Be great at being who you are, not mediocre at being who you are not

Picture of Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club

My friend Mark and I had a great conversation the other day while reminiscing about our days as younger professionals relocating to Washington, DC. We shared stories of how those days, while full of excitement and possibility, also spawned new levels of social pressure as we tried to fit in and find our place among the thousands of other ambitious twenty-somethings seeking to make their mark on the world.

DC, just like most large cities, is a place full of niche social circles. These circles attract people based on profession, alma marter, economic status, where you grew up, etc. Navigating the social scene, you wear many hats – putting on a sport coat and talking about the state of the European economy with the State Department crowd, or tossing on an Ubuntu T-shirt and building web apps at the DC Tech Meetup. It’s just natural human behavior to explore and discover new places, people and things when in a new environment to fulfill our innate desire to be connected to others and comfortable in our surroundings.

Continue reading “Be great at being who you are, not mediocre at being who you are not”

London to Date…

…has been f***ing amazing! I haven't written any blog posts this week because I have been having too much fun. There is so much to see and do here.

Here is a short run-down of what I have done over the past couple of days

Saturday

  • Spent 2 hours riding a bus through the suburbs of London.
  • Ate at a disappointing Italian restaurant called Bella Italia
  • Checked into the hotel
  • Slept
  • Bar hopped in Croydon with some locals I met (Tigertiger, Swooosh, Flux, etc.)
  • Ate late night KFC (yep…people do KFC at 3am here, not IHOP)

Sunday

  • Road the National Rail and the Tube into London for the first time
  • Road a double decker tour bus around most of the Central portion of the city
  • Visited Kenningston Park, home of Kensington Palace, Princess Diana Memorial Park, and Albert Monument
  • Visited Buckingham Palace
  • Walked around Picaddilly Circus and had some mediocre Indian food at a place called Masaala
  • Visited the National Art Museum
  • Walked around Chinatown and got some sausage buns at a local bakery
  • Grabbed dinner at an excellent hole-in-the-wall Malaysian restaurant called Malaysian Palace
  • Grabbed a drink and walked around Piccadilly Square

Monday

  • Visited the London Dungeon (pic coming soon)
  • Walked over London Bridge and the Tower Bridge
  • Visited London Tower
  • Boat ride down the Thames River
  • Visited Westminster Square and walked around Westminster Abbey
  • Grabbed an authentic British dinner of bangers and mash with a London Pride at a quiant little pub called The Albert

Tuesday

  • Kicked off the day for the beginning of DrupalCon London
  • Grabbed coffee with Sam Jeffers at Blue State Digital's London office to discuss online organizing on the UK and advocacy groups response to the riots
  • Accidentally toured the London “slum” of Sheldon
  • Walked around Oxford Circus
  • Had an amazing Indian dinner at Tamarind
  • Met up with the other from the Drupal community for a pub crawl on the Westminster waterfront
  • More to come. Off to see Batman Live followed by the DrupalCon London Party!

    7 Days without social media

    I am currently on route to London for 7 days of fun and geekdom – 3 exploring merry aol England and 4 at DrupalCon London. Since this is my first time in the UK, I said to myself “why not make this a week of first in some other areas”. Here are some of the other firsts I plan for this trip:

    1. First vacation not using social media. While writing for my blog can arguably be considered using social media, I had to make some exception so I can chronicle my travels. I will not be checking or using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare or any other social platform while on this trip. This is the most social I will get, and I wont respond to comments (sorry in advance).
    2. First trip not buying souvenirs. I am your typical American traveler, I always come back with the airport shot glass or cards for the family. But, this time I refuse to buy cliche trickets. If I make any purchases, it will only be for items I have actual need for and cannot find in the US.
    3. First trip not watching television. Oddly enough, I don't watch TV at home, only when I travel. This trip, I refuse to watch television though. Im going to spend my time more constructively seeing the sites and reading.
    4. First trip not driving in a car. I made a pledge to make this trip as environmentally friendly as possible. As part of that, I will not take cabs or rent a car, I will only take public transit. I hear the UK's train system is great, so I look forward to it.

    These are all small things, but I think they will make my experience in the UK drastically different. No distractions from new or old media. No wasteful spending. I want to fully experience London, not as a tourist, but as a citizen.

    Location: 
    Montreal Airport
    Montreal, QC

    Canada

    Message Control in Social Media is Toxic

    I was eating an omelette I ordered from a deli down the street this morning out of a styrofoam container, and I thought to myself “this is like message control in social media.”

     Styrofoam containers are, in theory great. They keep your food warm, protected from outside contaminants like bugs, just the way you want it. This how brands generally want to control their messaging right – they want the conversation and tone about their brand to be in line with what they want people to say about their brand. 

    As great as styrofoam containers are in theory, they are toxic, just like message control. Styrofoam can't keo your omelette warm and tasty forever. It erodes and toxins seep into your meal. The same way message control will only allow brands to contain the conversation for a period of time before your efforts become apparent and begin to erode and polute your brand's reputation.

    Realize people are going to say what they want to say about your brand no matter what you try. Let go, and address the issues head on as they come. Your customers will respect you for it.

    The Role of Drupal in a Marketing Agency Setting

    Following up on a post I wrote yesterday on the future of marketing agencies, I wanted to drill down into  how agencies “create things”. Often times, agencies rely on proprietary platforms to deliver technology solutions for clients. While there are many reasons why off-the-shelf solutions are the way to go, which are often dictated by the client's needs, there is room for adoption of open source platforms, such as Drupal, to meet client's often demanding technical requirements.

    Drupal, as well as other open source platforms, are innovating in the content management and social media space. Many proprietary vendors are unable to offer the breadth of features that are available using a system like Drupal that has a full pluggable architecture. While there are drawbacks to using open source software, which I will cover in a later post, the benefits often outweigh the risks.

    Drupal provides the perfect combination of platform and a content management solution that can help agencies develop innovative solutions to drive user engagement. Here are some of the advantages Drupal provides over other content management systems and platforms:

    1. It is social out of the box: Drupal is an online community platform. More and more brands seek to develop communities to engage their customers online, and existing enterprise content management solutions are not keeping up with the pace. Drupal is able to meet all of an organization's content management and social media needs in one platform.
    2. It is a cost-effective platform: Agencies are more and more taking on the social business, as well as the social marketing, needs of clients. Costs, scale and flexibility are often considerations when brands consider what software to use in powering social experiences they build online. While the up front development costs of a proprietary system are often the same as implementing open source software, open source platforms provide often have an overall lower cost of ownership.
    3. It lends itself to agile strategy and development processes: Many agencies are adopting “lean agency, or agile methodologies, for delivering both strategy and technical services. Drupal is among the most flexible systems, in terms of it's modular architecture and breadth of options available for customizing the platform. Strategists and developers can easily modify the system to meet their (rapidly) evolving needs for content management and user engagement by quickly adding or modifying existing templates and modules having full access to the source code.
    4. It can deliver content across multiple platforms: A consistent user experience across platforms is often expected by your audience. If someone can upload user-generated content from your desktop website, they should be able to do so from your mobile website. Drupal is able to serve content across platforms, adapting your design to fit the specifications of the device using either media queries or browser detection.
    5. It can serve as a product development framework: In recent years we have seen agencies develop products that help them better deliver services to their clients. Companies like 37Signals, which started as a design firm, Hootsuite, which was created by Invoke Media, are perfect examples of companies that have released very popular products that scratch their own itch. Drupal can be used as a platform for developing products that can both improve agencies' service delivery and generate additional revenue if offered on a SaaS model. Think, if your product scratches your own itch, it will most likely scratch the itch of many others.

    What other uses do you think Drupal has within the marketing agency setting? If you work for an agency using Drupal, in what ways are you leveraging the system?