Archive - January, 2012

Did you get the gatekeeper?

There comes a time when we all want to reach out to someone with influence. Maybe it is a pitch for investing in your new startup.  It could be that you are seeking advice or mentorship.  Maybe you just want to get to know them as friends.  I have learned that a few things matter most when reaching out. If you always get the gatekeeper, the person tasked with making sure their boss is not harassed with time-wasting contacts, then you probably need to look at one or all of the following; your motives, your technique, and the value you add.

Motives are a big deal.  Often we don’t even know what they truly are.  Asking a few questions will help us take them apart.  Are you trying to get in contact with the person to sell something? Are you approaching them with a win win option? Do you want to add real value?

Technique can be anything from the way you approach them to the look and words on your about page.  Each of these matter. Often succes comes down to finding the main mode of communication they use. If you pique their interest they are going to do a bit of investigating.  If they are like me, they will try to find out who you are.  That means they will search for you online. That is why your about page, as well as all of your social site interactions, are important.

Lastly, and I think most importantly, is the value you add. Are you showing up nearly out of obscurity or have you done your homework?  If they are an author, read their books. If they are an actor or director, go watch their films. Find out if they answered your question already if they have a blog. Comment, share and engage. A little ground work and investing in their work can pay off.  It sets you apart form all the other people trying to get their attention.

I have made friends with many influential people over the years. I have had a lot of success reaching people that I have wanted to connect with. To tell the truth, I only have talked with a handful of gatekeepers.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to reach out and connect. You will never know what friendships or connections you will be missing unless you risk a bit and try.

Oh, and one last note.  If you find yourself struggling with this go read Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment: The Art of Changing Heart, Minds, and Actions.  At the end of the book Guy asks the reader to take an enchantment test.  I failed so I am re-reading it.  He has some priceless nuggets of advice that are truly great when reaching out to influencers.

No way to compliment

This week I had a great customer service experience while arranging for my warranty covered notebook to be repaired. That is not what prompted this post though. The reason I am writing this resulted to from the response the rep gave to a question at the end of our online chat.  I was a happy customer. My computer was going to be fixed and returned free of charge in 7-9 days. The rep had answered all my questions, was polite, and most of all human in their communication. As a result, I wanted to give them a shout out.  I asked how best I could do that via Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.  The response was frustrating.  They told me that I should expect a survey shortly and I could reflect my satisfaction by filling it out. Ok, wow. I hate filling out surveys.  Likely it will in no way help out the rep that gave me stellar service.

This was not the fault of the rep.  As company leaders we have broken systems. The bigger the company the more broken they are.  What I understood from the end of my chat was that there was no way for a customer to compliment them. The rep had no channel or tool outside of a boring survey to give to a happy customer.  With engagement being the currency of today’s business economy HP appeared bankrupt. Unlike the rep I know that they could have said the following:

Oh, that is great?  Yes we have a Facebook page located at or you can mention this on Twiiter. Our twitter account is  We are just starting out on Google Plus but you can engage there as well.

Everyone is learning in this ever changing social space. Customer service reps are the front line heroes.  If you have the power give them some as well.  Hire employees you trust and give them flexibility to engage as well as the training to do it well.

Tweaks in communications: Google Plus, Focus and More

Last week my good friend Mary Breslin Nichols of Karmic Marketing asked me how I was managing post  on Google Plus (G+) as opposed to Facebook and Twitter.  Since before Christmas I’ve really cut back on my social media time and blogging mainly because I have been in the middle of a big game launch for Wind Up Robots (check it out as Gaming App of the Day on Kotaku and one of the Android Apps of the Week on Gizmodo last week). We also launched  Santa’s Giftship.  After all, if we do not ship we run out of anything good to share, right?

As I re-engage I have thought a lot about Mary’s question, not just in regards to G+ but all of my communication tools and practices.

This summer as I explored G+ as an early user I decided that it would be a good place to curate and explore my passion for technology, design and art (mainly as it pertains to tech and games and consumer mobile tech).

Twitter, since my first post, has an extension of my blog where I talk and discuss communications, leadership and company culture as well as publishing. Tech fits in there as many gadgets are meant to be communication tools.  There is much that I like to share that does not fit into that grouping.

For two years now I have curated many of my tech musings on my Huffington Post Blogger page. I try to keep those posts focused on the “bigger ideas”. G + seemed like the perfect place to daily seek out information as well as post what I find.

I think I came to this conclusion because Google itself has innovation and tech at its core. Google’s integration of so many tools makes it easy to share information via photos, links and video.  Add to that the power of hangouts, search, geo-location and you have a great tool.

Facebook is….well it is Facebook, a whole different beast. My personal account is for close friends (and yes I have a lot of them). Pages are where I can engage with devoted fans of the companies and brands I represent.

I do cross feed some of the information. If I do I try to tailor it for the audience and not inundate them with chatter.

Here is an example of my day on G+:

I usually check into some of my searches to see if anything relevant has happened over night. Then I read through the streams of some of my favorite tech resources, one of which is +Robert Scoble . Next I usually try to keep tabs on some of the brands that I work closely with like +Intel . I also track conferences or events as well. Right now +International CES (Which I am missing this year) and Mobile World Congress (I have not found an account or circle yet) are on my radar. For CES I have been watching Robert Scoble’s CES Circle.

Truthfully I am still thrashing to find the sweet spot here. It can seem like a jungle at times since Twitter is so familiar and has been a treasure for me. It will come though. Right now Chris Brogan ‘s book on Google Plus  is helping me organize things greatly. I highly recommend it.

I post the most interesting things I find and try to personalize the message. I always try to attribute the person I found the information from. I am also trying to funnel the stories I find throughout the day.

And if you are wondering if it is worth your time as a business person I think yesterday’s example will be of value.  I commented on a post and the author responded back asking if I would mind being quoted in his article.  I obliged.  I soon found out that he is the Senior mobile analyst for, Jamie Lendino.  His article “Hey, Google: Here’s What Fragmentation Means” , largely built around my quote ended up being on the front of all day putting my two companies names Code-Monkeys and Soma Games in front of thousands of people.  This happens more often than you would think.  Just engage and be honesty. Put your best out there and build relationships. You will eventually stand out.  G+ is a great tool to get you there.

One last thing. I use G+ within Chrome while at my desk or on my MacBook Pro. While mobile I use my iPhone G+ app. I am still trying to find a fit for the iPad.

You can find me on G+ at


What if Churchill never spoke?

Times are rough.  Companies are struggling to make it.  Startups come and go. Wars are being fought all over the world and often the battle wether it be for your life, health or business can seem hopeless.

But the truth is it is not hopeless.  My favorite battle victory stories are the ones where the odds seemed impossible.  But history tells us they were not. In fact all of those battles had a strong leader that lead with resolve, inspiration and hope.

Churchill gave three pivotal speeches during World War II but my favorite has been most commonly referred to as the “We will Fight on the Beaches” given to the House of Commons in Parliament June 4th 1940.  In that speech he had to do three things;  To announce what he deemed a “colossal military disaster” in France and Belgium, make England and the rest of the free world aware of how dire the situation was with Hilters real threat of invading the British Isles, and third (and I would say most importantly) inspire great confidence and resolve in winning the coming battle.  Here is an excerpt from that speech that most inspires me:

We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the new world, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old. (I encourage you to listen to the speech in whole via the Guardian)

So a leaders communication can mean everything to those facing a hard time.  That is why Churchill, and many other historical greats like him chose to speak.   Yes the battle might seem hopeless and doom may be looming but each of us can communicate in our greatest effort a message that will draw forth the best in those around us. So if given the chance, speak truth. Speak confidence in yours and others strength.  Most of all speak hope.