20 years from now, anyone who is a Mariners fan will remember how they watched Felix Hernandez dispatch the final 3 Tampa Bay Rays to pitch the 1st perfect game in team history. This video from the Jackson General, the Mariners AA team, is tough to beat.

The Reach of a Tweet

So I work in social media.  I teach some social media.  I play around in some social media channels.  I own a blog with my own name as its url simply so I show up in Google searches.  Through all these years playing around in social media as a profession, I’ve never really made it a huge focus of my personal life.  Maybe I’ll make a connection here or there.  But nothing substantial.

And yet today, a simple tweet seemed to strike a chord with people.

All day long Occupy Seattle mayhem shut down streets downtown.  People couldn’t get home from work.  Rogue anarchists broke windows.  Children couldn’t be picked up from school.  Store clerks feared for their safety.  Middle class parents – and their bosses – had to figure out what was best for their kids, their businesses and their co-workers.

I was unaffected by the chaos despite being right around the corner from it.  I took my wife home from her surgery but thought to myself, “Thank God this mayhem didn’t affect us getting to the hospital, or home from it.” I tried to rid my mind of thoughts of how angry I would be if I was stuck in traffic due to a protest, while my wife sat groggily in pain in the passenger seat of our car.

I scanned the Twitter stream and noticed that people who supported OWS had lost patience with OccupySeattle.  OccupySeattle wasn’t about a revolution anymore.  What started with good intentions but no real purpose, had transformed into an incubator for people with negative intentions and directed purpose. The movement had created a dark side, or at least allowed the dark side to breed.

And so I said:

Dear #OccupySeattle. The 99% has gotten together & decided we need better representation. Thx for the effort.  Good luck w/ future endeavors.”

It was exactly 140 characters.  My point was pretty clear.  Whatever goodwill the original Occupy movement had generated had been pretty much decimated here in Seattle.  The most liberal town in America was saying, “WTF are you guys doing? You are totally destroying this.”

Meanwhile,  my most nagging thought as I hit “Tweet this” was whether I should be using “has” or “have” for the verb.  I was out of characters, so I went with the former. It was a quick line, and after I sent it, I had all but forgotten about it.

A few hours later, it’s become the most retweeted thing I’ve ever sent out. For the first time ever, I started trending in Seattle.  People we retweeting this because they agreed with the sentiment.  And yet two tweets back at me stand out:

To the 1st repsonse I counter, “I agree. To the normal everyday 99%, the rogue hooligans have nothing to do with OWS.  However, Occupy Seattle has little to do with OWS as well.  Somehow OccupySeattle has developed an identity of its own, and not in a good way.”

The 2nd response made me realize I had struck a nerve with some folks.  I run a small business, invest in a startup and teach at a University.  I enjoy creating commerce and inspiring others to do the same.  More commerce means more transactions.  More transactions means more jobs.  More jobs means more wealth for everyone.  But to this person, I was simply “snarky.”  Trying to build small businesses and encouraging entrepreneurship isn’t enough. I’m evil because I don’t want to join or represent a revolution with no goal or purpose.

It will be interesting to see if this tweet fades away into the night as May Day passes.  Maybe more and more people will agree with the sentiment and retweet it.  Or, will we see more of the negative side of #OccupySeattle come out tomorrow.   Either way, it’s a great social media lesson in progress.

A Debate – What is Appropriate Fan Behavior at a Bar

This blog has been a lot of things over the years. Of course, it’s also NOT been a lot of things over the years.  But, it has always strived to be fair.  If we criticize someone for absurd behavior, we’ll turn the focus on ourselves if we commit the same behavior.

I’ve probably made fun of fans of other colleges at some point, so I thought I’d use an example from Saturday’s Elite Eight Game to spur some debate and show I can be fair.

The setup: The Ballard Loft is a very UA friendly bar.  And Saturday the Seattle chapter of the UA Alumni Club gathered to watch the Cats vs UConn game.  I’d estimate there were at least 75-85 Cats fans upstairs.  Now, I don’t spend a lot of time with this group.  But suddenly all of the UW fans I usually watch hoops with lost interest in the NCAA Tourney.  (I can’t imagine why.)  And it was the biggest UA hoops game in the last 5-6 years, so I needed to surround myself with supporters.  Btw, this is what makes sports so great.  The ability to show up and have a common bond with total strangers.  But I digress.

So imagine this scene.  You have a crowd of 75-85 energized UA basketball fans, decked out in UA gear, drinking beers, watching the game, cheering when appropriate and feeling anguish simultaneously….. And you have one guy in the corner.  He has a pom pom.  Every time UConn has the ball, he is shouting “Defense, Wildcats Defense.  Defense, Wildcats Defense.”  Every time Arizona has the ball he runs through one of his pre-programmed 4 or 5 A-R-I-Z-O-N-A cheers.  He is desperate to have the other 75 of us join him, but we’re watching the game.  Now every once in a while, the group of 6 people in the back would start a cheer and everyone would join.  And Wanna Be Wilbur would beem as if the crowd was “finally getting it.”  Then he would start up again and we’d all ignore him again.  Rinse, wash, repeat for 39:00 of basketball.

The suddenly, with a minute left, Wanna Be Wilbur and his buddy actually turned on the crowd.  And I submit that this is why UA lost that game.  In a tight ballgame with everything on the line, as every other UA fan in the bar – hell in the country – nervously wondered what would happen next and frantically shared with each other what we though would happen, Wanna Be Wilbur started YELLING AT US.  He told us how bad of fans we were for not cheering with him.  He kept up with how lame UA fans were at this bar.  How he couldn’t figure out what he was doing with such lame people.  The poor schmuck seemed not to realize that we were in Seattle, about 1,200 miles from the stadium, and that no matter how loud we cheered, Derek Williams was NOT going to hear us.

If you were at the Loft on Saturday you saw 75 drinking, cheering, excited UA fans enjoying a great basketball game.  You also heard an incredibly annoying UA fan yelling at his colleagues for not joining his one man Pom Squad.  The annoying UA guy broke all fan protocols by yelling at other UA fans.  I’d make fun or Oregon, UW, WSU, Duke, or Notre Dame if they had a fan who pulled that kind of behavior, so I have to make fun of us as well.  

So my debate question – If you are at a bar watching your team play a game, are you less of a fan if you don’t chant and sing at the TV screen, even if one guy in the corner holding a pom pom is begging you to? I say there’s appropriate stadium behavior and appropriate bar behavior.  Objections?

“Targeted” Marketing

Not joking here – I actually heard this ad on Sacramento radio after NFL football on Sunday evening.

“Acme Store (can’t remember real store name) wants to remind you about California’s 10 day waiting period to buy firearms.  So if you are purchasing a handgun for a Christmas present this year, and want to have it wrapped by Christmas Eve, remember that you’ll need to complete your purchase by December 14.  

Remember, ammunition and other supplies are not subject to the 10 day waiting period.  But to make sure you complete your holiday list in time to put everything under the tree, make sure you come in before Dec 14.”

Now, there was more ad copy here, but for obvious reasons, my brain was not able to concentrate any further… Definitely my favorite ad of the month.

Intentional Acts of Destruction

A friend of mine recently told me, “Your blog sucks.  If you aren’t going to write about business, then you need to write about personal stuff.  Otherwise, what’s the point?”

Now, I didn’t want to get into a debate of the value of SEO and owning your own brand name, so I took the point to heart.  So this post gets a little into a little bit of personal opinion on business.

I’ve waited a long time to write about this, mainly because I don’t want to embarrass anyone, and I want to keep the players in this story anonymous.  I’ve worked at a lot of places, and as a consultant I’ve been inside a number of organizations and groups, so I’ve changed some characteristics in order to hide the true identity of the players here.

Let’s begin.  I was recently told a tale by a long time colleague of mine.  This colleague wove a story about sharing drinks with an ex-coworker of mine, who likely didn’t know the two if them shared a connection with me. My colleague was caught off guard when this ex-coworker said something along the lines of, “I like to use jedi mind tricks of people I work with.  If I don’t like them, I’ll wait for them to have a really bad idea, then I’ll tell them it’s a great idea so they’ll go forth with it.  Then when they fail, they look dumb.  It’s really pretty easy to do.”

My colleague was pretty aghast, and he was especially shocked since this woman was involved with HR back in the days when I worked with her.   It led us to a discussion about “Intentional Acts of Destruction” inside companies.

Sure, nothing the woman did was illegal.  But what kind of long term issues did it cause for her company and group, to push forward ideas that were not in the best interest of the business?  What kind of resource drain was it for any man hours to be spent on research or exploration?  Where could those man hours have been better spent?

But more importantly, how many people think this way?  Maybe if you have one employee who does this, it gets cancelled out by the mass of the organization.  But suppose there is one person in each group who thinks this way?

Furthermore, as a manager, how do you decipher the evil from the ignorant?  If you want to allow your employees a lot of blue sky to fly in, how do you know when an idea is being endorsed by the rest of the team because they believe in it, or because it’s part of a sabotage effort?

We couldn’t answer any of these questions.  But we agreed that it was one of those management problems they don’t teach you in business school.  We like to think that we can follow a handbook, and that we work with well intentioned people who have the best interest of the team at heart.  But the reality is that some people don’t.  And the hard thing is, unless they drink in bars and share their misguided thoughts with others, we never know who endorses our ideas because they agree, and who is looking to execute an Intentional Act of Destruction.  It’s a good lesson for all of us to keep in mind when we head into the office. 

Is Old the New New?

People who haven’t watched Saturday Night Live for years are raving about last weekend’s Betty White episode.  The masses took control.  They created a Facebook page demanding she get to host.  They promoted the show with reckless abandon through blogs and Twitter.  And then they watched, either live, on Hulu or YouTube.  The reviews were outstanding.  SNL had it’s highest rated show in 18 months.  All thanks to someone’s devotion to an 88 year old TV legend.

So that made me think about some other articles I’ve read recently.  SI had a nice piece on Hank Aaron.  The death of Ernie Harwell brought tributes from across the land.  CNBC continues to replay a great interview with Warren Buffet.  All of a sudden, being old is cool again.  

So what caused this?

It wasn’t long ago when old was synonymous with being almost dead.  An entire generation of new voters rushed to the polls to stop John Mc Cain from getting the keys to the White House.  Bob Dole looked impotent in his race vs Bill Clinton in 1996.  And we all have sheepishly wished bands like Kiss, The Eagles and other legends from the 60’s and 70’s would just stayed retired.

But look what happened when we put all our faith in the “young” generation.  We had a President busted for an affair with an intern.  Another President running around starting wars on a giant credit card.  Our young movie stars are dying of drug overdoses or ending up in jail.  All those hot shot 25 year old CEO’s in 2000 brought the economy to collapse, thanks in part to the 40 year old VC’s.  Then in 2008, the hot shot 35 year old Finance folks brought the economy back to its knees with a derivative debacle.  We put our faith in the young, and have learned the young are a lot like us.  And if we wanted someone like us running the show, well maybe we’d run the show ourselves.

So maybe there’s a new appreciation for the old.  Not ALL the old, but the old who have passed through the past decade with grace and aplomb.  Betty White never went on Celebrity Apprentice.  Hank Aaron didn’t try to regain spotlight during Barry Bonds’ Home Run chase.  Ernie Harwell never hosted Best Damn Sports Show, Cabo Edition.  The kept being classy, and now maybe, the mainstream is leaning back towards classy.

Perhaps, just perhaps, shows like Jersey Shore and the Hills have become tired.  Maybe we’ve grown weary of Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie types.  Could the Octomom and the crazy people from John and Kate plus 8 disgust us?  

So what does that leave us?  For the last 10 years we’ve shunned making stars of what would have been the “new” old to make stars of the young.  So with that void, what we have to fall back on now is the “old” old – at least those who are still alive.  Betty White, Carol Burnett, Dennis Hopper, Sir Alex Ferguson, Vin Scully, hell even Queen Elizabeth is back en vogue.

Anyway, while my data is arguable, my hypothesis is that Betty White on SNL is an indicator that “Old” has made a comeback.  In a world of confusion, we liek to look to those with historical knowledge – not theoretical suppositions – to show us the way.

Entitlement Takes on New Ground

I’m not a big fan of entitlement. I was taught by an old boss long ago at the Tucson Toros that no one is entitled to anything, you have to earn everything you’re rewarded with.

So there is something funny about the coincidental juxtaposition of the article I’m forwarding here to the post I wrote over the weekend about the online education company. This CNN article (I’ve seen a version several places online) reports that:

“A recent college graduate is suing her alma mater for $72,000 — the full cost of her tuition and then some — because she cannot find a job. Trina Thompson, 27, of the Bronx, graduated from New York’s Monroe College in April with a bachelor of business administration degree in information technology.  On July 24, she filed suit against the college in Bronx Supreme Court, alleging that Monroe’s ‘Office of Career Advancement did not help me with a full-time job placement. I am also suing them because of the stress I have been going through.'” 

This made me wonder what I could sue either of my alam maters for.  After all, I graduated with a degree in Finance, but I was unable to predict either stock market crash.  Surely the U of A owes me for my losses.  And, in the 20 years or so that I was in college or out of college, I’ve NEVER been able to attend a Rose Bowl.  In fact, now I have 2 Pac-10 schools I could enjoy in the Rose Bowl, and neither of them have made it.  Surely I could sue for that.  And what about the fact that I can’t speak Spansih fluently?  U of A is 60 miles from the Mexican border.  Why couldn’t I get out of there with a bi-lingual education?  Bastards.

On the more serious note, I would like to (though I need to check with our HR department and legal teams to see if we are allowed) blacklist Trina Thompson from our resume inbox, and have much tighter guidelines on any poor sap who lists Monroe College as their primary education.  

Poor Ms. Thompson, do you have any idea how much more difficult you have made it for you or any of your classmates to get employed?