Monthly Archives: October 2010

How to make me think about you often.

coffee maker and coffee

If you buy a coffee for me, I will talk with you as I drink it.  If you buy a pound of coffee for me, I will think about you every time I drink that coffee. If I have to grind it, I will think about you while I grind it and then while I drink it. If you buy tea for me, I will think about you when I take the bag out of the storage container. And if there are 250 bag in the box you send, then there will be a lot of reminders. If you buy me a coffee maker, you will cross my mind several times a day. I will think of your generosity and the reminder that you were listening when we talked about having an ineffective one. If you buy a mug for me, when I look for a mug in the cupboard, I will choose that mug as a reminder of you. And I will do that several times a day.

Coffee and tea and coffeemakers and mugs are mundane. They are almost commodities, though some brands will work very hard to make us think that they are special.  For me, however, they are elements of my daily life. And gifts that reflect a knowledge of me at that level matter to me.

In fact, those kinds of gifts matter more than engraved plaques. The latter reflects the ability of an industry to train us in believing that our name on a piece of wood reflects significance.  A gift of coffee tells me that you know me.

Of course, it could be a gift card for a restaurant you know that Nancy likes, because then you give me the gift of conversation with my wife. It could be a package of the razors I use because I use each one for a week and a package of ten will mean that for almost three months every morning you might be at the top of my mind.

After I’ve had my coffee, of course.

I’m not looking for coffee or razors, by the way. (Though I did forget mine in a hotel in Detroit, the one I’ve had for 20 years). What I am offering is a suggestion for Christmas. For the next two months, watch what the people you love do every day. Look for the things that are part of what they really need. And then, when you make your gift list, you may end up in the grocery store rather than “Things Remembered.”

But they might actually think of you every day in the New Year. And smile.

(Gift stories courtesy of Becky, Chris, Chris, Rob, Kat, Megin, Hope, Nancy, Diane, Sue (Timmy’s!), Paul and Lisa, my mother (for teaching me the social value of coffee), and countless other friends in our cupboard and on the filing cabinet).

the first question

24 hour serviceThe plumber is working on our drains right now. He’s running a power snake out toward the street, trying to solve the blockage that meant water came out on our laundry room floor this morning.

Not much. Stopped in time. Plumber called quickly rather than doing it myself.

After hearing the problem, his first question was “Is there a cleanout?”

My answer was simple, “I don’t know.”

And then he shook his head and muttered, “doesn’t know.”

At first I felt somewhat ashamed, as if I should know where it was after living here for 14 years this week. But then I thought, “Why should I know? That’s not my job. That’s why I called you.”

And then I realized that I do that very thing all the time. I assume that people will know where everything is when they come to me for help. And I get frustrated.

Lest you think this is hypothetical, before I walked out of the office to come back home to wait for the plumber, I had a conversation about loading software. I know it isn’t necessary. After all, all you have to do is …

But for the user, who doesn’t know what I know, the software provides an ease of use that is huge.

Don’t make people feel bad for not knowing what you know, for not having the very expertise they called you for.

Make them thrilled that you are care about them and want to help. And won’t scold their ignorance. You’ll replace it with hope and understanding.

(He’s doing fine with the work. I think the water’s flowing the right way. But I’m grateful for the lesson. It’s almost worth the price.)

lessons from 140 characters in Detroit

@chrisbrogan at #140confI was at 140 Characters Conference in Detroit last week. (Presentation here.) I’m still trying to catch up in many ways. In the meantime, I wanted to get some notes down about what I’m starting to learn.

In brief, there was a one day conference in Detroit with people talking about social media and their lives. Each person or panel had between 10 and 20 minutes. With a timer. The event ran from 8:30-6:00. There was one break for lunch.

Here’s what I learned.

  1. We hear from a huge number of people, normal people like us, saying “I just did something.” At some point you start to say, “I could do something.”
  2. Everyone has the same time limits and sits together so the famous people seem normal.
  3. The normal people, on the same stage and with the same time limits as famous people, seem famous. (In a good sense of the word).
  4. The worst presentation can only go 15 minutes.The best presentation is distilled to 15 minutes. You can survive one and be thirsty for more. (And there weren’t any worst presentations.)
  5. For a speaker, the preparation for a short talk in the middle of many talks makes you focus on what matters. And that thinking is important, regardless of what you actually say in the conference.
  6. There was as much open space between the door and the back row of seats as there was between the back row of seats and the stage. The conversations are huge and important and possible. (And noisy sometimes for the people trying to listen. Sorry.)
  7. The hosts encourage and celebrate and hug everyone who speaks. You feel like you belong.
  8. A stage set that looks like a living room gives lots of flexibility for speakers and panels. And every piece of furniture was used.

A conversation on church and social media

Here’s the conversation that Michael Buckingham and I had about church and broadcasting and social media and relationship at the #140char conference in Detroit on 10.20.10. (I talked about it a week ago).

We had a great time. Thanks to Jeff Pulver and Chris Barger for a wonderful mix of speakers and great hosting. And to Becky Johns for this great post on The conversation vs A conversation.

And thanks to Becky McCray for holding the camera.

Detroit 140 Characters Conference.

You can watch the 140 Characters Conference on Ustream.

Michael and I are on at 10:50 am ET.

1019001843a.jpg

quick placecard




If you need a placecard quickly, you can use a Sharpie and a leaf you pick from the yard. (I was called Martin Stewart for this.)\

Why bother posting this trivial little tip?

Because sometimes creative is way less complicated than we think.

I’m going to Detroit

looking upI think that the last time I spoke at a conference was more than twenty years ago. It was the Central States Speech Association conference in Cincinnati. I talked about rhetoric.

Next week Michael Buckingham and I are privileged to be part of the 140 Characters conference in Detroit. (Actually, I’m privileged. Michael’s the cool one. He runs holycowcreative.org among other things.)

This conference is the latest in a series of 140 conferences created and run by Jeff Pulver.Jeff thinks that it is worth getting a bunch of people together to talk in 10-15 minute presentations about what the technological and cultural focus on “now” means to all parts of society. These conferences move fast. Speakers tell incredible stories. They show amazing creativity. They talk about twitter a lot.

Michael and I are going to be talking with each other about

How social media expands the walls of the church and invites conversations about faith.

And that’s what we’ll be doing. Talking with each other. In a conversation. We figured that it would be worth modeling what we’re talking about. So there won’t be slides, there won’t be a script. It will be two guys who care a lot about clear communication looking at how new communication technologies apply to church.  (We’ll put the resources and things we should have covered in a website. 140church.com. And we will know the questions in advance. Most of them anyway.)

You can still register. And I’m guessing that you can still use the code 140DISC to get $40 off the $140 price. And if you come you can hear Jeff and Michael and Becky McCray and Chris Brogan and Becky Johns (I linked to a wonderful essay she wrote recently) and a bunch of other people.

I’m looking forward to it.

The 140 Characters Conference is in Detroit on October 20 at the Fillmore Detroit.

10 bucks on 10.10.10 is a safe bet.

sewer grateI have a couple friends in East Jordan, Michigan.

Actually, I’ve only talked to them twice. I don’t know them well at all. But I think about them often. When I’m crossing a street and walk across round metal drain, I look at it. Many in our part of the country are made at the East Jordan Iron Works. And I think of my friends.

Why? Because the first time we were together, Bart pointed out the connection. Sewer grates mean East Jordan mean Bart.

There are thousands of these grates. No one thinks about them. We drive past them. We drive over them. We drive past them. But for me, they are reminders of a couple guys in East Jordan, Michigan, changing lives.

Diana Scimone did the same thing for me last year with the concept of child sex trafficking. We hear about it regularly. It is a big problem, found everywhere. But it is easy to just be part of the traffic, driving by, missing the details. And forgetting that it isn’t a concept. Girls and boys are being bought and sold and raped and killed. One at a time.

So Diana did a twitterthon last year to raise money to create materials to teach kids and parents how to avoid trafficking. And because of those funds, and because of Diana’s perseverance, there are materials ready to be tested right now. With real kids. To keep them from getting run over in (sex) traffic.

She’s doing it again this year. On Sunday, 10.10.10, we can chipin $10 to become part of her goal of 10,000 people giving $10 on 10.10.10.

There is plenty of pain to go around, lots of opportunities to give. Where you are already changing the world, keep doing it. But Diana, for me, is a person who is making that change in a creative tangible way. She’s got my heart.

Even when a grate is smeared with tar, it was still made in East Jordan. Even when a child is smeared with the slime of human consumption, she was still made by God.

The born2fly 10.10.10 twitterthon.

Finding words

sofaI spent the whole morning looking for words. I looked in my office. I looked on my desk. I looked online. I looked everywhere.

Then I sat on the sofa and found hundreds.

Maybe they were around all the time and I just was looking too hard.

In real time.

game boardI realized the other day that the little clock in the corner of the screen is real. It tells me that I just spent 3 minutes of my life looking for words in a game.

That may not be a bad thing. It may be relaxing. Or good training in perception.

But bad or good, that little clock doesn’t show game time. And five games isn’t 15 minutes of game time.

It’s real time.