Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Author unlocks mysteries of networking
Liz Lynch's money shot.
By RICHARD PACHTER
Smart Networking: Attract a Following in Person and Online. Liz Lynch. McGraw-Hill. 208 pages.
Networking is confusing. Merely a few short years ago, it was just a matter of handing out and scooping up business cards then following up with a nice note and/or phone call. The proliferation of e-mail provided another way to keep in touch, then blogs, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other Internet applications afforded additional solutions — and challenges. How do you make sense of it all? More importantly, how can you use these tools to effectively connect with colleagues, clients and others?
Damned if I know. I blog, am on LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and even signed up for Seth Godin's new leadership network, Tribes, but have yet to figure out how to make all these disparate media work cohesively and consistently for me. Right now, in fact, I need it more than ever. Luckily, I have Liz Lynch to learn from!
Initially I was a little wary of her new book. After all, the early chapters are devoted to establishing why it's so important to network in the first place. Double duh! Anyone in this age and business climate who is unwilling or unable grasp why it's still not simply what you know, but who you know — and who they know — deserves their infamous and ignominious fate. Yet, Lynch patiently and painstakingly explains all the whys and wherefores in an effort to allay the sundry fears of the averse.
This entry-level Networking For Dummies approach didn't really do much for me, though it's unquestionably of value to newbies or other relatively clueless individuals for whom the process may appear daunting or overly icky.
So I dutifully plowed through this all-too-familiar territory, read the reasoned arguments for engagement and wondered if we'd be seeing something that would actually justify her use of the word ''smart'' in the title.
Eureka! After 164 pages, Lynch finally gets to the money shot: creating an action plan with specific goals and the means to achieve them. There's an excellent single-page form you can complete that will add clarity and help define your ends and means. But it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, it's a menu of strategies and tactics, so it's not simply plug-and-play, but if you have already embarked upon the fundamentals, you'll be well positioned to proceed. For example, how can you integrate your blog with Facebook and/or LinkedIn? Should you produce an e-book, and if so, do you distribute it by e-mail as text, html or as an attachment or download? Lynch doesn't tell you what to do, but presents options since your needs and goals should determine your course of action.
Her website offers readers access to a downloadable version of the plan by using a password included in this book. The site has a number of resources for non-readers, too, and is an extremely useful complement to everything offered herein.
For those of us struggling to leverage our knowledge, experience and contacts, the lucid lessons of Liz Lynch may prove to be not just smart, but lucrative, too.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Gaga for Google
Author Jeff Jarvis suggests embracing the Internet monolith so that you, too, can rule the world — maybe.
BY RICHARD PACHTER
What Would Google Do? Jeff Jarvis. HarperCollins. 224 pages.
Unless I missed an earlier one, this is the first religious tract about Google. Jarvis, a high-profile blogger, journalism teacher, entrepreneur and editor preaches that with few exceptions, businesses ought to embrace and embody the qualities that he calls (ugh!) ''Googley.'' Essentially, this involves total transparency and user empowerment through blogging, Facebook, Twitter and other Internet conveyances.
For many industries, following Google's lead is a great idea. As detailed in numerous books, aggregated intelligence is a powerful force and by enabling it, businesses can enhance and accelerate product development, marketing and other vital functions. It's also an ideal way to handle customer support and service. Jarvis cites his own case of being burned by computer manufacturer Dell and his subsequent (and oft-linked) blog posts, which he humbly suggests might possibly have contributed to the company's fall from grace (and profits). He followed up with measures to address his concerns and prevent others from suffering as he did. Ultimately, Dell adopted a number of Jarvis's ideas, though he extravagantly disavows any responsibility for their implementation.
Ironically, Google itself largely fails to embrace the transparency Jarvis says is so vital. The company, he writes, ''is as opaque and as secretive as the Pentagon.'' Guess Google isn't sufficiently ''Googley,'' according to its acolyte.
Beyond the Dell episode, Jarvis goes from industry to industry (retail, banking, real estate, insurance, manufacturing, etc.) proposing various ways each can become ''Googlier.'' Jarvis is fearless in his pronouncements in spite of any residual unfamiliarity with the actual needs of each segment. He's on the side of the consumers, after all. For the most part, his lack of expertise is not a problem, though his invocation of Howard Stern as a marketing model is rife with flaws, especially given the King Of All Media's current diminished influence.
Jarvis was apparently traumatized by incompetent and dishonest real estate people, and he is admittedly unaware of the value of working with dedicated professionals. He advocates a number of dramatic measures to eliminate that industry's present structure by replacing it with online (and offline) services. While he offers many good ideas, his pontifications are markedly harsher here than in other sections, reflecting, perhaps, his personal angst.
Jarvis also touches upon Google's maxim ''Don't be evil,'' and mentions their contrary cooperation with Indian and Chinese government authorities that resulted in arrests of democracy advocates. He also mentions Google's advertising practices and their mysterious search algorithms that can fatally affect customers and competitors. But there's only slight discussion of Google's accumulation of personal information, which it uses as part of its aggregation of searches to improve its efficacy and business opportunities. An investigative journalist I recently spoke with expressed concern with what the company was doing -- and could do — with the data. Jarvis is willing to give Google the benefit of the doubt, based on, well, it's not exactly clear; faith, perhaps.
On the whole, "What Would Google Do" is more of a ''What can I do?'' exercise. Jeff Jarvis may not be quite as omniscient as he imagines, but his bold thinking and prodigious faith results in a rollicking sermon on reinvention and reinvigoration.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Fork in the Road
Got a pot belly. It's not too big. Gets in my way when I'm driving my rig. Driving this country in a big old rig, things I see mean a lot.
My friend has a pickup. Drives his kid to school. Then he takes his wife to beauty school. Now she's doin' nails. Gonna get a job. Got a good teacher.
There's a fork in the road ahead. I don't know which way I'm gonna turn. There's a fork in the road ahead.
Forgot this year, to salute the troops. They're all still there in a fucking war. It's no good. Whose idea was that?
I've got hope, but you can't eat hope. I'm not done. Not giving up. Not cashing in. Too late.
There's a bailout coming but it's not for me. It's for all those creeps watching tickers on TV. There's a bailout coming but it's not for me.
I'm a big rock star. My sales have tanked, but I still got you. Thanks! Download this. Sounds like shit.
Keep on bloggin' 'til the power goes out, and your battery's dead.
Twist and Shout. On the radio. Those were the days. Bring 'em back.
There's a bailout coming but it's not for you. It's for all those creeps hiding what they do. There's a bailout coming but it's not for you. Bailout coming but it's not for you.
Got my new flat-screen. Got it repo'd now. They picked it up. Left a hole in the wall. Last Saturday. Missed the Raiders game.
There's a bailout coming but it's not for you. There's a bailout coming but it's not for you. It's for all those creeps hiding what they do.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
The man, the myth, the real Rupert Murdoch
Michael Wolff's fair and balanced biography of the controversial media mogul is well worth reading.
BY RICHARD PACHTER
The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch. Michael Wolff. Broadway Books. 464 pages.
Scan the online comments accompanying most current stories about the travails of the newspaper business and you'll invariably encounter declarations that most problems are caused by a dearth of ''conservative'' views. Forgetting for a moment that the definition of this ideology has become amorphous (believe it or not, ''conservative'' once included small government, individual freedom and lack of government interference in personal issues!), the idea that media in general and newspapers in particular are ''liberal'' is laughable. Most are owned by large corporations whose interests are hardly radical, socialist or anything other than determinedly capitalist. They are in business to earn revenue, not for ideology.
A few big city daily newspapers that lose tons of money are, indeed, kept afloat for mostly ideological reasons. Both are ''conservative'' and one, the New York Post, is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the subject of this new biography by journalist and sometime-entrepreneur Michael Wolff. According to the author, the money-losing Gotham tabloid is less a propaganda vehicle than a means of providing its freewheeling CEO with a political presence in that media capitol. But with the company's acquisition of the Wall Street Journal and its parent company, Dow Jones, owning the Post, which bleeds an estimated $50 million a year, may be an unnecessary extravagance.
The acquisition of one of journalism's crown jewels serves as the central point to cover Australian native Murdoch's childhood, education, marriages, family and the rest, reinforced by substantial research and interviews with the subject, his wives, children and other principals, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Beginning as the son of the owner of a local paper, Murdoch's empire has grown to include television networks, a film studio and several newspapers, an industry to which the subject seems unnaturally drawn. Wolff tries to make sense of this predilection and gets into somewhat dodgy territory when he does, but it's no great matter, as one can take or leave any psychobabble. He's a terrific and engaging writer, with a few tics and asides that distract but mostly add what rappers call ''flava'' to the proceedings. Though some quotes and thoughts seemed, at first, to be pop-psych and Woodwardian telepathy, copious endnotes mostly proved otherwise.
Murdoch is commonly presumed to be a political mover, mostly evidenced by the right wing ministry of propaganda that is cable channel Fox News, though his UK Sky News is, according to Wolff, its ''mirror image,'' meaning that unlike FNC, it's fact-based and/or liberal. Murdoch's latest wife, Wendi, is, according to Wolff, a moderating force, so her husband's pals now include progressive stalwarts David Geffen and Barry Diller, though the author maintains that Murdoch's main allegiance is to his own fortunes rather than any ideology.
The inside stuff on the WSJ acquisition could have easily been a separate volume — and it's worth noting that the transaction was made at the peak of the company's value, for which he paid $60 a share. It's now worth far less. But Wolff's laudable attempt to create a fair and balanced portrait of the singular, self-made and motivated Murdoch results in a book that's well worth readers' time.