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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother |

RosenKlout & GuildInfluence Are Dead

RosenKlout and GuildInfluence discovered the power of Klout on their Social Media footprints and decided they needed to raise their Klout to show just how influential they really were.

G: Happy birthday!

R: Thanks. Did you Tweet that?

G: Yes. Then I got my 3 month old daughter to Retweet it.

R: I’ll Retweet it and thank you.

G: Then I’ll thank you back.

R: I’ll get my pet dog’s Twitter account to retweet you and post Bark! Bark! at the end of it.

G: Loved the birthday photo on Facebook.

R: Thank you. Did you see I tagged you?

G: Yes. Told you thanks under the picture and then shared it on my wall.

R: Good! Did you see the status I wrote of how much I appreciated everyone’s birthday wishes?

G: Yes. Last I saw, there were 10 comments under it.

R: I liked the first 5. Top News for sure.

G: Top News is good. Should double the number of comments.

R: Next month, I’ll hold a birthday contest and choose one of my friends who wishes me happy birthday and give them a gift card.

G: But your birthday is today.

R: I’ll change it tomorrow. A monthly birthday will increase my Klout 12X the rate of a birthday only once a year.

G: More influence, more Klout.

R: More Klout, more influence.

G: Amazing how our Klout scores are always the same.

R: Our Klout scores ARE nearly the same. Amazing, isn’t it?

G: Time to check in to buy your birthday cake. 4square and Facebook Places.

R: If you have a birthday and don’t Tweet/Facebook it, you have no social media life.

G: Or Klout.

R: Influence matters.

G: Stop moving so I can take a picture of your picking up your birthday cake. Then it’s time for the party.

R: I already blogged 5 Steps to the Perfect Birthday Party.

G: Funny. I blogged Excellent Parties in 5 Easy Steps and linked yours.

Unfortunately, as RosenKlout and GuildInfluence were discussing their social media strategy to maximize facetime from RosenKlout’s monthly birthday party, they walked through a red light and directly into the path of a truck.

If someone had taken a photo of the accident and Tweeted/Facebooked it, their Klout would have skyrocketed.

Unfortunately, no one did. If it isn’t on Facebook, it isn’t official.

So no one knows what happened.  Though blogs have been written….


Sing through the Mountains

Morning sunrise

In my musical family, my instrument was French horn. I sang but was told, “Your sister is the soloist. You belong in the choir.” Music was more habit than artistic expression.

Those early years were hard. By the time I was 20, one too many heartbreaks silenced me. I quit singing. Completely. Singing reminded me of things and people I did not want to be. I chose not to.

When our children were born and I started going to church, I sang with them.  They got the childhood I never had, along with a strong musical education. Other than Sunday mornings, I never sang.

When my kids started singing in a professional choir, I became president of their parents group. I still didn’t sing with choirs myself. It had been so many years that now I was afraid to begin.

One Sunday morning when I was 40, a friend who’s often like a surrogate mom, Virginia, cornered me after the service. “Why aren’t you in church choir? They need you. They practice this Tuesday, and you should be there.”

So I went. The first week went ok, and I was so overwhelmed I cried the whole drive home.

Within a month, other choir members helped me begin to cantor, to lead the singing when needed at services. Each service felt like I was trying out a ski slope for the first time and had no idea what would happen between the start and when we got to the bottom of the hill.

That was 5 years ago. I cantored again last night.  As the music begins, I feel God grabbing my soul and pulling music from each heartbeat and heartbreak of a lifetime. The tremendous losses are there – death, illness, fire, flood, famine, and more.  Those losses neither defeated nor define me but are the valleys I went through that help me treasure time on the mountaintop.

Some said I wasn’t the sister with the good voice to sing the solos. But God had a different plan.

Every time I cantor, each song feels like Amazing Grace. For 20 years, I thought my music was dead. He brought it back and showed me how to pour my heart into every song.

Melodies dip into valleys of the shadow of death and soar on eagle’s wings to mountain tops.

Singing through the mountains helps me see the sunrise more clearly.

Give it a try.


5 Reasons Many 4-H Leaders Last

Last night was our county’s 4-H Achievement Banquet, when we recognize members and leaders. In our county of 800 4-H members, we have 127 leaders who have volunteered a combined total of over 1,280 years.  The volunteer who’s served the longest has helped 44 years.

We live in a world where families move and where most of us are so busy a few help with our kids’ activities but immediately quit when they age out. We juggle jobs, sports, families, and friends and simply don’t have time for more.

Why and how are these leaders who last different? The 4-H roots, originally targetted to agricultural communities, explains it. They are the same traits needed by a farmer.

  1. Vision. Tomorrow’s crops begin with today’s seeds.
  2. Effort. Sweat is essential to every successful farm.
  3. Adaptability. We never know what we will need to do for the crop to thrive.
  4. Teamwork. Everyone of all ages worked to keep the farm going.
  5. Humor. Songs, games, and jokes make days on the farm more fun.

How do these apply to 4-H Leaders? Leaders see the young 3rd grader, nervous about a project demonstration and know it’s the beginning of 9 years of public speaking experiences.

4-H members and leaders learn as much by sweating as they do by doing; they are among the hardest workers I know.

When 4-H began, it taught scientific principles to farm families in crop, livestock, and food production. Project areas change with the times. For example, foods projects no longer give a cookbook approach to making the perfect cookie but teach food safety, nutrition, cooking techniques, cooking in other cultures, food science, and consumer awareness.  Project areas also change with the times – rockets, rockets, and more are now projects as 4-H works to raise up 1 million new scientists.

4-H leadership is often a family affair. Many kids grow up helping their parents as leaders, who then become leaders when they grow up. Some new leaders now help their grandparents, who are also still leaders. That stable leadership network offers a crucial safety net to members, both with and without intact families themselves. 

Finally, you never know what 4-H leaders will do next – one year, the door prize at our Christmas party was – a door.

As a Brownie dropout who never lived on a farm, I became a 4-H leader 5 years ago. I hope some day I’ll be the 40 year volunteer, helped across the stage by my grandchildren 4-H leaders, at an achivement banquet.


Embrace the Change

In 1989, jobs were hard to find in a lousy economy. I landed a job for a physics department that would let me continue taking classes. Problem: I knew nothing about computers, and the job required it. I was a fast typist, and they decided to risk hiring me. My first day on the job, the dept. head gave me a handwritten syllabus. I typed and printed it, no problem. He looked at the file setup and refused it, telling me, “You used a word processor as a glorified typewriter. Here’s a book. Figure out what you did wrong and make it right.”

It took me 3 days to create a 3 page syllabus he would accept. When he finally accepted my work, I was so furious I was ready to quit. He then told me, “I know you’re angry. I know you’ve just spent 3 days wandering blind alleys figuring out how to do this. But each blind alley you went down taught you things you will need to know. It will get easier.”

And so began my trial by fire computer training. Part of my job involved clerical work on a NASA research project. It was old Internet days, with manual dial up handshake commands that had to be typed in a line at a time. I was supposed to load files to a CRAY supercomputer, download the results, and then convert those results to graphs.

On my first day on the job, not a single command worked when I tried to log onto the CRAY.  Exasperated, I called NASA, thinking I had to be the dumbest computer user on the planet. Response?

“You’re following yesterday’s instructions. Everything changed today.”

“When will I get today’s instructions.”

“Most  likely in 6 months. But I’ll tell you the steps to follow.” He walked me through the new handshake procedures.

And so began my year of learning to use a computer, on the job, with deadlines, when things changed every single day, before I had a chance to learn how to use them beforehand.

I had no idea when I started that job that it would change my life. Computer software eventually made sense. Within 6 years, I was a computer network administrator for a network of 50 computers for a law firm.  For the past 15 years, I’ve worked as a corporate computer trainer and have trained at least 3,000 people in how to use computers on their jobs.  In recent years, that has also branched into training them on social media. My experiences learning on the fly help me be a more empathetic teacher.

With social media, things change daily. Buttons move, features have different words, and more. It reminds me of my first day using a computer, 21 years ago. Yesterday’s instructions don’t quite work, and we figure out today’s procedures by the seat of our pants. It’s frustrating.

My lesson from years ago: embrace the change.

The blind alleys you stumble in, as you seek today’s instructions, are preparing you to handle tomorrow’s bigger computer challenges.


Bieber Biever Snow Globes

For nearly 20 years, I’ve patiently spelled my last name on the phone: B as in boy, I as in igloo, E as in egg, V as in victory, E as in egg, R as in red. Old German spellings can make regular Americans stumble because they hesitate to say “beaver” when it looks different.

Once when I was talking to an obnoxious customer support person, I spelled it: B as in brat, I as in idiot, E as in egotistical, V as in vice, E as in errors, and R as in rude. That was an experiment not to be repeated; it neither won friends nor positively influenced my customer service.

Last month, I tried a different experiment while spelling my name aloud on the phone: Biever, like Justin Bieber except it has a V in the middle instead of a B.  The order taker laughed, immediately got it, and we had a fun, friendly conversation. I’ve repeated my experiment since and found that it works with 1 criteria: the person I am talking to needs to be under the age of 40. My response when talking with a 50 year old was, “Justin WHO?” Then I went back to my old routine. With 1 exception: anyone on Twitter knows who Justin Bieber is.

I’m between that 40 and 50 cut off on popular culture, and I get the Bieber phenomenon.  I don’t listen to his music, but I know who he is. A few of those I’ve spelled my name to like his music. 

My experiment with spelling my name teaches a social media lesson.  We have ways of communicating now that we’ve had for decades. They most likely still work. But we may have done them so many times that they are now routine and don’t engender conversations with people (or potential customers) we meet.  They are like the Christmas snow globe with the pretty picture, with all the snow dust glittering on the ground.

If we take what we know and add a dash of social media modern culture in those interactions, we shake the snow globe.  I may have been buying posters of Shawn Cassidy and Leif Garrett when Justin Bieber’s parents were babies, but I can still use the social media snow globe.

My challenge to you: shake the social media snow globe and see what new opportunities present themselves to you.


Missing The Boat

Probably thought but not written 500 years ago…

“I can’t believe the hoopla over Columbus. He brought back heathens and trinkets instead of a route to spices.

“What a waste of time and money. His stupid sailors drink, wasting time with songs and games. I’m too busy – I have to run the family lumber business. 

“There’s rumors Columbus was wrong. He got lost. Some day, all who thought he would open new trade routes will realize they wasted their time and money. I’ll be sitting here fat and happy cause I just expanded the family lumber business to the other side of the forest.  Sure thing, sure profit. Who has time to learn anything new when we’re so busy cutting down trees?”

End of excerpt from the honorary member of the World Is Flat & I’m Happy Bout That Society.

This business man was so busy tending his own family business that he missed the boat.

Those who ignore the changes social media will make do the same. Yes, there are some stupid games and conversations going on on new media. But those using it are on a boat to a new world just like Columbus’s sailors were.

Columbus wasn’t just playing stupid games – born Italian, he eventually learned Latin, Portugese, Castillian, and devoured the best books by the greatest minds he could find.  He scoured the Bible and often quoted it.

Smart people are using social media. They are building the next new world.

If you have a family lumber business, if you pull your head out of the local trees, you might discover a planet of new resources and potential customers. All by route of social media.

Those early explorers didn’t take a Loveboat across the ocean to learn things exciting and new. They worked, risked, prayed, waited, and worked some more. So do the new explorers. 

There’s an earlier key figure in the New World’s discovery: Prince Henry the Navigator. In the century before Columbus, he helped sailors by improving education – even starting schools. His schools helped develop maps, teach navigation, and teach shipbuilding. He plowed and prepped the field from which the next century’s explorers sprouted.

Some visionary educators today are doing the same with social media. Will your school sprout the next explorers, or will your students/employees miss the boat? Are they being trained to navigate the social media seas to a brave, new world?


No Classroom Dummies

One of the best investments a company can make is computer training of its employees. Training staff to make the best use of your computer investment can be the budget’s forgotten stepchild.

Companies sometimes pigeonhole or underestimate the abilities of their staff to use software well.

Once, before a corporate Access class began, students came in joking that the office computer “dummy” would hold them all back. I was asked how I would teach the class and help her too. Coworkers continued to joke when she entered the classroom.

After class began, I worked on a few issues with her.  For the first part of the class, she struggled to keep up with everyone else.

Everything changed when we started filters and queries.  For an entire hour, she was the first to suggest the best ways to find information quickly. 

How could someone like that suddenly show up everyone else in the room? She was not a digital native and needed help with a few basics.  When we hit filters and queries, she was in home turf. Her job required her to classify information and work through it methodically. Her years of experience shined in her classroom performance. 

She’s only one example why I refuse to believe anyone in my computer classes is a “dummy” incapable of learning.  Some take longer than others.  Yes, there are times I’ll tell someone where the spacebar is or that the shift key capitalizes.  I’ll explain the difference between the left and the right mouse buttons.

But I help them do more than that in class. I show them how using their software can make their jobs easier.  Whenever possible, we relate what we learn to practical applications.

What happened to the office designated dummy who blossomed into a filter query savant? By the next class, on her own, she had designed databases and queries that would make her job easier.

I’m glad her company trained her.  Now she can use a computer as a power tool to better do the job for which they hired her.

Computer dummies don’t come to my classes. The dummies are ones who never get trained or never make sure their staff is well trained on software they already have.

Smart companies and people are the ones who get as much training as they can. A little hard work and knowledge goes a long way.


Busted or Not?

Please answer the question at the end of this blog: was my son busted or not?

I’m a huge advocate of finding ways to incorporate social media into the classroom. Twitter offers a world of real time opportunities to build peer connections and learn from brilliant people all over the planet. To that end, I enjoy Mondays when I have time to join the #smcedu chat and encourage social media clubs on college campuses.

The ways teachers can leverage social media to enrich classroom experiences are endless. 

But there’s another side to the coin. In my spare time, I lead a teen discussion group on classical literature; my son is one of the members. When the new Facebook groups debuted, I decided to create a private group for the teens involved (and their parents) so we could exchange study helps, assignments, and answer questions.

Today, I posted a link to a study guide to help them read The Iliad. My son immediately commented that the link was one ugly website. Problem: he commented during school time, which means he was playing on Facebook while he was supposed to be working on Algebra. I immedad iately commented under him – why are you on Facebook instead of math?

So my question is: did I bust him for goofing off during official school time? Or was he learning in a different manner from previous generations? 

And for students: would you revolt if you started getting assignments from your teacher in a study group on Facebook? Or would you appreciate getting information in a place you already surf?


When the Orchestra Plays Instead of a Solo

Music solos can grab your heart and show you the most intense, beautiful parts of your soul.

So can an orchestra. 

Imagine an orchestra used to listening to a soloist who slowly discover they can play music.  The more they practice, the better they sound.  Suddenly, the violins reach for some Vivaldi while the French horns go for the Mozart. The bassoons go for Tchaikovsky. When the conductor brings them together, great music that fills a concert hall is played.

Orchestral music is different from a soloist.  The varied instruments bring their unique sounds and ranges to the music stand and form music more profound than any performer can do alone. The audience is delighted with the mix of lilting flutes, the mellow cellos, and punctuation from the percussion section.

What’s your company’s social media presence? Is it a one person wonder or an orchestra all working together, following the conductor?

Shift that to a different question:

What if the orchestra learns to play the music, and the soloist ignores them? It’s a lot easier to stay on melody without other instruments, and he wants to keep it that way.

What if the orchestra discovers its voice and its music and is unable to share it on stage with the soloist? Will the orchestra stop playing, or will they pack their instruments into cases and find a different stage on which to make their music?

Sure, you can hire new musicians. But that takes time and money. You invested time and money into the orchestral members you already have. Leverage it.

If your company has a social media presence, you probably already have team members who use their social media voice well.  Have you invited them to the concert hall to play a corporate symphony with you?  Are you coaching the musial talents of several on your bench, so you can make beautiful music together?

Give the team members you already have on your bench the opportunity to use their musical voices. You would be amazed at what happens when they realize you believe in them and want to make music together.


What if Columbus Just Sat on the Pot?

Columbus was convinced he could find a better route to the other side of the world. He struggled for years to get funding to pursue his dream. Many thought he was wrong.

What if Columbus had stayed in Europe, talking about his route and never going? In my grandma’s terms, what if he sat on the pot and never did his business?

This is where social media is right now. We know we have a more direct route for business. We’re not sure where the voyage will take us, but we know the possibilities it will open are endless. So all sorts of social media experts are trying to convince the rest of the planet’s businesses this can help them long term.

We have the broadband. We have the connections. Some businesses get it and are ready to join our adventure. Others would rather stay at home and do what’s always worked. Let them choose. They will live with the consequences.

It’s time to set sail with the businesses that do get it and work with them to do social media better. That’s a little more walking and a little less talking – about our craft in trade.

Remember Columbus didn’t just sail blindly towards the west.  He used tools to measure his progress. Each night, he charted his position with the stars.  He made use of ocean currents and winds, which pushed him better than if he had started out with a rowboat.

In our new social media adventure, all manners of boats are trying to get to the new world. Some are sounder than others, just as some early attempts at flying machines worked better than others.

Make sure your social media presence uses not just the wind but also the ocean current.  The quick gimmick tactic may work now, when the wind blows, but it doesn’t take best advantage of the currents. Smart strategists use both the wind and the currents to reach the new world faster, with less effort. Eventually in the Old World, the trailing edgers ventured west too. The same will happen with social media.

My resolution – spend less time reading in the social media bathroom and more time actually using it. 

Grandma’s right. It’s time to get off the pot.


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