Kirby Ferguson – Creativity Is A Remix

Inspired by TED Talk “Embrace The Remix” delivered by Kirby Ferguson at

My sister is a chef in a longterm relationship.  I’m a digital marketing professional who is single and dates.  We’re both self-proclaimed foodies.  Three years ago on a phone call with my sister I discussed this idea for a website that merges our passions for food and love and how food can evoke certain emotions in a person.  The website would feature content focused around the ups and downs of relationships and recipes that would compliment the sentiment of the article.  For example, an article about the types of emotions stirred when you meet someone new you really like would conclude with a recipe for Spicy Thai Shrimp with Lemon and Jalapenos, or something like that.  Anyway, I pursued other ventures and the idea never materialized.

Fast forward two years later, my sister approaches me with what she says is a great idea.  She wants write a recipe book that includes passionate stories that compliment the recipes based on the subject.  Sound familiar?  She had totally forgotten about the conversation we had years before and was convinced that her idea was original.  This prompted me to search the web and see if anyone else had in fact launched a website with the same concept.  Sure enough, someone had.  The point?  Most great ideas build on other accomplished ideas, and are rarely original.

Kirby Ferguson delivered a TED Talk in June 2012 entitled Embrace The Remix posted on where he discusses a different way of looking at creativity as a remix.  When I think of a remix, I’m thinking of a Rihanna song that’s been reproduced to include a Lil’ Wayne rap in the middle.  To Ferguson, a remix is:

“…any piece of art that contains a recognizable reference to another work–a quote from a lyric, a borrowed riff, a filmic homage. Which makes almost everything a remix, from a Led Zeppelin song to a classic film from George Lucas.”

What I like about his talk is how Kirby makes reference after reference to icons in our American culture who gained admiration and fame by “remixing” other people’s ideas and how much we don’t seem to mind.  As a matter of fact, we idolize them.

“Nothing is original, says Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything is a Remix. From Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs, he says our most celebrated creators borrow, steal and transform.”

I encourage you to take 18 minutes to watch Kirby’s presentation and be inspired to create your own remix.

About Kirby Ferguson:

Kirby Ferguson is a New York based filmmaker whose deeply researched four-part web series, “Everything Is a Remix,” dives into the question: Is remixing a form of creativity, a production of the new on the shoulders of what precedes it, or is it just copying? He comes out firmly on the side of creativity, calling for protections for people who, with good intentions, weave together bits of existing culture into something fresh and relevant.


Roberta Matuson – The Power Of Being Quiet

Inspiration taken from the article, “The Link Between Quietness and Productivity” which appeared on 

In my opinion, quiet people have a tendency to be unfairly judged.  In our western culture, we tend to fancy outspoken and assertive personalities.  Politics is a perfect example of this.  It’s not always the most qualified or best leader who gets elected, it’s the candidate who wins over the masses with congeniality.

One thing I like about the technology boom over the last 10 years is that it’s the age of the quiet genius.  The described “nerds” who used to tinker around with computers (at least that’s what the less tech gifted called it) and rarely spoke to anyone outside of his or her clique, are now driving change around the world.  These are the new celebrities adored and admired by millions less for their personalities then their achievements.  Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg were no social butterflies before fame and fortune.

What is it about being quiet that has the ability to create such great productivity?  Roberta Matuson, author of Suddenly In Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, wrote an article on entitled, The Link Between Quietness and Productivity where she shares five outstanding benefits to being and staying quiet in a loud society.

“Sometimes we forget that the most productive people in an organization aren’t the ones who make the most noise. In fact, it’s often the quiet ones who out-produce everyone else.”

Her first benefit is “Being quiet strengthens focus.”  By nature, I’m neither the life of the party nor the wall flower.  Although, I would consider myself more of an introvert than an extrovert, I really fall somewhere in between.  I enjoy social interaction and alone time equally.  But when I went from working in an office every weekday to working from home, the most interesting discovery for me was how much more work I got done at home when I was working in solitude.  I thrive in the comfort of my own surroundings with only my thoughts to take center stage without other distractions.

What’s fascinating in the article is how Roberta conveys the impact that being quiet also has on the world around a person.  When you’re quiet you calm others around you as well.

Be inspired by Roberta’s insight and learn more about the benefits of a quiet attitude by reading The Link Between Quietness And Productivity.

Have you experienced how being quiet has an impact on your productivity?  Or are you more of a quiet mouths don’t get fed sort of personality to get the job done.  Let us know below.


About Roberta Matuson – Roberta Matuson is an internationally recognized expert on increasing profitability by maximizing employee contribution. Visit her website online at She is author of the book Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around.  Download a free bonus chapter. Her upcoming book, The Magnetic Workplace: How to Hire Top Talent That Will Stick Around is set to publish in 2013.


The Paradox Of The Close Call

In my what I consider to be short time on this earth so far, I’ve had some real close calls.  One was when I was ten years old, and my friends and I were walking up a tree-lined street with cars parked on both sides and busy construction.  For some reason we decided it was necessary to cross the congested street filled with cement trucks.  The plan was to have one girl peek out from around a parked car and when the coast was clear give us the OK to go.  Finally she yells “Now!” and everyone runs…except for me.  When they all made it to the other side, and turned around, they had that “What the hell?” look on their faces.

So, all the girls together now yell, “Run Now!….NO WAIT!…Ok Now!…Wait!…”  Finally, I just say “f**k it” and go for it.  Just as I do, I hear screeching tires.  I look to my left and see the grill of this behemoth of a dump truck coming towards me.  I froze.  The truck finally stopped about seven inches from my body.  After the incident, what do my friends and I do? We laugh.  But what’s worse, we went on to cross several other busy, congested streets fearlessly since we had escaped the worst possible scenario.  That marked my initiation into the “Close Callers” club.

Though not life-threatening, I went on to endure more close calls in my professional life that I’ve fumbled my way through only to have the other side come out better than expected.  And just like my childhood incident, each time this happens I get this sense of fearlessness and fate that things will always just work themselves out, in spite of my own efforts or lack thereof.

In the August 2012 issue of Wired Magazine, I read an article titled The Fire Next Time by Ben Paynter.  The article examined the common perception of close calls and how very often the outcome is seen as a success.  The consideration that peril was narrowly escaped plays a distant second.  The consideration is only that the end justified the means and that somehow what occurred worked itself out in a way our minds did not conceive, but destiny did.

What captured my attention about the article is how it relates to the close calls people experience in their lives.  In the article Ben talks about how this thought leaves us vulnerable to major disasters in various aspects of our society such as the economy, air travel, etc.  The greatest example he gives is when the space shuttle Columbia burned up while rentering the atmosphere over a decade ago.  As tragic as it was, the same issue that caused the disaster had been reported on 79 previous launches.  So why the hell did they continue to fly shuttles with a known insulation issue?  Well, because for 79 prior shuttle launches, and close calls, everyone made it back successfully in one piece.

Catherine Tinsley, a researcher studying these near miss blind spots at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business is quoted in the Wired Magazine article as stating “…the more often someone gets away with risky behavior, the more likely they are to repeat it; there is a sort of invincibility complex.  For ego protection reasons, we like to assume that past events are a product of what we controlled rather than chance.”

In business or life, if you’ve experienced close calls that just seemed to work out for you, it can become very easy to adopt this belief into how you operate most of the time.  It has a tendency to give you a false sense of security that you’ll succeed in spite of yourself or your choices.  I think the real danger with this is that you’ll potentially dismiss mishaps as one-off mistakes and avoid learning the real lessons to build upon for future successes.  Trust me, if you’ve been operating on the “close call” belief at moments in your life, there will come a time when the end is less than successful.  And because you haven’t prepared yourself well, you’ll be forced to play clean up when the danger could have been abated.

It’s important that I make the distinction between taking calculated risks and ignoring close calls.  As any successful business person will tell you, taking calculated risks is key.  True success takes some level of risk.  But most successful people will also share that in today’s business climate, it’s critical that people pay attention to what worked, why it worked and why it might not work again, next time.  Business, paradigms, communication and human interaction are all changing with new technology faster then ever.  Close calls can be life’s way of saying you’re onto something, but pay attention.  And with ubiquitous social media tools surrounding us, it’s easier than ever to make changes and get immediate feedback on many of our efforts.

I finally started to get wise about how I was operating and decided to take some risk analysis steps before I stepped into a real pile of shit.  Below I’ve put a list of the top five that have been the most helpful.  Feel free to examine some of them for yourself.  I’d hate to see you do the same.

#1 – BECOME A DEMOCRACY:  People like us tend to make hasty decisions in a silo, in whatever emotional state we’re in at the time.  Some decisions will be made using lessons learned from similar situations.  But most “close callers” make decisions without consideration for the past and don’t solicit trusted help.  Next time, stop and consider what is the greatest upside of the decision you’re about to make and then ask, “What makes it great?”  I’ve found that when I do this, it opens me up to other better ways of tackling the issue.  And when I enlist the suggestions of others who I trust and have been through a similar situation, it’s even better.  Stop considering everything alone.

#2 – GOOGLE IT:  I know you’re about doing your own thing, but sometimes you’re about to embark on something that someone else has already gone through, somewhere.  Rather than suffer the pitfalls someone else has, learn from them.  Nothing beats Google or search engines to pull up some decent information on any scenario and insight into how someone else successfully navigated through it.

#3 – TAP YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS MIND – Ok, this one might throw you for a loop.  There’s a technique I use from time-to-time where I pose a question through my conscious mind and then I literally ask my mind to come up with the solution.  But the key is I have to fully let it go and allow my subconscious mind to takeover.  Within a couple of hours or a day I generally have a workable, quality solution that just pops up into my mind.  Whenever I use this technique, I get an answer that hadn’t occurred to me 24 hours before.  It works.

#4 – PAY CLOSE ATTENTION:  Some mistakes people make are done more so because they weren’t paying attention.  And if you’ve pulled through close calls more than once, you’ll lose sight of what’s in store for you since you don’t put great value on reasonable caution.  If you keep putting your hand in fire and each time you don’t get burned, after a while, you’re not even paying attention to fire.  It’s still hot and deadly if you play with it, but it can also be consciously controlled.  So stay fully aware of your surroundings.

#5 – SEEK FEEDBACK: I saved this one for last because it’s the most uncomfortable.  Sometimes the people around us see the little things we do, better then we do, that have the greatest potential to trip us up.  If you ask 1-2 people you really trust and who you know will be constructively honest, you will learn things about yourself that you can adjust.  The emphasis here is “people you really trust” because it can’t just be anyone around you.  It’s important that it’s someone who has shown this shown this characteristic before.

Are you a “close caller?”  Let me know your beliefs around close calls and their ability to impact success or not, in the comments.  In the meantime, proceed wisely and keep your eyes open.

Knowing When To Pivot In Life

I was talking last night with someone I recently met.  Full disclosure – it’s a guy I met on a blind date, and as blind dates go, it was pretty good (because I’ve been on some real disasters.)  We’re in this getting to know each other kind of conversation.  He started asking me some deep questions, so I felt comfortable enough to bust out Gregory Stock’s The Book of Questions.  If you’re not familiar, it’s a book with 265 questions that invite people to explore their fundamental values and beliefs.  I mean why wait three to four months to figure out that he hunts deer for fun and I volunteer with shelters for abused animals.  Best to know these things early on.

One of the questions asked was, “Would you accept 20 years of extraordinary happiness and fulfillment if it meant you would die at the end of the period?”  Feel free to ponder on that for a moment.  Are you back? Good.  This question added another 45 minutes onto the already long conversation.  One thing that jumped out at me was that this question assumes that the person being asked is living an ordinary, joyless, unfulfilled life.  How sad is it to think that in order to trade your life now for twenty great years is worth dying at the beginning of the 21st year.  I thought, why not just make your life better and live well beyond another 20 years?

That’s easy to say, but still difficult for many people to grasp.  I mean it’s not like there are a bunch of genie’s sitting in bottles waiting to be rubbed to make all our wishes come true.  But the optimistic side of me believes that focusing our attention on exactly what we don’t have will leave us with more of what we don’t want.  So, I’ve decided to rephrase the question, “Would you make an abrupt change in your life, in a completely new direction, that could push you out of your current routine and comfort zone, and challenge your beliefs if it would bring you twenty-plus years of extraordinary happiness and fulfillment?” Well when you say it that way Lisa, of course!  Really?  Think about that for a minute.  You may get pushed out of your comfort zone, your routine altered, your beliefs challenged and perhaps a bunch of other stuff, and you’re cool with that?  If you can sincerely say yes, then you’re ready to pivot.

In the tech world “pivot” is a term used fairly often.  Eric Ries author of The Lean Startup, coined the term as a way to describe what startups do when it’s time to make a change on the fly.

“…the concept of the pivot, the idea that successful startups change directions but stay grounded in what they’ve learned. They keep one foot in the past and place one foot in a new possible future.”

I see exponential possibilities when you consider bringing the concept of the “pivot” to your life.  Over your time on this earth thus far, you’ve learned a lot of things.  Things that have served you well.  What if you kept one foot in the positive things you’ve learned from your past, and placed one foot in the new possible future your life can become?  This is not to assume that your life is unfulfilled or ordinary in any way.  This is to assume that even in the most extraordinary lives, there are times when making a shift in a new direction is necessary to expand the value you bring to society, your loved ones, your community and your well-being.

I’ve shared in other posts some of the pivot’s I’ve made in my career and life. Some were scary, all were challenging and while looking back, through the lessons learned, there are things I would do differently today, but I wouldn’t change the decision to alter the course.

It’s not always easy to know when it’s time to make a pivot in business or life.  It’s easy to miss the signs and so often keep plugging away at something that’s not working for us simply because we can’t see another way.  Do know, there’s always another way.

Here are three steps to help you pivot your life for the better:

1 – Pick one thing you want to master and one habit you want to break. One mistake people make is they try to make a drastic change along with a bunch of other changes, overnight.  If you’re going to tackle a bad habit, just do one at a time and it’s best to counter-balance it with another activity you’ll look forward to.  By accomplishing something new and breaking away from the old, you may discover a new path.

2 – Take a vacation.  Here’s why.  I once made a questionable career decision simply because I was exhausted and overworked.  It’s perfectly ok to take the time you need away from work to center yourself and decide your next move.  You don’t need to backpack across Europe.  A few days of relaxation will generally do.  You’ll know once you’re away whether you want to return or not.

3 – Commune with the others.  Make an effort to find other people who have or are willing to make a pivot in their lives.  Trust me, you’re going to need a healthy dose of support.  There will be days when you think you f**ked up and your support network will keep you going. is a good place to start.  You’ll find people creating Meetups for just about anything.  Don’t see the group you want?  Then create it.  It’s your path to lay.

There are a bunch of others, but digest these easy steps first since you can literally do these starting tomorrow.  Here are also a couple of  books that you might find helpful in your pivot:

The Dash: Making a Difference with Your Life by Mac Anderson

Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry and Challenge Yourself by William C. Taylor

How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton M. Christensen

As is customary, I’d love to hear from you about the important leaps you’ve made in your life or are looking to make in the comments below.  Carry on and pivot well.


Laura Vanderkam – Success Before 9am

One thing you can count on is that the sun rises and sets everyday.  Granted you’re not in Norway during certain times of the year, in which it doesn’t set.  Anyway, if you’re reading this article and live in Norway, thank you and I’m global!  Sun all day or not, we all sleep, and with each new awakening, we’re recharged to begin again.  It’s at this time when our minds are most vulnerable to new thoughts, and renewed.  And then, like the laste bite of a really good cookie, it’s gone.  The demands of the day are quickly seeping in and taking over our thoughts, actions and worst of all, our time.

Laura Vanderkam, author of What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, has written a lot about how to make the most of the ideally sixteen hours a day we have to be productive.  But she knows there’s something about how certain people use the morning hours that lend to their success.

“The hopeful hours before most people eat breakfast are too precious to be blown on semiconscious activities. You can do a lot with those hours. Whenever I’m tempted to say I don’t have time for something, I remind myself that if I wanted to get up early, I could. These hours are available to all of us if we choose to use them.”

I don’t have young children I’m shuffling off to school or a dog to walk like most (yes…still working on these,) I just have me to tend to and even I am challenged with ways to make my mornings not just be more productive or efficient, but more creative.  Transform your mornings into a time when you can make real strides advancing on a great idea or the evolving one you have in the pike.

Clearly, there is enough thought and practice on maximizing mornings that Laura wrote an entire book about it.  As a taste, she provides five practices on you can insert into your morning that will make a positive impact on what you accomplish that day, that week, maybe even your life.

Take time to read Laura Vanderkam’s five practices in her post What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast on

Got any tips or ideas of your own on maximizing the wee hours of the morning?  Let us know.


About Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam is a nationally recognized writer, journalist and author who questions the status quo and helps her readers rediscover their true passions and beliefs in pursuit of more meaningful lives.  Visit for more on her work.

Follow Laura on Twitter @LauraVanderkam.


Inner City Rennaissance In Innovation

© Ghen | Dreamstime.comI recently moved back to Oakland, California, the city I grew up in, after living away for 7 years.  I love Oakland.  It’s a multi-cultural, energetic city that’s always had a rich political, art and music scene, and now a resurrected downtown dining and bar one too.  A less known fact about Oakland is that it has seven lakes, complete with hiking, archery and horseback riding stables in addition to multi-million dollar homes.  (I find as many opportunities as possible to throw this fact into a conversation about Oakland.) It’s also a city known for its rough interior and crime.  I’m proud that Fast Company named Oakland as one the Top 15 Tech Cities in the U.S. you’d never think to look.  High crime and technology hub don’t typically go hand-in-hand, but times are a changin’.

If we shift gears slightly, let’s consider that the unemployment rate in the U.S. as of May 2012 is just over 8%.  The Black and Latino communities have a higher percentage of unemployment at 13.6% and 11% respectively.  The reality check is that many of the jobs lost in this economy won’t return, certainly not in the way they existed before.  As companies leaned-out the human workforce, they learned to operate with less.  Many of those affected are without college or advance degrees, and are skilled workers in the very positions that aren’t likely to return.  With the largest percentage of displaced workers being Black and Latino, it’s possible that both ethnic groups make up a large portion of people living in inner cities, like the ones in Oakland, across the country.  This is a problem looking for a solution.

Since my return, I’m watching as Oakland transforms into a hotbed of entrepreneurship and tech business mixed in with an alluring day and night life, thriving alongside the inner city elements.  While some of the revitalization is due to political influences, I’d like to believe it’s a set up for a grander design to plant entrepreneurial innovation into the inner city with a purpose.

Daniel Isenberg, Executive Director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project paints a picture where ambitious, educated, innovative entrepreneurs make their way back into urban inner cities where the dense population, access to commerce and convenient ways to connect and collaborate with each other can have a positive effect on the community at large.  Cities around the world are fostering “holistic entrepreneurship ecosystems” that are transforming cities from the inside-out by encouraging and incentivizing entrepreneurs to put resources back into the community.  With unemployment being high, in exchange for assisting in the revitalization of a city, entrepreneurs are offered access to valuable tools and resources helpful to business.  Notice I didn’t say money.  The belief is that it’s better to convince them it’s worth their time and money to invest in a city, and offer attractive incentives in the form of office space or other needs that also contribute to the ecosystem of the city.

This of course doesn’t come without the risk of creating social divisiveness.  It’s possible that some may see this as another form of gentrification with a twist.  I see it as an intriguing possibility for addressing the need to uplift inner cities and tackle the unemployment that exists within them, without displacing or completely dismantling the community.  This will present real change especially if there are efforts made to attract Black and Latino innovative entrepreneurs as part of the new business mix.  I think this could lend to the harmonious relationship of the mixture of cultures.

In the article Daniel sites real life examples of cities creating inner city change across the world.  He answers the question, “What are we learning about what cities can do to foster entrepreneurship and innovation?” with five key elements that are necessary to pull entrepreneurial innovation off in inner cities.

“…you need to tirelessly communicate a coherent message to all of the stakeholders and residents, highlighting the entrepreneurial benefits of dignified job creation, quality of the environment, and innovative capacity.”

Read Daniel Isenberg’s compelling article Planting Entrepreneurial Innovation In Inner Cities and how to make it work at

Let me know your thoughts as well on whether you believe this is viable solution for inner city transformation or not, and why.

About Daniel Isenberg

Daniel Isenberg is Professor of Management Practice, Babson Global, and founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project. His most recent HBR article is How to Start an Entrepreneurial Revolution.

The Next Definition Of Leadership

© Supertrooper |

In June 2010, after facing a relocation, I left a well-paying, 6 figure executive position to make my next move.  Admittedly, I wasn’t 100% clear on exactly what my next move was going to be, but I had a clear sense of my capabilities. Ironically, this all happened at a time when my focus and momentum had just recharged itself at my former company after a chaotic restructure.  My position was regaining direction and purpose and I had just built a new team of great, young and ambitious talent I would lead and nurture.  I was excited.

For the better part of 5 years, I worked to help build and manage a digital department for Radio One, Inc.  In 2010, that department had grown into a division with its own president and general manager, and the full operation had moved from Washington, DC to New York.

Naturally along with the growth, my position changed.  The set of skills required for my new position were different from the set of skills I embodied to achieve the success we had thus far.  Did I have the talent and skills to perform the position well?  YES.  Was staying at the company as it transitioned into a new phase the right move for me?  NO.

I loved the people I worked with, the company I worked for and the team I had just built.  And yet I knew that the best career decision for me was to move on, make room for someone else to step in, and step into my next venture, quickly.

I was given a number of excellent reasons to stay by some very smart people.  All of which made a lot of sense.  But ultimately the team, the company and most of all myself would benefit from a fresh start and perspective.

In my opinion, the next definition of leadership is the one we define for ourselves based upon our experiences, integrity and intelligence.  It’s probably not defined in just one book or theory.  It’s taking into consideration all of the factors, the advice, your ambitions and your intuition and making tough and often difficult decisions.  It’s not about playing it safe.  It’s not all about you.  It’s more about creating legacies and moving on.

I share this story only to say that every day is about honoring your decisions and recognizing that you are the only leader of your life.  Ok, so temporarily my back account dipped a little, but I’ve launched a consulting career, and while the ramp up is a new kind of hustle, it’s still the right decision.  If you keep reading my blog, I assure you, I’ll have a greater story to tell.


When making a big decision as a leader, here are a few points that can help:

1. BE HONEST.  Be honest with yourself about what’s really motivating your decisions.  Is it fear, ambition, other people or laziness?  Yes, laziness.  Sometimes we choose a decision simply because we don’t really feel like making one.  There’s a difference.

2. TAKE INVENTORY. Take inventory of where you are financially, academically, socially and emotionally.  You may need to get certified in something new, be asked to move to a city with no nightlife or maybe you just started a new, promising relationship with someone.  Don’t laugh.  They all matter.

3. STAY CONNECTED. Keep your contacts, LinkedIn, resume, networking, blog, Twitter always working and updated.  And if you led a team, stay connected with them too as you move on.

What about you?  Tell us your story below if you made a difficult decision and led yourself to a new height.

Gina McCauley – Do Something About It

When is the last time you got really pissed off about something bad for you, people in general, society or the world?  Now, when was the last time you did something meaningful about it?  Trust me, I’m not judging.  I get bent out of shape about something every week, I stir up a bunch of ideas on how to address it, then I allow everyday life to take back over.

I believe that most people think to make an impact on change it takes great effort, contacts, influence, status and money.  Gina McCauley took a computer, an Internet connection, and her voice and launched What About Our Daughters, a blog dedicated to “encouraging Black women to use economic power to impose sanctions on those who are producing destructive images of Black women and girls.”

What moved Gina was a 2007 Oprah Winfrey episode highlighting the backlash over Don Imus’ negative comments about the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team.  Many Black women, including myself, were outraged by Imus’ comments.  But, Gina McCauley took her outrage to the digital world and turned it into an influential blog which today receives an estimated 60,000 visitors per month.

It’s easy to forget sometimes that we have so much power and access at our fingertips in today’s technological world.  With the Internet and little to no investment, you can turn your voice into a movement as powerful as those that took to the streets in protests for change when that was the only way to rally the masses.

Big or small in scope, you have options now to impact something very passionate to you.  Follow the lead of Gina McCauley and others and put your fingers to work.

Read more about the mission of Gina McCauley on her blog What About Our Daughters.  


About Gina McCauley

Gina McCauley is the co-founder of Blogging While Brown, an annual conference in its fifth year and serves as a godmother of sorts to dozens of new bloggers building their presence online. Among her many accomplishments, she’s been named 25 Most Influential African Americans of 2007 by Essence Magazine, made The Root’s 2010 list of emerging and established leaders in the African-American community and won Blog of the Year at the 2002 Black Weblog Awards.


What To Do If You’ve Been Facebooked

On May 18th, the world’s largest social network to date, Facebook, went public with all the media fanfare of a presidential debate or the unveiling of a new Apple product. Then, in the days to follow, many watched puzzled as the stock price fell and fell and finally stabilized.  The media steadily provided updates day after day with speculation and revelation about what caused the botched IPO, the implications it has on SEC practices and the company’s future.

And yet, in the midst of all the scrutiny and criticism, when I logged onto Facebook, my news feed was as alive as ever.  I saw no less updates, posts or  photos.  I was still receiving a steady flow of friend requests, messages and event updates.  The coordination of my next high school reunion didn’t miss a beat as Facebook is the back bone of the communication.  Basically, Facebook users (I’m assuming many of whom did not invest in the company) were business as usual maintaining their usual flurry of life’s happenings and laments online.  I decided to do an Internet search on how many users Facebook lost due to the frustrated IPO.  I didn’t find anything.  (If I missed something, please let me know in the comments.)

I also noticed that simultaneously news was coming out about a possible Facebook smartphone next year, a Facebook browser, a new camera app via their recent acquisition of Instagram, and releases of other apps integrating with Facebook.  The way I see it, Facebook hit a disastrous glitch with its IPO, one that I’m sure was cause for intense reflection, action and review internally, but the company is still growing, evolving and expanding.

In today’s economic climate, there’s no such thing anymore as too big to fail.  There is such a thing, however, as a failure to be big.  A failure to be big for a company is missing ways it can grow through challenges and changing marketplaces via innovation, flexibility and courage.

Facebook doesn’t appear to suffer from this disorder, yet.  It’s directly addressing the challenges it faces with more people logging on via mobile, ways to expand into restricted markets and inventing new ways to keep users engaged.  As well as, addressing a sloppy IPO.  Still boasting 900 billion users worldwide and the vast amount of information it collects everyday are pretty good reasons to continue to believe and thrive and grow.

A failure to be big doesn’t just plague companies, it plagues people as well.  When was the last time you suffered a serious blow to your career, which really means you suffered a serious blow to your ego?  How did you react?  Facebook is a Silicon Valley darling propped up to be the next Apple, and then it has one of the worst IPO’s any tech company has seen.  That has to hurt.

I got to thinking if life dealt me or someone I know a similar situation, how would I suggest she handle the situation to stay confident and focused? Here’s what I came up with:

#1 – Remind yourself and the world of how great you are. A setback or bad decision doesn’t completely strip you of who you are and what you’ve accomplished.  Nothing can take that away from you.  Make a list of 3 major accomplishments that you’re proud of.  Post them in a place where you can see them everyday.  Then, be sure to remind others of your accomplishments as well.  Divert conversations that want to focus on your failures with talk of your achievements.

#2 – Focus on the “now.” What are you doing right now that will revert the negative to the positive in the near future?  Address the challenge but don’t get consumed by it.  When the unexpected happens, most people typically shift all of their attention to address the problem and nothing moves forward.  Simultaneously work on things that will propel you in a positive direction.

#3 – Don’t let hype overshadow the truth.  A couple of the mishaps Facebook and Morgan Stanley made was over valuing the company’s projected revenue and increasing the number of shares released for sale at the IPO.  Be optimistic about your value and skills, but be realistic as well, or you may have to back pedal your way into proving your worth.

#4 - Assess, but don’t obsess.  It’s important to assess what went wrong and why, so you don’t do the same things again.  It’s not important for you to beat yourself up.  Your confidence will be hit, but using your intelligence to right your wrongs can lessen the blow and keep you focused.

#5 – Consult your inner circle.  There are two meanings to this.  One, limit most of your contact and conversations with a tight group of people who provide support and encouragement, along with constructive observation.  You don’t want a bunch of “yes” people around feeding you only what you want to hear, but you also don’t want naysayers.  Two, search for answers within yourself to challenges via meditation or quiet contemplation.  Ask yourself what are the answers and the right path will appear from inside your own thoughts.

The Facebook IPO, as messy as it was, didn’t destroy what has made the company over 900 billion users strong, and growing.  Whatever challenge, setback or seeming distaster you face, as embarrassing as it may be, can’t destroy your real value.  I can’t say for sure where Facebook will be in 5 years, but I feel totally confident in saying that nothing can devalue what its founders achieved and built, and that if necessary, will build again.


Johnathan Holifield – “Inclusive Competitiveness” Solution

One of the greatest challenges I see for the future of the U.S. economy and tech industry growth is the lack of representation of black and Latino’s in the industry.  I’m not suggesting that the industry will totally die without it, but the lack of exposure to potential careers in tech and adequate resources like computers in schools and technology focused instruction in underserved communities, poses an economic threat to America.

There are influential people in American business today making an effort to increase the pool of black and Latino talent in high tech, and seeing the solution as one that is good for America’s 21st century global innovation economy as a whole.  One of those people is Johnathan Holifield.

Johnathan created The Trim Tab System, “a development and leadership methodology that applies innovative concepts and tools to generate exponential impact.”  If you’ve ever wanted to hyper-maximize your effectiveness, using The Trim Tab System has proven to be an extraordinary way to achieve results.

Johnathan Holifield gave a presentation on May 10th at Global Detroit, a conference dedicated to discussing innovation and commerce to revitalize Detroit, MI, on The America21 Project he’s co-founded using The Trim Tab System principles as a foundation.

The America21 Project introduces “Inclusive Competitiveness,” a core principle that centers around the positive effects of putting the right people on the playing field to take advantage of the economic opportunities flourishing particularly from tech startups.  Basically, how does America suffer if 30% (Black and Latino populations combined in the U.S.) of it’s population, is largely excluded from a sector that’s seeing one of the largest percentages of new job growth and entrepreneurship.  How much of that job growth is domestic and of the domestic tech jobs being created, what percentage of those are filled with black and Latino talent?

What I like about Johnathan Holifield’s Amercia21 Project is that it’s about providing a soluiton by increasing the pool of talent through advocacy and awareness.  It’s hard to have a complete discussion about under-representation if the lack of talent isn’t addressed first.

The law of “Inclusive Competitiveness” states:

No region can sustainably increase economic competitiveness without growing enough of the right people to create and take advantage of that increase in economic competitiveness.  If your region’s economic competitive goals do not focus on inclusion, you simply will not – indeed cannot – grow enough of the right people to build a resilient, economically competitive region.

Johnathan Holifield’s presentation and the talking points he delivered at the Global Detroit event can be found on the Black Innovation and Competitiveness Initiative website.  An impressive approach to addressing an important matter.  I encourage you to explore.


About Johnathan Holifield

Holifield is a highly sought-after Cleveland-based attorney, consultant, speaker and former NFL player who emerged as a visionary economic voice at the turn of the century. His economic outlook, policy recommendations, innovative strategies and unparalleled achievements among 21st century Black leadership has helped propel America21 onto the national landscape as an authoritative voice on urban innovation and economic inclusion.  Follow Johnathan @TheTrimTabber and visit