Social Media Videos – True or False? True or False image True or False image

In today’s world of social media and content marketing, authenticity may be hard to find.

So often, marketers today are encouraged to help their brands develop and share content across social media channels that best represents “the authentic voice of the brand.”  Is that really happening, however?

For example, consider this “73 Questions with Sarah Jessica Parker” Vogue interview that was recently shared on social media channels, including Facebook.

Maybe I’m jaded or too familiar with the inner workings of social media marketing, but I felt the whole episode had an inauthentic, contrived tone.

Don’t get wrong.  I like Sarah Jessica Parker as much as any other gal who came of age in sync with the successful Sex In the City series, but I was disappointed after viewing her recent social media video interview with Vogue.  Something just didn’t feel right about it to me.  I questioned Parker’s motives for being interviewed and wondered:  does she really want to share aspects of her life and home, or is she primarily concerned with promoting her personal brand and new shoe line, SJP?

What do you think?  Do you think that most social media videos being shared today by brands – Sarah Jessica Parker, Vogue, or otherwise – are misleading or inauthentic?  And, if yes, do you think these messages seem any more or less authentic, because these messages are being delivered in new digital formats rather than in traditional advertising formats, such as mainstream TV spots?

Do you think video promotions today, in new social media form, are different from the TV ads of yesterday, or, is everything old simply new again?  I wish I could ask some Mad men the same question.

Putting on the Spritz

readers closeup

a pair of readers

Fast times. Fast cars. Fast…you can probably fill in the blank, but would you choose the word, “books,” to do so?

Well, the technology developers at Spritz are banking on the fact that you and hundreds of thousands of others will be interested in reading books in a more quick and efficient way.

Have you heard about Spritz yet?  According to its website, the mission of the Boston-based startup is “to change the way people read and make communication faster, easier, and more effective.”  The company also states that it is focused on integrating its patent-pending text streaming technology into modern communications, such as websites, videos, photos and maps. The company’s trademarked tagline is: “Reading Reimagined.”

How does Spritz’s technology work?  Basically, the text-streaming technology helps you decrease the number of eye movements from word to word and sentence to sentence that you would normally take when participating in traditional reading, saving you time.  According to the company, when you are “spritzing” versus reading in the traditional way, you read text one word at a time in a special visual frame called a “redicle.”  You can check out Spritz’s video about the science behind their technology to learn more details about how “spritzing” works.

In my opinion, in a time when so many happenings, ideas and people are competing for our limited attention spans, our time is becoming more and more precious, thus more and more valuable.  I think time-saving technologies, like Spritz, are coming along at a very opportune moment, and it will be interesting to see the collective consumer response around the globe.

If you visit the company’s website, you can demo the new Spritz technology at the top of the home page or by clicking on the click to Spritz button on the “About Spritz” page.   When I tried “spritzing” on the home page, I chose a reading rate of 600wpm, and I was able to comprehend the message.  I think the new technology is beyond cool, and I’ve already begun to imagine how many more books I’ll be able to read when Spritz’s technology becomes more readily available in the future.

What about you?  Does the idea of speed reading appeal to you?  Or, do you prefer to “take your own sweet time” when reading books?  Are you ready to abandon traditional reading and give “spritzing” a try?

Replacing a Dream Ski With a Shoe

a snowshoe

a snowshoe

When I was young, I imagined myself cross-country skiing. Growing up in eastern N.C., snow was a rarity, so, looking back, I think my cross-country skiing idea must have been sparked by watching Winter Olympics coverage on TV.

Over the weekend, my childhood fantasy resurfaced, as I made my way up Snow King Mountain in Jackson Hole, WY. I didn’t tackle the mountain’s slopes with skis. Instead, I wore snowshoes. But, as I walked upward on the pristine, white snow beneath a gorgeous blue sky, I remembered my childhood dream. I even said to another person who was climbing beside me, “When I was young, I thought I wanted to be a
cross-country skier.”

After making the comment, I laughed out loud, but, I admit that a small part of me also felt sad in that moment, realizing that a childhood dream of mine had not been fulfilled at 30+ years out from its inception.

After leaving the mountain, though, my smile returned, because I realized that I had accomplished something that I’d never even dreamt of in snowshoe climbing. My inaugural snowshoe climb on Snow King Mountain was a fantastic, unforgettable experience. I will never forget how it felt and how “the view 
from the top” looked.

I’m sharing a picture that I snapped while on Snow King Mountain looking down at the town of Jackson, WY. I hope the picture and this post will remind you that God sometimes answers our dreams with unimagined, unexpected, yet, equally marvelous realities.

Snow King Mountain

View from atop Snow King Mountain, Jackson, WY


And The Most Dramatic Moment Goes To…

two movie passes

two movie passes

Today is Oscar Sunday – a day when members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences come together to recognize Hollywood movie actors for their acting merits and to celebrate all aspects of filmmaking.

Every year on this day, Hollywood’s spell seems to capture so many around the world, just like those poppies that Dorothy and her friends encountered in the much beloved American film, The Wizard of Oz.

What do you think about filmmaking?  Are you a fan of the movies?  If so, what genre do you prefer?  Action flicks, comedies or dramas?

It’s been said that the greatest dramas that the majority of us will face during our lifetimes are those surrounding these five events:

1-    Marriage;
2-    The birth of children;
3-    Life-threatening illness;
4-    Divorce; and
5-    Death.

Do you agree?  What have been the most dramatic, transformative moments in your life so far, and, where did those moments occur?  Did you experience drama in private or in public?  On the job or on a sports field?  Alone or accompanied by others?  In expected fashion or by surprise?  And, have the most dramatic moments of your life filled you with joy or angst?

One of the most dramatic moments of my life filled me with love.  I was not alone but was with two other people. I remember standing in the baptismal pool as a young girl and being dunked back into the water by my pastor who then lifted me back up out of the water.  I remember opening my eyes and meeting the tear-filled gaze of my mother, who stood just a few feet away, in front of me on the steps leading into the pool. No words were spoken between my mother and me in that most dramatic, moment – only love was shared, our love for each other and His love for us.

If it’s true that we’re limited to experiencing only three to four big dramas during one lifetime, then it’s no wonder why so many of us may turn to the movies or acting to experience a bit more.

I admit that I don’t mind a little drama in my life.  What about you?  Do you agree with me, or is your life filled with enough drama already?  Have you been humming Mary J’s tune, “No More Drama,” as you’ve been reading this post?

Reflections on Suffering

mirrored reflection in a bowl

mirrored reflection in a bowl

In his book, Catching the Big FishDavid Lynch includes a chapter on the topic of suffering and states, “It’s common sense: The more the artist is suffering, the less creative he is going to be.  It’s less likely that he is going to enjoy his work and less likely that he will be able to do really good work.”

Lynch goes on to state:  “Right here people might bring up Vincent Van Gogh as an example of a painter who did great work in spite of – or because of – his suffering.  I like to think that Van Gogh would have been more prolific and even greater if he wasn’t so restricted by the things tormenting him.  I don’t think it was pain that made him so great- I think his painting brought him whatever happiness he had.”

Do you agree with Lynch and think that the experience of suffering is one that can confine and hold you back from reaching your personal goals?  Or, do you think that the experience of suffering actually makes one stronger and more able to succeed?

I admit that I’ve leaned toward the Kelly Clarkson-song-lyric-approach to suffering, agreeing with her lyric, ”What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  For years, I’ve thought that Jane Fonda’sno pain, no gain” exercise motto could be applied to much more than exercise in life.

Of late, though, I’m starting to reconsider my long-held view on the role of suffering and challenge in life.  I’m beginning to wonder whether internal strength is only tested through suffering rather than strengthened by it.

What do you think?  Have the challenges that you’ve faced in your life made you stronger or weaker as an individual?

Consider the individuals highlighted in the article, “16 Wildly Successful Individuals Who Overcame Huge Obstacles To Get There.”  Do you think the challenges that they faced helped them to be successful, or do you think that they might have been even more successful otherwise?

Since life is full of challenges, all of us will never really know how successful or unsuccessful we might be without them, but it’s interesting to ponder how we might fare in life without suffering.

For example:  Who would Nelson Mandela have been had he never faced apartheid and been wrongfully imprisoned?  Who would Rosa Parks have been had she never faced racial segregation and been asked to give up her bus seat that day in Alabama?  Who would Beethoven have been had he never lost his hearing?

Like Lynch, I’d like to think that Mandela, Parks, and Beethoven would have been just as great, if not greater, as individuals had they never faced those famous challenges.

Yes, I’m beginning to think that challenges don’t serve to make us stronger but, instead, like a mirror, reflect our true selves, as strong or weak as we may be.

Draw Me A Bit of Extravagance, Please.

bath oils and brush

bath oils and brush

Have you ever heard of a bath concierge?

I was re-reading a November 2010 Palm Beach Illustrated article about The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, TN, and noticed the reference to the hotel’s bath concierge.

According to the article, a bath concierge is “on call to present you with an extensive selection of therapeutic bath salts and foaming bath oils,” or, “to draw your bath with rose petals, at your desired temperature.”

The services of a bath concierge as described in the article seem a bit extravagant, n’est pas?

According to Miriam-Webster online, the first definition of extravagance is “the quality or fact of being free or wasteful in the expenditure of money.” The second definition of the word is “an instance of spending money or resources without care or restraint.”

Extravagance.  What ideas first come to mind when you hear (or read) the word?  How does it make you feel?  I’d like to ask a few questions about the role that extravagance has played in your life to date:

How do define extravagance, and what are the extravagant things that you have experienced in life?

Do you think that extravagance and financial wealth are mutually exclusive terms or two things that must coexist?  

Do you think that extravagance and pretentiousness go hand-in-hand?

Do you think extravagance gets exacerbated in cloistered environments?

Can you experience extravagant moments while in the great outdoors?

Do you crave more extravagance in your life, or could you care less?

Have you ever created an extravagant experience for someone, and, if so, what was the experience like?

How many extravagant people have you personally known in your life, and were they forgettable or unforgettable?  Admirable or deplorable?

When I hear or read the words “extravagance” or “extravagant,” I’m generally amused rather than appalled.  Also, as a female, I certainly can’t ignore the plethora of marketing messages from retail marketers who often pitch their beauty products, jewelry, shoes and accessories as “extravagant” (ex. check out this Smoky Extravagant mascara and this Extravagant Berry lipstick).

And, speaking of…I have to admit, I’m a tanzanite fan, and I would have no problem slipping on these extravagant Tanzanite Heels by Stuart Weitzman.

What about you?  Does your extravagance shoe fit?

Trend Lines and Valentine’s

heart art

art with a heart

Many marketers today are using Google Trends to conduct simple, “at a glance” market research.

Even if you’re not working in marketing, though, you may still find the SEO-related online research tool fun and easy to use.

For example, this month is February, a month often associated with Valentine’s Day here in the U.S. as well as the color red. So, I just visited the Explore Trends portion of the Google Trends site and added the search term, “red,” to see how well that term has been trending lately.

The results page provided some interesting stats related to “red” searches:

  • Interest Over Time – the trend line showed the number of global searches with “red” since 2005, and I was able to discover that the most searches occurred during the month of May, not February, during the year 2010.
  • Regional Interest – Broken out by region and by city, this section of the results showed that the most users searching “red,” were found in the region of Croatia and the city of Boston.
  • Related searches – Broken out by topics and queries, I learned that Google visitors were also interested in the related topic, “red – color” and were also searching with the related queries, “red hot,” “red bull,” and “red sox.”

Considering these results, you can probably understand how marketers could use the Google Trends tool to conduct a quick assessment of how well the names of their products and services are resonating in the market.

What about you? Have you ever wanted to gauge the interests of those around you in a particular topic?

I’ve wondered whether Google may use the tool to see how its own services are trending. I just revisited the Google Trends site and submitted the search term, “google.” Glancing at the trend line on the results page, I think Google would be pleased.

And back to what’s trending during the month of February every year, though the search term, “red,” seems to be lackluster, the search term, “Valentine’s,” seems to continue to rule. Don’t just take my word for it, check out the trend line.

A Thank You for RTP

thank you note addressed to RTP

thank you note addressed to RTP

I feel fortunate to be a beneficiary of the Research Triangle Park.

In total, I’ve worked with three companies (IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, Cardinal Health) that have facilities in RTP and have worked with one company (SAS) that has its headquarters close by the park.

Why do I consider myself to be a beneficiary of RTP?

I could list my exposure to some of the world’s greatest technologies and corporate infrastructures, but I won’t.  Instead, I’ll tell you that I have benefitted the most from the relationships that I’ve formed through working in RTP with individuals from all over the world.

If I close my eyes, I can think back over my working years and instantly see IBM coworkers from India, Mexico, El Salvador, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Scotland, Ireland, Egypt, France, Spain, Australia, Russia, China, Japan, and Canada.  I can also easily recall my coworker friends from England and Venezuela who I had the pleasure of working with at GlaxoSmithKline’s RTP facilities.  I can see all of their faces, and I can remember many of their accent-laden words.

Through my acquaintance with all of these individuals, I’ve been exposed to the many different cultures of the world.  For example, my former Scottish coworkers at IBM got me to taste-test haggis, while a British director at GlaxoSmithKline educated me about “real football,” or soccer, that is.  Ironically, I was first shown the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi by a Japanese coworker at IBM, and I learned how fresh fruit is often served as dessert in El Salvador by a dynamo global customer services manager at IBM who hailed from there.

More important than learning about the foods and sports games that were popular in the native countries of my RTP coworkers, over the years, I’ve also learned about my global coworkers’ beliefs and world views, many of which have been alternative to mine.  Yes, through my interactions with my non-U.S. native colleagues, I’ve broadened my knowledge of the world, and I could not have done so without the existence of RTP.

Those who know me from my childhood might ask: how could a girl like you, from a small eastern N.C. town, end up married to a Spaniard who grew up in South America?  On the other hand, those who know me from my working days in RTP probably won’t question the likelihood of such a pairing.

This post is my small thank you to RTP.  Thank you, RTP, for broadening my outlook.  Thank you for introducing me to the different peoples of the world.  And, most of all, thank you for allowing me to experience so much of the world without having to leave the Tarheel state that I love.

Do You Have Discerning Eyes?

an unhidden letter

an unhidden letter

I’m not a huge fan of American author Edgar Allan Poe’s works, but his short story, “The Purloined Letter,” has always been a favorite of mine.

I like the “The Purloined Letter” tale, because of one of its themes: much can be hidden within the obvious.

Often we can look past things that lie, like the purloined letter that Poe wrote about, right in front of us, within our plain sight.  As Kubrick may have said, so many of us find ourselves walking through life with “eyes wide shut.”

Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” reminds us to look beyond the surface of our realities and to reexamine our perspectives and ourselves.

That reminder still resonates and is being perpetuated by authors today.  For example, American actress Drew Barrymore’s new book of personal photographs, “Find it in Everything,” reveals how she was able to find heart-shaped objects and patterns hidden within unexpected places and reminds us to look beyond the obvious to find beautiful, previously-hidden things.

Have you ever found something hidden “right before your very eyes” like Poe’s purloined letter?   Maybe a better question is: are you looking?

Besides Poe, Kubrick and Barrymore, another lad named Shakespeare also warned: “Our very eyes are sometimes like our judgements, blind.”

To end this post, I won’t be nosy and ask, “Who are you seeing these days?”  Rather, I’ll ask,   “What are you seeing these days?”

Are You Hiding and Seeking?

image of U

image of U

Since I was a young girl, I have found Russian Matyoshka dolls to be fascinating. I even have a Santa Claus version of a Matyoshka doll that I display annually at home during the Christmas holidays.

The concept that the dolls promote – the idea that there is something more inside each of us that may not be so obvious at a surface level – has always resonated with me.

For example, over the years, I’ve often been attracted to stories about individuals who take journeys of self-discovery, self-appointed or otherwise. Many of my favorite books and movies feature protagonists and central characters who discover previously hidden truths about themselves.

Often, the protagonists discover positive character traits, such as courage and fortitude.  Sometimes, though, the protagonists uncover less attractive personal traits and truths. From my perspective, each instance of self-discovery is equally compelling.

How often do you take the time to look within to find aspects of yourself that may be hidden to the world?  Do you think that conducting a “strip search of the internal you” is warranted?  Or, would you prefer to leave those aspects of you that lie beneath the surface of your daily interactions with the world hidden?

There are those who prefer to turn their individual focus away from self and towards others on the path to self-discovery.  Mahatma Gandhi was one of those individuals and famously stated:

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

I do strive to serve others but, when it comes to discovering more about “what makes me tick,” I think turning my focus inward from time to time isn’t a bad thing.  And, like a child who is examining a Matyoshka doll for the first time, I am often surprised by what I learn when I seek to discover more about who I am.

Besides Gandi’s quote, I also appreciate Hermann Hesse’s quote from Demian below:

“I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood whispers to me.”

How about you?  Are you playing a game of Hide-and-Seek with you?

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