Off and Running…

I try to get a blog post off every Wednesday, and today will be a busy one.

The day started early, reading up an what is happening in the world and the business arena in general.  It used to be that I had a pile of newspapers to plow through.  Today, tools like AllTop, Woodstock Wire, and  RSS subscriptions to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, bring the information to my laptop.  It’s a big time saver, but  you still Koerber-Walker-021have to read the articles.

With a big day ahead of me, I check the fridge for some breakfast.  Hmm.  What to choose?  There’s milk and cereal, or chocolate pudding.    Let’s see. Both are about the same calories but chocolate pudding is a lot more fun.  Guess that breakfast turned out to be?

Breakfast with the laptop by the pool and a quick check in on Facebook and Twitter to see what folks are thinking about and tweeting.  Some good stuff from Twitter friends @Amilya, @CSmetro, @Hardaway, and @GuyKawasaki, gets tweeted out along with a few articles I found of interest from my morning reading on line.  I use multiple Twitter profiles so that the right information goes out to the right friends and I don’t clog up everyone’s stream.

A comment on Facebook pops up in my Seesmic DeskTop telling me that my friend Gloria (@heartfeldt) thinks my breakfast choice was ‘sensible’.  🙂 A little validation never hurts.

Social Media is all well and good, but the most important part of it is what you do with the connections you make on it.  Today, I have five items on the agenda, all that are connected though my social media or online networks. 

  • Lunch with a friend and possible future business partner I got to know  through Linked In.
  • Some work on the laptop – probably at Wildflower at 101 and Frank Lloyd Wright to put the finishing touches on a business plan for one of my dearest Twitter friends.
  • Check in with RiboMed’s CEO on the latest developments with the companies we are talking to about international distribution.  And yes, they found us online too.
  • 4PM at Starbucks Keirland with Ron Bell – and yes – we confirmed the meeting yesterday via Twitter.
  • 6PM dinner on the patio at Sol Y Sombra with Brian Callahan and a group of entrepreneurs and investors I have not seen in a while.  Oh and how did I meet Brian – who lives in California?  He found me on Linked In.

So for those of you who are wondering if Social Media is a game or just a major time-sink when it comes to business.  Here’s your answer. 

Whoops, got to run!  Thanks for stopping by and please… Stay Tuned…

– Joan Koerber-Walker

Spring into innovation.

Innovation has lots of definitions, but my favorite way to describe it is simple. Innovation is doing something in a new way to make life better for the people who matter.

BD19092_[1] Who matters is not the same for everyone and that’s the best part. It just spreads good stuff around that much further as we point our energies towards what we care about and others do the same some place else. Our new ideas and energy get spread around and just like fertilizer in the garden wonderful things start to spring up.

Innovative ideas are sometimes revolutionary, but more often that not, innovation is just a little thing – one new thing we can add or do to make a difference for ourselves or others.

A great example was sent to me this week by my friend Debra Johnson, CEO of Eco-Edge.  The company works with businesses to take their diesel fleet and industrial operations to new levels of profitability, performance and sustainability with Award-Winning Technologies for:

Improved Fuel Economy

Reduced Maintenance Costs

More Efficient & Effective Operations

Reduced Environmental Footprint

I first met Debra when she was starting her business in 2002 at the Arizona Venture Capital Conference.  We were both checking things out for the first time and got to chatting.  We’ve stayed in touch ever since and it has been so great to see her company move forward.  She’s progressed from an entrepreneur with an idea to national recognition as a finalist for last year’s Stevie Award.  Here is what she shared with me… and gave me permission to share with you.

j0400732[1]Do you know what many people believe may be the greatest invention of all time?

The lowly toothbrush!

One day long ago when someone said this toothbrush will improve your life – very few people responded with: “I must have that!”  Today, we can’t live without our toothbrush, and we know it can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. The cell phone, the Internet and the CFL bulb all went through this process.  Many inventions did not, not because they weren’t good, but for whatever reason, they never gained broad acceptance.

Are you wondering why this is relevant from a company that helps fleets and industrial operationsimprove profits and reduce environmental impact?   Eco-Edge understands that not every company should be using every new product on the market. But companies willing to take those first bold steps with someone they trust recognize that once they have validated solutions, they reap early benefits and set the table for others to confidently join in.  Our process relies on customer advocacy to match the right innovative products to your goals and challenges, as well as to your requirements for assurance.  We do the due diligence on innovative eco-efficient products to ensure that, at the end of the day, you are 100% satisfied with your decision.

And, our job is to constantly look for innovative, best-in-class fleet and industrial products that will save you money and reduce your environmental impact – guaranteed.  To that end, new solutions we’ve added in the last few months can, at the very least, reduce your operating costs and cut accidents, all while making the world just a bit healthier.  We just celebrated our 7th year helping businesses like yours do just that.

Debra makes some great points here – and sets an example we can all benefit from.  You see,  inventions do not become innovations until we use them to make a positive difference in our lives or our businesses. She addresses each question an adopter will be asking or thinking…

1.   How will this product or service benefit me?

2.  Is it to risky to change from what I do today?

3.  Can I get support to help me make this change?

And best of all, she promises to keep the innovations coming.

If you were telling your story – could you answer these questions as well as Debra did?

Spring is a great time to make a list and start to think about what YOU can do to make life better and how you can interest others in joining you on the journey.

A little innovation goes a long way.  Harness a little of that spring time energy and do something new.

Thanks for tuning in and please stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Why going multi-profile on Twitter makes sense

Two weeks ago I started to experiment with multiple profiles on Twitter.  Some of my friends have tweeted with questions about why I am doing this, how it works, and is it worth it.  So instead of having multiple conversations, I thought I would put what I am learning right here and give you peak into how the experiment is going. 

I’m not a social media expert, just a business person learning to use it effectively with some really great coaches like @LonSafko, @Hardaway, @StevenGroves, and @jenn_ex.

I now have five twitter profiles. @joankw for an eclectic mix of things that I share with my friends on Facebook as well as with my twitter followers at the same time.  @CorePurpose is all business articles and tips. This links back to my profile on LinkedIn. Then I have three very specific profiles to have deeper conversations on the subjects I like the most @JKWinnovation@JKWgrowth@JKWleadership.

Reasons to do it

  1. If you Tweet consistently – and I do – linking to other platforms like Facebook, Plaxo, and Linked in can cause you to monopolize your friends feeds.  It’s like crying wolf – when you have something important to say – no one’s there to listen.
  2. Your profile is a brand component.  Multiple profiles allow you to keep your brand focused and consistent within each profile.  People follow the profiles that have the messages they want.
  3. It’s easier to have real conversations.  On the focused profiles, I follow publications and people who tweet on the subject – when we connect we have something to actually talk/tweet about.

Early mistakes

  1.  Don’t be a FEED HOG.  Unless it’s meaningful across profiles,don’t multi-tweet.  It’s annoying if your followers don’t have a tool like Seesmic that aggregates repeat messages.
  2. CHECK your spelling.  (My biggest failing.) People discount your message if it’s  full of typos.
  3. Find the right mix of tools.  It’s a bit of trial and error but the right tools for you are out there and more are coming daily. (More on tools below.)
  4. Let people know you are out there and what you have to say.  Thanks  to the folks at TwitStamp for these fun and interactive profile stamps.

Ways to make work it without going crazy

  1. There are some great tools for those of us with multiple profiles.  None are perfect, but my toolset includes Seesmic – great visual interface – and Hootsuite which allows me to ‘tweet later’ and manage the follow.  It these two platforms would just merge into one, I would be in Twitter Heaven.
  2. Tweet Later – a great way to spread your messages across the day with out being tied to your computer.  Early each morning I schedule a few messages for each profile to tweet later using Hootsuite.  Then I log in later via Seesmic to read the feed, reply to conversations, or share more ‘in the moment’ thoughts.
  3. Set aside a specific time to do this then turn it off.  It’s easy to get sucked into all the goings on and not get other important things done.
  4. Less can be More – I share and follow based on good content.  So when someone follows me – I follow them.  If it turns out to be spam or just noise – I un-follow later.  That way I can find interesting new people and still get through all the messages in a reasonable amount of time.

How’s it going?

So far, so good.  I have met some great new people, found interesting articles and blogs, gotten asked to be on a couple of radio shows to share ideas on topics I care about, and, wonder of wonders, found a customer or two in the process.  Who knows, I may also find what I really want – the opportunity to lead and grow another really cool company.  Not a bad start.

Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

A Busy Person’s Toolkit for Social Media

social media bible

Are all the choices and options for social media making you dizzy? As a business person are you wondering if social media is a useful tool or a productivity disaster as employees or you personally ‘waste’ time on line? As a job seeker, are you looking at social media as an answer to all of you problems.  As a parent are you concerned about who your kids are connecting with and why?

With all of the choices, opinions, strategies, and continuous change – who wouldn’t be dizzy!

OK, here comes the BIG disclaimer.  I am NOT a social media expert.  I do not claim to be, do not want to be, and probably never will be.  What I am is a business owner and executive who never has enough time.  So I use technology for what is is, a tool.

Every tool must have a purpose, and in the case of social media, its purpose is to start and continue conversations.  Conversations are what I am good at. Conversations identify issues, uncover strategies for change, bring us up to date information, and keep us connected. 

So lucky for me, I have friends and associates who ARE experts.  I started a conversation with them and they helped me put together a toolkit that accomplishes what I need to do and then looked over my shoulder to make sure I did not mess it up.

In my case, my tool kit looks like this:

Purpose Tool/Profile
Connect with Business Contacts and Showcase Qualifications Linked In
Online Resume so Search Firms and Companies can Hire Me Linked In  and Bright Fuse
Sharing information and making updates to multiple profiles by cross linking accounts*.  One for business info, one for friends.  Note – never sell to friends if you want to keep them connected. Personal Twitter
Company Twitter
Online address book and place to share and receive updates from business associates on business interests and activity Plaxo
Stay connected with Friends – share info, ideas, updates, and fun stuff.  Facebook
Share more detailed thoughts and ideas, build your brand, have longer conversations, publish articles on line, comment on other peoples ‘conversations’. Blog TypePad
Blog WordPress
Share Videos of yourself or others making a difference You Tube
*  Time Saving Tip – Set up a Business Twitter account and a Personal Twitter Account.  Connect your Linked In, Plaxo, Facebook, etc. to the appropriate RSS feed.  Then from HootSuite you can access both accounts – post updates – scan for news, replies, etc. and do it all quickly from one dashboard. You can even schedule your Tweets so it looks like you are always engaged even when your busy elsewhere. 🙂 HootSuite.com
*  Time Saving Tip – News Sites Consolidate information and so do some powerful Tweeters, newspapers, and magazines.  AllTop let’s you pick the blog sites and publishers that you want to watch and puts them all on one page.  Examples of Major Tweeters also provided. AllTop and tweeters: @GuyKawasaki, @Time, @WSJ, @NYTimes, @PhxPublisher, @AZBizReporter

So now that you have had a peek inside my Social Media Tool Kit, think about what you want to have in yours.  Here are some great resources to help you decide what tools are right for you…

Want a manual?  The Social Media Bible by Lon Safko and David K. Brake.  (John Wiley and Sons) releases May 4, 2009 and is the most complete guide on the subject ever published.  It’s a complete reference with 840 pages!   Don’t worry, it’s well indexed so you can find what you need.  I just ordered my copy on line for early delivery on Amazon.com (<$20) and saved myself a trip to the book store…

Want a Symposium:  Check out the  CABIT Symposium (coming up April 23 and April 24th at ASU for the all the latest in Collaboration from Social Media to Cloud Computing.

Want a Class?  Jennifer Maggiore owns a firm specializing in development and management of Social Media campaigns.  Her experience includes both the private and non-profit sectors for small businesses and national organizations.  Jenn is offering hands-on classes to help you get started in the ASBA Computer Lab this month.

Want a Club?  Check out the Social Media Club Phoenix  founded by local social media icon Francine Hardaway of Stealthmode Partners  

Want a tutor? Local Experts like Steven Groves at Steven Groves.com and Dave Barnhart of Business Blogging Pros might be just what you need.

Want a complete end to end corporate social media solution?  No Worries.  Reach out to Lisa Ellis at Metro Studios or Ben Smith at The Lavidge Company and they’ll fix you right up.

Ok – one last gasp on the subject.  How long does all this stuff take?  Well,  learning the ropes and the initial set up takes some doing, but like a tool chest you can add pieces one at a time.  Once you have your tool kit, just slot some social media time in your schedule.  An hour in the morning (to read what’s happening in world and post a few comments) and a half hour at night to check back in does the trick for me.  I wish I could get through my emails half as fast.  🙂

Stay Tuned…

– Joan Koerber-Walker

Too Much Information?

Image Credit - http://techie-buzz.com

We live in an information age.  Google, Twitter, MSNBC, Face Book, TV, Radio, and Newspapers are all online.  Blogs are creating global conversations and with Skype, I now have to actually wash my face and brush my hair before sitting down before my computer at 5AM.  It only takes one video call while in your bathrobe and curlers to wipe our your smooth and savvy image.  (;-)

I  can find out almost anything through my computer.  All it takes is some search creativity and a bit of persistence. The challenge is getting the information you need and filtering out all the noise.

It’s getting louder. Can you hear it? 

Whether it’s the volume of spam attacking your email folders, the tweet of a friend who has just found Twitter and has to share their EVERY action all day long, or the three-year-old, bogus email warning or ‘favorite blessing’ that is again making the chain letter circuit.  Sometimes the noise is so loud you can’t hear or find the important stuff.

The point of all these information and communications tools is to share information…and at times – spark a conversation.   But at times, it feels more like whoever makes the most noise is winning.

A good example  is the annual Time100 Most Influential People List.  For decades this has been the true A list of people shaping our world.  Now Time has posted the ballots on-line.  If you can wade though the over 200 profiles to vote on, you probably have too much time on your hands.  I visited the site this morning and after a few minutes realized that it could take hours to go through them all.  Later today from Twitter, I got the news of how the voting was going and that Moot was in the lead.  Huh?  Who or what is a Moot?  I guess I was not the only one so out of touch.  They created a video to explain it. 

Today was my day to do my part in updating RiboMed‘s business plan so that it was ready to present to potential investors after we exhibit at AACR’s 100th Annual Meeting next week.  (The team’s work in the lab is taking us closer to a breakthrough in early cancer detection daily.  We need to raise more capital to take it to the marketplace.) Unfortunately, I can only spend so much time running financial models, analyzing future markets and writing about epigenetic theory, bio-markers, and all that stuff before I start to go cross eyed.  I guess I’m getting old.

So I took a break to check in on my social media pages at AllTop and HootSuite to see what was up in the world.  And then braved my email to see if the note I was waiting for from New York had come in.  After sifting though my inbox and not finding it, I checked my junk box  scanning through 500+ spam messages just in case it was there .  Did not find it – but there were two emails from my parents.  Hoping for some happy family news, I opened them.  My folks sent me important emails they people send to them.   One was on the horrific dangers of Aspartame (the sweetener found in Diet Coke) and the other was quoting the LA Times on 10 disturbing ‘facts’ about illegal immigration.   Dashed off a couple of quick emails to Mom and Dad explaining that neither of these emails were accurate or even recent – the LA Times hoax started in 2006.  Attached a couple of tinyurls with links to the actual facts, added an “I love You” and got back to work.

We’ll wipe out cancer in my lifetime..I’m not so sure about spam.

Stay tuned…

– Joan Koerber-Walker

Like Finding Water in the Desert…

Oasis in the Desert courtesy of Environmental Graffiti.comToday, a friend asked me how my quest for capital was progressing? 

My answer – Like finding water in the desert

But the more I thought about it, the more apt the analogy became.  You see there is water in the desert, it’s just hidden under the sand.  That’s how oases are formed in nature.  The winds of change shift the sands until the water table is closer to the surface.  Then, even in a desert, things begin to grow.

Lately for some, it may feel as if the winds of change are blowing sand right in your face.  The trick is to look for the opportunities that may be lying underneath the surface as you see the sands shifting.

There are oases out there.  Here are some examples:

  • A friend of mine sent me an email tonight.  She owns a great and growing company.  She asked for a favor…can you help me find a key employee for my company.  I called a few friends who might be a fit.
  • Another friend in La Quinta, CA  has a new book out and started a radio show to help people look at their careers.Career Secret Sauce and the Career Mechanic. 
  • Over coffee, I got to meet with the guys who run AZ Weekly. They have a great concept and are growing circulation like crazy.  We brainstormed how they could grow more AND save money.  Hopefully it helped.
  • My social media expert friend, Steven Groves ,is coaching me on how to navigate the social media desert and use it to build a brand.  If he can teach me – he can teach anyone!  If you need help, ask Steve!
  • I found a really cool deal, but I need to access capital to make it work.  Friends from across the valley have offered to help me.  We just might make it too.
  • And as I talk to others about my really cool deal, I get to learn about their opportunities…and help them connect to others who can help them.
  • And so it continues…

“Opportunities out there, just below the surface…like finding water in the desert.”

–  Joan Koerber-Walker

Change is what we make it.

Are you ready for Change?  2009 will be full of it.  From politicians, to business owners…  from consumers to sellers – January 2009 brings a who new year filled with opportunities.

Now is the time to take stock of what you have to work with, lay some plans, and get energized for the change you will make in 2009.  Don’t let all the negative media steal your energy.  Make your changes positive – act on your plans – find new resources – make a difference in your business, your community, your life.

Working together anything is possible and opportunites will be what we make them.