June 16, 2009

Confessions of a green-mama wannabe

I bought an ultra cool new supermarket grocery bag that fits into the supermarket cart while walking the aisles, then turns into a knapsack to help you carry groceries easily.

Now I can preach silently to the masses of shoppers who'll admire my eco-sense... while I fill my reusable bag with processed food and disposable diapers and hope nobody notices (at least it's opaque.)

Of course, I'm all for the environment. And for sustainability. And for renewable energy. And for the myriad of other buzzwords that have sprung up in our language for the past few years.

But I admit I sometimes feel like the grown-up version of that teen who feel's she's saving the world by just "thoroughly eliminating CFCs from her life" - in that case, refraining from buying hairspray & certain brands of mousse (according to what my then-source of wisdom said at the time)

Fast forward a couple of decades and different versions of of bad hairstyles later. I'm a full time marketing consultant, mother, diaper-changer, air-conditioning queen who doesn't have time to breathe. Being green is much more important today, yet much more complicated.

A few examples. What would you do?

  • Dilemma #1: finished conference call at 11:15 PM. Husband rightfully complains that I (well, we) don't have a life. Washing machine is done. Should I bring in the laundry hanging outside from previous day, then hang the new batch on the clothesline, or just spend 10% of that time to push the wash into the dryer? (never mind it's 30 degrees outside in the Israeli Summer)
  • Dilemma # 2: We need a second car so that husband can help dropping off kids in the morning (none of the preschools/schools are within walking distance), and so that I can add at least 1 more hour to my work life.
  1. Should we actually get the car and stop using the organized transport the amazing company he works for puts together as a perk (and as small contribution to carbon-emissions reduction?)
  2. Now that I've said yes to question #1, should I feel guilty I'm not even considering hybrid cars as an option (too expensive here, unknown resell value, unknown problems in the longer term, and too little storage room for strollers and "really important things" like grocery bags)
  • Dilemma 3: Which takes me back to my ultra-cool grocery bag. First, a confession: the real reason I bought that ultra-cool shopping bag was to organize my shopping cart and separate tax-deductible items from the rest of my shopping (don't ask - the only joy of being a freelancer here). But since I'm already using The Good Bag, I will also aim to reduce my consumption of the bad (aka plastic) bags. But then, what would I do when I run out of current stock of bad-bags at home? After all, where will I put all those dirty diapers? Should I just grab a few at the cash register and stuff them inside the lining of my Good Bag?

Guess that my role in saving the world will currently be accomplished by the sole virtue of displaying my use of Good Bags, regardless of the shipment they carry.

June 07, 2009

Question from the audience: should large corporations be twittering?

Someone asked on the DigitalEve list "Should big companies be twittering?" Summary of my response below.

1. Is it a good idea - in a nutshell, yes. But there are numerous things you must take into account. More on that later

2. Are others doing it - oh yes. Mostly from B2C, but lately I've seen lots of B2Bs doing this as well.
This is happening at various levels
- corporate (from the smallest startup to large corporations, here's a find a partial list
- Divisional (e.g. HP IPG division communiques)
- product support (e.g. Comcast, the cable company)
- execs from company tweeting (e.g. Jeff Hayzlett, CMO, Kodak)

3. How about Israel? There are several Israeli companies & organizations tweeting as well, from IBM development in Israel to many B2Cs (and I think I should mention the TLV police as an example of very creative tweeting as well)

4. Are there any downsides? Risks?
Obviously. Before you propose this to the right people in the organization, be prepared to answer the following.

  • You need to understand who's tweeting, and why. Do you want to share exclusive offers on the web (e.g. JetBlue?) Do you want to increase your presence online, share PRs, gain feedback? Solve problems? Monitor what users are saying? Set an agenda? Influence? Experiment?
  • And as obvious as it sounds, for publicly traded companies, there are numerous non-disclosure regulations you/anyone who's tweeting on behalf of the company must obey. There's no reason why SEC cease to apply in social media.
  • You need resources. Sure, setting up a twitter account is free. But to do it properly, you must have a startegy. Invest time and effort to get to know your environment, set a presence, monitor it, and most of all, maintain a relevant presence in twitter. There are also the technical issues, like doing a a little bit of branding, especially around background you use, and training relevant users in your company.
  • My expertise is in competitive intelligence, so obviously I'm interested in Twitter as a source of info . From many perspectives, there's lots to be gained by your company -and your competitors - from the interactions on this medium. What you say, what you don't say, who follows - it's much more complex than it seems at first glance.

The beauty of Twitter is that we're all still experimenting ( Done sensibly, there's much companies can gain. But keep in mind that it's not a spur of the moment thing - it must be aligned to avoid the pitfalls above.

Tweeting up

It's been almost two years since I joined Twitter, so I'm effectively an old-timer. Yes, I have earned the right to get up on a carboard box and shout to the world what I've learned from my experience so far.
(Well, not really. If there's something twitter teaches you, or social media teaches you, is to L-I-S-T-E-N)

Sharing some thoughts on Twitter in honor of tonight's scheduled Tel Aviv Beer Tweetup:

  • Today, my twitter village is about 25% local, and growing. Why? Maybe tweeting time zones. Maybe keywords. Maybe language. I reckon t's a convergence of circles - friends, business, interests, luck.

  • When I first joined, my village consisted of a bunch of social media gurus abroad. Still learning from you guys, just like I'm learning from the newbies. Biggesst lesson out there.

  • Which takes me to a nice link: Interesting how @pistachio values the thought of revisiting her village, too.

  • After years of laughing at me for being too 2.0-bubble minded, I've convinced a large IT company I work for on the absolute necessity of looking at twitter holistically. For competitive intelligence purposes. For customer leads. For marketing. For brand monitoring. And more. "Corporate PR have it on their radar" is not an acceptable answer.

  • Revisiting my Top 10 for Twitter, i find that over a year later (that is, a light-year in web terms) this is still true.

I smile. And tweet this. And now look forward to hear what you think.

March 15, 2009

How not to spend money: freebies

I received a gift consisting of a "deck" of coupons from my gym last week to celebrate International Womens' Day.
Suspicious as I am of freebies, especially during a recession, I immediately began to separate the true freebies from the discounts. Coupons are good, but freebies are harmless. The former force you spend money on things you really weren't planning to use, but the latter really save money, right?
Instead of a free, 45-minute makeup consultation in a local makeup store (plus gift!), I willingly threw away 340 shekels in less than an hour.
I've only myself to blame. I got ripped off by a 22-year-old called Shani (is that her real name or her lipstick shade?) who spent 22 minutes raving over my "incredible skin" and "perfect eye for makeup" while blocking my escape with a chair that was too close, under neon lights too bright and an array of products I hadn't seen since my fairy tale wedding a decade ago. Before wrinkles. Before aliyah. Before kids.
But I let her. I let her bullshit me with her sweet talk. I even stood silent while Shani hovered over the imaginary properties of mineral makeup "it's medical makeup" which I should even "wear to bed a couple of times a week" and the inexisting SPF (and probably other) qualities of the setting spray she used at the beginning of the session, under the makeup.
"Don't you look amazing!"
I nodded. Helpless. Glowing cheeks and twinkling eyelids. Fast, before the baby wakes up in his stroller.
I somewhat regained composure when asked to supply the names and phone numbers of friends to give them the same "gift." It was too late for me, but I could still save my friends.
- 0 - 0 - 0 -
The next morning, I took my old sneakers and jeans and favorite maternity leave sweatshirt (the one that covers stains the best and provides the best coverage while nursing in public) and wore my magical mineral medical makeup to the discount supermarket.
People were either going to admire my makeup, or admire the wise choices I made in my supermarket cart. Penance for my carelessness the previous afternoon.
And for just having set an that appointment for a facial at 50% discount with another coupon from the deck.

December 31, 2008

Clink-clunk-clank - and the sirens of Cast Lead

Here we go again.

War is here. To be politically correct it's not a war, at least not yet. It's officially a campaign. An operation. A series of "activities." An ongoing clink-clunk-clank of a hammer and a sweaty ironsmith doing his craft. Because it's his job. Because it's needed for a "transformation." Clink-clunk-clank, followed by fire - and silence.

It's also a live reality show- as proven by Eretz Nehederet on TV exactly at the same time that a Grad Rocket hits a kindergarden in Beer Sheva.

Oh, yes, it's eerily familiar. As Amir Peretz of Winograd fame hinted this morning on Galei Tzahal, we might as well just all recycle the TV broadcasts, the interviews, the analysis and the analysts of the Second Lebanon War. It's all the same.

Me? I'm having an out-of-body experience and I'm watching it from the side yet unable (unwilling?) to react. "About time we stick it to 'em," says my idealogically challenged neigboor. "We all know they just don't understand otherwise," says the technician who visits me the next day. But I don't share the enthusiasm. I just want it to end.

Time to check in with my friend S, who spent the night with her husband and 3 kids on the floor of her house's shelter. "Good thing I brought in some games yesterday and clared out the clutter, against my husband's instincts." Her oldest girl had a panic attack at 3 am. Nobody slept, she reports from her office near Tel Aviv. Kids are spending day with mother-in-law in "faraway" Holon.

And me? With one hand, reading David Grossman and praying for a truce. With the other, applauding the long overdue efforts of @israelconsulate and packing chocolates for our "troops" for my daughter to take to kindergarten.

Ridiculous. Bizarre.

Just going through the motions, like an ironsmith doing his craft.

August 25, 2008

Updates galore

Two quick updates on what's been going on in the last few months since we last saw each other:

  • In late March (last entry) I had a very bad case of the flu. What I didn't tell you was that I was severely limited on (a) the type and amount of medicine I could take to make me feel better (b) the way my body responded (taking ages to recover) because, well, I was in the early stages of pregnancy. So a belated "be sha'ah tova"/enhorabuena to me.
  • Remember ResearchTrail? Well, it shut down, unfortunately. As you may recall, I called it quits late last year (before the first funding round) and was no longer a partner, but it is still disappointing to hear. Good luck to Dudu & Judy in their new ventures in the future...
And some minor tidbits that might shed light on my mood swings of the past few months (compounded by pregnancy hormones, of course).
Here they are, in ascending order of stress level:
  • My sister-in-law and three nephews stayed with us for a visit. 13 days and 13 nights.
  • Did some renovations to the house (dust, dust, everywhere, and no toys to be found)
  • Have not yet completed (ehem, effectively started) handover to my recently hired replacement during the planned maternity leave
  • I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up
  • Bad news: Olmert is still PM. Worse news: Looks like Netanyahu is coming back. Or Barak.
  • How the heck will I juggle three little monsters when I only have two hands? (No, I'm not expecting triplets, just baby #3)
  • My wonderful friends and neighbors A & J just went back to Mexico for "a couple of years". (Yea right. I've heard that one before.) Still crying.
  • It's terribly hot outside. And inside. Everywhere.
  • How the heck will I handle three little monsters (and maternity leave) without A & J?
Ideas, suggestions and support all welcome.

March 24, 2008

Gathering strength - Preston Reed helps

Been out with a bad case of the flu lately. So thanks to my twitter pals, here's some inspiration to go on in the meantime.
This particular song is called "Overture for Lily" and legend has it he wrote it for the birth of his daughter.
Introducing la guitarra magica de Preston Reed.

February 24, 2008

Izhar Ashdot's new video: fiddle, guitar and grey hair

I always liked T-slam, but ever since our friend Isaac took us to see Izhar Ashdot live some 6 yrs ago, I got absolutely hooked.
Head-over-heals-hooked. Addicted.
To the point that my husband is convinced the reason for our 4-year-old's addiction to music is found in those 9 months of constant prenatal soundwaves from Ashdot's guitar.
Today I found this new clip (very sorry I missed his live performance). A sample of Izhar Ashdot at his best, with just a dash of Irish music. Enjoy!

February 03, 2008

On gender, faith and a 4-year-old's wisdom

Friday night dinner. Ben is telling us about what learned in Gan this week.

- So what's the Torah Portion this week?
- Mishpatim
[ah-ha. He remembers more than the drawings and songs]
- And what happens there?
- It's about rules. Like when you find a ball in the street and it's not yours. You can't take it. But if someone comes looking for it and they say it's their ball and that it's red, when the ball is really yellow, you can't give it to them.
[This is way beyond the level I had expected from a four-year-old. He's well on his way to become a lawyer. I decide to go on, just for the fun of it.]

- Ben, do you know what the Ten Commandments are?
- Yes, "Aseret Hadibrot"
- Right. Do you know what's written in them?
- Not really.
- Well, the first one tells us something about God. Like, do you know how many Gods there are?

[That should be a piece of cake for him after his elucidation on Jewish Law]

- Yes. There's two.

[Jaw drops. What kind of Jewish parents do we call ourselves?]

- Ben, we know there's only one God.
- No mom. There's two... One man, and one woman.

January 20, 2008

Creativity, Living and inspiration

Thanks to @edwardharran for sharing this entry from a blog entry by Prof. John Maeida (MIT Media Lab) A snippet below:

So it dawned upon me how important it is to be a creative. Because it means you
have within you infinite capacity to experiment. You are unafraid to go somewhere new because you are creating a new thought process about your own creativity. You know that if you stop and no longer challenge yourself, you cease to be creative. You become still, silent, and the bow no longer connect with the strings and music is not made. And you do not exist. You show you do not have the courage to exist.

[how can I not add this to CreatiVivi?]

Creativity is courage. The world needs more fearless people that can influence all disciplines to challenge their very existence. Creativity is reflection aimed not at yourself, but at the world around you.
[Hello world! Thanks for sharing]

January 16, 2008

My top 10 for Twitter

My Twitter chronology:
- It's early 2007. I don't get what all the hype is about. "Twitter is only for self-obsessed geeks"
- August 2007. I sign up. Might as well try it if it's survived this long. Now what do I do?
- November 2007. This is cool. Have 5 followers, don't have the faintest idea how they found me.
-December 2007 @LeWeb3. Meet serial twitterers and see them in action. Start to see the light.
-January 2008. I'm hooked. Here's why:

10. Procrastinating: Twitter's a wonderful way to pass the time when I want to avoid a task.
9. Blog traffic: I got over 100 visits in 3 hours thanks to a twitter by @LoicLeMeur (not that it has happened again since :-)
8. Diversity: I can "create my own village"
7. No pressure: Watch, listen, learn. No pressure to speak out, show up, bump into.
6. Garbage Can: Second thoughts? That's okay. Delete.
5. Style in 140 chars: If WW2 Allied radio operators could "see" who was behind the German transmissions just by "reading" the pulse and style of their morse code transmissions, I can surely get to know people in 140-character bursts of personality
4. No "fun walls."
3. The mental challenge of being concise. Of building a style, consciously or otherwise.
2. Great blog posts and great bloggers I wouldn't have otherwise gotten to know.
And my top top reason:
1. A weird sense of community. For Frozen Peas. For Ashley . For causes. For news. For something beyond the egocentric, narcisisstic tweets that I initially throught were the achilles heal of the app.

Let's meet. @creativivi

January 10, 2008

Update: redefining journalism & social relationships

This is an update to two seeminly unrelated posts: "What frozen peas can teach us" and "Jounnalism Reinvented."

A couple of days ago, a twitterer I didn't know about, but with whom some of my twitter "friends" had conversations and shared twitter/flickr initiatives - died in a car accident.

Her name was Ashley Spencer, otherwise known as @ahspeamama. She left behind a toddler, a baby and a husband.

A fund has been established in her name to help out her family. Spreading the word are lots of twitterers and bloggers who, in her honor, have changed their avatar to a purple and gold croc shoe.

I still can't get over the immediacy of the response. And over the lack of geographical boundaries. And the cross-channel coverage. And over the human story behind it.