Monday, November 30, 2009

Tiger Woods & The Media – how not to make a PR crash after you’ve had a car crash.

Had Tiger Woods said: “Elin and I had a fight and I stormed out of the house”, instead of lambasting the media and saying: “this is a private matter”, everyone would have understood and carried on with their own business (after all, who among us has not ever had a spousal dispute?) and Woods’s accident would have been a forgotten minor incident by now.

If you find yourself in the media spotlight for less then perfect reasons, whether you are a celebrity or not, tell the truth, tell the whole story, tell it yourself (certainly not your lawyer, unless you face possible criminal charges) apologize, and ask forgiveness. Easy, and end of story.

Can Philosophy Change Your Life?

Everywhere you turn these days, it seems you are being introduced to someone who is described as a "Thought Leader", without much knowledge of what that means. Having only read a blurb so far of Marietta McCarty's new book, "How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most", it appeals to me. So, Amazon, here comes my order . . .!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Smarter Cities – Smarter Planet

IBM tells us that in 1900, just over a hundred years ago, only 13% of the global population lived in cities; by 2050, 70% will. What are the ramifications of rapid urbanization and what solutions does technology offer?

Issues IBM addresses in its “Smarter Planet” initiative include transportation (Atlanta traffic being what it is in 2009, I’d sure hate to be on the downtown connector or I-285 in 2050!), healthcare, education (see “Education in Georgia”, below), energy, water (as a Certified Georgia Master Gardener this is a topic I have studied and that concerns me greatly), employment (with accountability and transparency) – and that is just a start!

Phil Guido, IBM Corporation’s General Manager, U.S. East, spoke last week of the world’s interconnectedness, economically, socially and technically, and identified a “new wave” with an infusion of intelligence – “Instrumented, Interconnected and Intelligent”. He gave his audience several examples of “smart” global solutions, e.g. traffic flow in Stockholm, and crime fighting in New York City.

Three metro counties’ heads of government also spoke at the event.

John Eaves of Fulton listed his priorities as crime, healthcare and transportation, highlighting the success of transforming Grady Hospital into an independent nonprofit institution and the need for MARTA to expand. Burrell Ellis of DeKalb read a nice speech without specifics (“2010 will present challenges; urbanization impacts our lifestyles”. DeKalb is recruiting new businesses in healthcare, technology and other industries, and he wants DeKalb to have “the greenest government in America”), and Sam Olens of Cobb mentioned that “education is key”, starting with “showing up for Kindergarten”.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named the Cobb County Water System its 2009 WaterSense partner of the year in the Large Utility category, and the county is # 17 on the EPA’s “certified green” list, prompting Olens to remark that “Cobb is already green” – a little swipe at the speaker who preceded him?

More provocative than the other two counties’ speakers, Olens advocated for (1) the arts, mentioning the Gwinnett Arena and the Cobb Energy Center as examples of bringing the arts to the people, for (2) light rail, proposing to connect the City of Atlanta with Kennesaw State University, for (3) buying up park land to expand green spaces, and for (4) redoing the old, dilapidated traffic corridors (“areas now only good for loitering”), such as Cobb Parkway and Memorial Drive (another swipe at DeKalb?) with mixed-use redevelopment, saying several times that he is tired of talking and wants to see “dirt moving”. Not leaving the state of Georgia unscathed in his comments, Olens said he opposes giving tax abatements to companies that do not bring high-tech jobs to the state.

So, how does all this tie into IBM and its technology solutions?

We can learn from Brisbane, Albuquerque, Malta, Sao Paolo, Masdar City and other places around the globe. The question is: are we willing to learn, or do we think we already know it all (like the south Georgia father who does not see a need for his son to have a college education), here in Atlanta, in Georgia, in the United States?

Education in Georgia

When I chose the “Education” breakout session as a recent IBM “Smarter Planet” event, my two topics of interest where professional development for women (having observed that women are interested in having it, but only if their employers pay for it) and global curiosity (having observed that not just Georgians but Americans in general are fiercely uncurious about other countries, cultures, languages, people, and global careers.

During the 2-hour discussion, the focus, however, was Georgia’s high school dropout rate; causes and possible remedies. In the process, I learned a few things.

In Atlanta schools, 65-70% of the teachers are “old”, have tenure and are not prepared for the 21st century, despite lots of training. Unions are to blame. Teachers want to be regarded as “professionals”, but unionization prohibits this image.

Top university graduates do not want to go into teaching; parental pressure: “We did not send you to college to become a teacher!” Teachers come out of the bottom 1/3 of college graduates.

Skills needed for the future: communications, how to think; today’s young people are on-line, but do not know how to communicate.

Inadequate education leads to crime, New York City, with a population of 8.8 million has 13,000 people in jail; Atlanta, with a population of 4 million, has 14,000 in jail. The recidivism rate is 40%. What can Georgia do better?

Young people’s attitudes need to change. Very few will become super athletes or rock stars. How about parental expectations? “Below the gnat line” (Augusta-Macon-Columbus), with the exception of Savannah, fathers still tell their sons that education beyond high school is not necessary: “I did well enough without going to college, and you can too!”

The topics I proposed? Professional education was barely touched on (only by a school system administrator, who said there is plenty of it, costs the system tons of money and delivers few if any noticeable results) and the necessity of educating our children so that they can compete for jobs with global counterparts was endorsed by only one of the other 15 or so people in the room. I had hoped to ask if the participants were aware of the “Two Million Minutes” documentary (, but the focus was so immediately local that the opportunity did not present itself.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where Does The Trash Go?

This is funny. Or, at least I thought so . . . .!

Yesterday’s BlogWell event was held at the headquarters of Newell Rubbermaid, a company that, among zillions of other products, makes trash cans in all shapes, sizes and colors. The event’s ”snack break” (a single-file table with cookies and brownies [and supermarket fruits that still had the scan stickers on them . . .] for 250!) was held in a lovely area, right next to a fabulous display of company products (including trash cans!), but there were no receptacles for plates, cups, utensils and napkins. We all had to go out to the security desk in the lobby to dispose of the disposables (in their paper waste basket). Funny!

But, while Newell Rubbermaid’s hospitality folks came up short, the marketing people sure did their stuff well – we all went home with a generous handful of Sharpie pens and markers, including the much-touted stainless steel variety apparently popular with sports and entertainment celebrities. I wouldn’t know – I don’t hang out at sports events or on red carpets!

New Media – Standards & Practices

Andy Sernovitz (author of “Word of Mouth Marketing”), speaking at a BlogWell event in Atlanta yesterday, said it has been clear that New Media needs standards because we are all suffering from the results of E-Mail having been launched without them, viz. mailboxes full of spam.

The Social Media Business Council that was established as a result of this awareness has published a “Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit” that we can all access ( My company is a few zeros short of the $1 billion annual revenue required for membership in the Social Media Business Council, but that does not mean we cannot all learn from what “the big boys” are doing in the New Media realm.

Two of my pet peeves: (1) people hiding behind a pseudonym (I recently met someone whose on-line name is “froggie” – what’s wrong with “Anne”?), and (2) endless promotions of products and services (New Media is about listening and building relationships, not selling). What are yours?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Top-down or Bottom-up

This year, when you designed and began implementing your marketing plan, did you decide to buy a list of prospects, slice-and-dice them, narrow them down, come up with X number of prospects, which you then began to contact at random in order to come up with Y number of clients?


This is what Rick McPartlin of The CEO Challenge ( means when he denounces the "top-down" marketing plans, which he names as one of the characteristics of a "Best of the Worst" type of company. I do not want my company to be a BOTW and hope you do not want that for yours, either.

Happy analyzing of your 2009 results, and continued success in 2010!