Thursday, 28 February 2008

Jump In #14: Bebo founders Michael and Xochi Birch

(Find out more: Bebo is one of the world's largest social networks, dominating New Zealand and Ireland and a close third in the USA. Bebo's founders share their insights into: * How marketers can engage the Bebo audience * How social networking is changing media * What's the future of social networks? Never miss Jump In! Subscribe at  

Getting the chutzpah back

I don't know how it works. Sometimes you exercise and rest and eat well, and still feel like crap. Other times, you feel like you've been completely rebooted, and rediscovered your mojo.

That's how I feel this morning. Here's what I reckon happened:

1. I had a great heart-to-heart with God and my diary last night, putting into words some of the things that were bugging me.

The thing with these things that bug me is that I often don't know what's happening. I just know I feel vaguely uneasy, but it takes some proper reflection to really know what's going on.

So what was bugging me? I was starting to feel like the tail, not the head. I was beginning to feel pulled around by client demands, by tight deadlines, by the need to make money and unable to regain that much-needed sense of self-leadership.

I'd lost my chutzpah. And when you're in any kind of consulting work, that is deadly. My clients depend on me to know everything. Of course, no-one can know everything, but the next best thing is to know a lot, and act as if I knew everything (not arrogance, but confidence). It's surprising how well it works. But an important precondition is to actually know a lot, that helps with the perception you know everything.

2. I read something completely fictional and irrelevant before going to sleep. A short story by the improbably named Samuel Lover, as far as I could tell a comedic little tale about an Irish butler telling comedic little tales about being at sea. Helped take me to a different place - always a good prerequisite to sleep.

3. I worked out hard this morning. (Hard, according to my own standards) I challenged my benchmarks on the treadmill, I spent longer on the bike, I figured out - almost symbolically - how to not let the cross-trainer set the pace, but instead show it what pace I wanted to go.

And seemingly at random, I got my chutzpah back. But I realise how fragile it can be. That's why I'm writing this down. I'll be back!

(photo borrowed from

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Guitars, not guns

I just heard from an old friend, Will Watson. He's part way through an amazing documentary called "War Without Guns" - the story of how music and entertainment is brokering peace in the out-of-control world of Bougainville.

He needs a little help to get the film finished. Check the contact details at the end of the video!

Friday, 22 February 2008


I have been intending to do a blog post on focus for some time, but ironically, there's been too much on for me to ... well, focus.

But the more I read and hear lately, the more I'm convinced that focus is a key to success. Better to do one thing exceedingly well than ten things averagely.

Easy to say, but for me currently heavily involved in two companies (SimonYoungWriters and iJump) and with an oversight role on another ( it's getting pretty tricky spinning the plates sometimes.

There's also two cultural factors that come into play. Kiwis have traditionally been generalists because they need to be. And as a journalist, I'm expected to know everything about everything that's happening.

So why am I convinced focus is important? A blog post by Jim Donovan started it all off, and then a conversation with Craig from Cyberglue added fuel to the fire. Cyberglue are evolving from a content management system company (which would be a good field to get out of, given the relative awesomeness - and freeness - of systems like WordPress and Drupal) to a niche provider of Membership Relationship Management systems to associations and industry organisations.

They were helped in their quest by Tony Seba, whose book (apparently, I haven't read it) demonstrates how focus has paid off for companies like Google, LinkedIn and others.

It's all pretty compelling, but how to get focused without smashing some of the many plates suddenly spinning?

And of course there's the fact that having multiple projects can be kind of fun, when they're not so stressful.

Will keep you posted!

(a hearty thanks to ihtatho for the photo!)

Friday, 15 February 2008

Jump In #12: Roger Beaumont, Marketing and Comms, TV3

(Find out more at This week, TV3's marketing director talks with Marie about social and traditional media. We cover: * is social media a passing phenomenon? * will anything ever replace the no-brainer entertainment that is free-to-air TV? Never miss a Jump In! Subscribe at  

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Virtual Worlds

On Thursday night we attended our first Auckland Web Design Meetup. Wonderful pizza (courtesy of Hamish, as I understand), great beer (although I didn't partake, but I'll take everyone's word for it), and really, really interesting presentations.

We had to duck out halfway through the Smallworlds presentation, which was really amazing. These guys have built a virtual world that works in a browser (!), lets you plug in other services like YouTube and Flickr, and - this amazed me most - doesn't lag. It was smooth as.

And then Friday morning I heard CC Chapman's mind dump on virtual worlds. Some really good thoughts, most importantly that virtual worlds are social networks, and they're not a passing fad. Watch this space.

Inspirational films

Over the last few months I've seen some little-known, but inspirational, films.

I'll start with the last first. Joyeux Noel is based on the true story of the 1914 truce, when German, French and British troops fraternised on the front on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

It captured the amazingness (is that a word?) - and sometime knife-edge ambiguity - of sworn enemies approaching each other with peace in mind.

Especially poignant was the scene where a French soldier in German disguise is shot. I won't give any more away, you'll have to see it.

It's also amazing that this was the director's second feature film, his first period piece and the first to involve so many cast.

Last year we also saw Mother Teresa and Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace.

Not exactly popcorn-munching entertainment, but powerful stories that packed a punch. For me the test of a historical movie, especially a biopic, is whether it makes me want to find out more about the real person. These films did it in both cases.

Maybe that's where Hollywood purists would disagree, but I see a lot of potential for movies to educate - after all, they serve as proxy for much that goes under the name of literature and education.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Jump In #11: Professor Jonathan Schroeder

More at ... This week Simon talks to marketing academic professor Jonathan Schroeder, author of Brand Culture. You'll hear * what brand culture has to do with the web * how online tools are making everyone more brand-aware and socially aware * what a company blog is for * the issues marketers face worldwide, particularly in emerging markets Never miss a Jump In! Subscribe at