My hands may be SMALL, but my ideas are BIG

12/30/2008

Brands Join In For New Year's Eve Countdown

Media Post recently wrote about a slew of brands that have nudged their way into Times Square, the center of many New Year's Eve celebrations, especially from an advertising perspective. They have found some pretty innovative guerilla marketing ideas and I thought they were worth noting. The brands listed below have made it to the top of the list:

Ciroc Vodka: "Official Vodka of New Year's Eve." In partnership with the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission and E! Entertainment, Ciroc has employed a street team to give out $15 debit cards for cab fares to thousands of adults "wandering Manhattan streets between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m." (Can they do that in Boulder?!) In addition, prolific spokesperson P. Diddy, reinforced the "get home safely" theme by running the message on taxi television screens through New Year's Day, coupled with billboards, and a donation of $1 million to an unspecified charity if the city would change the iconic New Year's Even crystal ball to the color of Ciroc's blue logo.

Nivea: The skin and beauty care company will provide New Year's Eve hats and blue balloons tied with silver Mylar ribbons, along with Lip Care samples "to keep our lips looking and feeling beautiful for that unforgettable kiss at midnight." There will be a Nivea "Kiss and Be Kissed Platform," which will feature a couple celebrating their anniversary, a "welcome home" kiss and a midnight-practice kiss. I think this is a brilliant idea--it's humanizing and touching.

Pepsi: Plans to hand out scarves and then a few minutes before the ball drops, will release 1,000 big bouncing balloons that say "joy," "hope," and "2009."

3 Musketeers: Will promote the New Year's Eve Wishing Wall with falling pom-poms, confetti bags, and chocolate mini-bars to help bring in 2009.

Stay tuned for New Year's Eve advertisements, commercials and branding wonders...What other brands have I missed? Please share.

I hope you bring in 2009 with prospertiy, loved ones, innovation, happiness and laughter.

12/25/2008

7 Things You Wish You Didn't (Or Did) Know About Me - Meme #2

Micah says, "paybacks a bitch," as he gleefully re-tagged me in the "7 Things You Wish You Didn't (Or Did) Know About Me" meme. This one works like this:
  • Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged
Is is just me or do meme's sort of seem like a middle school chain letter? Oh well, here it goes:

1. The language I took in high school is Sanskrit-संस्कृता वाक् an ancient Indian language similar to Hindu. I can read the Bhagavad-Gita cover to cover and yes, can read all those cryptic looking Sanskrit tattoos people rock (do they really know their meaning?)

2. I hate mint. I really do and just don't like any form of it.

3. I lived and worked in Costa Rica with sea turtles on a beach in the summer of 2005. The village beach in Ostional is one of the 8 beaches in the world where the 'arribada' (arrival in Spanish) occurs: female Olive Ridley sea turtles lay their eggs in masses, with each moon cycle.

4. I have an extensive background in horseback riding and for over ten years I competed in three-day eventing (i.e. reference Christopher Reeves harrowing fall). I owned a thoroughbred, taught riding and veterinarian lessons, and traveled around the Midwest competing.

5. You don't know me at all if you don't know that I'm 75% Italian (Calabrese/Sicilian) and 25% Irish (Boyle=last name). A quiet one who doesn't like to eat or drink, with a side sarcasm.

6. I've been meditating (Transcendental Meditation) since I was five, a simple way to release stress. I attended an alternative school where we meditated and practiced yoga before and after school, while in between it was a regular college prepatory school. Hence, the Sanskrit (#1). Other practitioners of Transcendental Meditation: The Beatles, David Lynch, Goldie Hawn. Curious? See below:



7. Queen-Under Pressure is one of my favorite songs of all time. Doo Doo Doo Doo Do Do Do ...

Now my seven people to tag. Your mission if you choose to accept it:

@fullyadam- What a good sport Fully is, plus he's one of my favorite people on the web (& in life)
@JMalan- Emerging into the tech scene with valor especially as my co-worker @ Lijit.
@daveraffaele- A new Twitterati friend and 'social media supporter'
@jshuey- A fellow Biz. Dev practitioner with a pension for tech
@rickbutts- 'International troublemaker'
@GlobalPatriot- With support for social justice and global consciousness, why not connect the dots?
@joegreenz- Spurs of thoughts a' plenty
@converstations- A fellow Iowan and "Social Mediatician."

12/22/2008

Meaningful Holiday Gift Ideas

As we are amidst the holidays and the new year is fast approaching, this may mean a few different things for you; some time off, family, traveling, relaxing, energizing, gift giving, change? As I'm home in Iowa, visiting my family and friends I'm taking a little 'hiatus' and attempting to stay 'off the grid' for the next week. However, before I try to take a break from web 2.0 (try) I wanted to present a few organizations and gift ideas that give back.

1. Heifer: Based in Arkansas, this non-profit seeks to end worldwide hunger and poverty. They do this through helping people in developing countries feed themselves. Ie: Buy a goat-->provides milk for the family-->also makes yogurt or cheese to be sold.

2. World Wildlife Fund: Protecting the future of nature, WWF has annual gifts, grants or loans ranging from $1,000 to $3.5 million all of which helps to play an instrumental role in conserving places around the world from devastation.


3. Pro Mujer-Microfinance: One of my best friend's, Ali works at Pro Mujer (Spanish, meaning "for women") in New York City with their Finance Department. As they "give women credit," by helping them help themselves I love what they do for women in Latin and South America. Donations range in price--$25 gives a woman credit to grow vegetables to sell at the market, $500 provides 3 women with loans and health care and $5000 provides 25 women with loans and health care. To donate directly, click here.

2. Oxfam America: An online catalog that delivers to 120 countries around the world. It's as simple as purchasing an item (ie. can of worms, a camel, building tools), the card goes to the recipient, then the gift goes to those who need it most.


Whatever your choice may be, there are many ways to ensure your holiday gift is backed with meaning and making an impact in someone's life.

Happy holidays!

12/18/2008

The Big Picture-2008 In Photographs

The photographer, Aaron Siskind once said, "Photography is a way of feeling, of touching of love. What you have caught on film is capture forever...it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything." As I came across The Big Picture's photos of 2008, many emotions washed over me. With that being said, I decided to include the most moving and riveting photos that somehow spoke to me on a personal level (especially the flood from Iowa this summer since I'm originally from there and happened to witness the destruction first hand). Please visit The Big Picture for the complete list of photographs.

A U.S. Marine, from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, has a close call after Taliban fighters opened fire near Garmser in Helmand Province of Afghanistan May 18, 2008. The Marine was not injured. (REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)

Buildings and debris are seen floating in the Cedar River against a railroad bridge Saturday, June 14, 2008, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Days after it rose out of its banks on its way to record flooding in Cedar Rapids, the Cedar River has forced at least 24,000 people from their homes, emergency officials said. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

A personal favorite, because I've been to Grindelwald. Time exposure of the Swiss mountain resort of Grindelwald next to the north face of the Eiger mountain, seen on January 10, 2008.

Swiss pilot Yves Rossy, the world's first man to fly with a jet-powered fixed-wing apparatus strapped to his back, flies during his first official demonstration, on May 14, 2008 above Bex, Switzerland.

The head of a male student, still alive, trapped under the debris is pictured at the scene of the church school that collapsed on the outskirts of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince, November 7, 2008. At least 30 people were killed when the three-story La Promesse school building collapsed while class was in session and some of the walls and debris crushed neighboring homes in the Nerettes community near Port-au-Prince.

12/17/2008

Have You Been Elfed?

Talk about virtually spreading the joy. Two recent campaigns, Ace Hardware's "Ace Your Face" and OfficeMax's "ElfYourself" have created a promotion that allows consumers to upload their own face choices into humorous greeting cards.

In it's third year, this week 57 million elves has been created during the first three weeks of the most current campaign. Statistically, users have been averaging 15 minutes (double the 7.5 minutes last year) on the site and has created 4.5 separate elf-centric videos. OfficeMax boasted 11,088 blog posts mentioning, "ElfYourself," which is doubled from last year.

I think this is a great representation of a brand engaging their customers. Through this fun and free gift they've created a niche within social media by creating brand association.

Furthermore, with a recent partnership with JibJab, ElfYourself added a Facebook application, which 600,000 users have tried out. JibJab's technology allows users to merchandises the elves from their videos onto printed greeting cards, ornaments, mouse pads, coffee mugs and playing cards. A great carry over into their product line to increase sales.

Here's a little holiday cheer and sampling of ElfYourself with me and a few co-workers from Lijit: @tarable, @JMalan and our boss, @PQBoulder. We have the moves.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

12/16/2008

AD WEEK's Top Media and Marketing Innovations of 2008

Recently, ADWEEK posted the Top Media & Marketing Innovations of 2008 with 14 innovations, people and ideas making the list. I thought each was pertinent, as I reviewed them inserting my thoughts throughout. Since we're nearing the end of this year it's nice to look back and reflect because the growth of technology within the digital age is booming.
1. Obama: Digital Change Agent: No surprise here, Obama proved the web's powerful capabilities in raising money and support. "While marketers have drooled over the Long Tail, Obama grabbed it -- attracting more than 1.7 million contributors, with 93 percent of $2.9 million in online donations coming in by way of increments of less than $100. " -Brian Morrissey

2. The TAMi Show: NBC's Multiplatform Olympics:
As the first global broadband event ever, the 2008 Beijjing Olympics blew many of us away. NBC's TAMi stands for, "Total Audience Measurement Index," which helped to measure all media exposure. -Anthony Crupi

3. Hulu Takes Hold: The joint video-streaming venture of NBC and Fox delivered popular shows such as Heroes, The Office and The Simpsons to consumers-wherever, whenever they wanted it. There is even speculation "that Hulu could overtake YouTube in revenue in '09." -Steve McClellan

4. iPhone Juices Mobile Medium:
The "iPhone phenomenon created a shift in the mindset of the American consumer--from 'Why would I want to surf the Web on my crappy phone?' to 'I can do that? I want one now!'" Enough said. -Mike Shields

5. HuffPo: The Rise of the Political News Site:
Arianna Huffington's, The Huffington Post experienced a 474% growth rate, with 4.5 million unique users in 2008, per comScore. Her voice and site is a top 100 blog and a trusted source for information -MS

6. Fox's Clutter Killer: "This season, Fox confronted head-on the issue of commercial clutter, the growing number of ads and promos stuffed into shows by the networks." With this season's show, Fringe they aired half the usual network commercials and promo load making it the top-rated new drama among adults 18-49. Fox is paying attention to their consumers needs which is an impressive business venture. -SM

7. Turner's Big Year: Turner Broadcasting System boosted its share in the marketplace by offering "broadcast replacement" inventory. They also broke free from third-party ad networks and developed an in-house system which has led to viewing online ads at 50 million unique users and 3.5 billion impressions. -AC

8. Zuckerberg's Most Popular: The move in May to "open the social-networking service to outside developers," proved its influential capability. To date, 400,000 developers have created 52,000 apps. What a development to digital media. -BM

9. All A-Twitter: One of my favorite social media tools, (micro-blogging) proves "our conception of one another--and brands--are often formed by bite-sized interactions." They keep it simple, yet powerful, even when it comes to their small, 25 person team. -BM

10. Sponsor in Aisle Five!: Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. retailer rolled out their in-store digital network where they monitor and control television, content, ads and merchandising. Smart. This digital interaction "creates a dynamic, interactive dialogue between marketer and consumer." -Katy Bachman

11. Cinema Ads a Star: Their pre-show, 'First Look' showed a combination of ads and entertainment which reached 70% of moviegoers in the top 10 markets this year, and more than 65% in the top 25. They're experiencing double-digit growth in their ad business. -KB

12. Stardoll: Dressed for Success: The two-year old Swedish site built a virtual playground for tween girls that boasts 22 million members in 200 countries! Woah, look out they're "taking playtime to a whole new level." -MS

13. Web Amps Up Radio: CBS Radio's new online player has reinvented streaming--representing best that "the oldest electronic medium can migrate to the newest." Partnerships with AOL Radio and Yahoo LaunchCast also has boosted their new integrated-marketing possibilities. -KB

14. Oh, Snap! Magazine Ads Get Interactive: Unless you're living under a rock, the decline in print ads is obvious. However, SnapTell (Palo Alto based company) "enables brands to send messages to readers who shoot photos of magazine ads with their mobile photos." Men's Health, Rolling Stone and ESPN The Magazine are just a few to have adopted the technology this year. - Lucia Moses

12/14/2008

6th Photo Meme

The social media world loves to create games. I just got opted into one of those games: '6th Photo Meme.' The idea is 666-fold: go to the 6th page of your Flickr photostream, grab the 6th photo, post the photo on your blog and then tag 6 of your friends to do the same.

Adam Fullerton
(@fullyadam) just tagged me over at his blog, The Passenger, so here goes my picture and response.

This photo I took is from the Boulder/Denver New Tech Meetup in Boulder. Five people get five minutes each to demo something about their new technology. I love this photo because it a) shows the collaboration of technologists, entrepreneurs, geeks and hackers (300 strong) in one room together; b) it represents the new tech boom in Boulder. The American Magazine calls Boulder, "a serious technology hub," and look out because, "The Western frontier is open, and geeks are populating the range." As a recent geek transplant, this makes me happy.

Now comes my turn to pass the Flickr meme love onwards:

1. Tara Anderson- a fellow 'too lijit to quit' co-worker (Marketing Manager at Lijit) who has a zest for life and insatiable humor. Tara is a force to be reckoned with.

2. Micah Baldwin- because he's keen on succeeding through failure, has a smart business mind (VP of Biz. Dev. at Lijit) and gives back by mentoring start-ups and coaching lacrosse.

3. Lauren Cook- a social media strategist and Founding Partner at Swarm Collective. Plus, we're connected by six degrees of separation and as a 'professional wine consumer,' we have more than one interest in common.

4. Melissa Michaels - her blog, The Inspired Room is one of my favorite sources of information for interior design and creating a beautiful home. Not to mention, she's one of the sweetest bloggers out there.

5. Jeremy Tanner - With a tagline like: "Consultant - Party Crasher - Startup Junkie," who could refuse Tanner's humor? He is also the Head Facilitator for Startup Weekend.

6. David Mandell - Best friends with one of my favorite professors, now also my friend. I love connecting the dots as Mandell's a local Boulderite and entrepreneur.

12/11/2008

Cob Houses Around the World

The idea of living in a cob house is still very whimsical to me. It's efficient, inexpensive, cozy and environmentally conscious. From my past two posts on Building A Cob House and the follow-up with the Mullenneaux's I focused on the building of their cob house and then what it was like to be living in one. Today, I thought it would be nice to visually represent a few beautiful cob houses from around the World. Please feel free to share yours if you live in one, know of someone who does, or stumble across a cob house that I haven't.

San Bartolo, Mexico-Photo Credit: Cobworks

Mayne Island, B.C. Canada-Photo Credit: Cobworks

Devon, England-Photo Credit: Cob Cottage

Vancouver-Photo Credit: Flickr neil-san

Orgeon-Photo Credit: Hub Pages

California-Photo Credit: Cob Cottage

12/09/2008

Social Media for a Social Cause: The Opp-Guide

Social Media is powerful in shaping brands, ideas, people and most interestingly, social causes. I ran across one such social cause from an article in Market Watch about Wendi Oppenheim, a 16 year-old founder of a community service, social cause revolution, The Opp-Guide. Oppenheim's non-profit was a recent finalist in the Best Buy @15 competition, inspiring teens to help their community.
The Opp-Guide is comparable to Zagat or Yelp, except here, teens submit reviews of their volunteer experiences with local nonprofits and charities. Their byline: "Community service ideas and organization reviews for teens, by teens."

I'm impressed with Oppenheim's eloquence as she understands where our country stands now and the importance of community, "Young people need to know the true satisfaction of giving their time to people in need." She attests that the reviews are honest and help fill the missing link between actually enjoying volunteering and only being there for the credit.

Market Watch believes, "The Opp-Guide has proven an innovative way to get teens involved in community service by helping them pinpoint opportunities that tap into their passion and skills."

So if you feel so inclined: Rock the Vote for The Opp-Guide at http://www.genv.net/bestbuy or text BBYV24 to 32075. You can also check out Oppenheim (President) and equally young, Ben (Business Manager and VP) talk in this cute video about their organization.




For more information about The Opp-Guide or to speak directly with Wendi, here is her e-mail: wendioppenheim[at]gmail[dot]com

So I'm curious...what other social causes do you know that leverage social media for their organization, cause or idea? Please share.

12/07/2008

Attention Is Your Biggest Cost in Marketing

Our brain only attends to 5% of the information it receives from all available senses. That's right, 5%. Think about the challenging implications involved in leveraging a marketing campaign or increasing sales when everyone is vying for that small percentage and trying to make the cut.

mobileYouth recently wrote about the neurological concept of gating, a mechanism that enables our brains to function, when tied to youth marketing. Thus the statement, "attention is your biggest cost." Makes sense. Marketing is directly tied to gating, the "neurological tool for blocking out information such as pain, sensation etc. to avoid overload." Blocking 95% of products and brand messaging seems daunting to any marketer, however, it doesn't have to be.

Take a look at this attention awareness test and consider its implications for youth marketing:



Fascinating, isn't it? Who saw the 'moonwalking bear' the first time they watched it? I didn't. Then I watched it a second time and it was clear as day.

With that being said, I will echo mobileYouth's simple declaration: be relevant. "Less is more and relevance paramount," because youth gates the products that stand out to them.

Morale of the story: "Your youth brand may be a moonwalking bear but unless you’re the team in white, you may as well forget it."

12/04/2008

Building A Cob House-Follow Up With the Mullenneaux's

In early November I wrote a post on "Building a Cob House" about the Mullenneaux family, and their personal cob building community story. The responses from readers were fantastic and inquisitive, so I felt a follow-up was necessary. I reached out to Hap and Lin Mullenneaux with questions readers had asked and how it felt to be living in their new cob house the past month. They happily obliged and also offered to serve as a contact for anyone else interested in cob houses. I hope you enjoy and learn from their responses as much as I did.

GB: With your cob home finished, how does it feel to be living in a home that you created solely with your own hands (and feet), especially with the help of Fairfield (Iowa's) supportive community?

HLM: We have been living in the house for one month. It feels more like a part of nature than a conventional house. As something natural, it is easy to accept it as it is. While there are some things that aren’t finished, we are beginning to realize that this house may never be finished because that is a static condition and this house is alive. We do look forward to running water inside and taking baths at home, coming as soon as the pond fills. Since summer ended we have missed our outdoor shower.
Loft Bedroom. The ceiling is bamboo matchstick blinds over reflectix. Photo Credit: Hap and Lin Mullenneaux

GB: What specific environmental benefits have you noticed in your new cob home?


HLM: In building this house we used much more “waste” than we created. Now our use of energy and water is a fraction of any house we have lived in before. We use rainwater from the roof. We heat with wood from the scrap pile at a nearby sawmill. Our total monthly housing costs are under $100, mostly phone and internet.
Cozy Kitchen-Photo Credit: Hap & Lin Mullenneaux

GB: In my previous post, I received a question regarding cob homes' flexibility and durability for various climates. Can you answer that comment, especially in light of Iowa's notoriously cold winters, wet springs and hot summers?

HLM: At this stage of our experiment the jury is still out. The season in question is winter. Cob walls give you excellent thermal mass. Heat them and they will radiate that heat back to you over time. But what happens when there is a sub-zero wind chill hitting the other side of the wall? Stay tuned!

GB: Are there any challenges you've noticed since moving in?

HLM: Balancing the heat was a challenge because we put the woodstove by the stairs. We are closing it in so that the heat spends more time downstairs. Condensation was an issue at first. We made the house very tight and there was still cob and plaster drying when we moved in. Add the vapor that we contribute from cooking, etc and you have high humidity. This is becoming less of an issue as winter progresses, but the interior plaster absorbs moisture easily and down the road we may cover it with something less permeable.

GB: So, if someone were interested in building their own cob home what insights, resources and advice would you give them and why?


HLM: In a climate with real winter you need to use every bit of the building season to finish a cob house before freezing begins. Keep the design small. Have the foundation and stem wall ready in the spring. Do the roof first on either permanent or temporary posts. We had to work hard to protect our walls before we got the roof on. Enjoy the process and encourage everyone to enjoy it with you. Cob is not meant to be done alone. To give cob a fighting chance in cold weather, do everything you can to help it. We made the house tight with good windows that are strategically located. We insulated the roof properly. We probably should have done more to insulate our stone stem wall. Keep the cob walls thick. In places where we sculpted seats or niches into the wall the thin wall tends to be cold and damp. Finally, don’t let heating be an after thought in a cold climate. Make sure you will have heat where you need it with proper placement of the woodstove or other heat source. Some folks who built a cob house in south central Iowa said that their home was a bit chilly when the woodstove was located on the north wall. The next winter they moved it closer to the middle of the house and were much more comfortable.

Be sure to get some hands on experience before you start your own project The workshop that we took at Cob Cottage was a blast. http://www.cobcottage.com/

Here are more great teachers we have met:
http://www.housealive.org/
http://www.emeraldearth.org/
http://www.cobincornwall.com/

We are happy to answer questions and share our experience via email: haplin[at]gmail[dot]com

Thanks for doing this, Grace.
Hap & Lin Mullenneaux

12/02/2008

Guest Blog Post - Promoting 1% For The Planet

As a proud alma mater of Champlain College (I've become a bit of a public relations poster child for them) I wanted to include a guest blog post from my friend, Kat Maund, a Senior at Champlain pursuing a degree in Business Management with a focus in Marketing/Sales.

I will note that with my passion and work in social media, I continually find university's that don't talk about or offer information on any social media tools in their educational mix. I know senior level students in public relations at other large and well-known university's that don't even know what Twitter is or the value it offers in their field. With the help of some incredible professors, Champlain offers classes such as online visibility, internet marketing, media communications, and contemporary media issues (the class Kat is currently taking). In these classes, (yes, I took them) students stay on top of new media technology and are encouraged to blog, use Twitter and work on real-life projects for companies to leverage their business. This real life project is where Kat comes in, so without further ado, I'll let her take the reins and explain.

Kat Maund
My Contemporary Media Issues class is competing (guys vs. gals) to see which team can get the most views on a Youtube video promoting 1% for the Planet. 1% FTP officially took off in 2002 with its launch at a Patagonia store in San Francisco, CA. Twenty-one businesses signed up on the first day and began giving 1% of their annual profits back to the environment. Some call it an "earth tax." Consumers want to know that they're investing in companies doing good deeds and that in turn grows member companies' profits and reputations. Talk about good PR!

"It’s about businesses recognizing that industry and ecology are inherently connected. It’s about realizing the positive effects of connecting businesses, consumers and nonprofits through philanthropy. And it’s about understanding that the true cost of doing business can be mitigated by a simple pledge to the planet."

Utilizing our social networking skills is crucial to winning the contest, so what better ways to encourage hits than to blog about it, tweet about it, and Facebook it? Not only do we win some pretty excellent swag from 1% FTP's member companies, but we are able to spread the word about the importance of giving back to our earth, a planet that has provided us with so much. Check out the video; the images are sublime and the song, "Sunshine" by Matt Costa, is a definite feel-good tune. Below is the video. After you watch it and if you feel inspired, ask your employer if they're giving back to the planet. If they aren't, challenge them to!



11/29/2008

Black Friday-Hot or Not?

Traditionally each day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, has generated billions of dollars for retail stores and brings throngs of crowds to shopping malls and stores across America. Unfortunately, I've participated in the madness (however, I've never been one of those shoving, pushing, waiting in line at 3:00 AM Black Friday extremists).

Photo Credit: NY Times shoppers in line at Macy's

Yesterday, Friday November 28th I was on the East Coast visiting my Italian family in Clarksburg, West Virginia and decided to brave the storm and head to the mall. Part of me was curious with the current economic downfall, I wanted to see from a statistics point-of-view, if as many people would still show and how much money was being generated. From my perspective, the mall was pretty packed and it was more than I expected to see. People were running around with their arms filled with bags and I even heard of a fight in the line at Target over who got checked out first. It seemed people were still feeling pretty hot about Black Friday.

Then I did a little research. An article from The Guardian notes that the US shopping season got a lukewarm start. Britt Beemer of America's Research Group said on Friday that he saw shoppers carrying 25 to 40 percent fewer bags this year. "If the item was there, they bought it. If it wasn't there, they left," said Beemer, calling this year's customer a "hit-and-run shopper." I definitely would call myself a hit-and-run shopper, my patience is low and if I wasn't brand loyal, then I was out if the item wasn't there. On the other side, Forbes said shoppers came out, and although timid, the traffic was better than expected.

Nonetheless, U.S. holiday sales had been projected to climb only 2.2%, according to the National Retail Federation, which is the weakest gain in six years.

Did you participate in Black Friday? What about the horrible tragedies at Wal-Mart and Toys R' Us, that give us as Americans bad names for our greedy consumerism habits? Share your thoughts...was it hot or not?

11/24/2008

How To Ease Your Holiday Traveling Woes

Since the last five years I haven't been within driving range of my home, I've always flown for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday. Coming from the East Coast I almost always connected in O'Hare which means I almost always had a horrible experience, whether it be lost bags, snowy weather or canceled flights. I keep track of the New York Times' Practical Traveler for tips on new advances in eliminating the holiday traveling woes. Their recent article, "Be Ready, and Avoid Holiday Delays," has some great new sites for help and insight. Here are just a few of them:
Photo courtesy ABC News

-On November 20th, the Transportation Security Administration implemented "family lanes" at security checkpoints across 48 airports. I like the idea of this because it helps families and travelers with special needs to get through security on their own time (I hate seeing families with screaming babies already stressed out, having to be rushed through the line). This also means other travelers (i.e. me) will experience a speedier and more streamlined security line.

-Another service I use are the flight status alerts. A great one is Flightstats.com, which let travelers know if a gate or flight time has changed via e-mail or text message. Also, the iPhone has a Flight Status app for $4.99 from Apple’s iTunes App Store for the status of thousands of flights, as well as the arrival gates and baggage carousels.

-Another personal favorite is waittime.tsa.dhs.gov. This helps to avoid long lines at the airport because it lists average waiting times for security checkpoints at all airports.

Newsday.com says that Nationwide, 4.54 million travelers are expected to fly this weekend, compared with 4.89 million last year, a 7.2 percent decrease. So although travel on the busiest travel weekend of the year is expected to be lighter, delays and crowded airports will still be prevalent. I hope these tools and sites make your traveling a little easier and if you have other ideas or tips, please share.

I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!

11/19/2008

Why Geeks, Nerds (and Dorks) are worth it...

Listen up ladies. I'm not writing a Sex and the City column or anything, but I've had my share of dating mishaps (yes, one guy actually brought me to meet his entire family on the first date!?). With that being said, I came across a humorous article on the Best of Craigslist from the SF Bay area titled, "Why Geeks and Nerds are Worth It..."
It caught my attention because I work in the tech world and happen to praise intelligence, a little geekism, and MacGyver types over any "dude-guy," (speaking from personal experience). The post is well-written and funny, so make sure to read the whole thing but here are a few of my favorites that got a chuckle out of me:

3.) They’re more romantic than they’re given credit for. Ok true, their idea of romance might be to make up a spiffy web-page with all the reasons why they love you, with links to pics of you and sonnets and such... but hey. It lasts longer than flowers, plus you can show your friends.

6.) Most are quite good at remembering dates. Like birthdates and such, especially if they know it’ll make you happy. Due again to their neglected status, they’re more attentive than guys who “have more options”. Plus, with all that down time without a steady girlfriend, they’ll likely have mental lists of all the things they’d love to do once they GOT a girlfriend.

11.) His friends aren’t jerks. I can’t stress this enough. You’ll more likely get “Omg! A GIRL!! Can I see?!” than “Hey hot stuff back that ass up here and let me get some grub on...” They’re awkward geeks too and will, 9 times out of 10, treat you with the utmost respect and, more than likely, a note of awe. A cute girl picked one of their clan to date? It could happen to them! Hope! Drag some of your single girlfriends over, open up a pack of Mt. Dew, crack open the DnD set and get working. Nothing impresses geek guys more than a girl who can hack-n-slash (well ok maybe if she can code... a geek can dream).

13.) They’re usually very well educated. Physics majors and the like. You won’t have to listen to him blathering on about his car (ok maybe a little), he’ll have loads of other interesting things to talk about. Politics, world events, how much the chicken burgers down at the local place rock, so long as you douse them in hot sauce...

14.) You’ll almost never have to hear, “Yaw dawg whazzap!!” plop out of their mouths. Unless it’s in jest. They spell properly, use correct punctuation, and are able to tell the difference between the toilet and the floor. They almost never get “wasted”, so you won’t have to worry about coming home to find him and his friends passed out on the floor amidst a pile of beer bottles. Mt. Dew cans, perhaps...

11/14/2008

The Music of Inspiration

A new friend, fellow Iowa blogger and social media "conversationalist," Mike Sansone at ConverStations recently posted this video by grammy-award filmaker, Mark Johnson. The musical project Johnson has created, connects people from around the world, bringing together different global musical styles to create one beautiful vision. The film, Playing for Change took ten years to document. When talking about the driving force for the film, Johnson says it was, "to find a way to inspire the planet to come together as a human race. We wanted to focus on our connections rather than all of our differences. We believe music can break down the walls and barriers between cultures and raise the level of human understanding and connection."

This follows one of my deepest passion that we are all connected on a global scale. So watch this inspiring video and share it if you feel so inclined.


Eventually, everything connects-people, ideas, objects. The quality of these connections is the key to a well lived life. -Charles Eames

11/12/2008

Launching and Learning

Last night I helped host a Ladies Who Launch event focused around public relations, marketing and branding for local Boulder ladies looking to launch their new or existing business. It was held at Common Threads on Spruce Street and about 35 women attended. Each of the four speakers were well versed in their topic and I thought each brought informative and appealing knowledge. I mean really, who doesn't love entrepreneurial women all meeting in an adorable, clothing boutique shop, sharing their ideas, buzzing with humor, enjoying hummus and veggies and pellegrino?
Listening ladies at Common Threads

To recap, Victoria Keziah, Founder and Principal at Egg Strategy, spoke about the power of branding. Through her current studies at Naropa University she relayed the philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel thoughts about thesis and antithesis, representing one end of the spectrum for branding to the other end. Branding shouldn't be forced, it should bring together two co-existing powers to a synthesis in the middle by filling a greater need (i.e. Whole Foods, Core Power Yoga).

Tara Anderson, (@tarable) Marketing Manager and a fave co-worker of mine at Lijit touched on the online tools that help to leverage business. She focused on blogging, while intermittently offering her humorous stand-up skills. If you didn't catch Tara's drift ladies, start blogging!
Tara (speaking on the right): "Start blogging!"

Elaine Ellis, (@Elainiac) an Account Executive from Metzger Associates gave insightful views about media and public relations practices, mixed with social media strategies. I liked her hand out of relevant sites to use, because many women hadn't even heard of Bad Pitch Blog or Filtrbox for staying on top of the coverage your business is getting.
Melani Ward, (@melaniward) copyrighter, marketing strategist and coach gave five succinct points on how to convey your topic with ease. 1) Understand target market. 2) Know audiences hot buttons. 3) Leave your ego out of it, what's in it for me? 4) Call to action 5) Tell your story.
Young and old learning together. Mother in for a visit, soaking it in.

Although I'm not an entrepreneur (yet) I still liked the knowledge swirling around in that room and I definitely felt fulfilled with some takeaways for my own life. Stay tuned for the next Ladies Who Launch event in December...

11/09/2008

Building A Cob House

How eclectic, yet authentic does it sound to build your affordable dream home...with your hands and feet?
My close friend, Mani Mullenneaux's parents Hap and Lin have been doing just that. They've had "cobbing" parties, mixing earth from their own land in our hometown of Fairfield, Iowa (South East corner of the state) to create their sustainable and natural dream home. Their end result: 400 square feet including a loft bedroom. An article from The Iowa Source features Lin and Hap's journey through not only building their cob home, but the community they've built around it. I was home for a little this summer before moving to Colorado, and I almost went with Mani to help cob, so the story touched me on a personal level. Here are the highlights from the article, with my opinions and thoughts inserted throughout...

What IS a cob house?

"Cob building has been used for centuries in Europe but is relatively unknown in the U.S. In the summer of 2007, Hap and Lin journeyed to Oregon to learn cob building at the Cob Cottage Company, the home of Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley."

Lin in the early stages of foundation of the cob walls (Photo Credit: Hap and Lin Mullenneaux)

In knowing Hap and Lin, I can see how they seek to inspire others to build homes with natural materials through their own personal joy of building their own. "Part of the appeal for this kind of building is that it involves community,” says Lin, “when your friends and family help build your home.” My friend, Mani is the youngest of five in the Mullenneux clan, so with Hap and Lin's children, grandchildren and parents their family and 'cobbing' support has had great breadth.

Affordable living for today's economy

As of October the house has grown and is close to finish. There is a white lime-plaster finish, a green metal roof to catch rainwater and a periwinkle blue door.

“Hap wanted the door to be the color of morning glories,” says Lin. The morning glories have climbed to the top of the arches over the garden and Hap’s mother Dorothy and her husband Bill Beal have planted a beautiful garden of their own, next to the camper where they have lived this summer."

Hap's mother Dorothy and her husband, Bill enjoying the 'cob dance' (Photo Credit: Hap and Lin Mullenneaux)

I think the author, Linda Egenes does a beautiful job of describing the mystical cob, cottage of which I can't wait to see when I make a trip back home:

"But the cottage, the cottage. It’s a cozy, magical place, with a winding staircase to the wooden loft where the bed already rests, and two small baskets for socks and sleepwear are the only other furniture. Pine saplings, cut as dead wood by Hap from a nearby forest, form rustic beams downstairs. The partially plastered interior walls feel smooth and cool as stone. A wood stove sits in the northwest corner, cob benches create a window seat under the south windows."

The best part is that their unique home cost them only an estimated $7000 and half of that was in the windows and roof. Not only have they efficiently spent less on their new home but they are reaping the benefits of the sustainable lifestyle it will provide them.

“The experience of building this house was completely different than the home we built ten years ago,” says Hap. “I don’t remember feeling so vibrant at the end of the process like I do now. These materials are alive. With materials coming out of the ground, with labor coming from so many wonderful friends and family, it’s a tremendous blessing that we’ve received. It feels like a miracle."

Lin and Hap in their cob home (photo by Gabe Walker)


Here is the full article in the Iowa Source, "Building a $7,000 Cob House"
In addition, Hap and Lin are incredible photographers. Check out their site here as they created, "A Cob House Journal"

11/08/2008

Al Gore Feeling Web 2.0

With the rise of social media and the internet playing a big part in the election, it's no surprise everyone (if you haven't been living under a rock) wants to catch on the bandwagon of leveraging web 2.0 for their "cause." One such believer in web 2.0 is the former Vice-President, Al Gore. Claire Cain Miller covered Al Gore's recent speech at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, November 5-7th in The New York Times.
(Photo Credit: Eric Risberg/AP)

With Al Gore his vision and purpose was clear. Use web 2.0 to fight global warming. He asserted, “The purpose, I would urge all of you — as many of you as are willing to take it up — is to bring about a higher level of consciousness about our planet and the imminent danger and opportunity we face because of the radical transformation in the relationship between human beings and the Earth."

All right, fight global warming through the many online tools out there and raise consciousness...but how? He didn't exactly say how, which to me is interesting. Devoid of a takeaway or proactive solution. I also felt the same way about An Inconvenient Truth. It clearly shook many people to the core. I thought it was well-done and presented many shattering facts, but I didn't see a strong sense of action coming from it. Gore seemed to recognize this at the Web 2.0 Summit he believed his advocacy work hasn't been enough. “I feel, in a sense, I’ve failed badly,” he said. “Because even though there’s a greater sense of awareness, there is not anything anywhere close to an appropriate sense of urgency. This is an existential threat.”
So we're back to social media and its viral nature. Without much specificity the Internet, the "cloud," where information is stored Gore urged, "we have to have the truth--the inconvenient truth, forgive me--stored in the cloud so that people don't have to rely on that process, and so we can respond to it collectively."

So I say start with the basics, use your voice online. Research, speak, tweet, blog. We're so far behind in these efforts that nothing it too little or too much.


For more information visit these sights about how to spread the word and raise consciousness: (http://www.fightglobalwarming.com) (http://www.climatecrisis.net/) and (http://www.algore.com/)

11/05/2008

Sweet, Good Lovins

All right, all right. This momentous, long election is over and even I am a bit tired of all the ranting, raving, talk and soliciting. I think the Obama's probably called me about 10 times in the last two days before the election. Nonetheless, I am still ecstatic that he won.

This isn't about analyzing his speech or the upcoming long and hard years we have to face in reformation and climbing out the economic hole we're in. I just wanted to share this photo and sideshow posted by The Huffington Post called "The Obama's Greatest PDA Moments." I'm into authenticity and anywhere there is love, I'm drawn to it. Here is one of my favorite moments between the Obama's. For the rest of the slide show find it here.

11/04/2008

Ladies Who Launch


Since this September I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the Boulder/Denver, Ladies Who Launch (LWL) branch. Our team Director is Ricki Booker, an entrepreneur and vivacious trained leader. LWL offers tools, resources and a system of support for women launching or maintaining a business.

With that being said I have taken on the role Event and Marketing Coordinator. A few of the support and resources LWL offers, we host local events and speakers to help build a community around the challenging hurdle of entrepreneurship for women. I wanted to write about a few upcoming events we're hosting.

1-Chit Chat: This is based off the LWL incubators. It’s free to everyone (even non-members). It is tomorrow, Wednesday November 5th at 6:30-8:00 PM, at Common Threads on Spruce Street in Boulder. No strings attached, if you’re interested RSVP here and bring a friend! If you’re looking to grow your current business, launch one or would just like to meet a supportive group of women the chit chat would be a great way to start.

2- Branding, Marketing and Public Relations event: This is November 11th at Common Threads 6:30-8:00 PM. Also free, this event features speakers in the area that will speak on their designated topic to leverage your business or idea, then we will open it up to discussion. We have Tara Anderson, Community Catalyst and co-worker of mine at Lijit, Victoria Keziah, Founder and Principal at Egg Strategy, Melani Ward, copyrighter, marketing strategist and coach and Elaine Ellis, Account Executive from Metzger Associates. Please RSVP here for this event.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at gracekboyle @ gmail dot com or Ricki at rbooker @ ladieswholaunch dot com. We would love to see new faces and grow this branch, because it really is about you. I look forward to seeing you there.

11/01/2008

Ignite Boulder

This past Wednesday I attended Boulder's first Ignite series. Ignite was started in Seattle in 2006 by Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis and it has now turned into a worldwide movement. Boulder's own Andrew Hyde hosted our first and there will definitely be more to come.

Here's the Ignite lowdown:

-A night of presentations on any topic-humorous, serious, educational, etc.
-Each presenter has 5 minutes
-There are 20 slides in the presentation
-They move forward automatically after 15 seconds

The format was unique in that it kept not only the presenters but the audience on their feet. It moved fast, but let you convey your topic, idea or theory. Each of the 14 presenters had a wide array of topics with most of them boasting a high level of quality.

Topics ranged from lucid dreaming by Jordan Quaglia, practical party crashing by Jeremy Tanner, and my co-workers Tara Anderson humorously talked about "From the mic to the meetup" donning her stand-up comedy skills and Micah Baldwin "My Quest to be #1" around personal branding. It was inspiring and felt good to be in a room full of intelligent people swirling with ideas. Everyone has something to say and with Ignite there is no right or wrong.
Tara rocking the floor
Micah presenting - Flickr Photos Micahb37

For more pictures and videos of each presenter check out Ignite Boulder's site.

10/31/2008

The 'Spooky' Blogosphere

Since I grew up with web 2.0 in my back pocket (if you will) terms and sites like blogging, SEO, social media, Flickr and tweeting are part of my everyday jargon.

My friends make fun of my technical antics and I try to tell them there are people far geekier than I am, but they just don't understand. Nonetheless, that is why I feel so at home working at Lijit. We're a group of intelligent progressive people, but geek tech talk is discussed over lunch just like people talk about shopping or the movies: OPML files, ad networks, pageviews...I love it!

I wanted to give a shout out to some of my fellow (newish) Lijiters as one of my favorite co-workers, Tara wrote a great post on what we do and what we write about. Having your individual voice is important in the wild west world of the web. Check out her newest post with the newest Lijit additions and blogs at I Quit For Lijit, "All In A Day's Work, The Office Edition..."

I will be posting on our company blog soon about the beauty of Lijit' s office, what we do, how we do it, and the fun we have along the way. Stay tuned...

Cheers and Happy Halloween (boo).

10/26/2008

"CHANGE"

Change: First of all, I wanted to note the change in my blog design. The new logo art is by one of my favorite designers, Mateu. It provides fresh perspective heading into the Colorado winter season.
Photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain News, Matt McClain

Second, this morning I took the opportunity to hear Obama speak one last time (live) before before the November 4th election. The rally was held in Denver's Civic Center Park, under a blue sky and fresh crisp air with 100,000+ supporters. Talk about inspirational. The event almost equaled the surge of power that I experienced at Invesco in August when he accepted his nomination to run for President. For me, it wasn't so much about what was being said, if you pay attention at all to this election-debates, speeches, or the media the facts are known. It was more about the collective attention and consciousness of everyone there. From a statistics perspective for Colorado, Rocky Mountain News/CBS 4's poll published that Obama had a 12-point lead in a survey of 500 registered voters.

Check out the pictures and videos below. It might give scope to how many people were there and the exuberant energy everyone possessed. For more rally pictures check out my Flickr stream here. Watch for this first video as Obama steps onto stage and the cheering begins...
video


My friend Denise and I making our way through the massive crowd

10/23/2008

Dear FDA:Please Label Properply

Whether it's from my old college professor in Biology of Nutrition and Fitness or my nutrition-minded mother I've been pretty conscious of food labeling, or the lack thereof.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a rule that would allow gene-altered milk or meat to be sold without the proper labeling. This would involve dangerous genetic engineering with animals and we don't know the repercussions or danger this could cause. My friend Linda, over at Forced Green wrote about the same proposal. Her frustration is legitimately apparent as she declares, "the FDA is going to set into motion rules that keep the consumers in the blind about what they are going to buy, cook and eat by not requiring the labeling of these products." I couldn't agree more. Ignorance isn't bliss, especially when it comes to what we're eating and our health.
Bill Freese, science policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety says that 90% of consumers want identifying labels on genetically modified foods. However, it doesn't seem to matter--U.S. laws don't require them.

With that being said there is a petition you can sign to prevent gene-altered food. However, you must sign it before October 31st. If you're moved, I urge you to at least check out the facts, think about what we could be dealing with and then sign the petition.

10/22/2008

Led By Inspiration

I have grown up with both parents working in interesting occupations. My Father, is a certified Gemologist and my Mother, a Transformational Life Coach.
Lenora (Ma) teaching at a Women's Conference, April 2008

Jay (Dad) in Thailand, examining a Yellow Sapphire

Nonetheless, I've grown tremendously from their varied knowledge. Ie: Traveling to Thailand with my Father on a gemstone buying trip (from Bangkok to the jungle). As my father owns his own gemstone business, he also is the Senior Gemstone Buyer for Jewelry Television (JTV) an American television network similar to Home Shopping. JTV is one of the top 15 largest jewelry retailers in the world and it is the world's largest retailer of loose gemstones. I always say my future husband is going to have no problem getting me the 'rock' of my choice :) Thanks, pops.
Dad in Moguk, Burma near the Ruby mines. A 7 hour truck ride up the mountain to reach the rare and hardly visited mine.

With my father's gemstone expertise he travels directly to the source (South America, Thailand, Burma, etc.) to find natural, precious gemstones. He also goes live on JTV often (over 65 million live viewers nationwide) to speak about the latest stones. I enjoy watching him speak in his Calvin Klein tuxedo because it's humorous to me, but I also learn a thing or two and of course "ooh" and "aah," even though I grew up working in his business with gemstones of all rarities.

Check out his bright pink tux vest and recent insights on Tanzanite here. And of course, if you're interested in a gemstone or jewelry...you know who to contact.