We’ve graduated….


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Long Live The Growth of the Gourmet Food Truck Movement


While watching NBC New York a bit ago a passing topic of conversation between the news anchors found me also pleasantly surprised to discover that food truck popularity and obsession is also prevalent in the Empire State.  Granted, NYC is still credited for being my first awesome food truck experience when I was visiting the city in 1999 and enjoyed the glory that was a New York City gyro from one of the city’s kiosks.  Divine was the best way to describe said snack of a gyro I purchased at $4 off the streets of New York which was found to be equally delicious.  So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the gourmet food truck wave that has hit the west coast – I recall being at Off the Grid AND also enjoying a furikake kimchi burger on the side of the road in Las Vegas from Fuku Burger just a few months ago- is also a craze here in NY.  I tell you that cupcake I had in SoHo from the Cupcake Stop was really good.

The food truck craze and advertising prowess can very easily be credited to  the advent of Twitter and Social Media.  In essence Twitter has allowed mobile small businesses to market their whereabouts in the most efficient matter.  If you’re a fan or have heard that a certain “gourmet” food truck (OR any other trendy new invent for that matter) is amazing, you’re likely to want to also have a taste and experience it for yourself so you can then verify and spread the news of the find yourself.  Afterall, that’s human nature and what makes Word Of Mouth vitality the most compelling and prolific advert of all.  Few endorsements are as trusted or interesting than an endorsement by a friend and family member who has good taste or is knowledgeable on a subject matter – since they are someone you know and trust who has tried, tested and found something to be true enough to share.  Very few people would share something at random without any real merit to a friend or even an acquaintance if it was at best mediocre, some might but on the whole most people share what they have genuinely appreciated so you can too.

The ability for food trucks to set up camp and utilize the power of mobile and twitter, by attracting loyal customers to

interact with and engage with on Twitter and mobile applications is what makes for success.  In order, for any Twitter/Facebook campaign or mobile campaign to be successful, it is necessary to drive a need from your target audience to follow you – give them information and have them feel supported and fulfill their desires and lives in a  relevant manner.  The sweet spots that food trucks deliver have to do with announcing their location – so that hungry fans can find them and also by announcing any new menu items, keep track of customer satisfaction or complaints, and perhaps take note of any useful suggestions.  It’s elementary but effective and everyone feels connected – as though their opinions matter and most importantly, everyone is well fed and happy.

If not for the web, food trucks wouldn’t be able to leverage the growth potential it has now with the power of the internet and mobile communications.  A few years past, Chez Spencer which has incredible French food was one of the first in San Francisco to debut a gourmet food truck, complete with escargot lollipops and more.  The only trouble was, Twitter and mobile communications as they are today did not exist and it was next to impossible to discover when or where the Spencer On The Go food truck would appear.  On occasion, we were lucky if we received notice via a friend who spotted the truck and texted the location to us, but if your friend didn’t know you were a foodie or worst forgot to text, there would be little traffic for the food truck since this was still an underground innovative concept.  Thank goodness that Twitter, Facebook and mobile have all become available to allow this amazing food truck and many other gourmet food trucks that offer innnovative, creative and delicious treats are becoming more and more available and popular.  Long live the Gourmet Food Truck Movement!

Food trucks are amazing as a marketing vehicle in and of itself – when done right the luxury marketing phenomenon, can become one of the best ambassadors of a brand, well known or avant garde, especially for traditionally retail brick and mortar oriented companies.  The truck itself when branded correctly is a very literal marketing vehicle, on the streets getting eye balls to check out colored signeage and peak curiosity.  Better yet the truck is mobile and can either attract attention and make money on the go, as ice cream trucks have for ages and ages now, or move from one high

You scream, I scream, we all scream for Ice Cream!

traffic spot to another quickly and make money throughout the day – all one has to do is now one’s city in order to take advantage of where people would be on foot and looking for food options during breakfast, lunch, 3pm sugar level drop snack hunts and dinner.  Best yet, the trucks are becoming popular catering options for events spanning from concerts, festivals, food and wine benefits to movies in the park, store or business launches and more.  On the go marketing power offline, online and in mind at its best…it would be interesting to get some idea of the profits these trucks rake in, but one thing is for sure, it might just make sense for people in the restaurant business and perhaps other businesses to be more and more literally and web mobile.  If there’s one thing that the mobile and food truck revolution we are currently experiencing has shown us, it is that becoming more accessible, available and being where ever people might have a need as folks become more and more mobile and empowered to find greater conveniences closer to where they work and live and spend their free time is definitely welcome and likely here to stay.

Frankly, being the foodie I am I would go to no ends to sample some delicious morsels.  So much so that when Japacurry showed up on my Foursquare feed a week ago, I trecked over 8 blocks to find the place – albeit to discover they’ve moved on – but with an ever determined goal to give this amazing curry a try.  Be warned JapaCurry!  I know how to make a killer Japanese curry dish as it is…so it better be pretty darn special!  Actually, it would be fun to maybe attempt a food truck food tour across the country, that’d definitely be an adventure not for the faint at heart – what with moving targets being the objective.

Consider Me Inspired by the Women in Tech Influencer Panel


Enough about the hoopla between the quantity of women in tech.  I’d rather know about the quality of women AND men for that matter that are in tech, creating amazing new realities and stretching boundaries everyday.  And while there is much buzz about there not being enough women in tech innovating, I’d rather be inspired and listening to the women and men in tech who have been there and are attempting to create share wisdom and insights into taking their experience forward.

Over the years, I’ve attended many events and panels for tech.  Lately, the topics tend to blur and the discussions are echoes of what someone already touched upon a few hundred times.  While this is an inevitability since if you’d gone to one event you’ve gone to many of the same kind – and also since we all share the same collective pools of knowledge, it’s always refreshing when a panel surprises you and gives you relevant inspiration or motivation.

http://cdn.livestream.com/grid/LSPlayer.swf?channel=facebookevents&clip=pla_9d59cba3-07c9-44a6-b68b-4d8312b9be62&autoPlay=false

Watch live streaming video from facebookevents at livestream.com

 

(Sorry the livestream is just not WordPress friendly, but do watch the click via the link!)

I truly enjoyed this Women in Tech Influencer panel that was hosted at the Facebook Live Event quite simply because they were relevant and shared relevant insights that could be reassuring and comforting to any number of start up geeks and aspiring entrepreneurs.  As I embark on this crazy new adventure as a startup CEO with at least three ideas I wish I had the energy to launch at once – it is great to learn that the lack of expertise I have in coding which is more than sufficed by our very talented and gifted Director of Product and CTO are not major failings.  It’s good to be assured that my sitting here and being extremely specific in our prototype will help us avoid costly and time consuming mistakes.  And it helps to be affirmed that picking the idea that solves a need and is interesting and is a good starting point.  And that if we should fail, we can, at the very worst, get back up and try again – at least we have another idea in the wings?   Its also motivating to have a woman tell you to speak up more as a woman.  It is a fact that women should stand up and be proud of work they’ve done well more. Brag. Own it. Get the raise. Men DO.

I am definitely not beyond admitting that social conditioning was successful in that I am not so great at speaking up for work I am actually proud of and that I know female friends who are the same.  Humble, quietly diligent, dedicated and producers of great results, some of the most brilliant women I know never toot their own horn as much as a man of the same credible capacity would and have – though they should.  Oddly, women are also not always great at cheering each other on as well – and it’s true all of this needs to change.  If we were better at boasting about the projects we have had the chance to champion and cheered each other’s success forward, we’d probably suffer less from people discounting our work and potential as well.  Not one to be a hypocrite here, the lack of posts here is a testament of how odd it feels at times to speak of one’s work – but panel discussions like the one above and supportive peers do encourage more content.  Since perhaps, what seems like insignificant candid reflections to me could be of interest and possibly even helpful to someone else out there – maybe.  Watch the panel.  These women code, run companies and know what they are talking about and spoke from experience in a way that you can relate to if you’re at all tech or startup inclined.  I am happy to have them as inspiration and to look up to.

WordPress.com Offers New Built-In Share Buttons


WOOT!

It took ages for me to update my blog since my second to most recent post and this has to change.  And it shall especially after my new discovery upon trying to enable easier commenting – and perusing the settings options on my www.wordpress.com blogs.  Notice if you will, the newly available sharing functionalities that are now available at the bottom of this post and every post I’ve ever written.  They are now a built in WordPress.com setting you can easily enable, customize and make available on your WordPress.com blog(s)!!

As of this past Monday, August  23rd 2010, WordPress.com blogs are now Share enabled!!

READ: WordPress has FINALLY enabled WordPress.com users with customizable built in sharing buttons to their existing platform to the most recognizable and widely used of sharing platforms.

This has made my horrible hack job of adding a copy paste code enabled sharing button in posts past to date look utterly hideous, but I’m ecstatic since this is one new feature that will definitely make blogging more enjoyable, less time consuimg and pain free.

If, like I, you’ve been using www.wordpress.com rather than www.wordpress.org as a blogging platform, you would understand the value add of this new built in feature.  For myself, in posts past, I had to hack in this Share button:

What can only be remembered as a clunky, time consuming and rudimentary hack involving a copy and paste of the code or manual input of the image url and the url itself is now history!  Often times, I’d forget to include the share button all together only to have to go and hack it in when I did remember and a Tweet counter was just out of the question to figure out a way to include.

Image borrowed from http://notaniche.com

What is the value add you ask?  How happy are we www.wordpress.com simpletons of www.wordpress.org with their enhanced plug in functionality and layouts with this new feature?  Numbers always speak for themselves so for those of you unfamiliar of what it was like to not have a easy non hacked sharing option, I’ll data mine speak as simply as possible by saying the following: as of 4:57 AM on 8/26/2010 <a mere 3 days since Thursday is just beginning in the US since the feature has been launched and a mere 2 days since the blog post announcement> that WordPress blog announcement of the feature above has gotten 754 (with me being Miss 457th like). THANK YOU FOR LISTENING WORDPRESS!!

Needless to say, my enthusiasm and WordPress appreciation has definitely just tripled.  LIKE LIKE LIKE!  And PS for you WordPress.org folks, they’ll be launching a WordPress Share plugin next week – so hang tight and say adieu to your hacked WordPress.org hacked plug in to date as well – my dearest sentiments to the third party share plug ins out there, who had made our blogs shareable and social to date. <Thank you for having existed and bettered my attempts at blogging.>

Have a WordPress.com blog too? Customize and enable your sharing options today! Log in and follow the WordPress.com Dashboard path here to select, customize (even with customizable icons and layouts if you have the CSS Upgrade) and enable for all of your WordPress.com blogs simultaneously:

From Dashboard > Settings > Sharing

Yep. It’s that simple and lovely.  PLUS you can allow or disallow the showing of the sharing buttons on a per post basis as easily as you can select to allow comments and likes or not at the end of every post you make. Sharing, user minded blissful functionality and happiness all in one. My Thursday is now going to be gorgeous.  Thanks again WordPress!

Sleepless much?


How many hours do you get of shut eye? I average anywhere from 4-7 and if insomnia strikes I’m lucky to get 3-5 broken hours of sleep. Being a night owl, it makes it hard to sleep early as I like to be up and find that the night is the best time for inspired and motivated work, but exhaustion does come to pay a visit and I do find myself sleeping out of exhaustion at times and can be found irritated when I can’t stay awake longer and log away more productive hours.

Parents Connect by Nickelodeon hosted a recent post on Facebook which asked the question: How much sleep do you get a night?

The Results from 53,873 people who voted as of 8/9/2010:

12%  –   Under 4 hours
67%  – 4 to 7 hours
21% – More than 7 hours

It seems that nearly 70% of the sample size are only catching 4 to 7 hours of sleep.  According to endless amounts of studies like this one, this number should be closer to 7 to 8 hours of sleep since that is considered as healthiest for most people.

Granted that said poll was taken with a sample size targeted initially to parenting adults to gauge how much sleep they were getting – a quick browse shows that adults, parental or not answered this poll with enthusiasm.  The overwhelming conclusion is that few people are getting the sleep they need – and it poses some interesting questions.

In these economic times – felt and realized or not, dependent on one’s own individual and independent circumstances – could very likely have an indirect correlation to this increasing lack of sleep.  Everyone is working increasingly long hours or studying – or perhaps a combo of both.  Even our stay at home counterparts are likely affected by the longer hours worked by friends and family – gone are the days where a job meant a predictable 9 to 5 hour schedule – hours are prolonged and climbing at work and that does translate to those closest to you as their schedules are also disrupted.  As the web makes it able for us to be up and working, social networking, keeping up with the millions of updates around the world 24/7 one begs to know what one can do to keep awake and yet get the sleep they need to be fully functioning as a human.  If anything the recurring theme in my life and likely yours is that needing to stop and sleep and not being able to just carry on being a human droid and just hammer out deliverables and live life well around the clock is becoming something of a nuisance to your own effectiveness and productivity levels – unless you’re one of the envied few who have truly made it and have made a living enough to just enjoy a bit or have someone else stay awake and do the work for you. <Lucky ducky>

According to Business Week the problem, in a nutshell-to-go is this: “Succeeding in today’s economy requires lightning-

Bloomberg BusinessWeek

fast reflexes and the ability to communicate and collaborate across the globe.  ‘We’ve added a new set of standards without fully dropping the old,’ says Thomas H. Davenport, professor of information technology and management at Babson College and author of the new book Thinking for a Living…That helps explain why time pressures seem to be getting worse. Globalization and the Internet create great new opportunities, but they also ratchet up the intensity of competition and generate more work — especially with the existing corporate structure still hanging on tightly.” Even if the remark is dated as far back as 2005, this often holds true today – startups and enterprises are engaged with one another more than before and as the enterprises angle to compete in the online space and as startups sprint and sometimes clumsily disrupt the old ways of doing business with faster web enabled solutions.  The two worlds do continue to collide and even the best run start ups still experience enough growing pains internally between the demands of the web and the supply of human capital that can oil the machine and keep things humming in sync.

Curiously, in the aim to conduct an informal study of my own, how many hours a week do you sleep?  What keeps you from getting more sleep?  Do you feel there might be a correlation between the web’s existence and the access to information and activities around the clock and sleeplessness?  Is sleeplessness attributed to lifestyle or is sleep cycle just dependent on life stage?  It would be interesting to create a more in depth study of sleep patterns and preferences matched to life stages, age, lifestyle and even going so far as to also analyzing the effects of being an early bird over a night owl over a course of years – though I’m sure this study exists in some government or science archive someplace.

Is sleep listed as a hobby of yours as well – I know it is for me, since I get so little of it – but then again, after a while now it seems I’ve adjusted and sometimes wake up early bursting to get the day started and to check off all the many things that pile upon my checklists of tasks and deliverables.  In a world that doesn’t stop, those closest to me also are on the go and making things happen so we all make the most of our time together and apart and keep doing what we do best or what we desire most- living life in full with just a few cloudy memories of college days when sleeping in til 1pm on a Saturday as opposed to organically waking up by 9am was a norm.  At the end of the day, studies aside, what matters most is that we enjoy what we are doing – get that right and it no longer matters how long you’re sleeping or not – but that you get to keep the inspiration and passion alive to keep iterating and moving forward.  After all, we’ve only actually got but one life – might as well live it well  and make the best of our time together in this mad and glorious world of old and new – asleep or awake!

Have a Lenovo? Don’t toss it out for web connectivity issues yet!


To be clear I adore my 10-inch Lenovo PC. Being that it is a heavy duty little machine that is mighty. At 2.4 pounds, it serves as a heavy duty but compact machine albeit it’s still no ultra mobile Asus – it offers better functionality overall and is just perfect for on the road PC work. Better yet the battery life is eaily 6 hours at least.

This Lenovo also has the usual ports, including a VGA, an Ethernet, a mic, and headphone input and a 4-in-1 card reader. Unfortunately it has only 2 USB ports and does have a tracking ball mouse, which does take some getting used to.  While it may not exactly fit in the palm of my hand with such dexterity as in these images, the Lenovo 10-inch is the perfect combination of compact size, memory, speed, functionality and battery life for me.

The only real issue I’ve ever encountered which inevitably almost had my chucking my beloved Lenovo out the window was the internet access issues that come as a default with any Lenovo system.  Are you a Lenovo owner?  

If so…you’re probably also sitting there scratching your head figuring out how to get two competing internet access systems to quit competing and sabotaging each other while all you want is a web connectivity program that works without connecting seamlessly at times and other times not at all or conflictingly and needing a restart. In a word…it is FRUSRATING.

Alas! Fret no longer, the solution is here thanks to a quick chat with an IT guru and a confirmation by @lizasperling (also a Lenovo owner who was advised by Lenovo pals to do the same)! All you have to do is go to your Control Panel, then select uninstall progam under the Programs icon and uninstall the ThinkVantage Access program. That will end all of your web connectivity issues and you will be left with the dreamy compact PC you always yearned for – the one that you can take anywhere and connect to the web seamlessly and work and be connected like the happily mobile person you are. (Still in doubt, I just advised @psauer of @plancast to do the same and I not only didn’t break his computer, it WORKED!!! Woot!

@OldSpice Took Social Media Branding To A New Level


Those of us watching 2009’s Superbowl met Isaiah Mustafa, who would become @oldspice guy, first while he was riding a horse backwards and almost naked during the ad campaigns’ SuperBowl debut of what was sure to be a series of brand outreach commercials.  The only thing we knew for certain at that point was that this man was guaranteed to surface again – as is Super Bowl advertisement tradition for as far back as I, and possibly even you, can remember – a SuperBowl advertising campaign debut could only mean more storylines were almost guaranteed from the brands with pockets deep enough to spend that kind of cash on the coveted few second spots that were available and always intensely lusted and sought over by marketing managers and directors since the investion of SuperBowl TV ads.  Cue the eTrade babies and M&M self depreciating but enjoyable ads and the proof is as undeniable as how intrigued we all were with Folger’s story line advertorials of days past when we were all curious as to what the next sequence would unravel.

Mister Isaiah Mustafa has now been featured in almost every talk show and news/radio show in the US. ESPN, CBSNewsOnline, Ellen Degeneres,XM Sirius Radio and more have interviewed the man [fully clothed] with and without that accent, and he has refreshingly and gracefully demonstrated a level of humility, good humor and down to Earthness rarely seen when it comes to any duration of fame.  Watch his modest and down to Earth interviews and you’ll discover an entirely different guy from the @OldSpice guy persona that toes the line to being subtly obnoxious in a delivery of graceful good humor.  Isaiah, the former pro football player turned actor is funny, good natured and humbly grateful with a sincerity that makes me just want to wish him well in his career as an actor.  Only someone who has a secure sense of self and a level of graceful dignity can deliver such unoffensive performances of what can easily be over obnoxious ego all while walking on a plank and ending up on a horse seamlessly.  Kudos are definitely due.

What is undeniable is that @OldSpice was armed, ready and did execute what will be remembered as THE 2010 viral media campaign, unless some other company decides it will give Proctor & Gamble a run for its money.  The Wieden+Kennedy agency that orchestrated such a viral social media campaign of a level of response and engagement that was beyond any brand’s outreach – they took advantage of every open avenue that social media lends in brilliant execution beginning with a TV campaign, truly not just engaged but participated with the audience and sparked an entire personality and ad campaign of immense popularity.  (Pretty sure there will be some OldSpice guy costumes when Halloween rolls around.)

Incredible when we think about the amount of people this campaign will eventually reach before it becomes yesterday’s news or some case study to refer back upon, but the fruits of such a well thought campaign executed to a level of traction that many in house and contracted marketers and PR professionals would drool over, has yet to be confirmed to lift sales or provide any real ROI

and when those numbers come rolling in – I’m sure we’d all love to see if that helped to boost a brand that is seen at best as the “aftershave my dad and his dad wore.”  Since no one can accurately report on positive results in public as of yet, all things considered, at the very least this campaign can soundly be attributed to a solid branding effort on behalf of Old Spice who’s history of tongue in cheek attempts at appealing to younger generations has often missed the mark and rarely gained anything beyond a raised eyebrow as far back as this ad here from 2007.  While it’s true that branding means that the direct correlation between impressions and return on investment may questionably not be accountable in the long run – the success in this campaign’s ability to bring a brand that many of us haven’t heard from in quite some time back from its shelf and on the tips of everyone’s tongue in media today is and was a brand visibility success in and of itself that should not go uncelebrated.

Social marketing is still a new field.  The greatest winners of social media campaigns when it comes to money thus far seem to be charities with strong social media campaigns, strong brands and real world problems to solve that have truly used savvy and effective social media tactics to generate a level of visibility that might have previously been hard to obtain without thousands of dollars invested for every message.  The Red Cross had risen $158 million from its social media campaign to help Haiti in January of 2010 from the web and via text messages alone. Charity:Water raised over $250,000 in funds in just one night as the charity sponsor of the Twitter crowdsourced Testival events that were launched last year and continues to raise more money towards an amazing cause to bring clean water to third world countries of which an estimated 5,000 children die everyday of bad water.  Short of being able to truly target and engage with your audience like never before, social media is still a media that lends itself to lots of A/B testing just like every other online marketing vehicle.  One thing remains certain, when it comes to a successful social media campaign @OldSpice found the right spokesman to deliver a branding home run while “on a horse.”  Don’t believe me? The video below has been viewed over 15.5 million times on YouTube alone – and that’s just one of many @OldSpice videos that have since graced YouTube, starring Isaiah to @Alyssa_Milano to @trev4real. So while ROI success of the @OldSpice‘s social media campaign is still to be confirmed, in terms of branding and best use of social media – Old Spice has taken Social Marketing and viral campaigns to a whole new level to consider. Cheers to that!

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS
A friendly Twitter discussion just occurred with my friend @AntiFreeze, over branding in the case of @OldSpice possibly not being the outright successful branding campaign when it comes to sales that it could have been should it have also employed some direct marketing tactics. I am in agreement and do believe that the uplift in sales might have been much more accountable and could have pointed to at least a degree higher of directly attributable sales success should the campaign have also called for some sales to be driven via discount promotional codes or a call to action of some sort. (Since the figures are owned by Proctor & Gamble we may never know what the success was measured on or how the campaign truly performed unless they share the figures with us.)

So to be clear, this blog post is definitely a praise for the execution, creativity and strategies behind the deployment of a successful social marketing campaign when measured in terms of visibility, popularity and reach. Also of note is that there didn’t seem to be a specific product ever mentioned so when measured as a branding campaign akin to traditional media campaigns, the brand itself did get back on the top of our minds, however fleeting that may be. It was a brilliant campaign and we both share a hope that things pick up for Old Spice.

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