Monthly Archives: April 2015

Zero Dark Thirty: Step Away From Your Cell Phone

By: Dallas J. Short

The NBA Playoffs are back and I’m sure you are just as shocked as I am that my Philadelphia 76’ers somehow did not make the cut. While many are convinced this year’s champion will be from the Western Conference, that has not stopped one of the league’s best from continuing a tradition that has helped him #StriveForGreatness.

LeBron James is once again on his “Zero Dark Thirty” social shutdown. No phone, no Facebook (21.5 million), no Twitter (20.7 million), no Instagram (9.6 million), it’s radio silence from the 4-time MVP. He started this in 2012 postseason, one year after he and the Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. He says he only needs to talk to his family and his teammates. He’s locked in and focused on bringing the trophy home to Ohio.

Forbes.com has an article “30 Reasons to do a Digital Detox” and #19 “because it’s a challenge” is also one of the reasons LeBron gave. I’m sure King James’ bigger reason is to avoid distractions, trolls and negative comments, but who doesn’t love a good challenge every now and then.

Though I probably have as much chance of getting an NBA Championship ring as my Sixers do, I think a digital detox can be beneficial for anyone. That break free moment of ceremoniously throwing your phone into the ocean, taking a deep breath and inhaling the beauty of the world around you. At least, that’s how I picture it in my head. In reality, I make deals with myself. “I’ll only use my phone as an alarm clock.” “I’ll only reply to texts.” “I’ll just check it for e-mails.” “I’ll do it next weekend.” There always seems to be something that stops the disconnect. We focus on captioning the moment instead of capturing it. LeBron’s won back to back championships and continues to make the finals, so it’s definitely working for him. The super busy, super productive and super successful Arianna Huffington is also big on digital detoxes.

Here are a few other reasons Forbes listed on why to do a digital detox.

  • To give your brain a break from digital processing. Information overload is a serious issue. Recharging is healthy.
  • To see things clearly, make better decisions, and find a more productive way to do things when you return.
  • Once you switch off, time seems plentiful (compared to the version we tend to race against most days).
  • To have in-depth conversations that meander and make you think and bring up questions that aren’t answered by the Internet.
  • You’ll carve out space to think deeply, connect to yourself, and connect to the people around you.

So let’s do it this weekend. I’m in and up for the challenge.

Are you addicted to your smartphone and social media? Have you ever tried a digital detox?

As always, I welcome or comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

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Bryan Price Takes on the Media

By: Gina Mason

Professional sports have changed in many ways over the last few decades. From instant-replays to pace-of-play and heads-up tacking rules, all aspects of pro sports are now under a microscope and aggressively dissected by their respective leagues, officials, media and the public. Thanks to the invention of fantasy sports and our tech-savvy culture, the way we consume and talk about sports in general has changed drastically. The media and the public now expect a lot more out of coaches and players than ever before and coaches especially are put in the hot seat all of the time and forced to provide reasoning for every decision that they make.

From my experience working with a professional baseball team, I have witnessed this firsthand and truly applaud the players and coaches (and the staff that media trains them) who have been able to maintain their composure and confidence in the spotlight. For those of you who don’t really know much about baseball, the media gets an incredible amount of access to the players and the coaches behind the scenes. There is usually a press conference before and after each game with the manager, reporters are allowed in the locker room before batting practice, allowed on the field during batting practice and back into the locker room after the game. From a media standpoint, this is fantastic and it at allows reporters to get a great deal of insight from the team and provide fans with the insider scoop that they crave. However, this constant access can also put a lot of pressure on the players and the coaches as they constantly have to be ready to face a media firestorm.

Last week, the media scrutiny became all too much for Cincinnati Reds manager, Bryan Price. During a pre-game interview, Price unleashed his welled up emotions on the media after a reporter wanted to know why All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco was not with the team for a game in St. Louis. Price blurted out 77 “f-bombs” during the five-minute, 34-second expletive-filled tirade and he targeted the media for breaking a story about the catcher the night before. “I don’t know what the importance is for everyone to know if we have a player that’s not here,” Price said. “We don’t benefit at all from the other teams knowing we don’t have a player.”

Call it pent up frustration or a moment of insanity, Price went on questioning the way in which the media behaved and why they have to always know everything, “I don’t get why it’s got to be this way. Has it always been this way where we just tell f****** everybody everything? So every f****** opponent we have has to know exactly what we have. Which f****** relievers are available, which guys are here and which guys aren’t here, when they can play, and what they can do. It’s nobody’s f****** business. It’s certainly not the opponent’s business. We have to deal with this f****** b*******.I like to talk — and I have spoken as candidly as I can with you people, if that’s not good enough, I won’t say a f******thing. I’ll go, ‘yes sir, no sir.’ And I can do that. But f***, I’ve been as candid as I can f****** be about this team and our players, and we’ve got to deal with this s***, every f****** team that we f****** play has to know every f****** guy that’s here and what they can and can’t do? F*** me. It’s a f****** disgrace. I’m f****** sick of this s***. It’s f****** hard enough to f****** win here to have f****** every f****** opponent know exactly what the f*** we bring to the table every day. It’s f****** horse****. I don’t like it. It’s what I’m saying. To make it very clear, I don’t like the way that this s***’s going — at all. I don’t like it. I don’t think you guys need to know everything. And I certainly don’t think you need to see something and tweet it out there and make it a f****** world event. How the f*** do we benefit from them knowing we don’t have Devin Mesoraco? How do we benefit from that? They benefit from it. I just want to know how we benefit from these f****** people know we don’t have a player here. Can you answer that? How is that good for the Reds?

Price definitely struck out with his delivery and I am sure the Reds PR team stood there in horror witnessing a verbal car crash in slow motion. However, many are saying that despite his foul language, Price’s message was not that outlandish. The necessity of knowing everything at all times in real-time may be taking away from the game and is putting too much pressure on the players and coaches, not only in baseball but in all sports. While some feel that as a professional athlete or coach, you waive your right to privacy and must address your critics daily.

I tend to agree that the public doesn’t need to know every single thing that is going on with each and every player at all times and that he does have a point that it can somewhat take away from a team’s competitive edge. However, I will say that as a manager of a professional baseball team, addressing the media is part of his job and he is getting paid a lot of money to do so. I would highly suggest that he should consider a few more media training sessions after that fiasco.

What do you think of Price’s rant? Do you think it was justified?

To hear all five minutes of Price’s rant, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wROe2dzJDqY

As always, I welcome your like comments and if you what you read be social and share.

Secrets from Shark Tank’s Daymond John

By: Gina Mason

As embarrassing as it may sound, I must admit that many (most) of my Friday nights are no longer spend out at the clubs, but rather at home watching my favorite show on ABC, Shark Tank. Call it my interest in the entrepreneurial spirit (or lack of a social life), I just cannot get enough of the wheeling and dealing that goes on during the show. Outside of some of the ingenious ideas that people come up with, I am absolutely fascinated with the thought-process and negotiating skills of each “shark.”

Due to my obsession with the show, I recently read an article on Inc.com that recapped a speech that business mogul and Shark Tank star, Daymond John did during an Inc. GrowCo conference in Nashville and I wanted to share some of his wisdom. I find John’s story to be the most inspiring out of all of the sharks and applaud him for all that he has accomplished.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with John, he created a clothing empire that started with his handmade line, Fubu. John is the epitome of a rags-to-riches story as he was raised in Queens by a single mother who worked three jobs to provide for the family. Using the sewing skills his mother had taught him, he started making clothing in his mother’s apartment and selling it on the street. After a lot of hard work and hustling, sales for his hats and shirts took off and today he is worth over $250 million dollars.

Thanks to Lindsay Blakely’s recap, here are a few of the secrets for building your business that John shared at the conference:

Act bigger than you are.

“John realized early on that although he knew he wanted to be a part of hip-hop culture, he couldn’t sing, dance or produce music. But he loved fashion. Dominating the hip-hop clothing business became his one and only focus. “I couldn’t hit a target I couldn’t see,” he recalls. The only problem was that he had no money and no knowledge about how to start a fashion company. So he did what many enterprising entrepreneurs have done before him: He faked it until he made it. The first step was getting the right people to stand behind the brand.

John made 10 Fubu shirts and using his connections, showed up wherever influential rappers would be–often at music video studios or as was the case with LL Cool J, his house. He charmed them into trying on the shirts, snapped their photos and then took back the shirts. Fubu still wasn’t a real company with real merchandise, but after two years the brand looked huge, John says–or at least, it looked like all of the cool hip-hop kids wore it.”

Win on scrappiness and savvy.

“John eventually learned that anyone who is anyone in the fashion business needs to show up at the annual Magic Show in Las Vegas, a trade show for clothing manufacturers. He couldn’t afford a booth or even a ticket. So he and a few friends turned a room at the Mirage hotel into a makeshift showroom. John sneaked into the convention and persuaded buyers to make a trip over to the room. By the end of the show, he had closed $300,000 in orders. Fubu later went on to sell, with the help of a distribution deal with Samsung’s textile division, $30 million of clothing in three months.

Or there was the time that LL Cool J was slated to appear in and write the lyrics for a Gap ad. John persuaded him to show up for the shoot wearing a Fubu hat and rap about the brand. (If you listen to the lyrics closely, he mentions For Us By Us, the tag line behind Fubu). The way John tells it, Gap had wanted the rapper to help the clothing line break into the hip-hop market. But after the ad aired and then re-aired, Fubu was the real winner behind the deal–revenue climbed to $400 million. Not a coincidence, the entrepreneur says.”

Remember: You are the brand.

“If you’re an aspiring Shark Tank contestant, this tip is for you. John says one of the most important things you can do to set yourself up for success when you pitch your company is to come up with two to five words that define you as an entrepreneur. “If you don’t know what you stand for, you leave it up to us,” he says, referring to the other sharks on the show.

Speaking of those sharks, whatever you do, learn what each shark is looking for. “After six years of the show, I have no idea how people go on Shark Tank and they don’t understand what the sharks want,” he says.”

I think John not only offered some great insight, but also some incredible inspiration for the aspiring or up-and-coming entrepreneurs out there. He defied the odds and truly created his own success by following a dream, working hard and taking advantage of the right opportunities.

What did you think of his tips?

For those of you who want to catch up on the latest episodes of Shark Tank, visit: http://abc.go.com/shows/shark-tank

I welcome your comments and as always, if you like what you read be social and share.

Hey, I’m Here! 10 Tips for Live-Tweeting

By: Dallas J. Short

YourDictionary.com defines live-tweeting as “posting on Twitter during an event in an ongoing way,” while that seems basic enough, there is much more to it than that. Live-tweeting gives your live event a life in the digital world. It expands the reach of your event and allows attendees and non-attendees to both be involved and engage with you. I’m a fan of live-tweeting, both at our own events and also following along with sporting events and television shows. Here are ten tips I came up with that could help you with live-tweeting from your next event.

1) Pound it! The #Hashtag is key, it will be the way people follow along and helps stream the information. Pick a short and applicable hashtag and make sure you let people know what it is. When you promote the event beforehand, include the hashtag, so people who cannot make it know they can still follow along. You need to promote the hashtag heavily the day of the event and you should have the hashtag on promo materials around the event as well. You want others engaging, adding to and using it as well. Every live-tweet you send about the event should include this hashtag.

2) Solo mission! It will be most effective if you have only one person tweeting from the event. It helps define the voice of the live-tweets and gives it a personality. You do not want a lot of people from your organization tweeting from the account, it will seem disorganized, all over the place and hard to follow. One person handling it right gives it more life.

3) Sharing is caring! Tweet out pictures and videos during the event. You want people to see what they are missing, without making them feel left out. Yes, you want photos of the layout, what’s going on, speakers and celebrities in attendance. You also want to include people attending, be sure to tag @ them as well. They will more likely be faster to tweet, favorite, retweet and will include the hashtag, helping your event’s live-tweeting presence grow.

4) Insider info! Including behind the scenes looks and tweets not only makes non-attendees feel like they’re “in the know” and receiving exclusive information. It also gives attendees a reason to follow along with the live-tweeting, because they are already aware of what is going on in front of their eyes and you are basically taking them backstage and behind the velvet rope.

5) Live in the moment! You and your event have a purpose, a mission and a message you want to get out there. This message should be pushed before the event, at the event and after the event. However, this message should only be sprinkled throughout your live-tweeting. You do not want to appear robotic, people follow live-tweeting like they are there hanging out with a friend. If your friend just kept repeating themselves all day, you would look for a way to ditch them. Don’t get ditched. I would suggest you have those “mission/message” tweets scheduled already (Hootsuite, etc.,) so the person live-tweeting can focus on the live event conversation and not get distracted by making sure they hit the certain number of “required” purpose messaging.

6) Don’t drop the ball! If the conversation and engagement are flowing, there is not a limit on live-tweeting. Keep it going and keep it growing, the more the merrier. If it is not flowing, you do need to make sure you are not pushing the issue. Having some slow moments or downtime is not the end of the world. You should never just stop live-tweeting though. Finish out the event. Do not make people wonder why it stopped? What went wrong? If someone was not there and searches the hashtag after the event and it just goes silent, it will raise red flags and could prevent people from attending in the future, if they perceived the quietness as an unsuccessful event. Give it your all, start to end.

7) Tune in, tune out! If you end up with a heckler or someone who is going out of their way to bash your event for no reason, ignore them. Do not waste your tweets sending out dislike or negative feelings. If someone has a concern or an issue it is alright to address that to clear up a problem or confusion. The majority of people are following your tweets and using your hashtag like they are tuning into their favorite television program and they want to be involved. They care about what is going on and what you are sharing with them. They do not want to follow a hashtag thread that looks like a bad, bickering reality show and miss out on the fun and happenings of the actual event.

8) Respond, react! You might not be able to follow the entire hashtag thread of what others at the event are saying, some of it might not even need you to respond, and it will just be people using your hashtag. Do look for questions that you can answer, positive interactions to favorite and retweet. Tweet at and acknowledge them. Making people feel involved and valued is key to the live-tweeting success. I would also suggest asking some type of questions (that relate to the event) to increase engagement and conversation. If something happens at the event, react to it, but there is a great chance that others will be reacting (and with the hashtag) as well.

9) The show’s not over! After the event, go back and follow up on any important questions and comments you might have missed from people during the live-tweeting. People understand that things get busy and chaotic, but making sure people feel appreciated and their comments did not slip through the cracks (after the event) will show them you do care. Go back through your own posts and see what received the most comments, the most favorites, the most retweets and also look at which ones didn’t. Keep that in mind when live-tweeting at your next event to be even more effective and engaging.

10) Try Again! You could have a great event, full of great people, great fun, everything’s great, except your live-tweeting never caught on. It is ok, sometimes an approach just will not catch on. Do not give up, try live-tweeting again at your next event and figure out new attempts that might work for your crowd. There is not a cookie-cutter way for everyone, you will need to know your audience and tailor your tweeting to have them interested. If you have an event where live-tweeting took off, it is not automatic that your next one will too. Stay focused and keep trying. More times than not though, live-tweeting leads to higher engagement and followers.
There is always the chance live-tweeting is not appropriate or will not benefit your event. There is a chance that you would have better results if you tweeted more from a news reporter/journalist point, as opposed to being a fun, event-goer. Know your audience, trial and error, live and learn. I hope these tips can help you out with your future live-tweeting and always remember to charge your phone and have an extra battery.

As always, I welcome any and all comments and if you like what you read be social and share.

Elements for the Perfect Logo

By: Gina Mason

What do Nike, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, BMW, ESPN and IBM all have in common? Well, besides being on Forbes 100 Most Valuable Brands List, they all have very distinctive logos that can instantly be recognized by millions of people all over the world. Logos are incredibly powerful and they not only dictate brand loyalty, but they can also dictate the success of a company. From a branding perspective, having a great logo is absolutely imperative if you want to stand out amongst your competition and appeal to your audience. However, coming up with that perfect logo isn’t always so easy. For those of you who are looking to create a new logo or rebrand, here are a few elements to keep in mind:

Aesthetically Appealing
Just like anything else in life, first impressions are extremely important especially when trying to make your logo aesthetically appealing to your audience. A good logo will trigger positive emotions in your mind and is more likely to create brand loyalty while a bad logo will do the opposite.

Relevancy
Your logo is your calling card and must be relevant to your audience and your industry. Your logo should be a visual representation of your business objectives and should speak directly to your audience. MagicDust Designers warn, “avoid unnecessary elements that may be visually pleasing but don’t support your message.”

Simplicity
Some of the best logos are simple (i.e. Nike “Swoosh”) and an understated logo isn’t always an understatement. Some of the most powerful logos in the world are incredibly simple and their simplicity make them extremely effective (GE, Apple, Disney). MagicDust Designers suggest, “Flat shapes, bold lines and clear type are hallmarks of simple logos that never run the risk of appearing busy or worse, confusing.”

Versatility
A good logo has to work well on a number of different platforms including the web, collateral materials and ads and this is not always something people account for in the planning process. The font should be balanced and readable at any size. Also, don’t forget about choosing the right colors. A full-color logo may not translate well to B&W or print as well on different types of paper so keep that in mind as well.

Timelessness
According to Huff Post’s Bianca Rothschild, “a good logo withstands the test of time. It may need some touchups to keep it fresh and prevent it from looking dated our out of style, but that’s all it should require. Changing your logo when it already has memorability in place is bad for your branding. You want one logo that works for as long as it can.”

Creating a great logo can take a lot of time and effort, but is it all worth it in the end. Don’t get discouraged and don’t be afraid to ask for several opinions. Speaking of logos, what to test your logo knowledge? Check out this logo quiz here: http://www.creativebloq.com/logo-design/quiz-can-you-guess-logo-1012976

I welcome your comments and as always, if you like what you read be social and share.