Meet Greg Meyer: A Maven & a Mensch

I learned this when reading Guy Kawasaki’s Reality Check:

Leo Rosten, the Yiddish maven and author of The Joys of Yiddishdefines mensch this way:

Someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.

Read more: How to Change the World: How to Be a Mensch

Prize Ribbon
Prize Ribbon

Background

While trolling Twitter for #custdev, I came across You don’t need a business plan yet: 7 ideas for Customer Development « Information Maven: Greg Meyer. I read it, liked it and retweeted it. Shortly after words, I got a thanks mention from @grmeyer. Soon enough, one tweet led to another and then Greg asked for an interview.

Maven

The first thing Greg asked was “What can I do to help you?” – which surprised me because I thought Greg wanted to talk about my Nordie experience he posted on Deliver The Awesome.  Not so. Greg explained he likes being an Information Maven – “a trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others” – as described in his About.

Within moments, Greg was describing and offering to connect me with four, or, five contacts whom most likely share AnotherSocialEconomy’s Where Demand Comes to Meet Supply vision.  And while it’s always nice to get feedback and introductions from someone who “gets it”, it’s even more of a delight when they come through.

Mensch

Usually, someone coming through with an introduction takes the form of an email with contact info.  But not from the guy who runs a site called on Deliver The Awesome. Within a very short time, Greg sent out emails like:

[contact-name], meet Steven Milstein. Steven is a Montreal entrepreneur. You should know Steven because he’s working on a way to match up qualified buyers with qualified sellers for speciifc commerce / e-commerce needs.  Find out more at http://ReverseTheSearch.co.

Steven, meet [contact-name]. [contact-name] is [title / role]. You should know [contact-name because he’s a good guy and has lots of experience thinking about bringing concepts to market. Find out more at [useful link].

I hope this introduction proves useful!

Regards,
Greg

Networking User Stories

Now that’s an introduction! They remind me of User Stories that take the form of:

As a <type of user>, I want <some goal> so that <some reason>.

Not only were the introductions short & sweet but each were custom wordsmithed, hoping to capture how this introduction may be helpful to it’s recipients.

Mensch-wannabe

To all my friends out there, please follow @grmeyer and @DeliverAwesome, visit and offer up your own service, or, retail experience that made you feel great. You can also follow @GregAtGist, the product marketing guy for Gist – a wild product that melds all your contacts social streams in your own Dashboard, or, my fave, email Inbox.

Update

I’ve been practicing my @grmeyer inspired Networking User Stories whenever the opportunity arises & have to report, if nothing else, it is gratifying.  I’m not good at following-up, maybe because, I know people are inundated with others trying to connect & I don’t want to put anyone in the uncomfortable position of feeling they have to explain their actions, or, lack thereof to me.

But  based on all these networking experiences and months of various styles of breakfast meetings & coffee meetings,  even this post by James Altucher – The 9 Skills Needed to Become a Super Connector Altucher Confidential, I’m really pleased to say that we’re taking apart our startup’s lego blocks & reassembling them to service the needs of power networkers. Once relaunched, we’ll be “taking the mundane out of making it rain” by facilitating half of the skills James mentioned.

Startup Lessons Learned 2011. Has It Been a Year Already?

You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards.

– Steve Jobs’ Stanford University Commencement address (2005)

 

 

Garr Reynolds' "Career Advice '08"

Background

I was preparing a Prezi presentation on my startup Lessons Learned, looking back to my blog and and our Cynapse cyn.in social software suite for help in tracing my steps and it hit me.  OMG! It’s been two years since I posted about this Steve Jobs quote & Garr Reynolds’ images are still stuck in my mind’s eye. It’s been one year since I posted about my first Pivot – inspired by Startup Lesson Learned 2010 conference and the Retrospective (Agile) has simply compelled me to blog about my dots and where they have led me.

My Lessons Learned Sprints

My Lessons Learned Prezi may still be a work in process but the dots seem to be in place.  Trying to blog about the entire Retrospective is just too daunting. So in the spirit of Agile, I’ll break the Prezi up into dot-size sprints and will change the posted dates accordingly.

In the meantime, you can read about my favorite part of  Startup Lessons Learned Conference 2011Steve Blank’s Lean Launch Lab beta, as chronicled by Morgan Linton.

 

Can You Spot My Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Moment? Part 2

#7. PRACTICE THE ART OF COLLISION

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is a metaphor for life. What seems completely new is often just an unexpected combination of the familiar but previously disconnected. This is Innovation 101, but too often we forget, and think the one asset we have is the answer, rather than asking what we can bundle it with to transform its value.

Mark Payne on Blogging Innovation: The Ten Tenets of Transformation – Innovation blog articles, videos, and insights

Background

In my previous post, I described how I was struggling with my lean start-up sales and marketing efforts on seemingly two separate fronts. In keeping with my perseverance theme, here’s how I combining these two  into one complimentary offering, yet still affording me the possibility of either one, or, better yet both launching a business.

Ingredients

  1. My peanut butter – AnotherSocialEconomy: A service that anonymously connects consumers – who already know exactly what they want with local retailers – who actually have it in stock. It’s like Google Local Shopping only way simpler and more accessible for small and medium-size businesses (SMB).
  2. My chocolate – edu.cyn.in: A social software platform enabling collaboration not just within the class, school but across geographies. It’s like Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, MSN, Twitter, Blogger, Wikipedia, iTunes, Digg, Google Calendar and more, all in one integrated and monitored web site.

Directions

  1. Offer limited edu.cyn.in membership to local schools and organizations providing extra-curricular activities for free.
  2. Offer limited edu.cyn.in education and mentoring services to students, teachers, staff and parents on how to get the most of the platform with regard to sharing, commenting and rating content – for free.
  3. Offer limited edu.cyn.in education and mentoring services to students, teachers, staff and parents on how to get the most of the platform with regard to self-organizing projects and events thereby reducing phone calls and oodles of emails with attachments.
  4. Add AnotherSocialEconomy Widget to edu.cyn.in.
  5. Offer those edu organizations free local Sponsor links in edu.cyn.in.
  6. Offer those edu organizations the opportunity to become AnotherSocialEconomy Retailers, InfluencersResellers and/or Referrers.

(Should) Yield

Our Reeses Pieces should consist of a hyper-local (thanks Flack Maguire) online community of consumers and retailers/merchant/service providers. If we succeed in educating and mentoring are target edu.cyn.in audience, we could have one, or, two adult pair of eyes for every student pair of eyeballs. So one class of 25 students could yield anywhere between 2 and 50 additional eyeballs on edu.cyn.in. The better we educate and help folks adopt the social software, the greater chances we have of increasing those hyper-local eyeballs. The more eyeballs, the greater the chances we have of getting folks to use AnotherSocialEconomy’s Widget. More local consumers, more local merchants.

Additionally, since we’re also Cynapse Reseller, we’ve also introduced a whole new crop of highly qualified prospects into our sales funnel.

Stay Tuned

Please feel free to comment below and let me know your predictions. Will our ingredients yield another Reeses Pieces, or, is this plan going to curdle? Just remember, the alternative approach could be to pay Google AdWords $7500 a month for pay-per-click search engine marketing (SEM) and pray that’s cheaper than the time and hosting frees we’re currently investing.

Does Social Media aid, or, harm Literacy Levels?

“Young people are engaging in constant communication,” she said. “Whether it’s highly literate or not is another question. But there’s all kinds of Web activity that is enhancing literacy.”

— Montreal Gazette: Literacy no longer either/or

QR Code for Montreal Gazette "Literacy no longer either/or" Article
QR Code for Montreal Gazette "Literacy no longer either/or" Article

Nice

Nice article on Literacy! Since there’s no where to add Comments, I’ll just have to post my $0.02 CDN  here 🙂

In my opinion (IMO), there’s a direct correlation between the rise in literacy with the adoption of social software. From the netted-out 140 character tweets, to the 500 – 1000 word blogs, to the endless stream of live documents on wikis. But of course that’s IMO. There are other opinions out there which carry more weight than mine, such as, Seth Godin & Tom Peters on bloggingSTRATEGY_Story’s_More_Powerful.

But wait, there’s more…

How about leading by example and authoring a digital article embedded with all the social media elements & then having a simple 140 character one-liner, or, single paragraph printed in various sections of the Montreal Gazette with a link to the full digital version? You could use a QR Code for the link, so the more hip SmartPhone users can simply scan it & have it open in their browsers. How about trying a page, or, small section featuring a collection of these with their respective QR Codes, so people like myself can quickly determine what’s of interest to me, scan the link & bookmark, it, or, ReadItLaterList it.

Offer to help

Does anyone (at The Montreal Gazette) want help doing an article on how social media can improve not just one’s literacy level, but one’s effectiveness as a communicator through various multimedia like those presentations on SlideShare, videos on YouTube and podcast on iTunes? Feel free to peruse my blog for more info and please, please, please check out http://edu.cyn.infor a living experiment with elementary & high school students embracing social software.

Just a thought

Anyone else have any thoughts of social media, literacy and how to spread the words?

Can You Spot My Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Moment? Part 1

#7. PRACTICE THE ART OF COLLISION

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is a metaphor for life. What seems completely new is often just an unexpected combination of the familiar but previously disconnected. This is Innovation 101, but too often we forget, and think the one asset we have is the answer, rather than asking what we can bundle it with to transform its value.

Mark Payne on Blogging Innovation: The Ten Tenets of Transformation – Innovation blog articles, videos, and insights

Worlds Apart?
Worlds Apart?

The Chronicles

Peruse my blog and you’ll see I pretty much chronicle my experiences as an ultra light, non-funded, start-up entrepreneur. You’ll also see that I divide my time, not necessarily equally, among two main efforts: 1) called :Twetailer, which has morphed into :AnotherSocialEconomy and 2) :edu.cyn.in. While both were born out of a burning desire to correct something I found profoundly wrong, yet so “simple” to fix, I’ve always considered them to be worlds apart. That was until I tried to fill a void in my execution plans – sales & marketing. Now I know these are not subjects to be treated lightly but, in my own defense, I was primarily concerned about the Guy Kawasaki lesson How to Change the World: Defensibility. With all that reasonably taken care, I started educating myself on Search Engine Marketing (SEM). As a matter of fact, my very last post was how I used that new knowledge to rethink AnotherSocialEconomy’s :Widget. Who knew? It was not only another entry point/channel/stream into the system (remember, I’m a techie) but it actually competes – quite nicely, with Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Cost Per Click-through (CPC) and Cost Per Action (CPA).

Selling sucks

In the early days, I tried getting schools to pay for the edu.cyn.in service but, being a techie and not a sales rep, failed. There was either not enough budget to go around, not enough qualified staff to support the service, or, simply the FUD Factor (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt). But I’m a persistent bugger and based on my prior experience with social software on the Internet, within enterprises and even within schools, I  just couldn’t give up.

I knew the service was greatly appreciated by the kids. I knew the service was greatly appreciated by educators – albeit a special select few. And as a parent, I also knew the frustration of organizing events, committee meetings, car pools, other extra-curricular activities and even purchasing related goods and services.

And on top of all this pressure to sell edu into schools, I was still struggling to sell AnotherSocialEconomy – which needed a way to reach retailers & consumers.

Started getting that sinking feeling

Things just seemed to be getting worse.  Was I going to be one of those start-ups with a great idea – in my case, two great ideas that no one other than myself, Dom & a few others knew about? It’s not like I don’t know my limitations.  I think I’m a pretty good technical business analyst, software product manager, maybe even a social media manager. I love pre-sales demos, presenting at shows and conferences, have a pretty cool online education story to tell, love story telling and I’m pretty pleased with my stickman videos and presentation creations. But I just can’t seem to get past this marketing & sales hump. I’ve tried to bring in others but it just hasn’t gelled yet. Maybe some seed money would be the way to go. Either way, if I don’t get any traction, I’ll probably have to drop edu. Yikes! That would really hurt because not only have the Cynapse folks been more than fair with me (I’m also a struggling Reseller), it would mean that my daughter Sara & friends would lose the service.

Perseverance

Back in my IBM days, Perseverance was not only a welcomed characteristic, but encouraged too (by some). In a company of over 390,000 (at the time), it was all too easy to say things like; “I’m waiting for so-and-so to get back to me”, or, “Today’s first agenda item is to decide when we’ll meet again to discuss this matter”. If you truly wanted to make a difference, you had to persevere – you had to press on people, press a few buttons, or, as my wife Anna says, I just had to continue being the real pain in the ass I can be.

Dropping edu, dropping, AnotherSocialEconomy, getting a real job are options I’m just not ready to accept yet. What I really have to do is find a better way to persevere.

Suggestions?

Do you have any suggestions on how I can make edu & AnotherSocialEconomy work for each other? Stay tuned for Part 2.

Maybe it’s time that there be a (social software) service that’s only for kids

edu.cyn.in – Social Software in Schools

Maybe it’s time that there be a service that’s only for kids.

Jason Calacanis at 1:13:29 into TWiST #50 Anniversary Show

Lon Harris, Creative Director at ThisWeekIn brought up an interesting story on Anthony Orsini, the principal at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, who sent out an e-mail Wednesday morning asking parents to help him get all of his students off social networks and keep careful track of their text messages.

“Please do the following: sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site. Today! …”

— As covered by New Jersey Principal Asks Parents To Ban Facebook, Social Networking, Text Messaging – wcbstv.com

His basic concern is about bullying & how these social sites empower cyber-bullying. In response, Jason & Lon go on about how to deal with children, the Internet & even offer a few novel solutions for the car / auto-insurance industry. (I love the Key one, myself.) But, my favorite prosposed solution was Jason’s at 1:13:29 into the show:

Maybe it’s time that there be a service that’s only for kids… I think maybe that’s the solution

In all fairness, Jason doesn’t know about edu.cyn.in but I thank him for the words of encouragement, again!

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Apparently, it’s much simpler to use Social Software than explain it

Some of us folks in the social software field need to take a lesson from 11 year-olds & Steve Jobs.

Apple Specialists are at the heart of our reputation for extraordinary customer service. You love people. Have an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Apple. And can translate technology-speak into everyday language. You’re ready to not just serve up information, but also inspire the next generation of Mac, iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV fans.

– Job posting for an Apple (Store) Specialist & the Steve Jobs philosphy of why a customer should care

Background

In my previous post – Early social software adopters eager for extra homework, I bragged about how quickly and effortlessly Sara’s Grade 6 class not just adopted, but embraced their new social software site. But this week, was about The Project & actually working in their Deliverables – modifying Cynapse’s Best Practices Guide For Elementary School Students.

Sample comments posted on their interim deliverables 🙂

I don’t get “getting feedback on interim deliverables”
Mayby you can shorten the text to make it seem less,… daunting.
i don’t get it ????????????
What does surfacing and interim mean?
I guess it makes sense, but 1/4 of your day is a pretty long time – 3-4 hours’ worth!
What does fragmented mean?
What is RSS?
What’s IDC?
What’s 2.0 enterprises?
Kids usually don’t care about publishing!
2.0?????????????
What is tacit knowledge

— from Collaboration – What is it and Why is it needed ?

what does infrastructure mean?
What is this adopting, exactly?
What’s facilitate and aggregate.
well what are we talking about?

— from Driving Adoption

Are you smarter than a Six-Grader?

Can you reply to their comments, like an Apple Store Specialist – translating technology-speak into everyday language 11 and 12 year-olds can understand?

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Early social software adopters eager for extra homework

I never thought assigning homework would be so easy but, this is social software in elementary schools.

… a simple process: find leaders (the heretics who are doing things differently and making change), and then amplify their work, give them a platform, and help them find followers-and things get better. They always get better.

Tribes, Seth Godin

Who wants more homework?
Who wants more homework?
Background

Previously in There are no screw-ups, just Versions, I primed Sara’s elementary school classmates on how to give their own Lunch & Learn. Since then, I prepared the initial wiki page content for their project assignments.

Wow, is this what it’s like to teach?

While I have provided face-to-face training in the past and even hundreds of techies via e-learning (onilne realtime education), I have never experienced so much energy in a classroom. And what’s even more amazing to witness is, it’s not not bound to the 40 minute lunch-time session we share. Sara’s classmates are contributing to their Cynapse site. While they help with homework and contribute fave songs, movies, books, etc., their blogs, wikis & threaded comments are the best. They’re just playing around and naturally having fun!

Seth Godin was right – duhhh

It was that easy: “… amplify their work, give them a platform, and help them find followers-and things get better. They always get better.” So I never handed out their project assignments. They volunteered and even complained that some had more features to cover than they did. Life is good – so far.

Make it fun

I’ve offered my help for any questions they have – provided the questions are posted on the site for others to benefit. I’ve also offered to help them – as best as I can, in creating video blogs (vlogs), recorded how-to interviews, presentations and recorded demos. These would all be “nice-to-haves”. The only “need-to-have” is the updated wiki page deliverables – Cynapse’s Best Practices Guide for Elementary School Students.

Beatles – i get by with a little help from my friends

Help your friends out by posting questions/comments on their assigned wiki pages – before their Lunch & Learn date and I’m sure they’ll help you out with yours!

— my $0.02 (CAD)

The first update after school was this Beatles song. Check back next week to see how they start delivering.

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There are no screw-ups, just Versions

Cynapse’s Version control alleviates collaboration and adoption fear factor – at least among 11 and 12 year-olds.

Background

My last post – Kicking off social software in Sara’s elementary school illustrated how Six Graders – 11 & 12 year-olds, were quick to adopt social software in their elementary school. Now that they had some fun over the holidays, the real work needs to start.

The Project

In order to make myself perfectly clear, I created an internal wiki page for them called The Project’s 5 Ws. Basically, the students had already agreed to:

The Deliverable is the modified version of Cynapse’s Best Practices Guide, entitled Cynapse’s Best Practices Guide for Elementary School Students. The Students will work in teams and collaborate on modifying the existing content to suit their own scenarios / use cases / user stories, so that other students can benefit from their experiences and ease their adoption of social software.

Defining success

Deliver The Deliverable within 3 months & their elementary school will continue offering the social software service.

Perhap my last Lunch & Learn

While I’ve only presented 3 Lunch & Learns so far, I fully intend to retire in the very near future. While I do love presenting, demoing & fielding their questions, or, concerns, I think it’s time for them to step-up & take over. There are 13 features – like blogs, wikis, calendar events, status logs, etc. for the students to document. I explained the concept & values of Agile self-organized teams & gave them until next week to decide which features they want to adopt ownership for. So next week should be my last official Lunch & Learn. From then on, the students will take turns presenting, demoing & fielding their own questions, or, concerns.

Use or it loose it

In addition, I asked them to start blogging about their everyday experiences, including those using/adopting Cynapse‘s cyn.in social software. The more content they contribute, the easier it will be for everyone to succeed.

Leading by example

In conclusion, I gave them a very quick introduction into Cynapse’s content management – wiki editing & version control. I meant to record my demo but unfortunately, didn’t have the connector for my laptop, so I used the teacher’s laptop instead – which didn’t have Jing – screen recording software, installed. I suggested it would be a nice surprise if we were able to deliver less-than-5-minutes How-To videos – like the one above & offered to help them out.

Reflection

What do think? Will this small group of 11 and 12-year-olds succeed?

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Kicking off social software in Sara’s elementary school

Emerging Early Adopters: With only 10 min demo, 11 & 12 year-olds pounce on social software in their elementary school.

Social media tools enable them to be connected, extend their outreach, and ensure that all members can have a voice within the tribe.

— Seth Godin, Tribes Q&A

edu.cyn.in Mind Map
edu.

Given my previous post on Max, I was a bit delayed in getting edu.cyn.inCynpase ‘s cyn.in Software as a Service, launched. However, since my Update on pitching social software to Sara’s elementary school post, we did manage to sign-up 34 members – exactly half of which were parents. (This also helps support the grassroots approach to social software adoption.)

Site structure and Permissions

On one of the last days before school broke for the holidays, I was left with only ten minutes of demo time. So I decided to quickly peruse the site structure which has a Space for the elementary school and sub-Spaces for the Students and another for the teachers and parents. I explained to the students that parents & teachers can view, but not write, in their Student Space, so they need to be sure that whatever they post is appropriate. Furthermore, they can’t even view what’s in the teachers’ & parents’ Spaces. However, everyone can post (read/write) in the Home and their school Space. Basically, the students are allowed to write whatever their conscience allows for.

edu.cyn.in Statistics - General
edu.cyn.in Statistics - General
Status Logs

Having explained the Big Brother philosophy and with precious little time remaining, I gave them a quick tour on how to navigate the site & then showed them Cynapse’s Status Logs. This is almost the equivalent of Twitter except:

  • there is no Following, so there’s no need to Follow whoever is in fashion
  • the messages are threaded, which allows members to Comment on a specific Status message, as well as, Reply to those comments.

My only objective was to enable the kids to stay connected during their holiday break. Once back, I’d go into more detail about the different features and then get The Project – referred to back in my Update on pitching social software to Sara’s elementary school, underway.

edu.cyn.in Statistics - Contributors
edu.cyn.in Statistics - Contributors
Most Frequent Contributors (MFCs)

We’re now at the end of the holiday break, and some of the kids are well beyond Status Logs. It’s also interesting to note, that these early adopters – 11 and 12 year-old kids, are following the same patterns as their elders. Back in an earlier post – How to be a hero with stuff like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, delicious, wikis and more, under Step 4: Getting Viral, I refered to Rubicon Consulting & Online Communities and Their Impact on Business: Ignore at Your Peril, where they found 10% of the community members contribute 80% of the content. These Most Frequent Contributors (MFCs) are second to word of mouth when it comes to influencing others. Which is the basis for my grassroots approach to social software adoption.

edu.cyn.in Statistics - Commenters
edu.cyn.in Statistics - Commenters
Site Statistics

Out of the 34 signed-up members, 50% (17) are parents – none of whom, aside from myself, have contributed any content yet. Of the remaining 17 students, nine (9) have contributed. So with an introduction of less than a total of 60 minutes spread over two weeks, the student-MFC numbers (over 26%) better those in the above study of 10%. And that’s over the holiday break!

What does this mean?

My guess, and hope, is that once school starts up again this week, and I start my usually Monday Lunch & Learn sessions the following week, that even more of the students will be contributing content. Once I layout the The Project Plan and dates, I’ll have the students present their own Lunch & Learns about their adopted Features. As their knowledge increases, my guess is their adoption will increase with it. As the student adoption rate increases, my guesss is that the parents and teachers will follow shortly after.

Reflection

What kind of social software adoption rates have you experienced? Are they better/worse/in line with the MFC study?

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