My Grampa Bud

My favorite person in the whole world is my Grampa Bud. His real name was Francis Hess but everyone in the neighborhood called him Bud because he was that person on the block that always made you laugh, had a great story or had time to help out a friend – also, the name Francis did not fit his personality very well….. He was one of those larger than life characters that you would see in a movie from the 40’s or 50’s – a tough guy that swung steel hammers during WWII but managed to fit in the time to support 4 kids and a wife.

I remember when I was a kid (early 80’s), he would tell me, my sister and my cousins stories about his travels and life but the best were the stories about the monsters in the attic. He would get us so riled up and scared that at some point my mother would have to step in because we were practically in tears. Of course, when you are young you are more open to belive stories that adults tell you because you trust that what they are saying is true – how could there not be a monster living in the attic? that place is definately dark enough and cold enough to support the lifestyle of a monster – it smells like there is a monster living up there – and something about going up the creeky old steps leads me to belive that yes, in fact what Grampa Bud says is true – there is a monster living in the attic!

So one day me, my sister and my 2 cousins decided to find out for sure. We informed Bud that we were going up in the attic to check it out – we had been hearing about it long enough to know that there was a pretty good chance that we were not going to make it back downstairs. The 4 of us crept up the stairs to the 2nd floor landing and kind of hung out around the door to collect ourselves before we went further. The door was noisy when it opened and you could immediately feel the coldness of the floor as we started up the steps. The attic was divided into 2 areas as one side was a bedroom and the other side was a walled off, dark, dank closet. We opened that door and it was pitch black inside. The light was connected to a hanging cord about 10 feet into the room so we had to tread carefully before we made it to the safety of illumination. A few steps into the room and we noticed some rustling and we stopped dead in our tracks – we were toast – from behind the boxes popped out a horrible figure with a disfigured mask, making all kinds of terrifyine noises. Our reaction was something out of a cartoon where we were all falling over each other in a mad sramble get away from the monster and back to safety. By the time we got downstairs, there was my Grampa sitting in the kitchen – that sealed it, his stories were true, we just witnessed the monster and it was obviousley not my Grampa as he was in front of us – of course, we had no idea there was a second stairwell to the attic let alone the fact that my Grampa would trick us like that!

The point being is that Storytelling can be a powerful tool that can draw people in and create a reality that may not even exist and how social service agencies use this tool will relate directly to their ability engage clients and supporters. As Mike Margolis, founder and president of Get Storied notes, “Tell a story that people can identify with as their own, and the need to persuade, convince, or sell them on anything disappears”. This speaks to me as I have the desire to enter politics and biggest question I have, is how do I get people to follow me, to believe in me and to work for me? I think that answer is simple, it’s more than messaging, it’s storytelling….

I like this story – what is your story and how do you plan on telling it?

And – I always meant to go to this – just missed it this past weekend….maybe next year!


Is E-Mail Dead?

To answer this question one must look beyond statistics that show that e-mail usage and access frequency is trending downward. Studies show that e-mail engagement dropped 9-15% in 2010 and the number of visitors to e-mail based providers dropped 6% over the past year. Based on these number, the answer to the question – is e-mail dead? – would have to be a resounding YES! 

However, looking at personal characteristics that influence one’s e-mail use and modes of access is critical in determining if e-mail is really, in fact, dead. I would consider your job/occupation/profession to be the two most influential factor that guides how you use e-mail services.

Stepping back from the question, I wanted to analyze my own use of e-mail – as well as how I access e-mail to provide a broader context and explanation of the reasons for the above noted statistics. With regards to my profession, I am a graduate student, no job at the moment, interning with limited responsibilities.

As a student, I most likely access and use e-mail from a traditional laptop or desktop more frequently than lets say a sales professional or attorney that travels 3 days per week. As a student I need options to store information and compose extensive, informational based e-mails and the ability to add multiple documents. There is no mobile app that would allow me the ease of use that a traditional desktop computer offers users. Would you want to or even attempt to compose a 500 word e-mail and attach multiple documents to an e-mail on an i-Phone – can you even attach multiple documents to an e-mail using an i-Phone? It would take you twice as long to do it on a phone as it would using a keyboard and computer – but then again, if you are an attorney that is traveling and a client demands a quick, “yes” or “no” response, the i-Phone is perfect – mobile access to quick information is what you need. In other words, your “use” of e-mail is not in question, the mode of access is the determing factor.

For a social service agency, knowing how your clients, donors, and employees use e-mail will be a critical factor in your success as opposed to whether or not your interested parties actually access and use e-mail. In the end, e-mail delivering information, services, and communications via e-mail is not going away anytime soon, especially as most agencies are still in 2.0 mode.

Don’t believe me? Check the stats:


If you are looking for an answer of “YES” to the question “is e-mail is dead” then I believe that you need to change the question – the question should be, “how do you use e-mail”…….and how can we best reach you?

Personal v. Professional Use of Social Media

 The seemingly non-stop rise of social media has led us into a world where whether you like it or not, you have to develop your own personal social media use policy with regards to how you utilize services. 

By this I mean that you have to develop parameters in which you work and communicate through social media, on both a personal and a professional level. Some of my friends have no problem posting obscenities, rude or insulting statements and compromising photos. I attempt to stick to posting music video’s from YouTube, communicating and commenting with friends and supporting political issues – not to say that these things don’t sometimes go wrong as I have had to delete two “friends” over multiple abusive comments they have posted about politically related issues. As we have all heard before “Don’t feed the trolls”….

My opinion (and advice) is that no matter whether you are using social media for personal or professional reasons, keep in mind that everything is public and open to scrutiny. If you don’t want someone finding it, don’t post it, if you are not ready to deal with opposing comments, then don’t open yourself up for comments, if you don’t want people seeing a picture, then make it private or just don’t post it, if you don’t want to be found, then don’t “check in”.

The difficult part about this issue is balancing your use of Social Media from a professional perspective especially when you work at an agency that may demand extreme privacy (like a shelter for battered women), may be highly stigmatized (HIV Care or Addiction) or may focus on a oppreseed group of people (Homeless or transgendered). Any “sharing” of information could have disastrous consequences for your own job prospects or for your clients. The question is, how can you constructively use Social Media and promote the issues associated with your agency while at the same time protecting the safety, personal information and identities of your clients?

Is Privacy Possible?

Yes, privacy is possible – if you don’t get a Facebook page, don’t open a Twitter account, don’t comment on web pages, limit your e-mail and internet use and don’t create profiles or blogs. Two of my best friends live this way – granted, it’s tougher to contact them but they also understand that when they see my name pop up on their cell phone that I am not calling them to tell them about an awesome video I just saw on YouTube or to tell them that I am at a certain restaurant with friends – they know that I am contacting them for a real reason that means something to them. These friends are able to filter the information that they deal with down to the point where they avoid the “nonsense” of most Facebook posts (let’s face it, I really have no desire to see a picture of your cat and I am honestly amazed that you received 25 comments on the picture within the last hour – and one of them was from me! – true story, it happened last weekend).  

Marshal Kirkpatrick states that he does not “buy” Facebook’s excuse that they changed their privacy settings to reflect a change in social norms (found here). Yet Facebook’s newer technology of allowing people to “check in” has exploded in recent months. So let me get this straight, you are upset that the “pages” that you “like” can be seen by anyone yet you have no problem with the entire world knowing that you just “checked in” at a local strip club or that you are visiting your parents 3 states away and your house is empty or that you drank so much last night that you have the worst hangover ever…….? If you are relying on Facebook or other social media sites to act as an arbiter of personal responsibility, please don’t hold your breathe

On the other hand, Mike Gotta (found here) argues that “Only grudgingly will they (social networking providers) be transparent when it comes to options available to manage privacy settings” which I find to be 100% true as increased privacy works against their goal of getting users to “share” everything. Is this a good thing or bad thing? Think about it this way, you are an attorney, do you share your client list with other firms? No. Do you share your client list with other clients? Probably not. But, would you like other firms and your clients to share their client lists with you? Absolutely. Not only would you want them to share their lists you would also ask for a contact name and e-mail for every client that they referred you to. So, as an attorney, you would want total privacy of your own information yet you would love to have complete access to everyone else’s information – double edged sword right? From a social media user standpoint, would you use Facebook if it took you 5 minutes to find your friend? Nope. 3 minutes? Nope. 3 seconds – Yes, and that is why you use it. In other words, you want privacy but you want to have access to information concerning all of your friends, family and interests at your fingertips with no limitations…..

In the end, I do agree with the notion that social network providers are driving the messaging and notion that “Privacy is Dead” and that only people in certain demographic groups are concerned about privacy (found here) due to the fact they need to convince their masses of users to share as much as possible while limiting as little as possible. Are there ways that social media consumers can leverage their power as uses to ensure their own privacy? In my opinion, of course there are ways, but this complex issue will most likely only be addressed by providers when consumers stop using or limit the use of their product OR if providers find a way to remain profitable and relevant while maintaining high levels of privacy for their users.

What I Want……..

I want more people to get engaged like the folks in this Occupy Movement video. Watching this actually gave me goose bumps…I want people to have more access and a say in how their government works. I want people to worry less.

I want YOU to stop being AFRAID

of other Americans

of other Religions

of other Classes

of other Nations


#OccupyCongress Cop: ‘If This is Democracy – I Don’t Like It…This Sucks!”

Check out what the bike cop says at 7:27 into the video: “if this is democracy I don’t like it – this sucks.”

Do you think he means that it sucks that democracy allows for such public protest? or does he mean it sucks that we have to go to such lengths to prove a point or to get politicians to take notice? What do you think? Leave me a comment & Let me know!

The 2012 election will be dominated by the forces of social media messaging. What type of messages do you want to hear? What are the issues that burn you up or inspire you to action? Are you willing to inspire or open to being inspired?

 Are you willing to get involved? to make your neighborhood better? to help others around you? to clean up messes that you did not make?

Are you willing to speak up when you hear hypocrisy? Are you willing to embrace change when it comes? or act as an agent of change for others? 

I am so excited for this Fall – I want to see all of your faces in a crowd (check the cowd at 7:49), holding a sign and speaking up for the issues that you support and embrace – You are not getting any younger so you better start stepping up now…..

This is a beautiful thing – and the perfect song to go along with the video – Band of Horses – “The Funeral”