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BeautyBarX - it happened!!!

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BeautyBarX - it happened!!!

beautybarsign_large.gif

We were really happy to be the hosts of the premiere women's event at SXSW Interactive this year: BeautyBarX Just to give you a little glimpse into what went down...

Kaitlin Won the Grande Prize! Simone won the Anne Cramer Dress!Niamh won the Samsung Tablet!

 

So yes...it was a RESOUNDING success!! Even though it rained like crazy for the first two days, women were already lined up at 9am for their manicure and mimosa and many stayed and came back. Many reported back that it was an oasis in the middle of SXSW. We really hope to be able to do this again next year!

Big ups to our partners:

and our sponsors:

LoveThatFit - Jewelmint - Bloom

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What Came First...

I know that I shouldn't be needy, but I don't want to be 100% independent either. And I think we give people (men AND women) the wrong messages growing up about this stuff. We aren't rocks. We aren't islands. We *do* need other people.

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No comment Is this Le Web or Le Clique?

I was taught that if I can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. This applies to my official blogger position at Le Web 09 thusfar. I can be constructive about this.

One of the reasons I left Silicon Valley area this summer and moved to Montreal is because of the growing sadness I felt for the 'web' industry living there. First, let me say this: I was surrounded by some fan-frickin-tastic people. People with heart and soul who were excited about the future of technology, are building the future of technology and daily take personal risks to change the world for the better. But I was also surrounded by a group made up of people who weren't incredibly positive, who threw their power positions around to feed their own egos (and keep their power) and were more focused on being famous/recognized/etc than they were on making the web a better place.

And the group of negative people got me down. Daily. I did my best to ignore them and do good work, but the truth is that my faith was being shaken by the fact that the worse their behaviour, the more they were rewarded and, it seemed, nobody could speak up to stop it. Anyone that did would be locked out of the cartel that exists. Whether it was a woman I know who refused to go on a date with a prominent blogger and was told that because of this, she would never have her startup reviewed; or the person who questioned the bias of another blogger who was then locked out of every future event that blogger was connected to. And the power grew and people grew more afraid to speak out.

That didn't feel like the community I fell in love with so many years ago. It felt a great deal like the world we were supposed to be changing. In essence, the worst parts of the offline world - with it's hierarchies, gatekeepers and power mongers - were becoming firmly entrenched in the new media that was supposed to circumvent this behaviour and create a new frontier. I was losing faith. And that is the last thing I want to do. There is so much hope left in the world. I still believe the good guys/gals will finish first.

But here at Le Web 09, I feel like I'm staring that ugliness right in the eye. The program is mostly made up of the members and sycophants of the cartel mentioned above. It's only the morning of the first day and a big part of it has been filled with egos and posturing. I was really hoping that Le Web would actually be about 'The Web' - where it's going, where it should go, how do we drive it in positive directions, the diversity of issues that we are still facing that are creating challenges for web-citizens, really ground breaking technology, visionary people and how we can all get involved in this change - but it isn't. It is about a small group of friends and how they use/benefit from the web: Le Clique.

I will continue to stick around because there ARE a few bright spots coming up: danah boyd, Kevin Marks, Violet Blue and a handful of others who are sure to talk about brave new worlds and not use their time onstage to kiss up to the cartel. And I will report on their talks as well as others that I hope will really change my mind and restore my faith.

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Win A Social Media Library!

Steve over at Polar Limited is doing a networked social media book giveaway.

Steve has convinced these seven authors Mitch Joel, Tamar Weinberg, Chris Brogan + Julien Smith, Gary Vaynerchuk, Avinash KaushikJohn Jantsch, Beth Kanter and me to offer up free copies of their books.

You can win a this set of books, signed and personalized by the authors that will teach you how to be human through your computer, generate tons of social capital, and be a social media virtuoso - plus have some great books to curl up with during the holidays.

Here’s how you win:

  1. Leave a comment below telling me your social media plans for 2010, and why you think these 7 books will help you achieve what you want to accomplish.  Best comment in within the next week wins the set.
  2. Visit one of the following blogs who have the same set of books to give away.  If you really want to increase your chances of winning, you’ll probably want to visit each of them and leave a comment there as well.  Here’s where to go:

    www.kaushik.net/avinash:  this is the amazing blog of Web 2.0 Analytics author Avinash Kaushik. He’s simply the smartest guy in the world when it comes to analytics and what it means for your business.

    www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog: this is the blog of John Jantsch, THE expert on small business marketing.  He’s also writes probably the most practical, hands-on marketing blog on the planet.  It’s a must-read.

    http://beth.typepad.com/: Beth is one of my heroes and actually appears in the very first chapter of The Whuffie Factor because someone that does such good work should open up any book. :)

Bonus: like Beth, I really love Shel Israel's book, Twitterville. I'm happy to pitch in and help her get it added to the list, too! :)

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A Somebody is a Nobody Who Got Lucky

I Am BlackBrown White I Speak A Different Language But I Must Be Respected Protected Never Rejected I Am God's Child I Am Somebody Jesse Jackson

I'm not saying that everyone that is famous for doing something is purely lucky. S/he probably worked hard. Often s/he is a smart cookie. But as Malcolm Gladwell discussed in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, there are loads of smart people who work hard who have ended up obscure, unknown and, quite often, unfortunate. Some of the defining characteristics of the people who have become 'somebodies' in Gladwell's book are:

  • Being born on the right date
  • Being in the right place at the right time (Gates had unique access to computers at a young age)
  • Taking an opportunity that was presented to them (usually a unique opportunity)

Even those who spent 10,000 hours at their craft towards success usually required some unique opportunity presented to them to get there. If Gates had lived somewhere else growing up, missing out on the early access to computer programming experience, he may not have had the idea to start Microsoft. The underlying thread to most of the stories of success that are out there is chance. The actor who was discovered because a talent scout was buying a cup of coffee where they worked. The entrepreneur whose business took a lucky turn when they connected to the right people or someone influential came across their product by chance and told the world about it.

But it isn't ALL chance. You can't just sit back and wait for luck to take it's course. There are ways in which you can open yourself to these awesome opportunities. You can get out into the world more often, meet more people, volunteer, pursue your passion, do nice things for others, open yourself up to new (and sometimes uncomfortable) situations and remain flexible and aware enough to recognize the unique opportunities that present themselves to you. You should also realize that every 'nobody' you meet could become a 'somebody' overnight. So be careful as to who you dismiss.

The cult of the somebody is an interesting phenomenon to me. It's good to celebrate someone's success...absolutely. And great to learn from the success of others is also positive. But to imagine oneself as lesser because of someone else's success is not such a positive outcome. It's more than a little cliché to say "We all put our pants on one leg at a time", but it's true. The only thing separating somebodies and nobodies is that somebodies had an opportunity and seized it with a fantastic outcome. And that opportunity could present itself to you at any time.

So the best thing to do is to ask yourself, "Will I be ready when that opportunity presents itself? Will I recognize it? Will I persevere even if I fall on my face?" and then realize that everybody is a somebody at the end of the day, so the best thing that you can do is to support others with finding their opportunities, too.

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What is success?

Success is the best revenge by Charlie Day ArtMore awesome sketches by: Charlie Day Art

Success [Noun]

1. the achievement of something attempted 2. the attainment of wealth, fame, or position 3. a person or thing that is successful

[from: the Free Dictionary]

I've been thinking a great deal about success lately. It's all that seems to be on my mind lately. This is due to a couple of things:

  1. My personal struggle with measuring my own success. Having written and published The Whuffie Factor, I quickly came down from the high that is the achievement of actually doing something that is challenging beyond my previous experience and was left with a 'what's next?' feeling that left me restless and, frankly, a little frightened as to what to do with myself now. In general, people are getting a lot out of the book and I receive messages daily thanking me for writing it. I could call that a resounding success as that was my goal: write a book that will help others achieve their own success. However, though it wasn't my own measure, the questions on 'sales numbers' and 'Amazon ranking' plague me. My book is selling well and consistently, but it's not on a best seller list and I haven't been featured in the book section of the New York Times. Why should I be concerned with that if that wasn't my goal? If it doesn't fit within my own measure of what 'success' would mean for my first book?
  2. Keeping up with the Joneses. A good friend of mine, Liza Sperling, sent me this awesome TED video:

    http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

    The video sent me reeling. The quote in de Botton's message that made me really cheer was this, "So what I want to argue for, is not that we should give up on our ideas of success. But we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas. And make sure that we own them, that we are truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it's bad enough, not getting what you want. But it's even worse to have an idea of what it is you want, and find out at the end of a journey, that it isn't, in fact, what you wanted all along." Comparison to others is something that plagues human beings in general. But what we compare ourselves by is unfortunately boiled down to common tools that don't include the myriad of experiences of success.

  3. Short-term and short-sighted thinking. Success in terms of aggressive financial growth, zero-sum winner-takes-all competition and short-term (and often temporary) success ruling over long-term thinking about success have been established ideologies in North American corporate culture for as long as I've been in the working world. There is a fervent focus on numbers without what those numbers mean, who the people are behind those numbers and what they are experiencing that leads to the desire for quick acquisition of numbers without thought to what that means to important outcomes like customer experience, product improvement and innovation and, well, whuffie.
  4. The value of human beings. Whatever happened to the triple bottom line where we started to realize that there is great opportunity in valuing People, Planet and Profit equally? This ties back to short term thinking as those companies with a triple bottom line have achieved long term success (ex. Clif Bar, Toyota, Khiels, Google, Dupont, Timberland, Stonyfield Farms, etc), but not without some struggle and patience to get there. And much of that struggle and patience is the result of having to explain to investors that by balancing the three P's, there will be long term outcomes much more lucrative than a short-term push that leaves the company with a poor reputation and a mess to clean up. But because there isn't a direct measure of the value of People and Planet, this is an incredibly difficult argument to make. If a stock isn't performing, people will dump it and move to one that is. There are no 'stocks' in humans or the environment. But there are very significant impacts on stocks over the long term because of humans, which is a part of the discourse that is missing from the recent economic melt-down (and now seems to be missing from the discussion on healthcare). And the environmental impact is predicted to be a growing concern for everyone, especially industry.

I assume that most of us struggle with this. In our heart of hearts, we define success very differently than how it is commonly measured. When asked about their definition of success, most people I know answer with things like: health, happy family, fulfillment at work, the ability to help others, owning your own home, etc. Of course, many of these results require a certain level of income, but the income is tied to relationships, our bodies and our environment. So, if our personal definitions of success include non-monetary, non-numeric results, shouldn't our broader definitions as well? And why aren't we pushing back on these measures more? This should be a regular topic of conversation as I think it makes us miserable and anxious.

I've been harping on the theme of 'what we measure communicates what we value' for a couple of years now and I think I may have even found a way to tie everything back together...in what will be my next book (working title, "Happiness as Your Business Model: why a bottom line that benefits all is good economics").

So, what is your definition of success? What makes you happy? Do you have personal or professional stories and case studies to share that support my thesis? I'd love your input and help. And thank you for continuing to support me. That I have an amazing group of people around me is my own definition of success.

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Not Nice...Necessary

So...I showed this wee slideshow to open up our panel at 140 | The Twitter Conference today (great conference, btw) to demonstrate the essence of what I think is the reason that Twitter has captured our imaginations.

It's not the links or the deep wisdom or the celebrities or the customer service stuff supplied by the companies on Twitter that makes it amazing. It's the connection I feel to the people I follow when they make me smile, or feel sad or feel passionate about something. It's the constant display of humanity sliding by on my screen daily. I know when someone thousands of miles away is feeling frustrated at work. I feel the elation a virtual stranger is feeling when he finishes that race he's been training for forever. I share that funny moment that person I miss hanging out with has...and can feel closer to her for it.

The other stuff is gravy. If it weren't for the interesting tidbits and connections I feel emotionally to the people on Twitter, I wouldn't tune in so religiously and catch the great New York Times article or the fact that one of my favorite artists is coming to town. If all I got was customer service on Twitter, I'd only tune in when I had an issue. But because of the ambient intimacy of the connections...the real human experiences being shared daily, I may also tune into the 'commercial breaks': this company doing good stuff and this person launching that cool bit. It's a bonus, but not the core of what draws me in.

Twitter is, if nothing else, a series of sheep throwing awesomeness allowing for mondo exchanges of whuffie, with commercial bits and bobs stuck in here and there to also make it lucrative enough in the marketplace so we can afford to keep on about our daily adventures. And some may say, "Sounds ridiculous!" but I say, "No...ridiculous is the notion that everything has to be boiled down to a transaction and thank GOD something came along to demonstrate the importance of interaction for the sake of connection without a value judgement or a pricetag on it!"

If we go and suck the humanity out of Twitter, it WILL go away. It will cease to be interesting and you will have no goshdarned place to put your productive/lucrative bits anymore. It's not that I'm all googly eyed about the touchy-feely, it's that I recognize that the touchy-feely - the throwing sheep - is the BASIS of what makes us bloody happy. The other stuff we stick in there to be able to pay our rent and buy fancy things that make us appear to be happy. And if we want to continue to reap the benefits here, we need to stop sucking the social out of our social media spaces.

It's not just the nice thing to do...it's necessary.

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Happy to be Miserable

Grimace Rock on Flickr I've been told from various sources almost all of my life that people are merely searching for happiness. That is why, when I read a quote from a 72 year old study on happiness in The Atlantic this month, I was taken aback:

Last October, I watched (Valliant) give a lecture to Seligman’s graduate students on the power of positive emotions—awe, love, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, joy, hope, and trust (or faith). “The happiness books say, ‘Try happiness. You’ll like it a lot more than misery’—which is perfectly true,” he told them. But why, he asked, do people tell psychologists they’d cross the street to avoid someone who had given them a compliment the previous day?

In fact, Vaillant went on, positive emotions make us more vulnerable than negative ones. One reason is that they’re future-oriented. Fear and sadness have immediate payoffs—protecting us from attack or attracting resources at times of distress. Gratitude and joy, over time, will yield better health and deeper connections—but in the short term actually put us at risk. That’s because, while negative emotions tend to be insulating, positive emotions expose us to the common elements of rejection and heartbreak.

Even though conventional wisdom* says the opposite, I felt his research findings to be poignantly true to my own experience. How difficult is it for any of us to take a compliment? Accept love from someone else? Feel like an act of kindness or generosity is warranted? Trust a positive experience to continue on being positive? Accepting any of the above would mean taking a huge risk. A huge risk of disappointment and the loss of innocence.

Someone I know recently partook in a personal study where he bought a bunch of flowers and handed them out to strangers. The findings of his 'study' were that most people would reject the gift outright. I wasn't surprised and explained to him that I would have probably rejected a flower from a stranger myself. There are a few reasons for this reaction. Number one, in North American culture we have experienced that there is no such thing as a pure gift (except from those we know, but even then, there is an iota of reciprocity attached to it). The gift is given with an expectation that we give something in return: our attention, our money or the like. Number two, there is the phenomenon that Valliant describes above: we don't feel as if we deserve a random kind act from a stranger. It is embarrassing to be given a gift. We don't understand how to receive it.

These thoughts are tangled up to result in a personal protectiveness, which may seem negative, but are mainly about lowering our expectations. And lowered expectations, as discussed in the article, are conducive to higher overall happiness (Danes, who have the lowest expectations, top the 'happiness' surveys).

So what does this mean for those of us trying to make the world a better place to live in? Well, maybe we shouldn't be shooting for increasing the baseline on happiness, but instead, shooting to increase the baseline on trust. It turns out that the happiest of those studied had strong relationships with people they trust around them. Turns out we really do require more of those high 'soup metric' relationships.

Personally, the more I study, the more that I return to community and a focus on social capital to find my answers. But human beings are not rational creatures. And because the desire to be self-protective outweighs the desire to achieve an optimal living experience, we deeply embed protectionism and distance into our day to day interactions as well as our societal structure. Alas, there is much work to do. But if there is anything I've learnt to embrace...is my own vulnerability.

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Dumped: The Survival Guide

Love is like an addiction, so getting 'clean' when it isn't available to you anymore (through that desired person anyway), is not easy. But you make it even tougher on yourself if you prolong the addiction.

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