Sunday, November 29, 2009


Dear Community,

This morning I went to Wal-mart with my mom. I'm leaving for Dublin today and was in need of underwear because I have a packing problem and always bring useless crap instead of things like socks and underwear. As in, I bought 4 pairs of running shorts (for Dublin in the middle of winter) and 2 pairs of underwear for a 10 day trip. Im an idiot.

Anyway. Here I am in the underwear isle there trying to decide if I wanted hot pink with stripes or teal with Hawaiian flowers (what happened to white?), something neat happened. All of the Wal-mart employees gathered and then some manager looking type (and by that I mean she was wearing a fake tie with her vest) started reading off Wal-mart sales information. Pharmacy was up by 14%, liquor was up by 7, floral by 3. People seemed eager to how their department had done. When manager type announced that the Miley Cirus line was up 23%, a women yelled 'I set up those displays'.

And then they did a Wal-mart cheer. As in, high school football, give me a 'W' style. That was weird.

But the meeting itself was really cool. I mean, come on, this is Wal-mart. People there probably don't think about their work as a 'career' but listening to them was a little bit inspiring. It would be easy to treat employees like 40 hour a week labor, but by making them part of the larger mission of the company, it not only motivated them, but it recognized their contribution to the success of the company. For a company that gets tons of flack for being terrible to employees, I was impressed.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Under The Sea

Dear Community,

I think people suffer from "career satuisfaction misatribution". (Maybe, if we all start using this phrase, people will casually throw CSM around at bars "ya total case of CSM- if you know what I mean", and wearing ugly rubber braclets with 'CSM awareness' printed on it- although I think the bracelets would have to be a gross tan color because its pratically the only color left that has not been claimed by some cause).

I digress. The point is, I don't think people understand why they like their jobs. I think most people would say they like their job because its interesting, or because they have a lot of responsibility- and while these are true, I think the reason we always forget is "the people I work with are amazing" (it should also be noted that, when we hate our job, we frequently think to blame lame people, but when we love it, its usally not returned).

Which brings me to these Sea Monkeys. My coworker in the office next to me gave them to me today. I always complain that I don't get mail (probably because I don't order things online) and so he put these in a box and delivered them to me. He actually does these things all the time. And, it wasn't until I was sitting around with all of my friends, complaining about the woos of being in your 20s and having a job that you didn't love- that I realized, these little jestures make me love my job. They really do.

I think we all want to be a part of a community where we feel appreciated- where we feel like people notice when we are not there. This is why people like responsibility- it gives us the chance to show up, do something great and have people notice. But what we forget is that you don't need responsibility to do this- you can just show up. You can let people around you know that you are thinking about them without them asking. And when this happens- its like magic. Magic because there is no apparent motivation, no explanation, its just kind, and for me, this type of kindness feels magical.

So I want to figure out how I can grow this magic in all of my communities. How I can inspire people to be kind and giving without a call or a demand, without a title or an incentive. Because it not only makes your job wonderful, it makes your life wonderful.

So cheesey, but so true.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dear Community,

The AdWords Help Forum just turned one! My friends think its weird that I talk about this online community in the same way that I would my small niece, but they just haven't managed a community before now have they.

To celebrate, I decided the most fitting thing to do would be to bake all of the forum members a cake. So this weekend, I settled on a pumpkin recipe because its fall, and forum kind of sounds like pumpkin, if you really force it:

This makes the cake look gross. But my stand mixer looks good, so I left the picture in.

Into the oven! It should be noted that I put the cake in the oven originally without turning the oven on. I kept thinking, man this is taking a long time to bake....

And it turned out! I frosted the pumpkin cake with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting. And I topped it with a candle- so you are all entitled to one wish. Ready- blow!

I know virtual photo cake is not nearly as delicious as the real thing, but I wanted to do something to thank all of you who helped make this forum grow over the past year. Maybe if you lick your computer screen, you can detect some of the fall flavors. Then again, people might just think you were weird...

Happy Birthday Everyone!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Anything you can do, I can do better

Dear Community,

I know it has been awhile since I posted. I have been busy. First there was the apple- bob competition (which we did blindfolded, after performing bat spins. don't ask), followed by a bake off, paired with a 2 liter soda chugging contest, a pumpkin carving competition and finally a pie eating extravaganza (and by that I mean, how fast can you shovel a pie in your face with no hands).

Its almost embarrassing to tell you this- outside of the bake off and the pumpkin carving, most of the activities make me sound like a crazed freshman in some bad fraternity hazing scheme. But, I'm not gonna lie, it was fun. Mostly because I am really good at chugging 2L of soda. Step right up, I'll take you down, sight unseen. It also turns out Im pretty good a eating pie with my face quickly. Who knew?

Which made me realize, its not so much about the content as it is about the competition. I love to win. If there was a how fast can you ingest plain white paper contest- Id be there. How long can you sit perfectly still on a bench? sounds like a blast. I can't quite figure out why this is. There were no prizes involved (except for the fact that I can remind people of just how fast I am at drinking huge quantities of carbonated soda) so it really is "winning for winning sake".

So, as a community manager, I think I need to create more of these opportunities for users to "win". Because, if you're like me, what starts as a "contentless win" turns into a real affection for the activity. Maybe forum wide soda drinking contests? Ready, go.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dear Community,

I'm a coffee drinker. Im also grossly impatient. If there were two lines- one with 10 people serving the most delcious treat and one with no line serving stale white bread, I would broably choke down the bread. Unless I could be banking online while inline. Which I would never do because I hate those people.

But there are a few exceptions. A bakery. And a coffee place- where I got the coffee pictured left this weekend. Both of them are incredibly slow. As far as I can tell, every employee there is required to have the attitude of 'i am in absolutely no hurry and if there is a 25 person line, I will probably slow down, because i can'. You finally get to the front to order and are sweating and angry and impatient and they give you this really slow smile and then take a good 30 seconds to ask you "what would you like"- which is a serious feat- thats like 7 seconds a word.

But I keep going back. I take my friends there. I tip them. And I have decided its because I know what to expect. You can't go there if you are in a major rush. And, as a result, for the most part, people in line are some of the chiller line waiters out there. And that makes waiting in the line better. Everyon has their first angry sweating experience, and then they either never come back, or they adjust. And take 45 minutes to get a cup of coffee. They bring a book. They chat with the other chill people in line. Hopefully the chat about how we should do away with the word 'chill'.

Its almost like the coffee place has its own little set of community rules. Everone is waiting an exhorbitant amount of time for (really good) coffee, but no one is upset. So the new commers get the idea that this is to be expected and they don't yell. Its the trickel down affect. The employees set a culture which the regulars pick up and pass down to everyone who visits.

At Starbucks, you get a free drink if it takes over 5 minutes. If someone calls corporate to complain about an employee they get fired. And, Im not sure it makes the customer happier- maybe just more entitled. Everyone there is always yelling- especially in the morning- especially if the clientell is wearing an outfit that cost over $250. These are important people who Starbucks makes feel even more important. And important people yell a lot.

My coffee place has decided that they are the important ones. Which is a unique customer service model in an age where everyone is trying to give us exactly what the customer wants. They make delicious coffee. And they know it. And you can wait.

And it would seem they are right. I can.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Problem With Incentives

Dear Community,

I really like this talk. It is given by the psychology professor at Swarthmore and I have made everyone in my life watch it. If you invite me over for dinner and there is a lull in the conversation, I will inevitable start in with "I was watching this amazing talk last week..." (this can be awkward when I start to go to dinners with repeat guest who wonder why I watch the video every week). So, if you are looking to sound like a total snob at your next social function (Lets face it 'I was reading this article in the Times' isn't going to cut it anymore), you should check this out. It makes you sound smart....mostly because he has a lot of really smart things to say.

Have a good week,

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Good service.

Dear Community,

My car got towed. Actually, it got towed (and impounded) twice. In 3 weeks. Part of me wants to spend the entire post regaling just how terrible it was (did I mention this happened twice) because Im a sympathy whore, but I'll spare you- don't let this keep you from lavishing the sympathy on though.

What I want to talk about is the people at the auto return place. It works kind of like this: you drive in California with a Colorado drivers license. The police pull you over and tow your car (you walk home). The towing company then takes your car to this third party auto return place where they immediately start charging you exorbitant fees for storage. If you want to get your car back, you go to this place and pay the exorbitant fees.

Which is exactly how I met "Ronald". When I went to pick up my car, he informed me it would $786.43. $786.43! Are you joking? For storing a car? And what the hell is the 43 cents for? The paper for "wait in line till your number is called" ticket?

I can't say I was nice to him. I was actually really mean. As if me yelling at him about how I actually was a great driver, with an impeccable record would cause him to suddenly break down and let me go with a lollipop. No luck. And no lollipop (although, its a great suggestion for a future customer service initiative).

And the truth is, Ronald was really nice about the whole thing. He told me about a similar experience he had driving across the country- which, at the times, being the self centered jerk I am, I responded to with "are-you-serious-this-is-the-worst-thing-that-has-ever-happened-to-anyone-ever-dont-even-try-to-compare-your-little-"accident"-to-my-life-altering-event". Which is too bad, because he was, in hindsight, a really good guy about the whole thing.

But all stories have a happy ending, because, as I explained earlier, my car was towed again a few weeks later. And who was there when I needed to pay another 700? Ronald! And, not wanting to make the same mistake, I was as pleasant as a peach. We were practically like college roommates meeting for a play date with our kids 10 years after graduating.

And here comes that annoying "conclusion" paragraph that is borderline pedantic. Some experiences just suck and its not supports fault. They are just the bearers of bad news. Which I rarely remember. Fortunately, I got to have the same terrible experience twice and correct my error. Lucky me.

Your favorite (now California registered) driver,

Monday, August 31, 2009

Pie In The Sky

Dear Community,

I made this pie. This is actually the pie before things headed really south. Its a pie in unbaked glory, full of potential, unaware that it is about to be totally overcooked/burned/complete destroyed in the fires of my hellish oven.

I digress. The important thing is that the pie didn't turn out (thats putting it kindly). And so all of my effort, that cute little heart that I spent 10 minutes cutting out and re-cutting out was for nothing.

And thats because all we care about these days is in the end product. How amazing would it be if you showed up with a disgusting burnt pie and people were delighted. What effort! What a labor of love! Who cares about the oven! But we're not like this.

Results are quantifiable. And because they are quantifiable they are easy to incentivize. We like to pretend that these incentivized results are reflective of effort, but, in so many cases, I'm not entirely convinced that they are. As long as we place a premium on results, effort will always be under valued.

And maybe the truth is that effort is not good enough. Imagine if you called up customer service only to hear "sorry, we really tried- gave it our best go, but we can't help you". If it were me, I would be irate. That poor person would have to listen to me rant about how worthless they were for at least 3-5 minutes. And then I would want to rinse and repeat with their manager.

That said, I think the problem here is that I don't trust the "we tried" statement. I think if I honestly believed that Mr. Cell Phone Customer Service Man had gone home and worried about my lack of reception, I would let him off the hook. When he announced that "he tried"- I would be appreciative- in the same way that I am appreciative when terrible cooks make a real effort (that is nonetheless disgusting).

So I think the answer is we have to get people to believe that we are actually trying- that we are doing everything in our power to help. And to do that, I think we actually have to try harder. Which means we can't just incentivize results- we have to figure out a way to incentivize effort. Because there will be times when we can't help and in those moments its crucial that we have consumer trust. It crucial that they believe that we did our best- that we tried.

Which is why I gave away the burnt pie instead of donating it to the trash. Because while its not a delicious consumable gift, it is a gift of time and effort and love- which, in my book, are just as valuable as the "result".


Monday, August 17, 2009

When Airlines Lose Your Bags The Best Thing To Do Is Yell

Dear Community,

A friend of mine (some of you may know him as AdWordsPro or AdWords advisor) sent me this article today:

I'm not gonna lie- Im not a big article reader. I bought the Economist for the plane ride home and got about a 1/3rd of the way through each article before eating peanuts and taking a nap. But for this one, I read the full thing. I even found myself emphatically nodding which I'm sure looked really weird- like something had gone very wrong with my neck.

For those of you who aren't big readers, the article boils down to this for me:

"When more people are qualified and willing to speak on behalf of the company at a moment's notice, you can get more done. You can draw customers into the dialogue, and solidify your role as a partner. It's a mistake to imagine that there is any other way to go about it. That's especially true in companies that have all sorts of responsible people working on hundreds of products in dozens of divisions".

Amen. As I was saying above, I flew home last week. While I was purchasing the Economist, my airline was busy losing my bag. When I landed, I had to spend 45 minutes interacting with customer support people who couldn't do anything for me. They had no information, no power to give me a voucher, no information about what kind of refund I would get for replacements I would need to purchase while the bag was missing. All they PO Box where I could "air my grievances".

If the airline had given these poor people actual power to interact with me, to speak to me on behalf of the company, the situation would have been totally different. Instead I yelled at them for 45 minutes, ruining both of our nights. Then to make matters worse, I lost the PO Box address, so none of my "grievances" got "aired".

Which is why I nodded emphatically when I read the article. And I suspect, if you read it, and have ever called a 1-800 number, you will find yourself doing as well.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Automation Nation

Dear Community,

This past weekend I went to Austin to visit my brother who has been doing a robot internship there for the summer. nerd. Id like to say that he really was interested in showing me his work, but I think the real truth is he wanted company for the 17 hour drive back from Austin to Colorado. About 8 hours in, I think he was really regretting the invite. I = not good road tripper. We invented planes for a reason.

Anyway, about 15 hours in and 1.5lbs of beef jerky later we came to Colorado's only toll road. Its a sweet toll road. One, because everyone is Colorado is to cheap to pay the $2 toll (they will literally drive 20 extra miles to avoid it) so you get the whole road to yourself but it also has the nicest toll operators ever. I'm not even impressed by "happy" customer service, but I would give these people a hug if there wasn't a metal booth in between us. 10am, really chipper. 3pm, really friendly, 2am- still smiling. They are all older, and by that I mean over 50 and, for whatever reason, they make me believe that they don't hate their job- which I really appreciate. Its become a thing in my family- all of our guests actually comment on how nice these people are on the way home from the airport. And then they mistakenly assume Coloradoans are all nice people (luckily we have Marylin Musgrave to keep that stat in check).

But this time when we went through the toll, we found that all of the toll collection had been automated. They take a picture of your license plate and bill you.

It's sad. Its faster. Its more efficient. Its actually really effective automation. But its still sad. I kind of liked talking to these people. I kind of like the "$2 please" interaction.

Which, of course, made me think about a lot of the automation that goes on a Google. There are a lot of Google users out there and to get to all of you, we need to have some automation. But as this happens we need to figure out a way to support and grow meaningful conversation and community around our products.

I think the key to maintaining these types of interactions is a reevaluation of authority. People want the advice to come from Google, but, you know what, your neighbor may know just as much as I do. Someone's blog on the Internet may have better advice. If you go to a conference, the person next to you may have amazing insight because her business is remarkably similar to yours.

And these kinds of interaction is what will save us from automation nation. It wont bring back my toll folks, but it reminded me that I like that kind of interaction and I should actively work to preserve in in my own life.

Over and out,

Monday, August 3, 2009

1,000 Push Up Challenge

Dear Community,

Starting today I am having a 1,000 push up challenge. Starting, you have 120 hours (5 days) to complete 1,000 push ups- 200 a day.

I emailed all of my friends with this challenge this morning- and the response was varied, everything from "Wow- I could use some push ups" to "What the hell? Who would ever do something like this? You're insane".

The general sentiment was one of confusion though. Were we doing them together? Was there a prize? How would the push ups be tracked? (Someone even asked if it was 1000 every day, or 1000 in 5 days. He's weird.) No, we weren't doing them together, there would be no prizes and everything was on the honor system. It's basically just a bunch of people doing a bunch of push ups in the same time period.

So whats the point then? Why not just do some push ups? Why email a bunch of people with the vague idea of an unrewarded challenge? I don't really know to be honest. Something about it just feels more fun. It feels more signifigant to do things with other people, even if you are only imagining these people doing the same activity. (Which, not to go all pedantic on you, but for all your geeks out there, this is where a shout out to Benedict Anderson should be inserted. I probably should have called it the Benedict Anderson Push Up Challenge, but I wans't sure that would actually increase the sell).

So far 10 people have vaguely signed up. And, as I'm doing my 8 sets of 25 push ups on my office floor, I think about those 10 people and I do all 25 instead of stopping at 9- which is where I am pretty sure I would stop otherwise.

Anyone care to join?

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Dear Community,

This is funny. If you do anything SEM related you 1) have probably seen it (Im not the hippest gal in town. It takes me a while to catch on) or 2) would really enjoy it if you did see it.

I am still looking for my camera cord, so I hope to have India pictures for you soon. But, the good news is, in looking for my camera cord, I found:

- my costume cigarette holder
- 2 extra earring backs
- a lost ski glove
- a roll of travel toilet paper (that actually wasn't missing. Im not even sure its mine).

All this useless crap almost makes up for the one thing I was hoping to find.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Home Agin Home Again

Dear Community,

The past few weeks I was in Hyderabad (pronounced, 'hy-dra-bad' not 'hy-der-a-bad') India visiting our office there. I was even organized enough to take pictures, which I will post, as soon as I am organized enough to find my camera cord.

But, in the meantime, I thought I would share one of the major lessons I learned while I was there.
Baking without a stand mixer is hard.
While I was visiting, I decided it would be a wonderful idea to make a real "American Treat" for all of my wonderful Indian hosts. At home, this idea of whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies would be relavtively easy. In India, not so much.

I wish I had pictures of this, but they are almost to horrifying to post, so I will just give you some of the highlights.

1) No baking soda. And, even better, try explaining what baking soda is.
2) No oven. I had the brilliant suggestion from my manager to use a microwave. Im guessing she doesn't bake that much. (It should be noted, that an oven was eventually found)
3) No chocolate chips. And then trying to explain why you would want chocolate "chipped".
4) No lables on canisters of white powders in the kitchen.

To save you the grusome details- the baking went down something like this. I chopped up giant chocolate bars to make chips, but because its India, and the oven is on, the chocolate melts and I end the project looking like mud monster from the lagoon. I then confused the salt with the sugar and end up adding 3 cups of salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Delicious. I ended the whole thing by filling the entire kitchen with smoke because I left these plastic trays in the oven that the cooks had been storing there. It was amazing. I was a giant sweaty mass of melted chocolate and smoke. Even the next day- post shower, I was discovering cholocate residue in the most unlikely places.

So I had to leave India sans delicious American treat- because it really was more like- "so salty your kidneys may shut down treat" (baked by an incompetant American). I told them the treat was not having to eat the treat.

Many more wonderful stories to follow.


Monday, June 29, 2009

What's Your Myers Briggs?

Dear Community,

A few weeks back, the Online Help Team did a personality type workshop. We structured our workshop loosely on the Colors framework, which is based on the Myers Briggs typology- the whole idea being, if you understand the strengths, weaknesses, motivations etc of your teammates, you will be a happier, more productive team.

The Online Help Team that sits in the US looks something like this

INTJ (me!)
(yes, we're a small team)

To be honest, I would have expected us to be more similar than we are, but, the great thing is, because we are do different, the division of labor is easier. The things I'm bad at, Andrew is really good. The things Allison is good at, I'm bad at. So essentially, Im bad at most things and my teammates make up for it.... But the division of labor thing is a nicer way of putting it. :)

I also had all of the Top Contributors on the Help Forum take the quiz to see their type-which, for me, was the most interesting of all. Again, a huge range of personalities, all attracted to similar work, but all approaching it with their own flare.

The full Myers Briggs test is long, but I found that this quick little quiz is pretty accurate when it comes to identifying your type. If you have a minute, its fun to see where you shake out. Anyone who ends up being an INTJ wins a prize :)


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yo Yoplait- Whats Up With This?

Dear Community,

On Tuesday I attended the BlogWell conference in San Francisco. In four hours, we ran through 8 case studies of big companies who use social media and, for the most part, are happy with it. That's a pretty reductive summary, but one of the takeaways is "people have short attention spans", so Im putting that into practice here.

The first session I went to was run by one of the marketing guys from General Mills who works on Yoplait Kids. As you may have guessed from the conference title, his job is to work with bloggers to generate buzz about his brand. More specifically, he conatcts "Mommy Bloggers" with information about Yoplait Kids, coupons, samples, prize packs, etc and then, the hope is, they will tip tap type away about how much Yoplaits' 60% reduction in sugar has saved their sanity. Or something like that.

A few things. I am all for giving voice to the customer- especially when this voice is handed to moms (who, in my opion, have historically got the short end of the marketing stick). But, as a blog reader, I really question the effectiveness of these endorsements. It seems too trasparent to me. Do you really love Yoplait kids, or do you love the fact that a Fortune 500 company is paying attention to your blog?

I ran into this a few months ago with one of my favorite blogs Coconut & Lime. The blog is beautiful- beautiful picture, great recipes, really good voice. Everything I have made from her site has been a smashing sucess. But then she had to go and start Food Maven. The point of this blog is to "shre food related thoughts, tips, and product finds"- light on the thoughts, heavy in the product finds. The blog is basically, buy this, try this, this is delicious, I love brand x, I love brand y. And yes, she even posts on Yoplait.

I unsusbscribed. I want engagement. I want to know how users are using these products. I want the back story on why they started trying them and, maybe even (gasp), what they didn't like. So, if you like Yoplait yogurt, I want to know the cool fruit salda recipe you made up using it. I want a picture of your kid throwing the yogurt all over your kicthen. I want more. More than just "this is so delicious. I couldn't stop eating it." Oh really? Because I'm pretty sure you could.

And this is what the conference missed for me. I think marketers are at the point where they know how to get on to blogs, but we are becoming savvier consumers. Any endorsement won't do. It has to be personal, and it has to feel personal. And I think the great thing about this kind of personalization is that it is hard to fake. If you really love something we will know, and we will buy it. Anything short of that won't work. At least not on me.

Happy Thursday,

Monday, June 22, 2009

Meet Allison!

Dear Community,

Meet Allison. If I had to give you one sentence about Allison, its that she loves SunChips. No, she loves them. You think 8am is to early for Garden Salsa crisps? Think again- Allison would tell you they are perfect with coffee. The office just wouldn't be the office if it wasn't for her background munching throughout the day.

When she isn't eating chips, she works on the AdWords Help Center where she manages everything from search to known issues. She loves Analytics (which is great for me because she is constantly saving my butt) and is dedicated to figuring out why all of you love (and hate) our Help Center. All around she's a pretty great gal.

Actually, that totally selling her short (which, by the way, she is pretty short). I love Allison, which, given that our desks are 2 feet apart, is a good thing. She puts up with my desk crap over flowing into her area and has this contagious laugh that really makes it impossible to be in a bad mood. Plus shes always doing ridiculous things like posing for this picture in her new jacket (which she is still accepting feedback on- hot or not?).

So next time you are using our Help Center, you can picture Allison, in her weird jacket, eating SunChips, trying to figure out how to make the landing page better or the contact flow easier. We tried to get her picture uploaded onto the Help Center homepage to make this visualization easier but the UI group wasn't down. They don't know what they're missing...

Happy Tuesday,

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bake Off

Dear Community,

Next week my team (Online Help) is having a cookie extravaganza. I don't want to ruin the surprise (you are probably all on the edge of your seat about now, waiting for a post) but I did want to share the amazing recipe that we are using for our cookies. For those of you who have been searching for the the all time best chocolate chip cookie recipe, I promise you, this is it.

More to follow next week....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Social Media Muddle

Dear Community,

Yesterday I went to this conference on Social Media. Given that I am not the biggest lover of conferences (somehow I always forget to take the sticky name tag off and it goes through the wash and ruins my clothes), this conference was pretty good. I think we are at a very exciting point in social connection and it allows companies to give their users more direction in the growth of their product.

But, I will say I left some of the sessions a little disturbed. At the end of the day, social media is about building communities- communities where people have real connections with other people in a way that allows them to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. And while technology has certainly assisted in the discovery of new, previously geographically bound communities, I think it might be making us a little lazy.

My brother's birthday was a few weeks ago and he found that people he had not spoken to in years were posting on his Facebook wall with well wishes. And the conclusion we came to is, despite the fact my brother never interacts with these people, they still feel connected to him, because they read his updates, look at his pictures, see that (thank god) he no longer likes Blink128. Which, on one hand is nice- because perhaps those people would have lost all touch had they not had Facebook. But, on the other hand, a lack of information (sans Facebook) might have motivated these people to make a real connection- to ask how their trip was, rather than seeing smiling pictures and assuming it went well.

I should fully disclose, I do not have a facebook account- Im actually kind of a hater in that department. I like hand written notes, and phone calls, and even more than that, I like visits. All things I don't think social media will ever replace. So my hope for all of these gung-ho social media-ites, is that we not forget the social interactions that inspire our online communities. That we always return to a core of human connection. Because its not about Twitter or facebook or Jaiku (The Twitter-esk product Google bought and no one uses) its about the people who use these platforms. And I would like to meet all of you- in 140 characters or less.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Desk

Dear Community,

This morning I was having coffee with a friend, and she commented that one's living space is really a reflection of their state of mind. If this is the case- I'm in trouble. This was actually my first thought when I came into work. My desk looked even more cluttered than usual. I tried to include some captions of all the crap I have strewn everywhere, but I took the picture on my cell phone, so they whole thing is pretty hard to read.

The funny thing is, I share an office with three other people (all of whom I hope to introduce you to someday) and it really is fair to say that our desks reflect our personalities. I have coffee cups everywhere, 6 pairs of shoes under my desk, gym clothes from weeks ago- tacky photo print outs people left by my desk to razz me. It really is a mess. Which isn't to say I'm a mess- more, hmmmm, I like to think of it is eclectic and zany. Along with fun, spontaneous, brilliant and incredibly attractive.

This is Andrew's (Online Help Webmaster) desk:
This kid is the most organized, highly motivated "get stuff done" person I work with. His desk always looks like this- which is to say, he didn't brush up for the photo shoot. He has ridden his bike 30 miles, had breakfast and gone through all of his email by the time I start picking through my desk coffee cups to see if one is clean. And, if we are going with the "you are what your desk looks like" theory- he really is like his desk- or something like that.

So, in an effort to "get more done", I am turning over a new leaf and setting a few goals for the desk space:
1) Only two pairs of shoes under the desk at once
2) Only 2 coffee cups on the desk at one time
3) Spend 10 minutes every Friday "tidying" things up

I'll check back with you in a few weeks so you can see if I have many any progress. And, for those of you that keep desks like Andrew's, I could use any and all advice that you have.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Fix My Mixer

Dear Community,

A few weeks ago I decided to make my very first tart. Whenever I go to bakeries, I always think they are so pretty, but I'm cheap so I usually end up getting my finger prints all over the case pointing at everything and then I promptly leave. So, being a lover of DIY, I thought making one was a good solution to my unadulterated cheapness.

Oh my lord. Tarts are hard. Hard hard hard. And, not to ruin the suspense, but I never actually came out with a complete product. What I did come away with was an undying love for KitchenAid. If it was legal in the state of California, I would have married the entire company on the spot.

It started when I put about 8 cups of flour into my somewhat new food processor. Apparently 8 cups is about 6 cups too much because I ended up covered in flour with a faint smell of something burning and a non functional food processor. This is why I love DIY.

So being the righteous consumer I am, it took me all of 3 minutes to dig around for the KitchenAid 1-800 number (on a Saturday non the less!!) where I called up Shirley or Sherry or Sheila or something (I'm easily forgetful in a rage) to rant about my newly broken gadget.

And just like that, she sent me a new one. She asked me about 2 questions, decided it sounded pretty broken and had a brand new one at my door in 3 days- and KitchenAid isn't exactly right around the corner from where I live.

This is the kind of customer service I want in my life. And, to be honest, the reason I was so impressed with KitchenAid, is because it is a rarity in most of my consumer interactions.

And this is what I spend a good deal of my time thinking about these days. Yesterday I called the 1-800 on my shampoo (!!) bottle and Karen answered in 30 seconds and we chatted briefly about the ideal amount of shampoo to use (that said, Karen said very few people ring her up). This is what I want for AdWords- not that you call me up when you have questions about your shampoo (Karen can help you with that), but that everyone feel that, when they have a problem, there can be some immediate (or reasonably immediate) resolution.

And, I don't have any real answers about how we move closer to this. AdWords isn't like KitchenAid, and it certainly isn't like shampoo. But, in the same breath, we are a product, purchased by consumers, and as long as I can get a new food processor in 36 hours, we have to realize that we exist in a support community where people demand a lot of their companies. And they should because we can do it. And I think we will.

I'm still looking for a good tart recipe, if people have any recommendations, send them my way.

The Panda Dilemma

Dear Community,

A few weeks ago I started posting a daily Panda picture on my Twitter stream. Its just a picture, no comments, no follow up on how to increase your AdWords ROI- just a rolly polly panda- sometimes even two or three of them. And, as I'm sure many of you Twitter fanatics do, I post the link to the pictures using a tinyURL so I can see just how many people also love pandas.

As it turns out- lots of people love pandas. In fact, Allison, who sits next to me (and who you will all get to meet in detail in a later post) asked that I post a video on AdWords optimization (a really cute video I will add) and to her absolute dismay- the pandas got more clicks than the video.

Which is why I am now sharing this blog with you, because its not that pandas are more interesting than optimization videos- its that we need both. You can borrow sugar from your neighbor because you feel like you know them. If you got a random bag of white sugary looking substance in the mail from some "weirdo" online, you would/should probably call the police.

And, while I know that we may never be sugar sharing neighbors (some of you health nuts out there probably wouldn't even want my sugar), I would like our online communities to move in this direction- where Pandas meet AdWords.

Which is a long winded wind up, simply to say: welcome to my blog.