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Archive for February, 2010

Google Wave of the Future or Just Another Wave on Wave?

02/26/2010 1 comment

Mile upon mile got no direction,
We’re all playing the same game.
-opening lyrics to Pat Green’s Wave on Wave

I’m starting to think these lyrics were written about Google Wave.  Google Wave has been lying out in the sands of beta version for too long!  Body boarding has been great, but the Wave has so much potential and I’m ready for it to go live!  I know I’m not the only one because, in fact, researching the planned live date for the software is a popular search on Google.

The Wave has been invaluable in coordinating a recent website development challenge for SwervePoint.  But, commiserating with Francisco, our webmaster of choice, we decided, as frequent beach goers, we want to see all of those grey shells of buttons be active.  File uploads and downloads, chat, and folders!  Inclusion of screen shots within waves? These things would make Wave a comprehensive ecosystem for the development of IT projects.

Typing on Google Wave is no day at the beach either!  Derek Thompson writes in his post “Google Wave Live Typing is a Fatal Flaw”, “I’m not on Google Wave, but Slate’s Farhad Manjoo is, and he’s stumbled upon something hellish.” Sounds like someone is going to get a blistering sunburn, maybe from forced retirement, if Google execs can’t move this software to full-grown soon!

And where is my support and manual? I appreciate the advances in software Google is providing, but other vendors have complete guides.  How can I surf without a lesson? According to “The Missing Google Analytics Manual”, “Google has done a fabulous job putting together learning materials for their Google Analytics IQ Lessons.”  However, the post is clear that the same energy has not been put into an actual guide for Google Analytics.  If Google really hopes to take over Microsoft’s market share, they need to bring full-fledged products to the table.  In the meantime, I’ll hope Bryan and Jeff Eisenberg put together something similar to the following for Google Wave: http://www.bryaneisenberg.com/2010/02/the-missing-google-analytics-manual/#ixzz0gbxG9y7C.

I guess if I can’t surf, I’ll go metal detecting.  Getting my certification in Google Analytics seems like the natural alternative path.  Since this Google product has been on the market long enough to be ready for swimsuit season, I’ll be glad to take advantage of the Google services related to it.  It’s so easy to purchase, too: http://google.starttest.com/.  Maybe today Google is the one beach combing for tiny treasures, like $100 from my bank account.

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Make Opportunity for Yourself: Serve Your Community, Case Study: LinkedIn Seminar

02/25/2010 3 comments

This blog is about opportunity. Opportunity for yourself, but more importantly, the opportunity you can create for others. It’s recommendation on a win-win. I discovered this fertile fountain in my youth during years of service hours mandated by my college preparatory Catholic high school, St. Michael’s Academy. Years later, I am still building my integrity with service and leadership.

I am lucky enough to work for an amazing company, SwervePoint, that gives me the flexibility to get involved with the local community when possible. Last year, I stumbled upon the North Shore Community Action Program while researching local organizations SwervePoint could make endless merchandise donations to. Today, I supported NSCAP’s Transition to Work program by mentoring a student from the program. Tomorrow, I may be running a seminar for the program, imparting the value of LinkedIn and teaching best practices for the tool.

A woman, looking to reignite her career, spent the morning at SwervePoint shadowing the Programs team, learning invaluable tips on how to return to employed status. The feedback on her resume alone will justify her participation in the Transition to Work, but the most important revelation made was her presence, or lack thereof, on LinkedIn. I have been so wrapped in the social media sphere, I was almost shocked to discover how such an important tool is not commonplace yet! My social media tunnel vision and the fact that LinkedIn has millions of users had led me to believe everyone was using LinkedIn professionally. I mean, according to Alison Doyle from About.com, “It’s also important to note that LinkedIn has reached a point where it’s almost unprofessional not to be on LinkedIn. There are members from all 500 of the Fortune 500 companies. LinkedIn members comprise 130 different industries, and include 130,000 recruiters.” And with job postings cycling on your LinkedIn page and postings targeted based on your skills and profile key words, LinkedIn in some cases, finds the opportunity for you! All one has to do is walk through the door.

So after expressing to the student the importance of the LinkedIn network, I diagnosed her negligence of this asset as a weakness in the program. I emailed the director of the Transition to Work program, Deborah Grace at NSCAP, and it looks like I might have an opportunity to run a seminar pushing LinkedIn and other online media tools as part of a comprehensive job search! I can’t wait to make an impact on these participants’ lives by getting them closer to employment! In this economy, it might serve ourselves and the community better if we start thinking, an opportunity for an opportunity, a door for a door, instead of an eye for an eye.

Google: The Prince of Search Engines?

02/24/2010 3 comments

“But the difficulties are in the new principality… men willingly change their lord if they believe they will be better off,” translated from Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince.  Machiavelli has long been revered as a business, strategy, and management genius centuries before his time.  Previously hated for what many judged as the advocating of ruthless tactics, it is interesting to see how this century has embraced many of his concepts.  Companies and individuals alike have recognized the value of his thoughts in the pursuit of market takeovers and economic success respectively.  As I delve into the first few chapters of Machiavelli, the book is beginning to read like a manual for Google’s struggle operating in China.

Last month, Google claimed, “Free expression and security are important issues for governments everywhere, and at Google we are obviously great believers in the value to society of unfettered access to information. We’re excited about continuing our work with governments, human rights organizations, and bloggers, to promote free expression and increased access to information in the years ahead.”  The statement reads like a perfect political platform to start winning over a nation with.  Falling in line with Machiavelli’s basic recommendations, the company has attempted to win over the populous so the search engine is welcomed into the market rather than resisted.

But the execs at Google need a refresh on their realist friend, Machiavelli.  The company went so far as to threaten to shut down all Google operations in the country if they were not granted the free expression takeover they insisted on.  With a backlash from China matching Google’s doggedness,  a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Google’s actions are ”harmful to China-U.S. relations.”  China’s opposition could have been predicted by Machiavelli.  The opening quote of this blog goes on to say, “[The same belief] makes them take up arms against [the prince].”  Google may have over-stepped and now the country is fighting back against Google’s bullying.

Google executives should be careful because Machiavelli was clear that taking over an area, while not living in the area, is bound to be met with challenges that may not be overcome.  Google should recognize the need to be on good terms with China so the company can make sure they continue operating in the country.   This will help to secure the market they are focused on because as Machiavelli wrote, “if the lord lives there he can lose it only with very great difficulty.”

Rewarding Relationships for the Cost of Coffee

02/23/2010 Leave a comment

“Did you really want him to propose after the first coffee date?” Charlene St. Jean of the Purple Diamond exclaimed as the attendees at last week’s seminar laughed. Several veteran Beverly Chamber of Commerce members, including Charlene, presented “Using the Chamber Successfully”, especially targeted for all the recent additions to the Chamber’s membership since Sheila Field’s arrival as the Executive Director. Charlene was making a point about the emphasis that small businesses need to put on real relationship building in order to prosper. The Chamber can help this process along for about the cost of a coffee every week.

Beyond the number of people a business owner has the opportunity to meet, the Chamber hosts events as often as twice per week. Regular attendance to events and some follow-up give a member the chance to make memorable connections. Patricia Beckwith said, “The most relevant resource is to attend the Coffee connections, Ribbon cuttings and other networking events offered by the Chamber to market Constitution Financial Partners and keep it in front of my audience, the business community of greater Beverly.” Patricia knows the importance of keeping her presence alive in the community.

The other side effect of regular attendance is building cooperative liaisons. As rapport is built amongst members, referrals from other members encourage new customers to choose and trust another member’s company over competitors. Bringing business cards to every event is crucial so other members can pass along the card later for an easy referral. Chamber members can also depend on each other to give perspective on industries and potential customers another member might be trying to reach out to, giving that member an edge in an industry they have no experience in.

It is not just the connections members make with each other. The Beverly Chamber staff is there during normal business hours to support members through common challenges. Making an appointment with them gives them an opportunity to provide relevant educational materials and to help facilitate cooperative liaisons by getting to know a member’s business. They excel at connecting business owners with other business owners that will result in a mutually beneficial relationship. The seminar was after all just another example of members helping other members succeed. And connections are not just limited to the Beverly Chamber. This week there is an After Hours event with the Peabody Chamber of Commerce. Be sure to check it out at R&L Associates in Beverly from 5:30 to 7:30 on Thursday! Join the Chamber this week to take the first step towards becoming part of a rewarding network.

Other tips covered at the seminar were making sure your website link is in the directory and on the Chamber website, doing a direct mail piece easily with Chamber provided mailing labels, getting time on BevCam, event sponsorship, and joining a subcommittee. Checkout benefits of membership on www.beverlychamber.com.

A Lawyer, an HR Expert, and an IT Guy…

02/23/2010 2 comments

…walk into a seminar.

Okay.  So our punch line is weak, but the message was strong.  Last week the BCOC hosted another invaluable educational seminar at the Cummings Center.  The seminar was to introduce the new Data Security laws that require compliance by Jan. 1st, 2010.  Don’t put off compliance though because when the New Year rolls around businesses can be subject to a fine up to $50,000 for every violation.

So you are sure the Attorney General will come down hard if you don’t comply, but what are these new Data Security laws in the first place?  The laws were enacted to protect Massachusetts residents from the loss of their personal information.

The first law requires MA business owners to notify the AG, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, and the resident(s) affected of any unauthorized acquisition or use of an MA resident’s personal information.  That’s right.  It’s not longer an internal affair.  Don’t worry about letting the media know, they’ll be ready todispense bad PR at a moment’s notice.

The second law requires that businesses develop, implement, maintain, and monitor a comprehensive, written information security program (WISP).

According to our HR expert, you should get started now by developing your business’ Data Security Policy and setting aside time to begin informing and training employees and managers on the laws.  Everyone will need to be informed to implement compliance effectively.  God forbid there is a breach, make sure you have an Incident Response Team ready for reaction.

The real meat of the matter will be your hardware and software.  Don’t forget your shredder might not be compliant and you’ll need up-to-date firewall protection, operating system patches, and system security software like McAfee.

According to Consumer Affairs, TJX is paying $9.75 million as a result of their security breach.  So if you need more information to get started, the BCOC will be happy to point you in the right direction so we can help you prevent a crisis.

The OCABR has complied a checklist to assist you.  Check it out:

OCABR Compliance Checklist

SwervePoint Serves

02/23/2010 3 comments

If you are familiar with SwervePoint, you know the company culture is only second to how much people matter. Take a look at SwervePoint.com and you’ll see clues to support that fact everywhere from their focus on customer service to their awareness that customers are the most important stakeholders in their business. With their passion for people eclipsing an intense passion for products, it’s no surprise SwervePoint takes so much pride and joy in donating fresh SwervePoint stuff to the local community.  In addition to RealworldElizabeth Lyons Elementary School and Glad Rags for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC), SwervePoint initiated a charitable relationship last year with 826 Boston and North Shore Community Action Programs (NSCAP).

826 Boston is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students with their creativity. Their services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. SwervePoint sent a large shipment of journals and pens to 826 Boston to help facilitate students’ creativity. The company finds joy in investing in these young imaginations because they have been blessed with success as a fruit of their own creativity.  Check out 826Boston this month for the fundraising moustache-a-thon.  Sponsor my friend, Nick Seagers, for 1 week or 6 weeks, and feel fun about giving!  Here’s the link for more information:  http://826bostonmoustache.wordpress.com/.

NSCAP is an anti-poverty agency serving about 30 cities on the North Shore. NSCAP’s mission is to help low-income people empower themselves as they move towards self-sufficiency and to motivate the larger community to be more responsive to the needs of low-income people. SwervePoint donated a truck load of items ranging from educational supplies to apparel and bags. The items will be utilized by the Transition to Work and Adult Basic Education programs. “The items donated will greatly assist in education and training and ultimately employment of our clients,” according to Deborah Grace of NSCAP.  I’m personally excited to be spending time with a shadow visitor from the Transition to Work program who will be taking a couple of hours to learn about customer service from SwervePoint and yours truly!

SwervePoint takes joy in donating to the local community because it is just one more way to help people accomplish their goals. SwervePoint is excited about their connections with 826 Boston and NSCAP because  they appreciate supporting creativity and overcoming challenges as much as these organizations do.  I hope they benefit from SwervePoint just as our local community benefits from them.

I pledge..

02/23/2010 1 comment

Independence Day 2009, SwervePoint launched yet another firecracker. The team was sent down to the Ocean Spray headquarters to parade the new Ocean Spray Company Store. We’d overcome a bombardment of technological challenges and merchandised by the dawn’s early light. SwervePoint couldn’t be more proud to be presenting this brave new store.

The team marched straight down to the opening mobile boutique. We heard tales of awe over the new store’s Made In The USA T-shirts.  So SwervePoint immediately stockpiled up and the T-shirts, featuring a stars and stripes Ocean Spray logo, flew off the shelves like fireworks. Customers were surprised and delighted just in time for the 4th of July.

SwervePoint’s allegiance to deliver merchandise spangled with logos at the time of our clients’ needs is what keeps customers celebrating.  I forever pledge to serve the customer base with speed and style so their events and their brand are remembered.