In Praise of our Plumber

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth

Often in social media, the highly-talented and dedicated people whose services make life a whole lot better are forgotten. That’s because they are not the ones who show up in social media. They are the ones who often show up at our homes at our convenience to make the fixes and repairs we cannot do ourselves.

This post is about one very special master plumber who has made our lives better and who is not here in social media.

I live in a house that was built before certain plumbing standards were in effect. An outside spigot broke. This was a real problem for us, since we had invested in a number of  ornamental plants around our yard, and just one dry season would be the end of them. According to several other so-called experts repair would have been expensive beyond belief. Some of those so-called experts said there was no way to repair the spigot.

Then came the day we needed some other plumbing repairs. We had made a point of asking for the individual contact information of one of the plumbers who had completed a number of other plumbing jobs in a very satisfactory manner. He was the one who explained to us what the specific plumbing issues were, what caused them and how they might be prevented in the future.

We looked up James. He arrived on time and got straight to work. We showed him the “impossible” spigot repair. James, a creative sort, looked at the job and proposed what no other plumber had proposed: plugging the original line to the spigot and installing a new line with a new spigot. All for a price we were willing and able to pay. Shortly thereafter, the original line was plugged. He had drilled a new line through our cinderblock basement wall and installed a new line and spigot.

James. What a pro who really thinks differently than “the other guys.” You are the best! Spigot_Fix

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Ellsworth

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Beating the Social Media Bafflegab

Susan EllsworthI receive newsletters from a wide variety of organizations touting themselves as experts in social media. The ones I generally delete without reading include a title phrase like must read.  Recently, I received one that included in its preview text a suggestion that the organization producing the article completely understood a social media concept that I had never seen before (and have not seen anywhere since.) Furthermore, the teaser text suggested that what they were publishing was part of “best practices.”

Intrigued, I clicked to download the article. There was nothing new I had not seen before. Furthermore, it had been published back in 2009.  Really? Yes, really.

It’s time to look at criteria for credibility in social media.

Does the source cite actual statistical studies of its claims conducted by a completely independent source? Where is the online “Consumer Reports” aggregator of statistical studies reports in social media? A recent Google search for such a service came up pretty dry in that regard. If there actually are statistical studies included, who is the audience for whom the study was written? To put it differently, can you understand what is being said? Or are you looking at a lot of bafflegab intersperced with code words recently invented by (and defined by) the source?

While checking research is a daunting task, you can beat at least some of the bafflegab. There actually are some dictionaries and glossaries of social media terms. Here are some.

A-Z of social media. http://socialmedia.wikispaces.com/A-Z+of+social+media

Hubspot. http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/6126/The-Ultimate-Glossary-120-Social-Media-Marketing-Terms-Explained.aspx

Pam Dyer. “Social Media from A to Z: A Glossary”

Socialbrite. Social media glossary 

…and there are others that Google will serve up for you every day of the week. You can beat at least some of the bafflegab. Go for it!

Susan Ellsworth

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Spokeo gets an “Unlike”

Susan EllsworthA while back, a very good friend said
“Just because some website could be built doesn’t mean it should. TAKE NOTE: There is a site called spokeo.com that is a new online USA phone book w/ personal information: everything from pics you’ve posted on Facebook or web (depending on privacy settings), your approx credit score, home value, income, age.

Today most websites declare that they do not release your personal data without asking. Spokeo does just the opposite: It collects data about you from wherever it can find it, compiles it and offers it for sale at $4.95 a month if you sign up for three months or $3.95 a month if you sign up for six months. All without a word to you.

Thumbs Down

Here is how to get your personal data removed from SPOKEO.

Go to http://www.spokeo.com. (DO NOT LOG IN.) That’s for the people who want to sell your data.

Enter your first and last name in the dialog box below the word “spokeo” and above the “Not your grandma’s phone book” tagline. Click the green Search button.

A map of the United States will appear. To the left of the map, you will see a list of States in which people with your name appears.

Click on the appropriate State. (There may be several people with your name in your State.)

A list of cities and/or towns will appear. Click on the appropriate jurisdiction.

A listing showing your sex, approximate age, abbreviated home phone number, abbreviated eMail address, abbreviated current street address, city and State, a clickable list of family members, and a list of Marital Status, Occupation and Education with the clickable notation of “See Available Results” comes up.

Below that is a map showing the history of places you have lived. Further down is a map showing homes in your neighborhood and presumably their estimated worth.

Once you are confident that you are the person Spokeo has listed, look slightly above the website itself. You will see the website URL where your information is referred to. For example:
http://www.spokeo.com/search?q=Smith%20Sample#Sample:12345678”

Capture the whole URL of your profile.
Go to http://www.spokeo.com/privacy

The PRIVACY page will come up. Scroll down.

Copy and paste the URL of your profile in the first dialog box.
Enter your eMail address in the second dialog box.
Enter the  captcha letters you see into the third dialog box.

Click REMOVE THIS LISTING.
You should receive an eMail from Spokeo to confirm that you want to have your listing removed.
To complete the removal process, click on the new URL (included in the eMail to you) or paste it into your browser.

Press [return] and you are done….but only if Spokeo had only one listing for you. If  Spokeo had more than one listing for you, you will have to repeat this process for each listing Spokeo has for you. Happy de-listing!

Get out of Spokeo

Susan Ellsworth

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Of Teeth and Technology

Susan EllsworthSeveral years ago, I was visiting family members in Pittsburgh. One evening, my upper left jaw began to bother me–seriously. I took an over-the-counter pain killer and thought no more about it. But by the next morning, I was in horrible pain.

The trip home was a nightmare. At the time, I did not have a regular dentist, and had not seen one for many years. I arrived home late in the afternoon. As luck would have it, an ad for a dentist was in the stack of mail that had accumulated while I was out of town. I called the number on the ad. It was a wrong number. In desperation, I called the emergency number for a different dentist listed in the phone book and got an appointment for the next morning. Long story short, I lost a molar because I had not paid attention to my teeth. Not long thereafter, I went through more expensive dental surgery. Lesson learned: Take care of my teeth!

Recently, two different customers we had not heard from in over a year called us in a panic. Each had a serious problem with a server. One of them had not backed up user data in over a year and a half. Both of them had tuned out our repeated generous offers of remote monitoring of their systems. In each case, monitoring of systems had been sporadic and questionable at best.  In one case, the business owner had been raised on the philosophy that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” He had applied that philosophy to the systems he had invested in and was ultimately responsible for. So now he had a downed server, which translated to downtime for himself and his staff.  Ultimately, he ended up purchasing a new server and new workstations. All of which could have been a lot less painful for everyone had he had regular checkups through regular remote monitoring of his systems.

Watching 24 x 7 x 365

All of which, good friends, is why your teeth are like your technology: ignore them and they will go away.

Cheers, all!

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Who Really Needs Training? Part 3 of 3

Susan EllsworthSeveral years ago, I was on a Federal technical services contract which was managed on the Federal side by someone whose professional expertise appeared to be in an arena  outside of high technology.  Many of us on the contractor side had great difficulty in communicating why certain technical solutions were necessary to implement. The problem? We were using “Geek Speak” and had become so accustomed to using it among ourselves that we did not even realize that not everyone knows Geek Speak.

Fortunately, one of the techs on the contract realized quickly what the problem was and privately explained it to us. By general agreement, he became the translator—and often the spokesperson—for the group when we met with our customer. He often used ordinary, non-computer language and stories to illustrate quite nicely the issues we were working on.

One takeaway from that experience became my  favorite explanation of eMail as it moves from your desktop to my desktop. I have often had to explain to others how eMail moves from my computer to someone else’s computer and how eMail actually goes through several computers before arriving at its destination. The analogy I use is  how a letter or package moves from my hands to a post office or other vendor, where it is sorted and shipped to yet another facility which optionally put on an airplane. It is off-loaded from the plane, transferred to a truck and moved to another facility. Finally, a delivery person brings the letter or package to you. Or you pick it up at a local delivery point. These are events that many of us have seen, and the analogy works quite nicely, with no Geek Speak on my part.

So who really needs training? We do. Even today, with many different ways we communicate with each other and using many different devices, we will be far more effective when communicating with top management when we listen to ourselves and recognize the price that speaking only Geek Speak exacts.

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Who Really Needs Training? Part I of 3

Susan Ellsworth One of my friends in Toastmasters is a great listener, and consequently a Senior Account Executive of New Horizons Computer Learning Centers in Washington, D.C. Recently, we were talking about one of our shared favorite topics, training in the computer field. And the cost of not training people to use the tools they are expected to use on the job. Here are some of Vann-Di Galloway’s thoughts.

Training your staff helps to keep them motivated and up-to-date with organizational skills and new technologies.  As fewer employees take on greater responsibilities within the workplace, training helps to increase their productivity.  Staff members benefit from learning new skills and becoming a valued asset within the organization. Training brings direct and immediate benefits and can be calculated as a high return on investment.

Regardless of the size or type of an industry or business, training can have a measurable impact on performance and the bottom line.  Research from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows that productivity increases after relevant training takes place. Employees that receive formal training can be 230 per cent more productive than untrained colleagues who are working in the same role. (1)

Businesses must continually change their work practices and infrastructure to stay competitive in a global market. Training staff to manage the implementation of new technologies, work practices and business strategies can also act as a lure for future recruitment.  Since training increases the retention of staff members, significant cost saving are accrued as the loss of one competent person can be the equivalent of one year’s pay and benefits.
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I could not agree with Vann-Di more. At the same time, I thought about  the training that technical services providers need and the training that CEOs might need.

Technical Services providers (yes, that’s me) need to speak three different languages: Geek Speak, End-User Speak and CEO Speak.

I learned “geek-speak” in technical training classes, both formal and informal. The words seemed straightforward and easy to learn. It was the language my buddies used, so it was comfortable. But Geek Speak is a disaster around most  end users.  I’m somewhat conversant in “end-user” speak. It often starts with “HELP! I can’t…” and when we’re lucky, it ends with “Whew! Thank you!” CEO-speak is the one that still eludes me most of the time, and I’m looking for courseware in how to communicate with the CEO who juggles too many issues, and works too many hours dealing with everything except the technology he or she authorizes payment for . CEO Speak comes in different accents and is generally spoken by people wearing a suit. It seems to echo the language of the Wall Street Journal, and in meetings with Geeks, it struggles to include pieces and parts of Geek Speak.

I can just see my arms-waving Toastmasters friends jumping up and down and yelling “THEY ALL NEED TOASTMASTERS!” Maybe…maybe not. The next blog will look more closely at End-User Speak. We’ll wrap up this three-part blog with more about CEO Speak.

(1) Smith A., 2001, Return on Investment in Training: Research Readings NCVER

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In the Meantime, and Thanks to Friends, I’m Back

 Many thanks to the help of several Toastmasters friends and to the encouragement of Nimble folks, I’m back from four chemo treatments for breast cancer.  Radiology will be next. I will always be grateful to my Toastmasters friends who took me to and from the chemo treatments which made me quite sleepy and unable to drive. 

Back in November, I swore I would not wear a pink ribbon.  I swore that I would not wear a skull cap, a baggy beanie, a turban or a do-rag to hide what I knew would soon be my completely bald head.  I did indulge my love for hats. As you see in my picture, I also  got a pixie cut,  so that I had a little more control over how much hair would fall out and when.  But I did cheat on the pink thing.  My hand-made Christmas cards featured a pair of pink boots.  However, I’m still not wearing a skull cap, a baggie beanie, a turban or a do-rag.  Those are just not me.

In the meantime, Nimble—our Social CRM—has  blossomed into Nimble Personal and Nimble Business.   Pricing for both Nimble Personal and for Nimble Business were announced.  Orders for Nimble are rolling in from people  like you who know that their customers—and future customers—are already on FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And they want to see them all—and connect with them all—in one place.  So they are signing up for Nimble.   It’s your turn. Nimble Personal—which will always be free—is available here.  Nimble Business—at an extremely competitive price for small to medium businesses  is here.  What’s more, What’s New with Nimble is right here.

Cheers, all!

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A word from a Hero

Jon Ferrara, the CEO of Nimble, may not know that he is one of my corporate heroes.  (Hi, Jon!)

This morning Jon sent out the message that Nimble partners have been waiting to see.  Here is what Jon said.
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As we approach the one-year anniversary of releasing our Nimble beta, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting our company. I am humbled that more than 15,000 users have signed up over the last nine months with thousands spending almost four hours a day managing their social relationships and growing their businesses with Nimble. I knew it was going to be an enormous challenge when we set out to create a new paradigm for CRM in 2010. We wanted to enable businesses to manage Relationships & Social Engagement in a simple and elegant way. I am excited to tell you that we are weeks away from being “core vision complete” and will be releasing a major new version of Nimble in January 2012 that we are testing with select users today.
As you know, Nimble has been free during our testing phase. We wanted to wait until Nimble was something worth paying for…something truely helpful in growing a business. I am proud to say that Nimble is now ready to help you Turn Your Social Communities into Customers for Life. With our upcoming new product launch this January, we will start charging for Nimble. A free single-user version of Nimble for basic Social Relationship Management will still be available. For business users who utilize Nimble as a team and need more professional functionality, we will be charging $15 per user per month. As a special thank you to everyone who has been a Nimble user prior to enacting this change, I would like to extend a 90-day free period on their Business accounts applicable once we intiate charging. More details on pricing here.

It would be wonderful if we could offer Nimble for free for everyone forever; however, I know you can understand that to continue to grow and meet the needs of our users, and to continue providing super cool new technologies, it is necessary to monetize our platform. Speaking of super cool new technology, please join me for a webinar this week to see the new Nimble features planned for our January 2012 release.

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www.pequodsystems.com

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Jon Ferrara

To Skype and FaceBook Together…or Not

Recently I discovered a solid business reason for using Skype. A company from BanglaDesh and my company are collaborating on a project together, and Skype is a convenient, economical way we can stay in touch. As a FaceBook user, I was fascinated to see on my Skype page an option to “Connect your Facebook account to message your friends from Skype and see their News Feed.” And of course, the “Learn More” link only said “Enjoy the magic of video calls when you and your friends are logged in to Facebook. ”

As a partner in a systems integration company, I love it when apps come together and play nicely with each other. However, just yesterday I had extolled the benefits of LinkNotify. I had proclaimed that LinkNotify is a fast read, that it sends me an eMail three times a week with current links posted by friends and/or organizations I had “LIKED.”  As an example, I pointed out that Nimble had posted a FaceBook link to the the July 6 LA Times piece “Facebook details Skype-powered video calling, group chats” and how I had received a report on July 7 from LinkNotify. I had immediately returned to FaceBook to see a comment about starting a group to enable chatting. Earlier in the day, a friend from the Philippines had posted a link to the FaceBook announcement, so that made me twice as interested. A 10-second scan of the LinkNotify report had just saved me a 30-minute check of links posted by all my FaceBook friends. It all looked like so much FUN!

However, I had also said that I had killed off all my time-wasting FaceBook games and apps. Considering that LinkNotify is a business-oriented app that allows me to skim through the links my FaceBook friends have posted without my being slowed down by the posts about what they’re eating or watching on TV, I asked myself the obvious question:  Would SKYPE also do that for me? Not that I could see. So for now, unless my Nimble buddies can show me a good reason to the contrary, I think I’ll pass on the Skype-FaceBook integration opportunity. 

 


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Who are your FaceBook Friends?

Writing in All Things D on May 31, Liz Gannes wondered about friending in FaceBook.  Among her worries were that

“One of Facebook’s most fundamental flaws is its notion of friending. Relationships on Facebook don’t naturally expire as they do in the real world. To unfriend is drastic, used only in the direst of circumstances–like a bad breakup.

And the fact that people from so many parts of our lives are on Facebook elicits bland communication. You often don’t really know who you’re talking to, so you stop talking.”

That may be over-stating the case for “”while Facebook might be the hottest game in town, it’s still a pretty warped and inaccurate picture of what it means to have friends. ”

Consider in-person contacts you make, whether pursuing  business contacts or building relationships in small groups of large International organizations.  Or even connecting in interfaith activities. Now consider what attending a large family picnic such as a reunion is like.  In each instance, there will be people you meet and greet as people you have known for a very long time.  In each instance, you will have a different relationship with each person you talk with—or avoid. In each instance, there will be people to whom you say “We have simply got to stop not meeting like this.” And then you keep on not meeting them in person, for one reason or another.  Or there will be people you actually do connect with for a while—and then perhaps ignore until, for one reason or another, they come to your attention again.

It’s not that we  deliberately deceive anyone. It’s that life happens, and without mechanical prompting (such as with a scheduler) we all pay attention to different acquaintances at different times and for different reasons.  With schedulers, we remind ourselves to contact the people who we need to contact.

Her comment that “Relationships on Facebook don’t naturally expire as they do in the real world. To unfriend is drastic, used only in the direst of circumstances–like a bad breakup”  misses a reality.  It is not necessary to unfriend anyone you discover is not really all that interesting for any reason—business or personal. Simply not connecting with them right now gives one the option of re-connecting later on in a friendly way.

Liz, it’s all about our own goals and needs in the big city. The environment is different but the human behaviors are pretty much the same.

    


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