Posts Tagged ‘Events’

Small, Slow and Closed

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

At last night’s Feast on Good Event, hosted at the very cool MEET at the Apartment, I had the opportunity to listen to a collection of great speakers address the concept of innovative social change through the lens of digital.

During the beautiful presentation by Nathan, of Crush + Lovely, he challenged the audience to imagine an internet that was personalized just for you.   Does it look similar to the one now? What would you change?  He challenged us to move away from the standard cheers of big, fast and open and think about an internet that is instead small, slow and closed.  Small  in a way that is highly personal, slow as in thoughtful and meaningful, and closed in a way that enables more value-driven interactions that challenge the traditional social graph.

Fitting nicely within this concept, although maybe a bit differently than he originally intended, is one of the platforms presented during these talks:

Catchafire, is an organization that is working to enhance (and save) the volunteer experience by helping non-profits scope much-needed work and access skilled volunteers.  By charging non-profits a small fee to participate, Catchafire slows down the process and helps these groups think about what will truly be valuable.  Rachael, the founder of Catchafire, spent her talk discussing the hidden dangers of “free” for non-profits.  Free stuff, free bodies, free services – these things often have unintended costs (staff time for management, organization, maintenance of Free) and can distract non-profits from their primary goals and needs.   Using a process that is a bit more tailored, a bit more methodical, Catchafire is able to help non-profits connect with a tailored group of volunteers who can serve specific purposes.

In a similar vein, by using LinkedIn profiles, the organization easily identifies volunteers’ skill sets and offers up personally tailored opportunities.  This makes the volunteer experience more meaningful, as volunteers are doing projects that they find interesting and that fit their skills.  This thoughtful approach ensures a more positive volunteer experience – hopefully encouraging more participation in the future.

The platform interrupts typical behavior (both on the volunteer and non-profit side), provides personalized content, and fosters off-line connection.  I know that I, for one, am looking forward to volunteering through them.

More than Just the Fantanas

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Today, Youth Research Partners shared this great “Fanta in Kenya” case study that talks to the value that comes from engaging target audiences in the marketing process, creating experiences that tap into existing passion points, and building content that lives well beyond the dollars that are spent.

Fanta and Teenwise Media Limited developed an annual series of regional dancing and singing contests throughout Kenyan high schools, culminating in a national competition/awards ceremony, as a way to expand their brand from “an exclusive kids drink into a vibrant young adult beverage”.

The events allow the brand to engage with young Kenyans in an authentic way that creates an enormous amount of social currency.  Regional activities are planned by the  students empowering them to take ownership while participants form groups and practice all year long for a shot at stardom.

They talk about this program as one that builds “permission assets”  which I thought was interesting- the idea of investing dollars not behind an ad campaign that will disappear in a couple of months, but in building real ambassadors and good will that acts as powerful social currency that goes well beyond the time when the money runs out.

Full case study here:

Needless to say – way better than the search for the next Fantana.

Inspiration from PSFK

Monday, April 12th, 2010

On Friday I had the tremendous opportunity to attend the PSFK Conference here in New York.  While I only made it to the afternoon sessions, I was simply blown away by the creativity, innovation and excitement coming from this year’s presentations.  The talks that I most responded to fell within the heading of “Changemaking” and challenged us to think beyond our current definition of progress, to challenge the openness of government, to push for simple solutions, and to re-think the way art and digital collide.  A couple of themes from these talks included:

Small is the new big: From No Impact Man’s lessons from taking a year to step off the grid and appreciate the little things (community, togetherness, diaper duty), to John Dimatos sharing simple digital solutions that can significantly expedite disaster relief for Unicef, it is clear that the economy and the environment are both creating a greater need for simplicity in everything we do.

The innovation being driven by that necessity is exciting, and there is a lesson to be learned for brands as well.  Often times stripping down products, programs and services to their essentials can lead to better experiences, enhanced offerings and more creative thinking.

DIWO (Do It With Others) is the new DIY: This phrase, coined during Zach Lieberman’s inspiring talk about art and technology, spoke to the recurring theme of collaboration and community (a theme that was reinforced by the collective energy of the PSFK community).

By outlining the changes implemented in just the past year to new York State Senate web site, Andew Hoppin made a strong case for a more direct, more participatory government, enabled and empowered via social media.  Taking a page from the White House, the NY Senate is providing a way for Senators to have direct contact with the people they represent, and gives constituents a louder voice through social network integration, commenting, rating and response all within

And I’ll leave you with this video – one of my favorites from Zach Lieberman that demonstrates the power that comes with creating amazing, truly extraordinary experiences.  His demos had everyone open-mouthed.  You can see more  at  Enjoy.

night lights from thesystemis on Vimeo.

For more videos from the conference, check out PSFK here.  To stay in the loop with PSFK if you’re not already, follow them on Twitter, or subscribe via RSS.

Kidneys and widgets

Friday, May 11th, 2007

The fact that my youngest son was born with severe kidney problems that eventually led to him receiving a transplant isn’t something that I talk about a lot, at least not online. It’s a personal matter and best left offline for the most part. But I would like to take a minute and do tell his story here.

Before he was born the doctors determined he had two essentially useless kidneys that had just never developed. At the young age of one and half years he was (after successfully avoiding dialysis) old enough and strong enough to receive a transplanted kidney, a kidney I was more than happy to part with. That was almost two years ago and he is doing better than either myself or my wife could have imagined. Life is different when you have a transplant patient but the kidney is doing well and my wife is on top of all his medical needs.

To celebrate how well he is doing, my family and I are participating in The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois’ Gift of Life Walk this July and we’re raising money for that organization. I hate to ask for donations but if you feel so moved we – and the group the money goes toward – would be most appreciative. It’s groups like this that allow doctors to diagnose problems early, something that saved my son’s life before he was even born.

Sentimentality aside, I wanted to point out something kind of cool about all this. The NKFI, when you sign up as a team for the event, has a section where you can spread the word of your fund raising efforts. And on that page is code for you to create and publish your own widget, something I immediately grabbed and put on my personal site. That’s great that an organization like this has embraced such a simple way to help people spread the word. My publishing that on MMM resulted in $150 being donated in the first two hours alone, something that far exceeded my expectations.

Thanks for indulging this personal note.


Anyone else in SF this week?

Thursday, February 16th, 2006

Out in San Francisco for a few days on business, and will be going to tonight’s GETV Turns 1000 event at House of Shields. If you’re in town and are planning on going, hit me up via email or IM. Looking forward to it!

Otherwise, I’ll be in the city until tomorrow night, when I’m taking the redeye back to the East Coast. Drop a line if you’re free to meet up in the next day or so.