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The Gift of Knowing What to Say

When I was in elementary school, I rebelled by acting out in class.  I was class clown in the classical sense.  Being silly gave me attention and rewarded me in way that I needed at the time.  It lead me to think and believe that I show be a stand up comedian as an adult.

Several high school aptitude classes later and a degree in Communication, I fell into the lap of Marketing and later Sales, because that’s what people do.

It was only after one particularly unfulfilled day at work, that I stayed up late surfing the mobile web, looking for ‘something’.  That ‘something’ ended up being a trip down memory lane, in Mrs. Horiuchi’s 7th grade history class.  I signed up for Improv Comedy Classes, of which I had no previous experience doing.

It has been an incredible 2+ year journey and counting.  I feel like I’m beginning to itch the scratch of my 12 year old self and building a new skill set that I never knew I needed.

Some of the key lessons I’ve picked up:

Improv teaches presence.  If you aren’t locked-in on your world around you, then you are officially lost on stage.  Your teammates are counting on you to be real without notice.  That means you can’t think about your mortgage, or sports, or your career while in a scene.

Improv teaches acceptance.  Everyone on earth has a reality of the world/experiences/expression in their mind.  Most times it’s different than your own.  If you can’t accept another persons reality, and add value to it, you simply can’t grow a meaningful relationship with them.  It’s amazing how valuable this is in everyday conversations.

Improv teaches teamwork.   For new improvisers, ‘funny people’ struggle to be good teammates and non-naturally funny people struggle to take chances.  A good team has a balance of personality and activity, but if you follow the basic rules of Improv–the playing field is completely level for both naturally funny-unfunny people.  The best improvisers learn to be assistants to their team.   They make others look better, and in turn make sets look better.  Selfish improvisers struggle.

Improv is a confidence builder.  Very few people on the face of the earth experience performance in front of a paying audience.  It’s such a unique motivator.  It keeps you from getting complacent.  And then, walking off of a stage where people don’t hate you (at least) after paying their hard earned $5 is grounds for being able to conquer just about anything else.

I recommend Improv, at least classes, to just about every person that casually inquires about it.  It’s worth a look, even if you don’t do anything beyond 4 weeks in a classroom.

Here’s a link to the place that I’ve taken improv lessons at.

Improv Lessons

 

 


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Eternal Cyborgs in Space — A Virtual Reality Discussion

I’ve been a long time advocate of progress and change –spurred by technological advance (in this case Virtual Reality).  We should always push the boundaries of possibility.

Major global answers can be unraveled in the way we weave the bits and bytes of gadgetry and science into our lives. I’m a hopeful person, I suppose. If you look at any major industry or civil endeavor, the wrestling match of new technology is at the forefront of advancement.

We are in a transition period. Your parents never had the ability to access the worlds information within seconds, and now the entitlement of info longs for speed, accessibility, discovery and integration. Your grandchildren wont ever drive a car, that might even be an illegal activity when they are of driving age.

The big question that I haven’t been able to wrap my head around is ‘what do/will we actually WANT out of tech?’ Are we seeking freedom, longevity, higher entertainment value– all or none of the above? How far can stretch what it means to be human before we find that we no longer are?

Virtual Reality Singulairty

Lets take an introspective look at a few tech disciplines and see if we cant put some thinky power into coming up with answers.  I’ll revisit new topics from time to time:

Virtual Reality:  This space is really heating up.  Facebook seemingly legitimized the whole VR universe when it purchased Occulus Rift.  Now it’s a race and a land grab occurring all at once with companies competing to bring to market experiential VR and AR platforms.  I’ve been interested in the possibility of immersive environments since the early colonization of Second Life.    It’s fascinating to consider that science can simulate reality well enough to trick our brains.  We’re not there yet, but perhaps we don’t ever want to be.  There is a growing number of conspiracy theorists and counter-culturists that think we may currently be living in a simulated world.  In a Matrix-esque  scenario, we are enslaved or sedated physically but allowed to live our life through the world we currently see as our everyday, only it’s a simulation run by some external force.  Philosopher Nick Bostrom even suggests that this is ‘highly probable’.  Though we are only at the tip of the iceberg in understanding the major secrets of the world, including; ‘How do brains work?’ and ‘Why and how are we here in the first place?’.

If we are living in a simulation it sure would explain a lot.  Physics, for example, the laws of the universe:  It’s pretty weird trying to wrap your brain around the ‘known’ that every thing in our universe is governed by the same set of laws and math equations.  Equations are easily coded…

What then would be the full expression of VR technology?

If sci-fi has taught us anything at all, it’s that complete life mirroring virtual reality is what we are after.  A programmed simulation so real that it is…real to us.  Beyond a litany of movies and TV (Total Recall, Matrix,  Star Trek, Black Mirror, etc.) that show us a world inside microchips, some science nerds believe that we may actually have a shot at living several lifetimes virtually, while time in on the outside barely passes us by.  This tickles the human desire for life fulfillment.  Screw regrets, keep living lives until you get it right.  Take an entire lifetime worth of driving simulations in a short a mount of time before hitting the road at age 16 (though, we wont have this burden much longer, will we?).

Anyhow, the applications are bountiful for VR, especially the kind that accelerates thought and helps us learn faster.

The major question that remains is, will there be enough fear from outside forces that VR never reaches its full expression?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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When a Niche Gets Real: Going Solar

Solar Logo Pic

Solar Lead Generator

I’m doing something COMPLETELY different…or am I?

For over 3 years, I’ve had the opportunity to generate demand and create marketing strategy in the home solar panel niche. I’ve had a hand in creating over 25,000 leads and made some long lasting partnerships that have stood since day one of my consultancy.

The Solar space has developed, if as any indicator at all, ad copy went from appealing to the outlying ‘Prepper’ community, to becoming a mainstream savings opportunity for the general public. With that said, the profitability of lead sales has become more volatile than the product itself. The tangible growth of solar is almost immeasurable.

 

 

 

Solar growth arc

Solar growth

This is a plum, that I’m picking from the juiciest tree.  Consumers are finding it easier than ever to finance panels with little-no out of pocket, and reaping huge rewards for doing so.

With my knowledge as a demand producer and NOW as an Energy Consultant; interest shall be piqued. Innovating is hard when you’re not at the center of the universe. Becoming an Energy Consultant puts me there, deeply integrated in an exciting product. I can keep pace, grow exponentially, and tap existing resources and partnerships for an enlightened business development approach.

With my experience, I’ll have a unique approach to self generating demand for a product that is difficult for most homeowners to say ‘no’ to.  But…enough about me.

After spending a better part of a decade staying ahead of technology trends and consumer behavior, I’ve had hands on experience and am now all-in on Solar.  If I believe in it, I think you should too.

Have you considered putting solar panels on your home? I’d like to hear from you with pros or cons.

OR

Would you like to join me in selling rooftop real estate? Always looking to hire, and if I can’t bring you on immediately, I’ll know someone who can…

 


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How I Inadvertantly Invented Social Sharing

How I Inadvertantly Invented Social Sharing

What would social media be without the cross-platform share?

We take for granted the fact that we can grab one piece of content that we like and by adding a small piece of code, automagically post a piece of music, meme, or video.  It didn’t just appear one day, it was born out of a marketing campaign necessity and was overlooked for it’s importance, at the time, by a young group of Internet marketers.  We invented the cross-platform share and never staked our claim to fame.

How It Happened

I was a noob.  I may have within my first few months of my digital career.  The one thing I had on my side was a small but well-balanced team of co-conspirators and a sound work ethic.  As a secondary sell-in from Paid Search, I offered what my version of ‘Media’ was at the time.   Not too bad, to be honest.  I had the right idea by creating an integrated approach.  The campaign capitalized on the already existing explosive traffic source from, at the time (2006), one of the 5 or 6 big hitter costume etailers.

(Behavioral) Retargeting?  You betcha, that was a buy from Fetchback in their early days when CPM was a flat $2.  On the frontside of the campaign, to acquire new traffic, we used a social media contest via Brickfish.  For continued engagement and earned media opportunity, we felt that people might have wanted to visually express their excitement for Halloween by posting a picture of their costume, from our client’s home-site, directly to Myspace.  Mind you, in 2006 Myspace was the juggernaut and Facebook was simply regarded as a wannabe.  Twitter was a zygote.  As necessity is the mother of invention and there were no plugins to do such a precise thing it was up to us to figure out in-house.

You wanted to add video, music, link or a despicably ugly background?  Piece of cake, Myspace allowed all of those within their environment and if you knew a little HTML you could download and then upload profile destroying themes.  The offsite push share was virtually unheard of and possibly completely non-existent.  Until we launched this beauty:

share button

 It wasn’t prettiest button or shareable unit, but it was ours.  The numbers were hardly provoking, but we arrived at nearly 10,000 of these push shares to Myspace for the campaign from a few million potential site visitors.  We considered it a drop in the bucket and not a worthy future pursuit.  DOH!

The Build

I couldn’t tell you to this day how it was built.  The dev guy we had at the time was a young fellow from the Republic of Congo.  At the time his English was spotty, but he was a magic man.  I don’t ever remember a particular task not being ‘figured out’ by him.  For this campaign I asked for a button to integrate on site that would grab content and push it to Myspace.   Completely dev-incompetent, I hadn’t the slightest idea how involved or time intensive my request actually was.  Luc smiled when I described the project and then coyly promised that he would have it ready (in 10 days) for the campaign launch.  The commitment I inadvertently asked of him was at least 6 days of working until almost midnight prior to the launch, but he pulled it off in only two revisions.  We pushed it live to the site and then checked weekly (from server logs) how often the code was accessed.  There were no tracking platforms for social.

In conclusion, we proved our crazy hypothesis that people did have an interest in sharing content from sites directly to their Myspace wall.  What we didn’t predict was that we would out think consumers.  If very few (if any) buttons existed, then we shouldn’t have expected usage to widespread or understood.  We were crippled by an education factor from users trust or button knowledge.  That 10,000 is a flash in the pan by new standards for quality content, but then again, the expectation for content quality has multiplied just as fast.

Damn, should have capitalized on that idea…


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Brain Reboot in 2013

Brain Reboot in 2013

If you are a human, you’ve probably discovered that reaching your BIG PICTURE year end goals/resolutions (whatever you want to call them) are not that easy.  If you are not a human…Salutations, brethren.

The fact of the matter is that the things that we intend to happen often times wont work out exactly how we expect them to.  However, I’ve learned in the past year that if you are open to interpretation and adaptation you can still achieve what you have set out to.

The Tornado

I dedicated the year 2o13 to ‘education’.  I expected to further my professional knowledge depth by taking extra-curricular classes and staying more diligent in my required daily industry research.  Knowing my shortcomings, deeply rooted in procrastination, I signed up for an online business class with Coursera in January.  January, as to not wind up crunching a years worth of agenda into late November.  Already I had felt accomplished.

After falling behind within in week 1, not completing the required study materials in week 2, and deciding that staring at my monitor was not a well matched learning procedure in week 3;  I became discouraged.  The required means of studying (sitting in front of a monitor after sitting in front of a monitor for 8 hours) just didn’t spark any solid resolve out of me.   I wanted to get better through study, I just couldn’t push through the distractions.  My birthday came and went, and per usual, I reflected on my lifetime of accomplishments.  As the perfect storm brewed of underlying frustration and discouragement and a typical birthday reflection period,  I regressed.  I crawled into a hole emotionally and productively.  Feeling beaten professionally, my personal life began to suffer.  I caught myself caring less and less about my future, people, and the routine of it all.  My unavoidable mental conversations went something to the tune of ‘I’m now 34 years old, I’ve accomplished none of the things I’ve set out to, I’ve wasted time, I’m too good for my current professional state, the light is nowhere visible in this tunnel, and I’m no longer attractive to my significant other.’

All triggered because I failed at taking an online class (a free one, mind you).  

The spiral struck like a tornado, and took me to a place I never expected or wanted to be, much like a real tornado might.

I needed to be fixed, and I needed it FAST.  My year, and more importantly, my life was being turned on it’s head by an unwarranted case of the blues.   After a few hard and pressing conversations with my girlfriend, I decided that it was no longer solely within my capacity to tear down the obstacles that I had created for myself.

The BIG Shakeup

Sometime in June, I received recommendation from my Doctor to seek counseling from a Narrative Therapist.  Narrative therapy, unlike the regular Freudian stuff, is a more non-blaming, non-diagnosis type that just picks up on the issues as they occur today and seeks to show you the reality of them out from behind the veil of false perceptions.  I’m not an expert, that’s just how I’d interpret it.

Unwavered by the social stigma for seeking such guidance I began to go regularly and the real education of 2013 began.

My interest in peer comparison, material objects, unreasonable expectations, and aging fear all began to slowly melt away with every hour long session.  Other interests began bubbling up within me and surfaced.  I built myself a desk in June, an undertaking I have never come close to tackling previously…

Desk DIY

For me, the concept of building a desk meant more than just taking raw material and turning it into usable furniture.  It was a transformative project.  Over 35 hours, I planned, learned, and overcame obstacles to invigorate a sense of pride that I hadn’t felt in a while.  It was life affirming.

Later in the same month, I impulsively began taking Improv Comedy classes.  As early as 6th grade, I can remember idolizing stand up comics and even professing that I would one day become one.  Why not give it a go 20+ years later?

Improv has a really liberating effect that I can barely explain.  If you’re not familiar, it is a discipline of comedy that is delivered with no prior preparation of material and is driven by audience participation.  Yes, just like ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’

One of the most important lessons in Improv is to develop a trust of your own instincts.  If you attempt to write lines for yourself in your head, or pre-determine things you will do and/or say, you will be frustrated.   It won’t go as well as you hope it will, and not until you clear your mind and make yourself exceptionally present can you shine brightest.   It’s about listening, being attentive, and reacting with clarity of mind.

In August, I developed a new brainstorming strategy founded on principles I’ve had for years but never pieced together.  It’s been received so well by my professional peers that It’s leading to exciting new business opportunities in 2014 (already rolling).  Any connection to Improv there?  You’d better believe it, sweet cheeks.

At the close now of 2013, I realize that though I’m nowhere near where I expected to be; not only have I achieved my goal of ‘education’ but far exceeded the desired outcome. When I fell off track, I tried something completely different.  I’m lucky enough to have been open to those opportunities.

FTW, 2014!

In September, I began to feel ‘right’ again.  I made amends with the universe and started to understand and enjoy myself (by the help of Therapy and Improv) in a way that I haven’t previously.    The time was as right as ever to get engaged and seal the commitment to my then girlfriend, now fiance, that I had set for earlier in the year:  That I would fix me and in turn fix us.  In 2014 we’ll do the wedding thing.

In February of 2014, if all holds suit, I will be performing Improv on stage in front of a live audience as a culmination of my six months of studying it.  I plan to make Improv a part of my history in 2014 and continue to honor it as a craft.

January 2014 will be a kickoff for a new business partnership that is rooted by already successful peers that believe in me and have unbelievable vision.

My brain is different, better, rebooted…


next page

The Gift of Knowing What to Say

When I was in elementary school, I rebelled by acting out in class.  I was class clown...
article post

Eternal Cyborgs in Space — A Virtual Reality Discussion

I’ve been a long time advocate of progress and change –spurred by...
article post

When a Niche Gets Real: Going Solar

I’m doing something COMPLETELY different…or am I? For over 3 years,...
article post

How I Inadvertantly Invented Social Sharing

What would social media be without the cross-platform share? We take for granted the fact...
article post

Brain Reboot in 2013

If you are a human, you’ve probably discovered that reaching your BIG PICTURE year...
article post