasn't in this position. I want to make sure I use that voice for positive change. That's why I started the One Girl, One Voice: A Million Ways to Make a Difference movement. In my book, we talk a lot about "giving back" and that one of the quickest ways to true self-esteem involves taking the attention away from yourself and putting it on someone less fortunate. We want to get one million girls to pledge that they'll use their voices to "change the world." I want to inspire girls to volunteer their time to various causes and pledge to make the lives of others better.

With the advent and popularity of social media versus traditional media, have you seen a tremendous, monumental change, regarding effecting positive change in the world?

Social media can be a wonderful thing and a not-so-wonderful thing. Cyber-bullying is on the rise and we must find a way to stop it and make people responsible for the things they put online that can hurt others. But, social media can be a powerfully positive force in helping others. When we all band together and promise to change the world, nothing can stop us.

Where do you see your campaign, say, five years from now? 

Five years from now, I see the One Girl, One Voice movement five million girls strong! We want to thank Shaun Robinson for her generosity and for taking the time to share a little about her world-changing pursuits with us and our readers. What an inspiration she is and what a magnificent gift her campaign is to the next generation of young women. Thank you Shaun, from the bottom of our hearts, for using your voice for change.

Writer's Note: This video, courtesy of Shaun Robinson, captures her passion for positive and empowering self-images. 

WATCH:

   

 A Story for Inspiration and Ann Tran's Final Thoughts 

Twitter represents a powerful medium that anyone can use to inspire, inform and educate. I shared Shaun Robinson's video, Exactly As I Am, on Twitter and one of my followers shared it. He sent me a direct message and thanked me for the link to the video; informing me that he intended to share it with his daughter. I suggested he share part of our conversation with Ms. Robinson as well, since she is very engaging. He did. And the next thing I knew, I saw a picture of a signed book held up proudly by his daughter from Ms. Robinson displayed on John Feskorn's page.

With social media becoming such a pervasive force in our culture, it presents an awe-inspiring, powerful way to change the world -- one tweet at a time. How are you using Twitter, or other social media platforms, to change the world? Share your stories below. For more information on Shaun Robinson and her charitable activities, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

For more information in Shaun Robinson and her charitable activities, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

TweetMyJobs and Social Recruiting

This is my new post. I collaborated with writers Ann Tran and Glen Gilmore to profile the social recruiting phenomenon TweetMyJobs. It's cross-posted in the Huffington Post Business Section.

As America climbs out of its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, many platforms are being created that connect businesses with the prospective employees who can complement and enhance their workforce. One such platform is TweetMyJobs, a successful firm that has fundamentally changed the way jobs are searched online. Named by PC Magazine as one of the "10 Best Job Search Websites," they are what you would call a true pioneer in "social recruiting."

 "Social recruitment," the practice of using social networks as a platform for matching job openings to job seekers, is a phrase of relatively recent vintage, though it as a practice that many companies are working hard to tap into. Panero, Tiffany & Co., Radio Shack and Verizon, among others, are ahead of the curve, and use TweetMyJobs' services to recruit employees.

TweetMyJobs' impressive online infrastructure has also caught the eye of the White House, local politicians and even tech enthusiasts. These contacts have helped enhance its ability to employ Americans workers using the ever-increasing power of social networking. Its groundbreaking agreement with the City of Atlanta further illustrates this point. Its Twitter profile proudly proclaims, "We're the leading social recruitment and job distribution network, working hard to match job seekers with employers." From its tweets and its activities, it seems that it just may be. TweetMyJobs' visionary CEO Robin D. Richards granted us an exclusive interview.
TweetMyJobs had more than 2 million interactions on Twitter with job seekers and businesses last year. That's a tremendous number, confirming just how popular social recruiting has become. Social recruiting is all about distribution in real time. Job seekers not only want highly relevant job matches, which we provide, but they want them wherever they are (on any device -- be it e-mail, text message or on social networks like Twitter) and whenever they please -- instantaneously, daily, weekly, etc. That's the power of social recruiting. Great job matches, where you want them, when you want them.  

Your firm was asked by the Obama Administration to help with its jobs initiative for military and young adults. How did that come about? We were very proud and honored to be selected as one of the partner technology companies for the Joining Forces Initiative. We were introduced to the CTO of the United States through our contacts at Twitter and made a commitment, along with a number of other technology companies including Simply Hired, LinkedIn and Google, to help the initiative. We contributed by making job listings easier for veterans of the armed forces to find through TweetMyJobs, as well as establishing veteran-specific job channels on Twitter for every state and major metropolitan area, a special landing page for veterans to find and follow these job channels, and custom notification alerts for veteran committed jobs.  

Explain how the TweetMyJobs ground-breaking agreement with the City of Atlanta came about, and what it entails. We have embarked on a public-private partnership with Mayor Kasim Reed and the City of Atlanta, focused on connecting local businesses with city residents seeking employment. The initiative is ground-breaking, as Atlanta is showcasing its role as an early adopter and forward-thinking city by leveraging the power of social networks and mobile distribution to help combat unemployment -- as well as to help employers and job seekers use a new platform, at no cost to either the job seeker or the employer. In addition, the City of Atlanta Jobs Platform will deliver robust analytics to city officials. This data will provide government leaders with hyper-local insights that can help steer key strategic decisions to foster future job growth and enhance relations among the government, employers and citizens. It's a win-win for all involved.  

You've expressed a strong interest in taking the framework of the Atlanta partnership to a national level. Any recent developments that you can share that are moving this one step closer to reality? We'll be making another announcement very soon. Governments, on a local and national level, truly have enormous power to help bridge the gap between the jobs their residents are seeking and the positions available in their regions. We're proud to power these initiatives as the technology platform that puts these great policy ideas into action. Watch this space for more announcements soon.  

How can social media in general embrace this type of jobs-and-recruiting platform? The key to making any technology platform a success is continued engagement and awareness. Whether that's an influential politician like Kasim Reed tweeting to his constituents or spreading the word at his annual State of the City address to thousands of attendees, an e-mail campaign to job seekers, or posts on Facebook and Twitter, when there's such an important cause at stake -- jobs in this country -- then it's up to us as a social media community to spread the word and make sure that employers and job seekers don't miss out on these innovative, new social platforms in the career space.

This infographic video below, courtesy of TweetMyJobs, illustrates their commitment. WATCH:

 

For more information on TweetMyJobs, friend them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

9 People Who Have Influenced My Social Media Style

Image Courtesy of Buzzom
This is cross-posted on the Smedio blog.

When I joined Twitter and Facebook in January 2009, I had no idea what I was doing. Zero. Zelch. Nada. I didn’t know how to build a following, the importance of third-party apps, and the various ways to drive hits for my then new blog. It took months – six months to be exact – before “tweeting” became a language I fully understood.

Nobody achieves success in social media without some assistance. I’m no different. I have learned from social media veterans who have helped to established the foundation upon which we all stand, and from the newbies who have emerged on the scene and built impressive reputations in a relatively short period. It has been one exciting thrill ride.

It is a full time effort staying on top of the trends, forecasts, and shifts, as well as major changes to major sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, GooglePlus, and Chime.in. Without the retweets, likes, +1’s, blog comments, and recommendations, I would not be where I am today. So let me single out 9 people (among so many) who have given me great perspective in five crucial areas:

Digital Listening – This is truly an art. And Glen Gilmore and Sung Lee do it exceedingly well. Twitter is perhaps one of the best “listening post” ever created, and understanding the chatter about relationships and events behind the scene takes skill. Gilmore, the advisor to my Twitter Powerhouses Series, is keenly aware of literally every major development and online discussion about disaster preparedness. Lee, whose recent venture I profiled in Huffington Post last Summer, is one of the leading voices regarding the online, Asian-American presence. Both men monitor hashtags, and make extraordinary use of Twitter lists.

Sharing Other Bloggers’ Content – One of the things I always advocate is sharing the content of other bloggers. No, not simply your friends, but, others outside of your immediate circle. Ann Tran and Amy Neumann are pros at it. To them, millions of bloggers around the world simply provide “millions of opportunities for fresh’ content”. Those who understand this, and do this, often thrive in the social space. Besides, it’s fantastic networking.

Connect and Engage – People always ask me why I recommend the names of people in a particular field or city to someone noticeably new to social media. Well, in late 2009, my first year on Twitter, director and artist Kim Sherrell included my name in a tweet, recommending me to some of her friends. It was the first time someone had done that for me outside of a Follow Friday context. It showed me just how creative I could be in bringing people together. Indeed, tweets are most effective when used to inspire, inform, empower...and connect great people.

Make Your Enthusiasm Consistent – I am continually inspired by bloggers Kelly Clay and Christel Quek, two geekettes who live and breathe all facets of social media. Their success is powered not just by the substance of their posts, but also by the boundless, infectious they express about their work. There isn't one conversation I've had with them (not one) where they weren't very excited about their next projects. Indeed, enthusiasm is great fuel for confidence.

Have a Sense of Humor – No matter how nice and non-controversial I have tried to be, there are people who challenge my ideas, and my reasons for profiling certain people. Always! So it pays to laugh at it sometimes. And who has a better sense of humor about being challenged in social media than Brett Petersel and Khayyam Wakil? They are so funny, so hilarious that they deserve a show in prime time TV. So when someone is questioning your retweet mojo (LOL!), call these guys up, and just laugh at it.

To be clear, these are not the only tips, just the ones that have worked for me. Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources. Surround yourself with people who not only support you and stay with you, but inform your thinking about ways to WOW your online presence.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How To: Benefit From Social TV

There are a number of things in the social space I'm looking forward to in 2012. One of them is the further integration of old and new media, particularly in the burgeoning field of Social TV. I remember when it was applauded by MIT as one of the top emerging technologies. Two years later, we've seen it move rapidly to the front of industry conversation.

Last year, Gavin Purcell from Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, explained on a SXSW panel how Social TV can work, and work well. The online world is incredibly diverse in terms of its users, and the range of platform choices we increasingly have. Oprah Winfrey, Ricki Lake and other tech-savvy stars have used as many tools as possible to identify their target audience, which helps tremendously with content. (In the interest of full disclosure, I am a part of the new media team of bloggers for Ricki Lake, who is launching her show this fall on a Social TV platform).

Image Courtesy of the Lorange Institute
Make no mistake: Social TV is here to stay, and will continue to evolve as companies figure out how to measure activity, and appeal to a wide variety of demographics. The launch of apple's much buzzed about television, or iTV, will only increase the chatter, and accelerate innovation. As Alicia Elder wrote eloquently wrote last December, when it comes to Social TV, it's about sharing and discovery. Here are a few things people should remember, and practice, to make sure their approach fits in with this "sharing and discovery" model:

(1)   Connect Shows With All Aspects of Social Media – This is crucial. Twitter is great not only for feedback, but to find groups that may identify with your message. The best way to do this is through the use of hashtags. And don't be afraid to think bigger...imagine using Foursquare for a road trip you send two fans on to promote your show; GooglePlus for a live, on-air opening of a business on the block; or Pinterest as you chat with fashion designers about their new collections, and so on. Facebook, Chime.in. Use all of it. Whatever platform is hot, you need to have a presence on it. Leave no stone unturned.

(2)   Communicate with Online Fans and Supporters – Why set up a social entity if you are not going to talk with the people who support your operation and identify with your values? This is about finding ways to reach the true advocates, the people who believe in your brand. When they see that there is a concerted effort to listen to them, they become your staunch defenders. “Digital listening” is essential.

(3)   Bring Your Audience into the Decision-Making Process – If there is a pilot show in the works, or topic you want addressed, it is smart to ask for advice. You're essentially giving your audience “part ownership” of the content. When someone sees a person they respect asking for help in social media, there is almost an immediate response. When filmmaker Kim Sherell and journalist Betty Nguyen engage their audience this way, I see nothing but positive results.

Simply put, there will be an explosion of excitement and anticipation as Social TV evolves. Success in the arena will depend heavily on creative content, and (direct) creative engagement with your audience.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Love, Charity, and Basketball

This is my new interview with businesswoman and philanthropist Heather Robinson. I co-wrote it with bloggers Amy Neumann and Mandy Hale. It is cross-posted in the Huffington Post Impact Section.

While many celebrities lend their support to worthy charities, some go above and beyond by lending their time, energy, funding, and even blood, sweat, and tears to the causes they hold dear. Oprah founded and funded the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa in 2007 to provide educational and leadership opportunities for academically gifted girls from impoverished backgrounds. And two years ago, Bill Gates made the world’s largest ever single charitable donation when he pledged $10 billion to develop and distribute vaccines to children.

In this circle of charitable celebrities, you’ll find noted businesswoman and public relations pro Heather Robinson, the wife of former NBA star Cliff Robinson. One of the sports world’s most active and involved philanthropists, she supports charities with an emphasis on education, scholarships, and poverty. This assistance also extends to natural disasters like the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. All of this has been a catalyst for the Robinson Network, her family’s new philanthropic endeavor.

In fact, she used her most recent birthday party to collect more than 1000 gifts for kids through Toys for Tots. But giving up one of her special days is not a tall order or a rare event for Heather. Charity is both her work, and her signature. Why? A strong compassion for others, and a belief that using one’s influence to make a lasting, positive impact is crucial.

The old saying “Come from a point of service to everyone you meet” could have been written by Heather Robinson. To her and her husband, just like in basketball, winning is a team effort, and people around the world who need a hand are part of everyone’s team.


You've done lots of charity work for the NBA and NFL, and participated in a lengthy and impressive list of celebrity fundraisers. What is the most rewarding aspect of giving back?


The compassion I feel for others is a strong trait of mine, therefore having the ability and desire to "give back" in some way large or small benefits my soul. I love to see people smile.

Tell us a little bit about some of the charities you've supported over the years.

First of all I praise everyone out there that has a charity, and is working to help mankind. It takes a special person to devote themselves to philanthropy. My husband and I have donated our time and money to several charities over the years. Educational programs and Scholarships for low income families are very important to us, along with helping impoverished communities in the United States and abroad. After the devastating earthquake hit Haiti two years ago my husband accompanied Haitian friend Jimmy Jean Louis of Hollywood Unites for Haiti to access the condition of the country while I stayed back making phone calls after phone calls soliciting supplies and donations. I visited the country last year and met with several organizations we support in Haiti. They are doing a great job and it has inspired me to continue on my path of philanthropy.

How helpful do you find platforms like Twitter to some of your social good initiatives?

I like using Twitter. It has been extremely helpful to my business. It's given me the ability to voice my initiatives quick and easily. Aside from the business networking, I have made "twitter friends". I love the positive tweeters. They brighten my day and make social media more enjoyable for me.

With respect to philanthropy, name some of the things you believe we should be paying attention to moving forward: trends, interesting people, and fundraising ideas.

I don't believe you have to be wealthy to give. It's not always about the money. People should pay attention to their surroundings. What you see in front of you. You can become a mentor to a child or volunteer at charity events and soup kitchens. A few years ago I signed up to be a bone marrow donor. There are many ways to help someone in need. Blood drives and organ donations are great ways to "give", and you could save a life! A very simple way to fundraise with little effort is to start a Food or Clothes drive. Poverty right here in America is extremely high and the numbers keep growing. If everyone would spend ten percent of their time "Giving Back" to society the world would be a much better place.

Heather Robinson and Cliff Robinson  

Speaking of social media…a lot of celebrities use it because it puts them in direct contact with their fans, the causes they support, and helps them control their image. What's your take?

The Cons of using social media are crazy fans and pushy people who can bombard you with requests or try and belittle your efforts or work. But, the pros definitely out weigh the cons. Celebrities are able to link with other professionals and can interact with fans on more personal basis. Another advantage for celebrities using social media is that it measures their popularity in numbers, via follower. In return it can secure them a high-profile endorsement deal. Social Media has become one of the most important deal points for brands, talent agents and even PR agencies to consider when negotiating contracts. The best thing of all is: no misquotes (laughs). Just make sure your posts don't come back to haunt you.

Philanthropy is a serious commitment. How are you involving your family?

I am currently working on The Robinson Network, a public charity that will support other non-profits, and promote professional athletes in their philanthropy. Giving back is something that my family has always been passionate about. So it makes sense for us to create a huge platform to positively impact the causes we endorse. We're excited.

To find out more about Heather Robinson and her charitable efforts through her family's Robinson Network, follow her on her Twitter feed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Guest Post: 5 Tips to Connect in an Instant on Social Media by Ricki Lake

Social media has changed the world forever. In just 140 characters or an update to your Facebook status, you have the potential to connect with a complete stranger in the same town or across the globe. In an instant, Friendships are being formed. Business is taking place. People are connecting. And the world will never be the same.   But it isn’t that easy…    


Many people are standing on the sidelines of social media, unsure of how to jump into the conversation and contribute their thoughts. There is uncertainty about how one can form bonds with people they have never met “face to face.” Are you one of many asking the question, “how?” That is why we are here and you can know one thing for sure… 


You are in the right place! We have teamed up with Ricki Lake, one of the most engaged celebrities on social media, to share 5 tips for connecting with people in an instant on social media.

Watch this video to hear Ricki Lake’s #1 Tip for Connecting on Social Media

2. Be Respectful.
Leave judgment at the door and respect that other people on social media have beliefs and opinions that are their own. This is what makes them unique! Just as in offline relationships, if you want to make friends, you have to be one first. If you want people to respect you, start by being respectful of them.  


3. Be Inspiring. People like social media for many reasons. Many will share that they feel uplifted and empowered to live their best life by connecting with inspiring and positive people. If you want to make a lot of friends on social media, be inspiring. Be encouraging. Be a friend.

4. Be Generous. The more you offer to help others in life, the more “likeable” you will be. When on social media you can help others by supporting their work. Take the time to mention people, and give them positive feedback. When you re-tweet or share the content of others they feel good and are more likely to appreciate and connect with you. Remember, "it's not about me, it's about we".  


5. Find a Fun Community! Following a hashtag community on Twitter or joining a group or community on Facebook is a great way to connect with people who are like you and who are usually looking for the same type of connection you are looking for. Twitter and Facebook are the largest gathering of individuals on the planet. Communities are simply small groups within. Think of communities on social media as you would small break-out sessions at a very, very large conference. The name on the door is the community. Pick the door that tells you that you share common interests with those on the other side. Then, open the door, step inside and say hello via a tweet or a post on the Facebook wall. You will be surprised that many are waiting for... you!    


If you are looking for a community that is based on friendship and connection, please join Ricki Lake and the Friends of Ricki for a very special announcement and a first hand look at social media connection on Ustream at http://ustream.tv/rickilake and using Twitter hashtag #FriendsofRicki at 5pm PST this Wednesday, February 1. We look forward to seeing you and connecting with you there!   Do you have any ideas or questions about making connections on social media? Please leave your thoughts in the comments and let's discuss.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Facebook's IPO


UPDATE: The site Pnosker reported today (Jan. 27th) that Facebook will file its IPO next week. Monday? Tuesday? No one knows for sure. The IPO announcement comes after the publication of the post below, which presumes the announcement would come in May.

Facebook is making serious moves in 2012, which is essentially a continuation of changes it made to it's site in the second half of 2011 - both in style and substance. I wrote a post on it last September. Interestingly, the site Paid Content reported that it is looking to replace YouTube as the host for Vevo, a premium service for music videos. Upgrades, enhancements, improvements. Why so many? To be clear, there is no one thing driving it.


But, Facebook's initial public offering of stock (IPO), which many believe is coming in May, may have more to do with the changes than anything. It is expected to be the biggest IPO in history. Even bigger than Google's. The Wall Street Journal Q&A video above provides great context of the anticipation around what will likely be a perpetual conversation piece in both tech and finance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Phenomenal Jeff Pulver

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. It was co-written by Amy Neumann and Mark Horvath. It was also cross-posted in the Huffington Post Technology Section.

No matter who you are, or where you are from, every member of humanity is inspired by the extraordinary stories of ordinary people in social media. Great stories re-awaken and rejuvenate us, and are retold, re-imagined, re-invented, and, retweeted. Who among us isn't impressed by the tech insights of Jazz Baker and Kathy Meyer; the global adventures of Paul Steele and JD Andrews; and the goodwill of Lotay Yang and Ryan Hodgson? They tell their stories: passionately and consistently. As Madeline Ostrander keenly observes:
There is strength that comes from knowing one another's stories. Personal stories remind us that others face the same difficulties and vulnerabilities we do. We discover our own power when we realize we aren't alone and recognize humanity all around us.
Jeff Pulver, one of the most accomplished social figures of our time, is a master in this space. He brilliantly uses technology to "connect" all areas of the globe, so it's easy to see why his 140 Conference, which launched in 2009, has become an institution and a must-attend global event. Everyone it seems has a seat at the table, and is drawn to the speakers who come to share their thoughts. When you present the storied history of social media, its important to "honor the source", meaning you highlight the industry trailblazers behind decades of groundbreaking concepts. The men and women who laid the foundation. But, you also give voice to a new generation of leaders advancing the conversation, and elevating the medium. Connecting those dots is the genius of Jeff Pulver.

All of the writers on this post have met Pulver. We believe there is something impressive about an accomplished visionary who remains humble, and works vigilantly to keep the social media door of opportunity wide open for others. So we were excited when he agreed to an interview. His own story of innovation, entrepreneurship and philanthropy is impressive by any standard. He believes in the old saying: "You don't shine by putting out someone else's light." This is why he remains both successful and relevant.

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Pulver
As a co-founder of Vonage back in 2001, you have an eye for the future of technology. What trends are you spotting from meeting all the social media "characters" at your 140 Conferences?

I helped pioneer the VoIP industry back with work I did starting in 1995, the founding of the VON Coalition in 1996, the launch of the VON conference in 1997 and the passing of the Pulver Order in 2004. My work with VoIP continues to this day. Vonage came out of another company I started back in 1998. You could say that I have been exploring the future edge of technology for awhile. The one trend which is consistent is the return and rise of humanity. A mega trend which will become more obvious in the months and years ahead.  

Your 140 Character conferences are hugely popular, #140conf on Twitter, where you bring in "characters" for 10-minute sessions on a wide range of social media-related topics. You feature many social good panelists. What types of social good do you find yourself most drawn to?

It should be noted that #140conf is not a conference about Twitter. It is a conference which explores "The State of NOW" and the effects the real-time web is having on both business and on individuals. #140conf is just the hashtag that we use to promote the conference and the underlying conversations amongst our worldwide community. In terms of social good, I find myself drawn to the people who are discovering their new found ability to bring about positive change by leveraging the social web and their voice or passion. Whether it is building schools in third world countries, raising money for those affected by natural disasters, sharing love with those who need it the most, or sharing my voice to help raise awareness of something which needs attention, as long as it something positive and good, I am happy to help. I look for those people whose passion you can feel and whose track record shows that they know how to take an idea and a vision and morph it into something with meaningful results.  

At the Los Angeles #140conf in October last year, you introduced a brilliant singer with a guitar that you heard on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica and loved. That guy, Andy Grammer, is now a wildly popular national artist. Do you have other similar stories, anyone you'd like to highlight?

Serendipity and music are continued themes at the 140 Conference. At the first Tel Aviv #140conf in December 2009, music artist Yoni Bloch shared the platform which was the basis of his new startup Interlude. It was used to create the interactive music video which S-Curve Records used to launch Andy Grammer. This video won MTV's 2010 Interactive Video award. I make a small cameo. Back at the first #140conf in June 2009 in New York City, Diane Birch was introduced to the #140conf community and performed at the same event where Wyclef and Jim Jones spoke at. She gave a great performance.  

What new social media projects are you excited about?

One of my own personal pet projects is JustCoz. It is a platform for social good, where we offer the ability for people to donate a tweet to causes which they wish to support. I also have a new stealth-mode startup which is playing in the social communications space.  

How would you define yourself in 140 characters?
Entrepreneur; Disruptor; Early-Stage Seed Investor; Dad; story teller; Purple; Soulful; Photographer; DJ; Poker Player; Producer of #140conf
To find out more about Jeff Pulver's exciting projects and future 140 Conference events, follow him on Twitter, like his Facebook page, and circle him on GooglePlus.  

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 23 of the series: Maz Nadjm on the Power of Twitter.

Jordan Knight Offers A Fascinating Peek Into the Male Mind (Guest Post)


Mandy Hale. Photo Courtesy
of Mandy Hale




Mandy Hale is a successful entrepreneur, speaker, author, and the force behind the popular and insightful The Single Woman twitter feed. Like many of us, she is fascinated by human behavior. One of the most inspirational people online anywhere in the world, she is an astute observers of relationships and cultural shifts. She understands their power, value, and how they shape attitudes and behaviors. Her interview with legendary singer Jordan Knight (below) confirms this. It is a pleasure to have any of her work - celebrity interviews or motivational posts - on my blog. Enjoy!









BY: Mandy Hale, “The Single Woman”

Jordan Knight.

He’s mysterious. He’s a bit of an enigma. We think we have him figured out one minute, and the next, we’re just trying to keep up. He sings passionate love songs…yet we rarely hear much about his personal life. He’s a firecracker on stage…yet sometimes shy and reserved face-to-face. He’s the object of desire for legions of women across the world…but he’s happily married. And he laughs when you call him a romantic…swears he’s not, even…but the very next minute he’s telling you a story about the song he wrote about a girl he used to see on the subway at age 14 who he fell in love with from afar but never quite got the nerve to talk to.   

Just who IS Jordan Knight?


A few days ago, I asked my readers and followers to submit their most burning questions they wanted the male perspective on…without telling them that Jordan would be the male perspective.

Since the only thing possibly MORE mysterious than Jordan is the male mind itself, it seemed to make sense that by asking Jordan to weigh in on some of things that puzzle women most about men, perhaps the other mystery – Jordan himself – would be solved.

Sometimes you peek behind the curtain of a magic show, or a band, or even a person or a relationship…and you’re disappointed.

But every once in awhile, you peek behind the curtain, and the person you see standing there shines just as bright with the spotlight nowhere in sight.

That person is Jordan Knight.

Jordan Knight. Courtesy
of Star Pulse


*  *   *  *  *  *

My phone rings promptly at the time Jordan and I had agreed upon for the interview (a rarity in the business.) It’s snowing in Boston, he says. “My son thinks he made it snow,” he continues. “He told me this morning, ‘Daddy, I wished for snow last night and it snowed!’” He laughs, sounding less like the lead singer of one of the most successful boybands of all time and platinum solo artist and more like a proud papa.

He’s on his way to rehearsal for his upcoming solo tour, “Jordan Knight: Live & Unfinished,” which will be hitting a series of handpicked cities across North America over the next couple of months. After a wildly successful summer tour with NKOTB, where they teamed up with Backstreet Boys to create supergroup NKOTBSB, Jordan says as much as he loves his band of brothers, he’s excited, if a little nervous, to fly solo again.

“With solo shows, there’s a self satisfaction,” he explains. “You feel really accomplished, like ‘Man, I’m doing this by myself!’ With a group, you feel like you’re part of something a lot bigger. It feels like a brotherhood. For me, both are necessary.”

With an overwhelmingly female audience, it’s not unusual to think that Jordan might have picked up a word of wisdom or two along the way for the fairer sex. What is unusual was the candor and genuineness with which he spoke. Within minutes I felt like I was getting advice from one of my guy friends rather than interviewing Jordan Knight.

The popularity of the book and the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” (which Jordan hasn’t seen but is familiar with the concept) has left many a woman scratching her head, wondering: Are relationships and love REALLY as black and white as they seem?

It was time to find out.

TheSW: As women, society and our moms and friends and the movies always teach us that guys only “pick on girls they like.” Is this true, or is it actually the opposite?

JK: I think there’s truth to that. Sometimes when two people are fighting, it’s kind of like there’s some kind of tension there. Why would somebody really even care to fight with you or pick on you if they didn’t care? I think if they didn’t pick at you, it means they’re not interested in you. Sometimes you try to get a person’s attention by being an irritant.

TheSW: Well, then, that aside…how does a girl know if a guy is REALLY into her?

JK: Little things. Like, is he asking about your life? Is he in tune with your life? Does he really genuinely take time to talk about your life? If you’re spending time trying to make him care, then he isn’t into you. He’s into himself. I think all ladies need to know the secret, though. The way to make somebody into you is to stop trying to get them to be into you. If they’re not into you, do your own thing. Hang out with your friends. Everybody wants what they can’t get.

TheSW: So there’s truth to the whole “hard to get” theory. Men like it when women play hard to get?

JK: If you’re always trying to pull something out of the guy, you create exactly what you don’t want. You’re going to get exactly what you see wrong with that person. It’s human nature. Women don’t like guys who do that, either. If a guy’s always nagging you or being jealous or checking in on you and acting insecure, you’re not gonna want anything to do with that guy. You want a guy who has his own thing going on. It’s not a man or woman thing. It’s a human thing. We all want what we can’t get. Don’t want what you can’t get. Let the other person want what he CAN’T get. Be ungettable and you shall get.

TheSW: That said, who should be the one to initiate the date – the man or the woman? Do men like it when a woman asks them out, or does it take away the “thrill of the case?”


JK: I think it’s great when a girl asks a guy out. I don’t see any problem with that. I don’t think guys do, either. Women think “I could never do that. He might think I’m too forward.” But I think a girl can ask a guy out, as long as you’re not overly serious about it, like “It has to happen. There has to be a positive outcome.” Don’t be too hung up on the outcome. Don’t be serious with it. If it’s you just casually calling “Hey, I’m gonna be here with some friends. Join us if you want.” Keep it light and you can initiate the meet-up.

TheSW: Speaking of “the thrill of the case,” why does it seem like as soon as a guy “catches” a girl, he loses interest?

JK: It goes back to everybody wants what they can’t get. You should always make yourself a little unattainable. Of course, at some point that has to come to an end. But if you think love and a man is going to provide you with everlasting happiness, that’s not the greatest attitude. If a man sees that without him, you’re gonna be fine and you’re gonna live a happy life, I think that’s attractive. Don’t just sit at home waiting for the guy. You have to have your own thing going on, not wait on somebody else to provide you happiness in your life. You’ve gotta provide happiness for yourself first, and then other people are going to want to join the party.

TheSW: So what’s sexier for the woman to wear to the party? Jeans and a t-shirt, or a LBD?

JK: Both. Don’t be looking ragged ladies, don’t do it! (Laughs) Men like women who are put together. No doubt about that. But you can still have it going on and have it together in a t-shirt and jeans. That is very sexy. If you can rock both, that’s great.

TheSW: So let’s say at this party, a guy asks for a girl’s number but never calls. What does this mean?

JK: He could have lost the number, he could have been interested at the time but now he’s distracted…there are many different things. Maybe he’s scared or nervous to call. Or he could be just not that into you. There is truth to the “just not that into you” phenomenon. The more you accept that, the better off you are. Move on. Don’t think of striking out as a failure, or somebody not calling you as a failure…it’s just another step in finding somebody. Don’t fear rejection. Don’t put so much emphasis on it. It just may not be the right time or the right person. So what?

TheSW: What about the serial texters, who never call, but always text?

JK: If a guy’s into you, I would think he would wanna hear your voice and enjoy talking to you. You can only get so much out of texting. Plus, is he only texting you at 2:30 in the morning on a Friday night? If you’re only getting booty calls, you have to decide if that’s enough for you.

TheSW: Is chivalry dead?

JK: I don’t think chivalry is dead. I do think you teach people how to treat you. You carry yourself in a certain way, people are going to treat you a certain way. Holding a door for a woman, little things like that…I don’t think that’s dead. I like doing that kind of stuff just because it makes me feel good, and it shows my wife that I love her.   

TheSW: A lot of ladies asked “How do you know when you’ve met The One?” How did you know?

JK: It’s kinda like…you just know. It’s almost like if you have to ask the question, maybe you haven’t met the one. In my case, I just felt like I could be myself. I felt like I didn’t have to worry about down the road…does this person like me for frivolous reasons or because I have money or because I’m famous? I didn’t have to worry about all of that. It’s just an intuition…how do you feel around that person? I felt calm and safe. If you’re always on edge and you’re always worried, then that’s probably a good sign that it’s not ‘The One.’

TheSW: Do you believe in love at first sight?

JK: I believe in love at first sight, sure…but love over time has to be nurtured. You have to grow with that person, you have to grow yourself, and your love will grow. It’s not as easy as love at first sight if you wanna go long term. It’s not gonna be as easy as ‘The Honeymoon Stage’ for the rest of your life. There are gonna be challenges for sure. There is no eternal bliss in love. To have a long-lasting loving relationship, you have to look at yourself and you have to see where you’re going wrong instead of trying to change the other person. I think that’s the only way to have a relationship. Don’t overestimate your ability to change another person and don’t underestimate your ability to change yourself. If you’re always focusing on changing yourself, the relationship will keep getting better. If you’re focusing on changing the other person, the relationship will stay stuck.

TheSW: Well, let’s say the couple doesn’t make it past the Honeymoon Stage. In that case, do you think it’s possible to be friends with an ex?

JK: I guess anything’s possible, but ask yourself the question: Why are you trying to be friends with your ex? Let’s be honest, folks. Are you just trying to get the ex back? Let’s not lie to ourselves. If you have a boyfriend and you’re telling your boyfriend “My ex is just my friend,” just make a choice between the two and go one way or the other. (Laughing) Why torture all of us?

TheSW: That begs the question: Can men and women ever be “just friends”?

JK: I don’t think so. I think to a certain degree, yes, but when there’s a guy and a girl saying, “No, we’re just friend, we’re just friends,” one of the two is interested in the other one. They guy might be saying “We’re just friends” but the girl might be hoping it’s more than that, or vice versa.  Any time any of my friends say “I’m just friends with that girl,” I’m thinking “Well, YOU may think so.” (Laughs)

TheSW: Women dream of the perfect “fairytale ending.” Do men have similar thoughts about love?

JK: If you think of a “fairytale wedding”…it’s really just a moment in time. It’s like getting an award and thinking: “My life will be perfect once I get this award.” There’s so much more than just that one little moment in life. You have to live your LIFE. Once you hit that moment, it’s not going to make you happy for the rest of your life. Happiness is in everyday life. That’s why I titled my album “Unfinished.” It’s not about the end. It’s about the process. Did you do it the best way you knew how at the time? Don’t just think about the platinum award hanging on your wall. Think about whether or not you had fun doing it. Life is a work in progress and people are a work in progress. It’s a journey, not a destination.

TheSW: Any final words of wisdom for single women?

JK: When I was in the 8th grade, I would take the train to school, and for the whole school year, there was a girl that got off the train before I did…so I would see her on the train for like 4 stops. I always thought she was really gorgeous. I would fantasize about us being on the train alone and talking, lovey dovey kind of fantasies. I never got up the courage to talk to her. I wrote a song about it called “I Wish.” So there are guys who are shy. Don’t be afraid to initiate. It’s a scary thing because we all fear rejection…but you can take the rejection. It’s not the worst thing in the world. You can’t worry about what the other person is going to think of you, how nervous you are, or if you’ll look like a fool. It’s better to make a fool of yourself than to always wonder. Bottom line, if you love and respect yourself, love’s gonna chase you. It’s gonna follow you. Loving and accepting yourself comes first. Men will see that and know it instinctively, and they’ll wanna be a part of that. They’ll wanna be a part of that party.

*  *   *  *  *  *

Jordan Knight is currently touring the U.S. on his “Live & Unfinished” tour. To learn more about the man behind the answers and to see if he’s coming to a city near you, visit http://www.jordanknight.com/

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bill Gates as Non-Profit Role Model (INFOGRAPHIC)

When you consider the scope and depth of what billionaire Bill Gates has done with his fortune, it is literally astonishing. Since 2007, he has given away $28 billion to charities worldwide. That comes to about 48% of his net-worth. Wow.

The Gates Foundation, which he runs with his wife Melinda Gates, is a giant in international philanthropy. It continues ground-breaking work to end malaria, and, to expand education where it meets the 21st Century needs of a booming global population.

This infographic does justice to the legacy of a true pioneer and thought-leader.



Infographic Courtesy of The Next Web

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Huffington Post Launches "Good News"


This is an interesting idea. Reporting on the "feel good, positive, inspiring, uplifting" things that often go unnoticed, or under-reported. Broadcast and print journalism have attempted variations of this in the past. According to many in the media, many viewers and readers say that want a more positive take on the issues of the day, but, unfortunately, the most negative reporting often gets the higher ratings, or the most hits. So much of the "good news" reporting has been discontinued.

But, like Arianna Huffington, who wrote a blogpost on the new vertical, I strongly believe this new section can work. The last few years in social media have taught me many things, including this important point: no matter what people go though in their daily lives, people still want to be inspired. On Twitter, which I regard as "the heartbeat of social media", quotes are among the most retweeted. From continent to continent, people are looking to add some meaning to their lives, and to connect with something extraordinary.

So count me in as someone rooting for the massive success of Huffington Post Good News.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Maz Nadjm On The Power Of Twitter

This is my new Huffington Post piece! It's the second anniversary 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. It was written with series co-founder Yasamin Beitollahi, and published in the Huffington Post Tech Section.

"Twitter's arrival as a cultural force happened by steps, not a single breakthrough event." When co-founder Biz Stone uttered those words to the Financial Post, we couldn't have agreed more. From its big splash at SXSW in 2007 to the first off-Earth tweet from the International Space Station, the success has been exciting. But, there is no doubt that the use of Twitter during protests against Iran's Presidential Election in 2009 was a huge turning point for the site.

As NPR's Terri Gross points out,
[Biz] Stone says he first realized that Twitter could be used as a global organizing tool in April 2008, when American graduate student James Buck was arrested while covering anti-government protests in Egypt. On his way to the police station, Buck tweeted one word -- "arrested" -- to his friends, who were able to call the consulate and Egyptian authorities and help secure his release.

Fourteen months later, when the U.S. State Department asked Twitter to delay a planned network upgrade to help safeguard the rights of Iranians voicing their dissatisfaction over the 2009 presidential election in Iran, condemning both the process and outcome of the election, it was the beginning of what Stone had envisioned. It was a moment Maz Nadjm, a leader and respected member of London's social media scene, fully embraced the popular social networking site and began to broadcast messages and images to the world in solidarity with the freedom fighters in Iran.


2011-12-05-Screenshot20111205at9.09.14AM.png


You've been on Twitter for a number of years and witnessed a number of changes. What are your thoughts on where the site is headed?

Well what I do love about Twitter is that it's disruptive in a number of ways. As founders of the service have admitted nobody really expected the turnout. Twitter has changed the way many of us communicate, engage with each other, how we find new people and topics to talk about. We see brands and celebrities on the site trying to harness the daily and fast 140 character conversations.

One area that stands out for me is the speed of news breaking out on Twitter. After the Mumbai incidents many news organisations amplified their social media approach, mainly Twitter engagement. As they realised they were behind and simply not fast enough compared to Twitter breaking that event. Second biggest and groundbreaking event was the Iran Election, globally known as the Twitter revolution. Twitter, due to its simplicity and mass audience, allowed the news of repression and horrible violence against peaceful demonstrators to come out from Iran. Suddenly the whole world knew exactly what was happening in that country. Recently we've seen the ArabSpring; how revolutions and demonstrations are being organised and communicated through social sites like Twitter.

As a member of the education and digital communities, how do you use Twitter to connect with your audience?

I've found Twitter extremely beneficial for my professional and personal growth. It is much easier to get in contact with key people. You can now have a one to one chat with anybody on Twitter; it definitely beats any type of cold calling! Another benefit is that you can find like-minded people much quicker, no matter what business or profession you are in. 

Thanks to events and speaker opportunities I get to travel a bit. I always end up meeting people I've engaged with on Twitter. Recently I was in Dublin, Ireland, and met a lot of twitter friends for the first time face to face. I also organise tweetups and dinners through Twitter giving me the opportunity to meet fantastic people and making new friends.

Talk a little bit about TSL Education. People love how it's impacting lives on a global scale.

Basically it's about changing the world. Improving education changes kids' lives, and in turn it changes society for the better. TSL has proven that pooling knowledge leads to radically better lessons, while saving teachers prep time.

We believe by leveling the playing field early in a child's education you can fundamentally alter their education experience, career prospects and future quality of life. Key to TSL's vision are teachers, we provide online space where they can share their vast knowledge and maximise learning for greater good.

What's next for you?

I consider myself lucky as I got into social media back in 2003. I started one of the first social networks in the UK and created one of the first social media agencies in the UK in 2006. I've advised a number of large companies like Sky News International, Star TV, Chelsea FC and Ogilvy Group UK with global clients. But I always consider myself a student; I'm an avid reader and love to learn. Being a mentor at universities, advisor at start-ups and attending events helps me to keep myself up to date.

I'm currently fascinated by the topic collaborative consumption. It describes old world behaviours, such as lending, exchange, swapping and bartering that are now able to operate at scale, across geographic boundaries enabled by technology. The term was coined by Rachel Botsman whose work has brought together thousands of global innovators and entrepreneurs - all using technology and human ingenuity to develop new ways of sharing, lending and exchanging time, skills and resources.

How would you define yourself in 140 characters?
Passionate, early adopter, helper, connector, good listener, advisor, mentor and learner.

To find out more about Maz Nadjm and his new projects, subscribe to his blog, follow him on Twitter, add him on GooglePlus, and friend him on Facebook.

Authors' Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 22 of the series: Passionistas