Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wisconsin stands up, shows the world how to use social media

I've been away from this blog for a while, busy in Madison, WI.

As some of you may know, in November of 2010 Wisconsin elected a new governor, Republican Scott Walker. Upon taking office, he began implementing a previously undisclosed agenda of vilifying public workers and attacking the collective bargaining rights of public employees, weakening environmental rules, huge cuts to education and social services, limits on damages paid by corporations for malfeasance, the privatization of all government services, and implementing voter suppression legislation while simultaneously enacting tax breaks and handouts to corporations. Walker's secret agenda was not of his own design, but rather was written, and underwritten, by corporate interest groups, notably the billionaire Koch Brothers, ALEC, and their agents. The GOP fell in line. Scott Walker, an ambitious C- student and college dropout, channeling Ronald Reagan, chose to take point in the war on America’s middle class. A reporter pretending to be one of his Koch Brothers patrons punked him in a 20 minute phone call where Walker laid bare his plans to his (perceived) masters.

The citizenry of Wisconsin didn't like this and stood up, occupying and sleeping in the state capital for 25 days, and rallying protests in Madison exceeding 150,000 people. These protests spread throughout the state and the country to Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Indiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Minnesota and other states. Currently, no Republican can speak in a public forum, anywhere in the US without being confronted by angry citizens. #wiunion mobilized recall petitions against eight Republican Senators and successfully forced recall elections of an unprecedented six Republican Senators. #wiunion's use of social media combined with use of old media is unprecedented in the history of populist movements.

We learned from #Egypt, #Jan25 but took it further. This article is a nice summary, although there is much more #wiunion social media highlights.The struggle, the innovation goes on. I’ll follow this with a summary of social media tools used by #wiunion. Watch what we do.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

#Egypt, we can hear you now: @speak2tweet

Kudos to the team of Google, Twitter, and SayNow staff who spent the weekend working to make #Egypt voices heard despite the government shutdown of internet, cellphone, sms communications.

 "We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to"

Read the full story @Google blog

Hear the voices of #Egypt @

Monday, January 31, 2011

Blog working again

So I finally got around to dealing with the discontinuation of Blogger ftp support. Blog has moved to via a redirect until I can rebuild.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

“Tell me about your mother.” Psychoanalyzing your association.

If you could put your typical member on the psychologist’s couch, how would the conversation go? The answers might surprise you.
“I worry everyday that a decision I make might cause harm, cost money, or cause me to lose my job.”

“I’m excited everyday by the possibilities of new ideas and how I can be part of advancing my profession.”

What’s the psychological temperament of your association? Do they feel empowered? Are they looking ahead with enthusiasm? On the industry stage, do they “own the table”? Or have they traditionally been second class citizens, maybe at the table, but crying to be heard? Do they see themselves as leaders or have they relegated themselves to collaborators and contributors? Do they support and advocate or do they lead from a throne of wisdom, power, and experience?

If you organization is made up of followers, it is your job to make them into leaders.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

3 Pillars of Successful Meetings

Lots of buzz about the future of big meetings. Read Seth's blog. My take is that there is plenty of steam left in the big meeting. The big meeting just needs to get more personal.

For many associations, meetings are a non-dues revenue stream. Being successful means filling the seats. To fill the seats, pay attention to the 3 Pillars of Successful Meetings. Trademarked, all rights reserved, blah, blah, blah, with a tip of the hat to T.E. Lawrence.

Pillar #1

As in real estate: Location, Location, Location.

That means easy access by non-stop air, train, and car. And the promise of grown-up fun at the end of the journey. Think about a destination you’d spend your own money on for a good time. Then site your meeting there. Assuming 3,000 plus attendees: San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, New York City,  Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Orlando, make the short list. Of these, Orlando is my least favorite (my kids are grown). These destinations come with a price. They are expensive. You’ll need big numbers to get the best return on investment.

If you can’t afford Tier 1, try Tier 2. Some of my favorite conferences have been in cities like Key West, Miami, Seattle, Austin, Nashville, San Antonio, Reno. These are best for smaller meetings where content is king and networking is queen.

Pillar #2

Irresistible content.

So you don’t have a Tier 1 destination. Your October meeting is in Philadelphia, Chicago, Boulder, Dallas. They are good cities, but no-one would spend their own money to go there in October. You need irresistible content. That content could be all the CEUs you need for your certification maintenance. It could be top industry speakers. It could be content that makes you money, advances your career, or keeps you out of jail. Regardless, the content has to be more than interesting. It has to be personally indispensable.

Pillar #3

Networking-- all your friends, and your future friends, will be there.

So your content is so-so and your destination is mediocre. Are you doomed to throwing a party that no one attends?

Your last play is to the human need for connection and belonging. Meetings are a chance for people to get together with friends they rarely see. If I knew that my friends, that I see rarely, would be gathering at a certain place and time, I’d be inclined to be there as well. Nobody misses a family reunion if they can help it.

My organization did some research on who goes to meetings. There is a predictable segment of membership that regularly attends meetings. They value networking. They are connected to other members. They volunteer. They are social. The association is a hub for them and they look forward to meetings as a chance to get together with associated friends and colleagues. This is a huge deal. Your meeting should be the party that no one wants to miss because everyone will be there. Build in time for this. Anything you can do to foster connections between members further binds them to you, as the nexus.

Random thoughts

Anytime you start reducing a highly complex activity to a few simple ideas you are forced to leave out the secondary and tertiary factors that represent true excellence.

These are the Big Three that get folks to put there money down and fill the seats (and rooms).

Of course, if you are holding a meeting for <100 people, the world is your oyster. Pick a prime destination based on your knowledge of your attendees.

I’m not a meetings professional. I’ve managed meetings, but it really doesn’t suit my personality. Some people thrive on the attention to detail in preparation, the crisis management, the haggling with facilities at the end. They are called meeting planners and they are golden.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ultimate party list?

Here's a party list I'd like to get on:


Chris Anderson, Curator, TED; Chris Anderson, Editor, Wired; Yves Behar, Designer, FuseProject; Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web Consortium , MIT; Jeff Bezos, CEO,; Zack Bogue, Montara Capital Partners; Stewart Brand, Long Now Foundation; Lawrence Brilliant, M.D., Skoll Urgent Threats Fund; Sergey Brin, Co-Founder & President, Technology, Google; John Brockman, Edge Foundation; Max Brockman, VP, Brockman, Inc.; Rodney Brooks, Computer Sciencist, Heartland Robotics, MIT; Jason Calacanis, CEO, Mahalo; Jean Case, The Case Foundation; Steve Case, Revolution Health ; Laura Chang, Editor, Science Times, The New York Times; Nicholas Christakis, Network Scientist, Harvard ; George Church, Genomics Researcher, Harvard; Larry Cohen, Gates Foundation ; Jared Cohen, US State Department; June Cohen, Director, TED Media; Keith Coleman, Gmail Product Director, Google; Daniel Dennett, Philosopher, Tufts; Susan Dennett; Peter Diamandis, X Prize; Esther Duflo, Economist, MIT;Denis Dutton, Founder & Editor, Arts & Letters Daily ; Jesse Dylan, Film Director, FreeForm; Juan Enriquez, Biotechonomy LLC; Tony Fadell, Advisor to Steve Jobs & Former Senior VP, iPOD Division, Apple;Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft; Co-Chair, Gates Foundation; Matt Groening, The Simpsons; Sam Harris, Neuroscientist; Annaka Harris, Co-Founder, Reason Project, Editor; W. Daniel Hillis, Computer Scientist, Applied Minds ; Pati Hillis; Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post; Chad Hurley, Co-Founder, CEO, YouTube; Xeni Jardin, Co-Founder, Boing Boing; Bill Joy, Kleiner Perkins ; Shannon Joy; Daniel Kahneman, Psychologist, Princeton; Salar Kamangar, VP, Product Management, Google; Dean Kamen, Inventor, Deka Research; Rosemary Leith, The World Wide Web Foundation; Steven Levy, Wired; Danielle Lambert, Former Senior VP, Human Resources, Apple; Benoit Mandelbrot, Mathematician, Yale ; Aillette Mandelbrot;John Markoff, The New York Times; Katinka Matson, Cofounder, Edge Foundation; Marissa Mayer, VP, Search Products & User Experience Google; Dave Morin, Facebook; Kary Mullis, Chemist, Xytronyx, Inc.; Nancy Mullis; Nathan Myhrvold, Intellectual Ventures; Jacqueline Novogratz, Acumen Fund; Tim O'Reilly, O'Reilly Media; Dean Ornish, M.D., Preventive Medicine Research Institute; Larry Page, Co-Founder & President, Products, Google; Lucy Page Southworth, Biomedical Post-Doc, Stanford; Lori Park, Google; Ryan Phelan, DNA Direct; Jean Pigozzi, Investor, Liquid Jungle Lab; Ricardo Salinas Pliego, Grupo Salinas, Grupo Elektra; Nicholas Pritzker, Hyatt Development Corporation; Lisa Randall, Physicist, Harvard;David Rockwell, Architect, The Rockwell Group; Andres Roemer, La Ciudad de las Ideas Festival; Jacqui Safra, Investor, Vintner, Encyclopædia Britannica; Michael Shermer, Skeptic Magazine; Jeff Skoll, Participant Media ; Galia Solomonoff, Solomonoff Architecture Studio; Michael Specter, The New Yorker;Linda Stone, Hi-Tech Industry Consultant; Kara Swisher, Wall Street Journal, All Things Digital; Richard Thaler, Behavioral Economist, University of Chicago; Michael Tchao, VP, iPAD Product Marketing Division, Apple; Anne Treisman, Psychologist, Princeton; Craig Venter, Genomics Researcher, Synthetic Genomics;Karen Wickre, Google; Evan Williams, CEO, Twitter; Anne Wojcicki, 23 and Me; Susan Wojciki, Vice President, Product Management, Google; Nathan Wolfe, Biologist, Stanford; Stephen Wolfram Physicist, Wolfram Research; Elise Wolfram
From the Edge dinner: "New Age of Wonder".

Monday, February 15, 2010

What if Associations Weren’t Afraid to Make Money? Part 1

What if Associations Weren’t Afraid to Make Money?
How associations can create markets to generate serious cash.

My advice is:
Don’t create products, create markets. Then, create the products.
If your annual product planning cycle isn’t looking forward, building on a 10 year plan, then you are just reacting, and you are doomed to mediocrity, or worse.

This is in response to the thought provoking post What If Associations Weren’t Afraid to Generate Serious Cash? by Kevin Holland on his Association Inc. blog. I think comments are closed now, but then, I’m about a month behind.  :<)

Kevin offers some ideas on products that an association can create with limited time, money, and resources. They are all pretty good and worth exploring for some short term cash.

Forget short term for a bit and let’s look long.

I’d like to talk a bit about something that isn’t widely understood by many associations, That is, how associations can create markets and own them. The fact is, associations are uniquely positioned to create markets. Their structure, their wealth of member trust; give associations power to create, regulate, and supply markets. Some associations understand this idea and use it to good advantage. The concept is also not lost on for-profit competitiors. It is, however, more difficult for them.  But some commercial enterprises are encroaching with their own certifications, assuming the role of the professional association. Associations cede this territory at their own risk. You know who your competition is and it’s a safe bet they aren’t all nonprofits.

If you are any good, you have for-profit competition.

Advice for associations ready to take the long view: create a market with the intention of providing products and services to support it.

There are two primary opportunities for creating markets that are unique to associations.
  • Certification
  • Standards and nomenclatures

I’m going to split this post into two parts. In part one of this post I’ll deal with certification products and opportunities.

Part I
Professional certification, through an association, to a body of knowledge established by the association is a huge revenue opportunity. Certifications are often referred to as the “golden handcuffs”. Certification binds with money, if not blood.

 As an example, I recently earned my CAE designation through ASAE. There were upfront costs for me in preparation and certification, paid to ASAE. There will be credential maintenance costs now that I hold the credential. These costs include membership dues and continuing education credits. I expect that I will continue to be a member of ASAE and will purchase products that qualify for continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain my certification status for as long as I work in the association space. Let’s conservatively put the value of my future purchases at $3K over the next 5 years. That’s a 200% increase over my annual dues revenue for the same period. Plus, I’m retained as a member. My return-on-investment is, as yet, undetermined.

Some products that are related to certification:
  • Pre-certification
    • Membership
    • Books
    • Courses
    • Testing fees
  • Post-certification- anything with CEUs attached.
    • Membership- as a requirement for credential maintenance.
    • Books
    • Courses
    • Assessments (verification of continuing education)
    • Distance learning and seminars
    • Meetings
    • Velvet rope channels
    • 3rd party CEU approvals (you must charge for this!)
    • Other CE maintenance opportunities.
The primary challenges for the association establishing a certification are to create visibility and value of the certification within the marketplace. Does the credential get you more money in the marketplace? Is the credential required for employment consideration and reference in employment postings? It can take time to establish your credentialing within the employer community. When employers recognize that your credential means quality and start listing it in job postings, your program is "golden".

 Creating a certification program is not done in a day. You need to establish a body of knowledge based upon a job analysis for the position. You’ll need buy in from members. You will need member participation in establishing the credential, defining the body of knowledge, and creating accurate assessments of competency. Many members will welcome the opportunity to be credentialed. Some will resist, seeing it as another hurdle for them after they have already proven themselves. Consider how barriers can be lowered, or existing members can be grandfathered during a specific window.

If the barriers to entry are too high, your credential may fail. Beware of protectionist instincts that restrict your credential to an existing association membership. Your credential should facilitate your association’s long term growth.

 To enhance the credibility of your certification, you will want 3rd party accreditation for your certification scheme. The two primary accreditors for professional certification are National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and ANSI.

 Attaining these 3rd party accreditations is not that hard if you can do what you think you should do. There are costs involved. These accreditations will set your program over and above the credentials offered by your for-profit competitors.

 Part II on the way:
Non-dues revenue through standards and nomenclatures.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WTF? Wisconsin Tourism Federation changes name after Internet jokes

I don't recall reading this in my hometown Wisconsin State Journal, but it made news in the UK.

WTF? Wisconsin Tourism Federation changes name after Internet jokes.

This is why Wisconsin always gets bigs laughs on late nite monologues.

You can bet no one will make fun of the World Taikwando Federation. They own the domain

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

35 million reasons to consider mobile giving in your fundraising future

By now everyone has seen the text "Haiti" to 90999 to give $10 ads. A lot of us have responded. A heckuva lot of us. Over 3.5 million if my math is correct.

The Miami Herald reports on 2/2/10:

"As of Monday, $35 million had been donated by text message to a variety of organizations working to improve conditions in Haiti."

This is powerful leveraging of the ubiquitous cellphone. It's hard think of any faster, easier way for an individual to donate a small amount of money. The $10 ask is so small that it isn't a second thought. Painless. No forms to fill out. You can even donate from you car (stop it first).

I'm betting this puts 90999 and on the radar screens of many nonprofits. There are other companies that provide similar services. MGive has the American Red Cross account, among others.

The article continues:
"Following the Jan. 12 earthquake, more than two dozen short codes were created to allow cellphone users to donate $5 or $10 to an organization and pay for the contribution on their cellphone bill.Most of those donations -- more than $24 million -- were made to the American Red Cross."

But there are things to watch out for. Service fees and commissions for one, delays in payment for another:
"Under normal circumstances, it could take as long as 90 days for the beneficiaries to receive the contributions because cellphone companies usually wait until they collect donations from customers via their bills before passing the money along." In this instance, many cellphone providers have advanced the funds.

I wouldn't suggest that mobile giving is all you need to do.Micro-pledges can add up to big numbers that can augment your other development efforts. Is there a text 90999 in your organization's future?

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Blogger to discontinue FTP support on 3/26

If you use FTP to update your Blogger blog on your own domain (as I do) you'll want to read this:

Dear FTP user:

You are receiving this e-mail because one or more of your blogs at are set up to publish via FTP. We recently announced a planned shut-down of FTP support on Blogger Buzz (the official Blogger blog), and wanted to make sure you saw the announcement. We will be following up with more information via e-mail in the weeks ahead, and regularly updating a blog dedicated to this service shut-down here:

The full text of the announcement at Blogger Buzz follows.
Last May, we discussed a number of challenges facing[1] Blogger users who relied on FTP to publish their blogs. FTP remains a significant drain on our ability to improve Blogger: only .5% of active blogs are published via FTP — yet the percentage of our engineering resources devoted to supporting FTP vastly exceeds that. On top of this, critical infrastructure that our FTP support relies on at Google will soon become unavailable, which would require that we completely rewrite the code that handles our FTP processing.

Three years ago we launched Custom Domains[2] to give users the simplicity of Blogger, the scalability of Google hosting, and the flexibility of hosting your blog at your own URL. Last year's post discussed the advantages of custom domains over FTP[3] and addressed a number of reasons users have continued to use FTP publishing. (If you're interested in reading more about Custom Domains, our Help Center has a good overview[4] of how to use them on your blog.) In evaluating the investment needed to continue supporting FTP, we have decided that we could not justify diverting further engineering resources away from building new features for all users.

For that reason, we are announcing today that we will no longer support FTP publishing in Blogger after March 26, 2010. We realize that this will not necessarily be welcome news for some users, and we are committed to making the transition as seamless as possible. To that end:

We are building a migration tool that will walk users through a migration from their current URL to a Blogger-managed URL (either a Custom Domain or a Blogspot URL) that will be available to all users the week of February 22. This tool will handle redirecting traffic from the old URL to the new URL, and will handle the vast majority of situations.
We will be providing a dedicated blog[5] and help documentation
Blogger team members will also be available to answer questions on the forum, comments on the blog, and in a few scheduled conference calls once the tool is released.