My Dad’s Last Words to Me Were…. #FathersDay

One of the last photos taken of my dad here with mom at anniversary dinner in 2002.

One of the last photos taken of my dad here with mom at anniversary dinner in 2002.

“I love you, too” were the final words my dad would say to me before he passed away. Can greater words ever be spoken amidst the knowledge that a final hour was drawing near?

I am one of the blessed ones. Not all have had such an opportunity. Many of my friends either never knew their father or wished they had never met their father. For them, my heart breaks.

Dad was forty years older than me. In comparison with most of my friends, he came from another time. His time was the time of many of their grandparents.

To me, he was simply dad.

Certainly his taste of music was from another time as well. Jazz was always on, especially that of the big band era. We used to sit and talk with the jazz playing all day long.

Nobody and I mean nobody could tap their finger to the beat of jazz like dad could.

Me and dad used go play a lot of golf growing up. There’s was that time we were nearly hit by a lightning bolt and immediately high tailed it back to the clubhouse. I never saw my dad run that fast. I never saw him that mad either at the fact I was in hot pursuit of his mad dash nearly stumbling over myself laughing so hard. Of course, we took a rain check and just drove to the next golf course and played. Had the storm passed? Not really. But dad wouldn’t let a little thunder and lightning hinder golf.

For those that knew my dad, he wasn’t known for a lot of words. Matter of fact, at first, many of my friends wondered if he even liked them. But sooner or later, they’d see dad in full bloom.

There are two characteristics about my dad that after ten years since he passed seem to really stand out. First, dad was the funniest person I ever knew. He had this dry sense of humor that just killed it every single time. I remember as a kid watching TV with dad. I loved watching him laugh at the TV.

I knew that if it made dad laugh, it was funny.

As I reflect on this, watching dad laugh at a TV show didn’t stop when I grew up, it kept going. Seeing dad laugh was a gift. To make dad laugh was priceless.

I recall many times the last few years of life where my dad was at an event or something I was hosting or had to play host. With those duties always came a felt need for me to entertain people. I too love to make people laugh. But in those events, if I could make my dad laugh… no words could describe it. Just thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. It was like, atta boy.

My dad was also an unbelievable listener. There was never a time as I grew older that I remember speaking with my dad and him seeming distracted. He would listen intently. He wouldn’t say many words, if any until you were done. It was as if he wanted you to work it out. Never once did I ever felt like screaming… say something!! I knew it would it come.

Because while he was listening, he was listening.

That’s not a typo. He wasn’t thinking about what he was going to say in response. He wasn’t falling all over himself to interrupt my words to offer his feedback. While dad listened, he simply listened.

Someday, I hope I can master such patience, confidence, and wisdom because in his ability to do this always came the perfect resolve.

Dad was also that one person that I grew to appreciate more and more as I grew older that could turn my fear into peace. With a forty year difference, it wasn’t always easy. Being human, we’re always growing.

Fortunately for me and dad, we grew towards each other and not apart.

To this day I remember like it was yesterday being wheeled away for back surgery. I had never experienced surgery like this. I was extremely nervous, but after over a month of extreme pain, it had to be done.

Dad knew my nervousness. At the time, I did not know he would be gone two years later. Dad was the last person I saw as they wheeled me away. What he did that very moment was something I had never experienced from him in my entire life. He reached out his hand to me and gave me a look I will cherish forever. As I grabbed his hand, his look said one thing… it will be ok. I sit here a mess as I type this.

“I love you, too” were the final words my dad would say to me before he passed away. Can greater words ever be spoken amidst the knowledge that a final hour was drawing near?

Hearing those 4 words before he died after never once hearing them growing up was beyond words. I lived my whole life seeking to hear them. Perhaps that which I sought to hear was all along being played out in that which I had been seeing?

Shortly before my dad passed away from cancer, he also had a stroke. I remember his doctor telling me and mom that he didn’t wish this on his worst enemy. It was hard seeing someone you love drift away into a place where their old self would not be seen again.

Often times during that season I would be with dad and know he really wanted to say something but couldn’t get the words out. You could see the struggle. He didn’t want you to see the struggle, but you did. But what you couldn’t hear, you could feel. If you could feel emotion from that which you were seeing, dad’s heart was on full display and not like anything I had ever seen before.

Searching my whole life to hear my dad say I love you through the lens of this changes everything. Though he may not have said it, looking back on these memories, I sure did see it.

If you could feel emotion from that which you were seeing, dad’s heart was on full display this whole time and I didn’t hear it. Why? Because perhaps I was never meant to hear it but rather instead… experience it.

And as I look back, I sure did. ..I sure did.

Dad, I love you. I miss you. On this Father’s Day in 2013, I honor you.

Back Surgery with Dad: Circa 2001 #FathersDay

hand-reaching-bwThe summer prior to first learning of my dads cancer was a challenging one. For 30 days, I struggled with what we thought was a torn hamstring. But not committing to that, the doctor continued to order further ultrasound therapy on it along with specific stretches. After a month of extreme pain that kept me awake most nights along with a limited ability to move freely…they finally ordered an MRI.

The discovery was that I needed back surgery. My L5 disc had pretty much blown out and completely compressed the sciatic nerve.

But, I write this not to highlight my back surgery experience but to recall a special moment between my dad and I as they wheeled me from my temporary hospital room into the prep room just prior to my surgery.

Being nervous due to the fact I had never experienced surgery where I was fully under followed by a one night stay in the hospital…I remember the calming influence dad had on me. As they wheeled me away, my dad stood along that path and held out his hand for mine. Wheeling by, I took his hand and held it for a brief moment as he shot me a look that I will never forget. It was a look that said it was going to be ok.

You see, what is significant about that was that dad was never the touchy feely type and though you never heard him say I love you…you knew he did. It just was not a typical trait from his generation.

So, for him to initiate this contact meant the world to me and in this…he modeled that of Jesus when He reached out His hand and said…”Take courage…it is I.”

Of course, I made it through that surgery and he was there when I got out and was there that next morning to pick me up.

With dad…he saw me through and with our Heavenly Father…He will too.


My back surgery was on August 6th, 2001. Yet through all the pain and build up to such a time in my life, this one moment still remains one of the most impactful memories of my entire life. I miss my dad. But as I grow older, I find him in the many lessons he planted forth within me that I never knew until now.

This all reminds me and causes me to ponder, how often am I teaching when I don’t even know it? What moments will my daughter carry with her throughout life? Am I teaching right things yet reflecting the wrong things?


I am a Dad now. #parenting

A pink and purple kite swirls in the late afternoon sky as the sun shines brightly through the white and grey clouds. Bundled up from the cold wind, I’m sitting pool side watching my daughter wade through 3 feet of water in the “kiddie” pool. Occasionally glancing up, her eyes are never far from me as she turns and looks at me with a smile. Splashing herself wet she sits alone in the shallow end. All around the sounds of children playing, water splashing, and parents talking, but she… she sits alone as if she is a part in a one-person play on stage. As she looks over at me…dipping side of her head in the pool, she smiles. And it is this smile that tells me that I am the audience and she is the performer. “Watch me!” she says as she performs a most significant “leg stretch” as graceful as the now distant kite dancing above the ocean waves. This audience can only applaud this feat with a look and a smile as it [smile] dances across the now glimmering pool from the sunlight far above. To be on the other side of that look is nothing short of amazing. And now…now it is my turn. I hope I do it well, I hope I do it often… I guess I’m not too bad…as I look over at her, she’s looking back with a smile as wide as the moon and as bright as this late afternoon sun. ______ It has been several years since I first wrote this. I hope I have and continue to… do it well.

My 6-Year-Old Daughter Introduced Me to Sex Trafficking #FathersDay

557686_10151082325734747_856822376_nI was asked this week to write a guest blog post for the non profit organization Shared Hope International. Their mission is to prevent, restore, and bring justice in the fight to eradicate sex trafficking. Here is a portion of that post…

When my daughter was little she received $30 for her birthday that she could spend on whatever she wanted. Of course, we thought she would want to spend it on a stuffed animal or toy.

But we were wrong. Very wrong.

When her mom asked her what she wanted to spend it on, she asked for the catalog we received from a non-profit humanitarian organization. It was the kind where you could purchase things like goats, chickens, food, and clothing for people in need throughout the world.

We figured she would want to buy some chickens for a family or clothing for a child, tangible items she was familiar with. But as she looked through the catalog, she kept turning the pages until she found what she was looking for.

What she did next, we’ll never forget.

To read the full post, click here.


May 18th, 1980… Where were you?

Where was I on May 18th, 1980? Yakima, Washington

It was 8:30 am…

It was already a dark morning as clouds filled the sky over Yakima. By the time we left McDonald’s a few short moments later, the sky on the western horizon was filled with more than clouds.

Stopping to fill the tank before our drive home along the Columbia River Gorge, the man at the gas station said he had heard there was a very large storm coming.

What was coming was black as night as its darkness was quickly filling up the sky as it rushed across the state.

As it drew closer, I remember seeing lightning bolts from within this dark cloud that was racing towards us. As a ten year old… this was a little scary as our car raced its way to the border and out of this cloud of darkness and its line of sight. We stopped several times to take a picture. By the time we arrived at Goldendale, we knew this was no ordinary storm. This was Mt. St. Helens.

Pulling over on the highway outside of Goldendale to take some pictures, we were not the only ones doing the same. Remarkably, there was a t-shirt vendor there hawking shirts that said… “I’m a Lava Lover… Mt.St.Helens, May 18th, 1980!”

Even to a ten year old, I thought that was amazing that someone had shirts already printed up along the highway not 45 minutes after the eruption.

Driving along the Columbia River Gorge that morning was a sight I will never forget.

Happy to be out of the ash clouds path, I was enamored at the sheer power of what was before my eyes as it seemed to like hover in the distance over what was already majestic setting within the gorge.

In a weird way, or maybe it was because of the enormity of it… life that day seemed to be lived in black and white. I don’t remember any color in the landscapes that painted my day. Maybe if I tried hard enough, I could remember the yellow in the golden arches over that McDonald’s we stopped at? Or, maybe I could see the green in the farmland between our stop to take a picture and buy a shirt between Goldendale and the Gorge?

If I could, they would be faded I am sure.

There are certain moments in life that warrant the question… where were you then?

This was one of those moments. Where were you on this day?

Why I (as a @TrailBlazer fan) respect the @HoustonRockets

POR-TRAILBLAZERS-vs.-HOU-ROCKETSThe sport of competition can be brutal. From the days of the loser leave town matches of pro wrestling’s heyday to the best of 7 playoff basketball series, if you’re lucky, they won’t be for the faint of heart.

If you’re lucky, every moment will be spent on the edge of one’s seat with nails wedged completely in between one’s teeth all the while your heart is beating at the speed of light.

In Portland, as we celebrated our first playoff series win in 14 years against a team no one gave a shot at even having a chance against, the same applied. The entire series was nip and tuck.

As a lifelong Portland resident, it felt good to have a basketball team back on the floor that I can get excited about. It’s been too long since our heyday of the early 90′s when the Blazers made multiple runs.

But something was different about this particular playoff series. To be certain and in the eyes of many, each team had their own set of heroes and villains. Just watching the games while scrolling the Twitter feed made that apparent. But isn’t all that part of the sport of competition?

Certainly, I too made my share of posts in the heat of the game about Howard, Harden, Parsons, Lin, and others. Just stop them already I cried.

But something was different this time. For every virtually impossible shot James Harden made, I couldn’t get mad. With every second chance board Chandler Parsons got… I just couldn’t bring myself to completely lose it. How can this be? Right then, in this series and in that moment… they were my sworn enemy. (Wait, I thought this was just a game?)

But why? What held me back? Why do I (as a Blazer fan) respect the Houston Rockets? Is it the unstoppable force of Dwight Howard? The beard of James Harden and his knack for making shots when it seems there were no shots at all? Is it…

Meet Sam.


This is the entire Houston Rockets team hanging out with a young man from Portland that they have taken under their wing. His name is Sam. Sam has been battling a form of cancer called Ewings Sarcoma.

It is a rare pediatric sarcoma that affects thousands, but gets lost in terms of funding and support among the many other “big” cancers. Sam, now 12, has been battling this since the age of 9. Recently the cancer has returned. (Info credit from Sam Day Challenge)

The sport of competition can be brutal. But to a young man fighting cancer, this isn’t a sport. This is real life. Knowing the Houston Rockets have been a huge support to Sam long before this series took place sealed the deal for me. What’s even more special is that in a world of trumpeting causes to boost one’s image, you haven’t seen anything on this story from the Houston Rockets. This is not about boosting their image. This is about relationship. This is real. Not a PR campaign.

Time out..

Before you read further. I want you to take just a few brief moments and get to know Sam. Please watch this…

All I could see was….

As a lifelong diehard Blazer fan cheering for them and getting emotionally drawn in by the games, all I could see in my mind was the Rockets hanging out with Sam the whole series and thinking about the wonderful support they have given Sam and his family. In the end, how can you root against that? In the end, how can you not be inspired by that?

Certainly, I was in the mix of social media rooting for the Blazers, but for every post I made, Sam always crossed my mind. And if I had made a post in the midst of sheer emotion that I felt was not okay, I pulled it. As emotionally wrapped up in the game as I would get, I would get even more emotionally wrapped up from posts made by Sam’s mom with regards to Sam’s heartbreak for every Rockets loss and excitement for every Rockets win.

I want to thank the Houston Rockets for their support of Sam and I want to invite anyone who might read this blog post to follow suit. Watch the video, take action, and share the video with your family and friends.


I love this picture of the Rockets with Sam. I saw this in my mind the entire series. I couldn’t shake it. It got me thinking, what if we all were on the court with Sam?

The sport of competition is brutal, but it wouldn’t have a chance if each one of us stepped onto the court in support of Sam.

But then again, this isn’t a sport. It’s real life. You can make a difference.

Also, if you feel so inclined, I would invite you to please consider..

  • If you got here from a tweet, please consider retweeting
  • If you got here from a Facebook post, please consider sharing the post

***not for me, but for Sam and all those battling Ewings Sarcoma


** The two pictures of the Houston Rockets with Sam were used in this post with the permission of Sam’s family.


5 Simple House Rules for Watching 24


With the highly anticipated return of 24 coming up on May 5th, many have been dusting up on their 24 skills by re-watching previous seasons. Much of this, however, has been done in private and on one’s own pace or schedule.

On May 5th, everything changes. With social media being much more than it was even in the last season, the same house rules do still apply to Live Another Day.

1. If you DVR 24 because you cannot watch it with the rest of us, DON’T tell me not to talk about “what happens” while I watch it. ‪#‎Priorities‬

2. No dialogue allowed while the show is airing. Commercials only. If show comes back on while you are typing mid sentence. Stop typing.

3. If you don’t like 24 and find it too violent, DON’T choose to use my thread as a platform of guilt bombing or questioning one’s convictions.

4. If “you just don’t get the appeal of 24″ …good for you. Keep it to yourself or post it on your own wall.

5. If you call me while the show is on, I will not answer. If during the commercial I will. But if show comes on while we are on the phone, I will hang up.

What would you add to this list?

24 trivia..

The last episode of 24 aired on May 24, 2010. Nearly a year later on May 1, 2011, it was reported that Osama Bin Laden was killed. Obviously this was the top trending topic on Twitter that night. Guess who else was on that list of trending topics the same night? If you guessed #JackBauer, you are correct!

For more updates on the return of 24, visit the official website, here.

Follow me on Twitter, here.



We are the Headline Nation!


Wait, what? Local dog arrested? Okay, I’ll bite.

Have you ever clicked on a link because the text in the post caught your eye, only to feel ripped off and used because the story didn’t really add up to the intrigue of the headline? Welcome to the headline nation where all one needs to do is create intrigue regardless of fact or fallacy.


“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – David Ogilvy

A recent survey found that only 44% of Google news visitors scan headlines, but don’t click through. The habit is similar on Twitter. You scan the feed for interesting tweets. Now granted, you are following certain people for a reason and you trust the content they publish is something that is legitimate for your taste and speaks your language. However, you are unlikely to open every link they post unless of course, it intrigues you.

I recently came across a story about Ryan Holiday, a 25-year-old marketing director for American Apparel . The 25 year old styles himself as a “media manipulator.” Conducting an online search as to what this means,

I found this definition: Media manipulation is an aspect of public relations in which partisans create an image or argument that favors their particular interests. Such tactics may include the use of logical fallacies and propaganda techniques, and often involve the suppression of information or points of view by crowding them out, by inducing other people or groups of people to stop listening to certain arguments, or by simply diverting attention elsewhere. (Wikipedia)

He essentially made stuff up to see if anyone would print it. Guess what? They did. What a mess. I read another headline that sought to tie a mass-murderer with a particular political group. Intrigued, I clicked the link to the article. As I read through, I learned the headline was mere speculation, and the source even admitted that the person they were focused on may not even be the same person. Think about the number of people who won’t ever click that link. Many people will take the headline and run with it without knowing the full story.

In a world where stories are broken in 140 characters or less, all it takes is one effectively written message to set sail into the minds of millions of people around the world. Maybe we don’t have time anymore, but does this mean we don’t care about the validity of headlines? We are busy people, and we need content in consumable bite sizes. Even YouTube videos become long winded around the 3 minute marker. People may never get to your link let alone click through to find your message.

Point: Get to the point

The way to create a headline that will truly meet the importance of your message and position it to get in front of as many people as possible is to:

Be creative Be factual Be focused Be intriguing

You could also ask a question in the headline; point to a section in the article, video, podcast and ask what others think. In our world where knowledge is doubling every 72 hours, the headline is vastly becoming the bottom line.

I spoke with a friend of mine who was struggling with getting any traction for their blog posts, even though the content was solid. The first thing I looked at was their titles, or headlines, for the posts they were casting into the Twitter and Facebook world. I encouraged them that when they tweeted specific blog posts or posted them on Facebook to pull out the best line of the article and posting it with the link.

The results?

“When I started posting quotes from my articles that spoke to the main point of the message— the ‘golden nuggets’ so to speak—all of a sudden people started responding . My quotes were getting reposted and shared; I received comments on my blog, and I gained new followers as I engaged back in response .”

They found new traction that not only reached people with the headline, but also pulled them in to get to the bottom line. Make your headlines count. Understand that many will click on your link and many will not. With this understanding, you will control the “game of telephone” that’s playing around the world and within the headline nation.

My aim with my book  Strategistics is to lay out an infrastructure based on what I see is absolutely critical in understanding the psychology of our audience and those we seek to reach beyond our audi- ence. In the chapters ahead, I will build upon this infrastructure with application that will help you drive your message in this fast paced headline nation.

To begin, I want to introduce you to one  of the most important concepts I have learned in the past decade… the concept of the frozen perception. You can read this chapter in its entirety, by clicking here.

So, what about that dog? Was a dog really arrested? Hmm.

What you just read was an excerpt from my book Strategistics. Download ebook today by clicking here.


A @KaiserChiefs Show Inspired this Chapter in My Book about Building a Viral Community

482428_362285567217878_1899047390_nCOMMUNITY EXPECTATIONS

“Before, I was terrified on stage. I only play guitar during the acoustic songs. After a while, you can elicit certain responses from the crowd, like Elvis.” –Andy Gibb

I recently attended a concert with my teenage daughter. Now, I am sure for many parents it was the type of concert a typical teenager would drag a parent only to arrive and stand towards the back as if to not make things appear awkward for the teenager.

But for me, this was not one of those shows. Are you kidding me? I was just as excited to see this show as my daughter was to catch this band —a group that categorizes themselves as a “post-punk/ art rock band.” Huh? (By the way, the band was Kaiser Chiefs). It was an amazing show that reminded me why I love bands from the UK so much.

There seems to be similar characteristics between the many bands and artists I have followed over the years. It’s these characteristics that cause my favorite groups to stand out among other bands and artists from around the world. What are these characteristics and what do they have to do with building a community or even this book?

These bands:

1. Know how to work a crowd.

2. Don’t just sing to me about a place, they take me there.

3. Set high expectations for audience participation.

Know how to work a crowd

Check out the new record here.

New Record Out Now!

Because rock bands seemingly know their crowd and what they want , the musicians know how to work their crowd. How well do you know your crowd? If you are seeking to build a community to reach this crowd, you better know their interests and what they want. There can be nothing more awkward in the viral world than giving a crowd what they don’t want.

That being said, when a band knows what their crowd wants and delivers it masterfully, it is pure magic. Find the heartbeat of your community, tap it, and see how far you can take them.

Don’t just sing to me about a place, they take me there

20121102-bruce-springsteen-306x-1351859141Any good artist or storyteller understands this. In a recent interview with the iconic singer Bruce Springsteen, one of the statements he made about effective songwriting was to seek to compel others for the things that compel you. If you have ever attended a show by the Boss, you know he doesn’t just sing to you about a place… he takes you to that place in both song and performance.

Are you seeking to identify needs and then to awaken the solutions? If so, with your content development, take me to that place of need. Take me to that place of solution. Articulate the need in a way that is clear and compelling, and then articulate the solution in a way that is clear and empowering. Don’t just settle for sterile content that just recites stuff. Make your content come alive and jump off the screen–this compels action from your community— especially your core community!

High expectations for audience participation

527912_10150762152554747_844563705_nWhat I loved about the Kaiser Chiefs show with my daughter was the band had high expectations for the audience, and they were not going to settle for anything less. So, why should you? If you know what your community wants and deliver it in a way they want it (by taking them to that place and not just talking to them about that place), then why shouldn’t you have high expectations for them to respond and participate?

And for this show, the crowd responded. Even when the crowd got a little tired, those high expectations came shining through to literally get us off our feet by demanding a response. And you know what? Because they knew us and gave us what we wanted… we loved every second of it and it drove us to new heights with our participation.

Too often, I see communities online just going through the motion on auto-pilot. Sure, maybe they are providing good information, but in my honest opinion… what a waste of time. Why stop there? If the metrics of social media is to share, then why wouldn’t you want to cultivate a community that has high expectations?

You know them, you give them what they want and how they want it, and you take them where they want to go. Are you satisfied with your audience lurking–by only clicking “Like” on a post or simply just reposting or retweeting something as is?

Yes, these are good things. But have higher expectations. When you post something you want your crowd to share, you want your expectations for your audience participation to include not only sharing that post, but maybe also:

  • A quote they found interesting from the post.
  • A quote from them as to why they are sharing the post.
  • An engaging question for their community as why they should read the post.

Cultivate a relationship with your crowd that would cause them to not only participate in your community, but to share the community in an engaging way designed to take your message from being in the moment to expanding to a movement.

Chapter Application

1) Do you know your crowd? Describe them.

2) How are you conversational with your crowd?

3) What expectations do you have for your community?

This post is an excerpt from my book Strategistics: How to Architect Your Message for Viral Success. You can purchase a download copy of the book here.

By the way, Kaiser Chiefs are releasing a brand new record this week. Pretty stoked about it. Check it out. #eeew





Frozen Perceptions and Why They Matter to Your Message


Excerpt from my book Strategistics. Download ebook today by clicking here.

“Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.” – Miyamoto Musashi, Swordsman and Philosopher (1584-1645)

I once spoke at a film camp for high school students on the topic of social justice and social media. I challenged the campers to take my eyes beyond what I could see with regards to the story they were seeking to tell with their camera. In positioning this discussion there, I was able to submit to them the power of the frozen perception. This power can launch us forward or it will hold us back because some frozen perceptions are true, while many are not.

“Frozen Perceptions” is a term of art that describes ingrained perceptual biases, which close a person’s mind from “hearing” the benefits of a product, service or other proposition. -Joel Tucciarone

In politics, a candidate will seek to define their opponents before his opponents even define themselves. This sets the frozen perceptions that stick in potential voters’ minds about the opponents in hopes of swaying voters toward the candidate in the end. In the 1988 elections, vice president candidate Dan Quayle was touted as a John Kennedy-like candidate, thus setting up a frozen perception by attaching his name to a name Quayle’s team felt would gain them additional votes. Of course, in the debate with Lloyd Bentsen, that frozen perception was quickly dismissed with one famous line from Mr. Bentsen:

“Senator,” he said, “I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.”

The art of frozen perceptions is often set up by the power of association with someone or something of a more positive, negative, successful, or unsuccessful reputation. To further my example of the frozen perceptions we all have, let’s return to the film camp I initially mentioned where I shared a story about a friend of mine.

With the students at the film camp, I sought to take them to a place only their eyes had seen…

He was a tough looking, but old and weary man in his early fifties wandering around downtown looking for a place to sleep and eat and asking for the occasional handout. This man had once spent nineteen of his years behind bars.

At this point, I stopped and asked: What do you see? The general census from the students: Bum, lazy, worthless

I continued my story… When this man was seven years old, he began to be sexually abused by not just one family member, but all family members except for his mother. By the time he was twelve years old, he was often times locked in a trailer in his backyard for 2-3 days without  food. This launched him into a life in search of significance and trusting nobody. He was completely devalued at an early age by his own family. Living a life with no family and no sense of value led to a life of survival.

I stopped and asked: Now what do you see? Take my eyes there, and in doing so you unlock the frozen perceptions we had towards this man walking down the street looking for food and a place to sleep. Perhaps, what he was really looking for was acceptance, sense of value, and an identity.

Frozen perceptions are everywhere and we all have them. Just turn on the TV or walk down the aisle at your local grocery store. From marketing campaigns to hot topic current events, the perceptions we carry as consumers are being vied for. In using social media, you have the ability to identify what frozen perceptions society has towards your cause, issue, or brand. You can use social media to subtly unlock those frozen perceptions or reframe them in a way that shifts your community’s viewpoint.

In doing this successfully, you can essentially unlock that which has kept your audience from taking action. Unlocking frozen perceptions can propel a person forward by defining what he/ she is seeking to champion, or stop someone taking action based on what he/ she thought was truth.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) in Malaysia encountered a major problem when some of its employees at one location decided to tamper with the food and film it. Though corporate had been tipped off on the situation and had completed an internal investigation, turning over all evidence to the police, someone still leaked the video to YouTube. A frozen perception immediately took hold as a large outcry from the public ensued. Though this was an isolated event, and the employees had been dealt with legally, the public believed that if event happened at one location, it could happen at all locations.

The situation began to establish a frozen perception in the minds of the public towards the entire company. KFC Malaysia quickly reacted by utilizing social media tools to address the issue head-on. They quickly set up a landing page on their wildly popular Facebook page which included a written apology, frequently asked questions about the issue, and two videos in both their native language as well as English. On the video, the head executive of KFC Malaysia personally addressed the concern and apologized. This quick response using social media turned the growing tide of negative perception that KFC Malaysia food was unsafe. The company was able to break through the frozen perception and regain the trust of its customers. They even gained additional followers and fans along the way!

We all have frozen perceptions and so does your customer. Break through those perceptions as fast as you can to gain your customer’s trust and ultimately their business.

Questions to Ponder:

1) What are some frozen perceptions you have about the social media industry?

2) What frozen perceptions might consumers have about your industry? Your company?

3) Brainstorm some ways you could break those frozen perceptions and earn your customer’s trust.


Who you are will determine what you measure. #SocialMedia


Ironically, I got so inspired, I wrote an additional chapter which then made this chapter 37 and not 36.

Excerpt from my book Strategistics. Download ebook today by clicking here.

Who you are will determine what you measure. Did I say measure? I feel in light of all that we have discussed that it is important to spend a brief few moments discussing measurements. One of the best lessons I learned when running several retail businesses was the time I was asked to write an article on conversion rate.

After doing much research on our own conversion rate, I wrote my article on how to effectively look at conversion rate without getting overwhelmed. This article was stocked full of data supporting my theories.

(Click here to see the foundation of that article.)

A good friend and colleague of mine read the article and loved it. But then he looked at me, and challenged me to rewrite it. “But I thought you loved it?” I quickly asked with a confused tone in my voice. “This time, I want you to write this article without using numbers.” He replied. That was moment I got it. I understood the power of the parable. I understood that while some speak the language of numbers, others speak the language of parables. It was a difficult rewrite to accomplish, but in the end, it was a lesson I would never  forget when seeking to communicate objectives to people who are on the same team, but speak different languages. (Speaking left brained language to a right brained audience.)

Seeking measurement for one’s efforts is critical. However, what I find is that though many understand it to be critical, they sadly don’t understand how to translate the measurements or even the first place to look for the measurements. What are your objectives for your message? How will you measure your effectiveness? Will you measure it via any of these?

  • Viral transactions from engagement with your community
  • Overall size and growth of community
  • Reach of influence
  • Financial transactions via donation, purchase, or gifts in kind?

Of course, who you are will determine what you measure.

Are you a…?

  • Movement
  • Merchandise
  • Cause

For many , nowadays I see a combination of either all or two of these. In this case, let’s take a non-profit for example. As a non-profit with a cause to champion, in the end, don’t we truly want to see our cause go beyond something we call others to, and become a movement that others must now be a part of? How do we measure that?

Of course, we need eyeballs to see the message, be inspired by the message, engage the message, and share the message. But, if there is work to do, we also need to support the message and the work that we are providing that will bring solutions to that which we are seeking to solve. I recently spent some time with a large non-profit organization that works within the United States as well as internationally. In speaking with them, what I heard was this: We understand the effectiveness of social media How do we translate it effectively in bottom line numbers?

Reading between the lines, bottom line was code for how much it brought in  financially for the cause. To be honest, it is a fair question and nothing to be intimidated by. If we plan to spend additional resources on new media efforts, we need to ask the question, is it worth it? Again, who you are will determine what you measure. In this case, we can share all the data we want, but what does it all mean and is it moving the ball forward with regards to our overall objectives?

Continuing the discussion with this non-profit, we began to review the data we had available to us. In this case, we looked closely at our Google analytics for the official website not only for current data, but all data as far back as it showed as well.

We also looked at industry benchmarks to how other non-profits were using social media for their cause. I believe industry benchmarks are crucial as to best give one something to line up against. Do you know your industry benchmarks for the medium you are seeking to use? Often times, a simple Google search will lead you to various surveys that have been completed within one’s industry. Secondly, in reviewing analytics for their own website, I was eager to look at the last three years of data.

I do this because I wanted to establish benchmarks for their effectiveness. When running businesses, we would always look at the past three years when preparing our annual budget as to best establish benchmarks. This allowed us to best set our course to attainable goals based on historical data and not from mid air. This paid off two years after taking over a company once that previously had lost over $ 1,000,000 dollars in one year. Through effective benchmarking and goal setting, we were able to reverse that loss to over a $ 100,000 profit.

In looking closely at the data for this non-profit organization , we were able to establish our own benchmarks. This allowed us to set reasonable goals as well as be able to navigate ourselves towards reaching those goals.

What we found:

  •  1.07% of website visitors actually made a donation
  • The average website visitor donation was $ 200 annually
  • Social Media drove 12,000 unique visitors to the website in the previous year (that was all that was available.)

Based on those numbers and simple benchmarking, we can determine the following:

  • 1.07% of 12,000 unique visitors via social media is 128.4 people
  • If the average online donor gave $ 200 per year, that would equal $ 25,680 revenue from 128.4 people

Are you following me? What do your numbers look like?

Do you  know where to find your numbers? In knowing these benchmarks, I can then set some goals accordingly. I do this by playing “what if?” in a reasonable manner. If social media can improve its conversion rate for driving unique visitors to the website through strategically planned campaigns designed to lead people from ignorance to who we are, to ownership of what we are, then:

  • + 5,000 unique visitors times 1.07% times $ 200 that equals $ 10,700
  • + 10,000 unique visitors times 1.07% times $ 200 that equals $ 21,400
  • What if we maintained 12k visitors but improved conversion of donors to 2% at $ 200 per donor?
  • That equals $ 48,000 by converting only 112 more people per year.

At this point, it becomes all about architecting your infrastructure to reach these goals. How many campaigns are you running per year? Are they strategically designed and timed to help you meet your objectives? How will you know? What keeps you from knowing? To often we shoot from the hip until someone comes along with questions that cause you to both scramble and do a lot of Google searches . How can you adjust your overall strategy to help achieve your overall goals? Certainly, as we have discussed in this book, we know where we want to take people. But how will we know when we have arrived? Does one ever arrive? Have we established metrics along the path of our execution that will guide us on our way and help navigate us to that place we had sought from the beginning? How do others measure their effectiveness of use within the social media realm?

(* according to the non-profit technology network)

  • Site visitors
  • Reach
  • Audience feedback
  • Registered members
  • Conversions
  • User generated content
  • Revenue (fundraising)

Remember, who you are will determine what you measure. This is all encompassing.

  • Who you are
  • What are you seeking to solve
  • The cost of providing this solution
  • The cost of raising awareness around this solution

As I have said often times within the business world, if you don’t know your business, you will have no business. To properly set metrics for your message, cause, brand, or organization, one must know their “business.” This enables you to effectively set achievable goals that will lead to sustaining your “business” and therefore make life that much better for those you are seeking to provide solutions for. Let me say it again, measurement through the lens of who you are will determine what you measure.

I believe it is important to take this dialogue a step further. Often times within the world of social media, managers are asked to justify budgetary line items that pay for social media management and advertisements. These justifications are made to those who have a bottom-line view of profit and loss. As you have seen here, there are basic ways one can draw direct correlations from social media activity to the bottom-line through the lens of dollars and cents. In having these types of discussions, often a breakdown will happen when the person  overseeing social media and communication is unable to speak this business language because they lack experience .

This is not a knock on them, but rather an opportunity. They get to learn the language of their superior who speaks only in this way because of their years of business world experience. After overseeing several retail companies for a man who earned seven Master degrees, one thing was for certain, I had better learn the language of the profit and loss statement if I ever wanted to see more resources. Though the P& L statement was built based on line items for things like payroll, building lease, cost of product , etc., there were many components of the businesses not seen. These directly impacted the bottom-line and overall health of the companies I oversaw in a major way.

What were these components?

  • Customer Service
  • Overall aesthetics of the store
  • Cleanliness of the restrooms
  • Accessibility of the store to our customers

The list goes on and yes, I did say restrooms. I live in Oregon. In Oregon, one of the most visited tourists spots in the state is the Woodburn Outlet Mall. I once sat in on a marketing presentation there when they disclosed that in all of their surveys about the mall , the number one thing people commented on was the restrooms. And yes… they are immaculate restrooms at that. As this example shows, in the world of brick and mortar business there are so many unseen components not present on a profit and loss statement that definitely impact profit and loss.

So what are the unseen components on your analytics when seeking to translate data to dollars for your organization? I found this great list from Social ROE:

  • Efficiency
  • Reputation
  • Differentiation
  • Risk Reduction
  • Client Retention
  • Brand Association
  • Long Term Revenue
  • Environmental Impact
  • Economic Development
  • Opportunity Creation
  • Immediate Revenue
  • Perception Shifting
  • PR and Exposure
  • Client Education
  • Network Growth
  • Building Trust
  • Innovation

This certainly isn’t one size fits all, but I am certain one could pick out several items from this list and show a worthy investment was being made. The point here is that even though who you are will determine what you measure, that is often times only half the equation. The other half is convincing board members, investors, and the like that there is a return on investment with this new form of media. You may not see it directly in the numbers, but you certainly see its effects on the numbers. Reminds me of a quote Billy Graham once said. “I see the effects of the wind, but I’ve never seen the wind.”

Post Application

1) What are your objectives for your message?

2) How will you measure your effectiveness?

3) Will you measure it via any of these?

  • Viral transactions from engagement with your community
  • Overall size and growth of community
  • Reach of influence
  • Financial transactions via donation, purchase, or gifts in kind?