All it takes is a thank you note!

There are so many layers to a story, and those layers can continually evolve regardless of time!

I was riding home from Charleston, SC a few days ago. The wife and I were tired and it was getting close to 8pm, a long day visiting my sister-in-law Susanna at the College of Charleston. As we were navigating the back-roads of this I-385 detour, my iPhone began ringing with an unfamiliar phone number displayed. This self-employeed businessman never passes up an opportunity to talk about business, so I answered. The gentleman introduced himself and called me by my name…he said, “My name is Gary and I helped your family three years ago when I worked for Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Columbia.” This begins our little journey.

This story ultimately begins with a trip. My wife’s family is notorious for packing a car full of family and that car is notorious for breaking down at the worst of times. This time it was a hot spring day, Friday afternoon traffic in Columbia, SC. Seriously, 5pm traffic on Interstate 26 towards Bowman, SC. Bowman was their destination, where my wife’s grandfather had passed away. They needed to be at the funeral home before 6:30pm, to greet family and friends the day before the funeral. Stuck on the side of the road, they do what they normally do…call me. Being two hours behind them, I did what I knew best…call Enterprise Rent-A-Car, because they have a simple motto, “We’re Enterprise, we’ll pick you up!”

So I called the nearest Enterprise based on their location, it was a branch at the Columbia, SC airport. Gary from Enterprise answered the phone and I explained the situation. He broke protocol, took a Town and Country van, dropped it off, helped them exchange cars, and my family was on their way arriving in Bowman right at 6:30pm. He stayed with the car until the tow truck arrived and then got a ride back to the branch office. It was this can-do attitude and service that has now earned a lifetime customer, yes…I am a card carrying rewards member of Enterprise.

After hearing this story, I wrote a series of letters to his boss, the corporate office, and the southeastern manager. A series of thank you notes. It probably took an hour of my time. He had the time to help my family, I had the time to tell Enterprise…because of Gary, they now have a loyal customer.

Back to the phone call. So while talking to Gary on the phone, he began telling me that it was those letters that prompted him to call me. He was calling to thank me. He told me that those thank you letters changed his life. HOLD ON? I asked, “what do you mean, changed your life?”

He continued explaining; because of that letter, he was immediately promoted to a marketing division. After a while, and a few downsizing efforts, he was laid off. I immediately perked up and wondered where this conversation was leading. He went on to explain that he took some time to consider what was next after Enterprise. He had enjoyed investing his retirement package at Enterprise and began helping family and friends with their portfolio. This prompted him to begin researching the business of investments. After a series of meetings, many certification tests, several interviews, and a long training process…it was decision time for Edward Jones Investments. He went to meet with a VP of Edward Jones, and as a part of his application package for his own branch, he included this very letter from that I wrote to Enterprise. The VP basically told him that this letter was the only thing he needed to make his decision.

So Gary was calling me on this day, March 1st to thank me. You see, it was March 1st…this day that his branch in Lexington, SC was opening for the first time! He had reached his dream, to own his own business, be his own boss, and help people. He was thanking me for writing that letter. What he did not realize, while he was thanking me, tears were running down my eyes. I was actually thanking him, because this story, this day brought a new meaning to my life. It was this day he had changed my life. His one phone call, his few minutes thanking me made me see the world in a difference way. He had once again made a serious impact in my life.

It is amazing what a thank you note will do. It is amazing the residual effect from a single gesture. It is amazing the layers to this story, that connected us once again. I have yet to meet Gary, but I will be making a trip to shake his hand. Thanks Gary, thank you for being you. You are an inspiration!

This post is dedicated to a few people:

  • To Denise Weathers, my mother-in-law who is no longer with us but made a tremendous impression on Gary that day!
  • To John Warner who taught me the value of a simple social media called a thank you note!
  • To Bob Dotson who has helped me learn the value of the red-string and finding those stories with layers.

Update your Facebook Fan Page from TweetDeck

So I was searching around for this option and could not figure this out. But thanks to a search and a comment in a post from Andreas Stephan, I was able to figure this out!

Andreas Stephan’s Comment:

“TweetDeck supports this natively. Took me a while to figure that out: Go to you FB account in Tweet Deck, you can add pages at the bottom of the account settings. You wil then be able to post to your fan page directly from TweetDeck. Hope this helps some people.”

Here is a step-by-step process for integrating the ability to update your Facebook Fan Page via TweetDeck. FYI, you need to be an administrator of this Fan Page to make this an option.

First, you have to add your Facebook Account to TweetDeck:

  • Open TweetDeck
  • Go to the upper right hand corner and look for the wrench – CLICK
  • Select Accounts
  • Click Add New Account
  • Select Add a Facebook Account
  • Provide the necessary information to add your Facebook Account
  • Save

Add the Fan Page to TweetDeck to update in the status bar:

  • Open TweetDeck
  • Go to the upper right hand corner and look for the wrench – CLICK
  • Select Accounts
  • Select Facebook in the center of the screen
  • Below Click Add Pages
  • Log Into Facebook from TweetDeck
  • Select your relevant Fan Page

Thanks so much Andreas for your help!

What am I really trying to measure? A Conversation?

So I have been thinking a bit about all these various discussions relevant to Social Media and how to measure success. People want a metric…they want to measure something! Whether it is the “SIZE” of the community, the number of leads, or the amount of revenue generated, etc.

I just read an excellent blog post by Amber Naslund titled: “How I made $100K with Twitter.” This was such a great post, but what I walked away from this post was this simple point, you get as much as you put into it. I know that sounds so elementary, but it is so true.

“The magic in making money with social media isn’t that the site or social network becomes a revenue center itself. I didn’t sell stuff on Twitter. I gave people access to me and my expertise, and paid attention to when the time might be right to talk business.” Amber Naslund, Radian6

So what are we trying to measure? If we are business people,  we want to know that we will get something in return for the time we invest into this medium. If we are a large company, we want to measure the scale of time as it directly relates to the revenue or sales it generates. If we are a cause or advocacy group, we want to measure the reach of our message; basically how many people we can communicate and get them reciprocate the message.

This is what I want to measure:

  • Connectivity is increasing: I want to know that my community is growing and I can continue to connect with other smart people.
  • Revenue is increasing: I want to know that the number of people I am reaching has some direct effect on the revenue I generate.
  • Generation of New Ideas: I want my ever increasing connectivity to help me to become more innovative.
  • My “Competition”: I want to be able to engage and watch what my “competitors” are doing as they innovate.
  • Reciprocity: I want to know that if I am sharing, others are sharing back.
  • Clicks: I want to measure if people are clicking what I want them to click.

I think of the ole education story. Remember back when we went to college, and it was hard to get up in the morning for that 8am class. Sometimes we would skip and wonder what we missed? Then there are some of us that might have been perpetual skippers and wonder why we could not get good grades. I was one of those people. But my academic advisor told me this, your success in the classroom dramatically increases if you just show up for class. Think about that statement for a second. Your success can be attributed to the amount of time you engage.

I think the same thing is true for any portal of conversation you choose to find value. The more you engage in the conversation, the bigger return. The key word here is conversation…not dictatorship. People want conversations, opportunities to grow, listen, and to be heard. People want to share with like minded people. If you are in the business world, they want to share business with people that understand how to solve their problems. This goes back to listening .

So here is my metric: I can directly correlate the number of times I listen to the amount of meaningful conversations I have, whether it is business or personal. If I listen, I can help people solve problems. If I am a good listener, then my network is big…AND if I can’t solve the problem, there is someone in my network that can probably help solve that problem.

What stories are you listening to today?

BTW, here is a good discussion Social Media ROI from Olivier Blanchard. I think the guy is smart and has figured this out.

WOW! Bobby hits the track BMW style!

So today was the day! Yes, and it was what I least expected! A few weeks ago, I had the tremendous opportunity to meet up with someone cool, the one and only Kamran Popkin from SWAG Club. This guy is more than just about great SWAG, but sharing some fun and connecting people. He invited a few of us for a corporate trip out to the BMW Performance Track in Spartanburg, SC next to the BMW Manufacturing facility where they build the X5’s for international distribution.

As I got into my little red 1991 BMW 325i convertible, and made my way to Spartanburg, I had no idea what was in store for the day. As I pulled into the facility and made my way inside, I was greeted by some close friends who had also decided to attend this day. From there, it was lunch, some ground rules and off to the track. OK…ground rules and off to the track…YES….we are going to RACE BMW’s on a performance track. No weird Interstate driving where we are worried about blue lights. Yes, it was the petal to the metal. BTW, one of the attendees was late today because he was pulled over on the way to the day’s activities, he was a little PUMPED! Rightfully so!

So…four tracks, eight different BMW’s, 38 attendees and time for loads of fun. We started with driving the X5’s on an off road track where you can take the SUV through 2.5 feet of water, on steep inclines, and even on two wheels, YES..TWO WHEELS. My partner for the day was Wendi Hil,l whom is also a marketing professional. From the moment we jumped into the X5, it was a day off holding onto the “Ole Shit” handle accompanied by loads of laughter and screams.

So a few things that rocked my boat:
1) Racing a BMW 650i on a timed track.
We were able to drive a black 650i on a timed track where we could unleash the 4.8L 360HP V8…and charge around the track in uniform chaos with a partner in the car. Here is Wendi as she drove around the track, a video from my iPhone. Notice the intensity in her eyes and the shake in my hand as we scream around the track. If you listen, you can here the scream of the engine!

2) The Instructor “Hot Run” – AKA Check your Britches Run!
This is where the instructors get to take us ego driven goof balls (after we think we have mastered the track) and show us how to really drive a BMW M5 on this “Performance Track.” Umm…OK, my head still hurts, I never thought that I could ride in a car where the only forward motion that was created was when the car was sideways. What do I mean, this M5 spent more time moving up the track sideways than actually wheels pointing forward. After slipping and sliding, a few 360’s, my head hurt from laughing so hard! My hand was permanently engrained into the “Ole Shit” handle above the window. IT WAS AWESOME! It is amazing the performance and safety of a BMW M5.

3) The BMW 135i 3.0 Liter Twin Turbo
This little two seater actually has four seats, but the two in the back are the insurance seats. But, this little firecracker on the open track made me get on the gas in the open straight-aways and get on the brakes before those sharp turns because of this amazing power. WOW! Man does it have torque! This was my favorite car of the day, and at the nearly $30K price tag, WOW!

All I can say to my friend Kamran Popkin, thanks a BUNCH! He knows how to through a party BMW style! What a great pre-birthday present!

Trial lawyers are storytellers as well!

I was having a great conversation with a friend and client the other day about storytelling; Andy Arnold of W. Andrew Arnold Law Firm. He was talking about his past and how he almost went to seminary, but ultimately chose to become a lawyer. The more we chatted the more he explained how trial lawyers are storytellers, guiding the jury through an “argument.” This argument is made up of layers of micro-stories, all connected with an overarching mission to prove a case.

We are all storytellers; so I thought I would share an impromptu interview with Andy Arnold who practices employment law and nursing home litigation. Take a few minutes to listen to our conversation wrapped around the idea that lawyers are telling stories, especially when trying a case in a court of law.

Check out Andy Arnold’s website:
Check out Andy Arnold’s blog called Blogger At Law:
Follow Andy on Twitter:

Excited: The New is Up and Rolling

I want to thank the peeps over at Pixelmeld, LLC (Dave Lee and Andy Macdonald) for making this happen! We spent lots of time working on the video player for the main website using HTML5 technology compressing multiple flavors of video so that the front page could play in many different browsers and the iPhone. Bottom-line, we want to avoid using Flash video.

The site was designed using ModX CMS along with a WordPress Blog. The blog was styled with a custom template to match the branding of the main site. The part that took the most time was trying to get the background of the video as close to a true white to match the website. The video on the homepage was shot in HD on a green screen using both Final Cut Pro to edit and Avid Media Composer’s key capabilities to match colors for the background.

I also want to thank George Law for his technical expertise and direction while making this happen. He is one hell of a Linux Administrator! I am just a video guy and I like to surround myself with smart people, like George, Dave, and Andy. WOOT!

Building a Tribe – Building a Digital Strategy

Here are some notes that I use when working with groups to create a new media strategy, most of the ideas come from Seth Godin‘s “Tribes.”
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” ~ Seth Godin – “Tribes”

Creating a Micro-movement

  1. Publish a manifesto
  2. Make it easy for your followers to connect with you.
  3. Make it easy for your followers to connect with one another.
  4. Realize that money is not the point of a movement.
  5. Track your progress.

Identify the Brand (The Context)

  1. Audience
  2. Purpose
  3. Delivery

What is your Mission Statement?

What is your communication strategy?

Who are you trying to reach?

How to create reach? How to build the Tribe:
Build the Digital Media Presence:

  • Web has become more than one-direction
  • Create rich media for all audiences to engage
  • Create portals of conversations
  • User created content
  • Content Management System (CMS), Twitter, Facebook, Picasa, Flickr

Build the Events

  • Create events that engage students, industry, and academy in one conversation.
  • Create events for each group to engage internally & empower conversation.

Build a Community

  • Build the digital platform where students, faculty, staff, industry can engage, connect, and build relationships.
  • Use this digital community provide regular information about the community.
  • Use this digital community to create profiles for all to connect.
  • Build regular events around the intellectual engine.
  • Have thought leaders, entrepreneurs share innovation.
  • Provide a platform where students and industry can engage on common ground.

“A movement is thrilling. It’s the work of many people, all connected, all seeking something better. The new highly leveraged tools of the Net make it easier than ever to create a movement, to make things happen, to get things done. All that’s missing is leadership.” ~ Seth Godin – “Tribes”

There is something special about true customer service!

A few weeks ago, I was in Spartanburg, SC and decided to have lunch with a good friend! Jim O’Donnell (some people know him as @JimSharp because he is the scissor sharpening business) of Wolff Industries took me out to lunch, the original Fatz Cafe was our destination. If you have not gone to the Fatz Cafe in Spartanburg, SC, you are missing out on something special. They have the best fried chicken strips around.

As we walk into Fatz Cafe, it was noticeably busy but we were immediately seated in a special section. I do not mean special because of some big event going on, but it was because Jim is a regular at Fatz and has grown to know almost all of the staff.

As we sat and began chatting, he was telling me of this waitress that just retired and had worked at this particular Fatz for close to 23 years. Who works at a restaurant as a server for 23 years (I thought in my mind as we ordered two Dr. Peppers). I also learned that Jim loved Dr. Pepper as much as I did…good guy I tell ya! Back to the story; Jim continues to tell me how this one lady, this one server could work magic in this restaurant.  He explained one time he wanted a particular soft drink that Fatz did not serve. Instead of telling him that they did not serve this soft drink, she took his order and brought him what he requested. What he later found out is that as soon as she walked away with the drink order, she walked across the street to purchase the soft drink, put in on ice like any other drink, and serve it to him without he even knowing it was an issue. Now that is customer service.

This lady loved her job and she loved her customers. She loved the people that walk through the door, this was shown by  the way she made them feel special. After about five minutes into his explanation, I felt like I knew this lady and no longer viewed her as a “waitress.” She was the face of this establishment for close to 23 years.

As Jim and I sat and continued chatting about this lady, our waitress for that day told Jim that Shryl was here and Jim’s eyes lit up immediately. You see, Shryl Dover was that waitress of 23 years…the one that walked across the street to get that special soft drink. Our waitress walked back to find Shryl to send her our way. As she peered around the corner, it was like old friends picking up where they left off…Jim and Shryl just chatted without missing a beat.

jim-and-shrylYou see, it was that day the young owner of this Fatz Cafe had talked Shryl into coming back part time. That owner knew that Shryl had a tribe, a group of people that enjoyed seeing her smiling face….that special touch when it comes to true customer service. I made a new friend that day and I will never see Fatz Cafe as just the building that serves great fried chicken strips,  I will see it as the place where I can come talk to a friend and the fried chicken strips are the bonus.

Thanks Shryl Dover and thanks Jim O’Donnell for sharing this story! Everybody has a story to tell, even in a Fatz Cafe!

All it takes is a cup of coffee…

When you are walking to your office, or walking to grab lunch, through a crowd of people…do you realize that you are surrounded by some smart people? Everyday we probably come in close contact with more than 250-300 people, as we walk from one place to the next. If you live in New York City, Chicago, LA, or other large metropolitan areas…we probably walk pass thousands of people a day. Imagine if you took the time everyday to find one person, one that you have not met and introduced yourself..then bought them a cup of coffee?

Imagine being a student again on college campus, getting up every morning to go to class. It is 8:45am and you are on your way to you 9am class. If you attended a large university with over 15,000 students, you probably pass close to 1000 to 2000 students on your way everyday. Imagine if you left a bit early and picked one person a day and bought them a cup of coffee. You might start a conversation with the next President of the United States, the next GM of Ford Motor Corp, the next religious leader of our time, the next Defense Secretary, etc. What if that person turns out to be a business partner, your lawyer, your minister, your accountant, someone you might do business with one day. College campuses have the greatest potential for human capital and also the greatest potential for building long term relationships.

coffee-class1Now if you take that same principal and place it into your everyday work routine. Imagine taking just a few minutes everyday and meeting someone new. The cup of coffee is just a pathway to a conversation…it is a connection point. So is thaa game of golf or other relationship building tool…just a connection mechanism. But do we really foster those relationships?

Some people are coining this economic situation as one of the worst in decades. Many people are looking for work, struggling to find jobs, resorting to paying people to write resumes or lots of money on technologies like LinkedIn. But do we really get jobs or forge business deals solely on a piece of paper that holds our credentials? People that excel in tough economic times are those who have forged relationships and can pick up the phone to call for help or a favor. They have been building their human network for years and years. All it takes is a cup of coffee.

coffee-class2So each semester, I take one day and make my students follow me to the coffee shop on Clemson’s campus. Today was that day. It was a day to forget about proposals, projects, and grades…it was a day to talk about what it means to leverage those relationships and the greatest potential that walks by them each day during class change.

Are we building our tribe? Are we building our network? What are we passionate about? Everybody has a story to tell…even over a cup of coffee.

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
~Seth Godin

Finding stories within an organization, peeling back layers.

It is all about connecting to your audiences…your constituency bases. Stories create identity between and organization and those who have the greatest potential to engage.

Stories are finite, clear, concise messages that uncover the layers of information that give the audience the true perspective of an organization. These stories are not one-dimensional, there are two streams of consciousness within one story: the facts (subject) and the supplementary position that brings color to the facts.

    It is easy to pick broad general ideas to write about; but the stories that people connect with are the ones that people will share (repeat). So how do organizations find and create stories that are repeatable? They must first understand their brand and the umbrella message. This is the rhetorical position that shapes the messages and how the layers of information are organized.

    So what are the stories within organizations where people will connect? Hmm…people. People connect with stories about people. People are the faces of an organization. Each person has specific stories how they help shape, support, and build the foundation of an organization. People tell their stories best. People have layers of stories, ones that are connected by the “red-string” that represents the brand of the organization.

    stuffed-artichokes2Use frequency when telling these stories. Find the people that have stories that change a view-point, raise someone’s’ awareness, or reveal a new idea…and tell those stories. Tell them on a regular basis. Identify the layers of the stories and use those layers as the frequency. Each time you tell a story, peel away one more layer…one more piece of the bigger story. As one more piece is revealed and each micro story is told…the audience gains a bigger insight into the “red-string”.

    Think of it this way…if you use Twitter or Facebook, you are making regular posts or status updates. Those are the micro-stories about you; and ‘your personality’ is the red-string.  The more you post, the more you connect, the more your audience gains insight to who you are and your personality. People begin to peel back the layers into you and your daily context. Use the same approach when telling and delivering stories. Give people little stories frequently, ones that peel back the layers and allow the audience to see the bigger idea. Do it frequently and efficiently.

    The more stories you tell, your more layers you reveal, the more the red-string is reveal…which is the heart (or the core) of the bigger story.