Thursday, August 28, 2008

Were morning radio jockeys the first bloggers?

I was shaving the other morning, listening to my local radio program as I do every day. As I listened to the Morning Hottub as the program is called, it occurred to me that what the guys and gals on air were doing was actually very similar to my own blogging.

Of course, the medium is different, but the similarities in what they do and what we as bloggers do are striking.

First off, we are both consuming information on a variety subjects, from a variety of sources, digesting it so to speak, and spitting it back out in a form that resonates with our audience.

Second, we get the information out to our audience first. In this case, I heard from them about Paul (sorry, Sir Paul) McCartney’s upcoming concert in Israel and about Matthew McConaughey’s dad dying while having sex long before I read it in my morning paper.

Third, we editorialise the content. Radio jockeys always have an opinion, a position on the subjects they discuss. If it’s a controversial position, all the better. In the same way, an interesting blog is one that is original and addresses a subject with a new, insightful perspective. And great bloggers aren’t afraid of a little controversy; quite the opposite, as long as it helps get our message across!

Finally, and this is perhaps the most important thing bloggers and radio jockeys have in common, we are both actively trying to engage our audience. Radio jockeys do it with phone-ins, contests, etc. Bloggers do it by asking questions and engaging readers through comments. That bond with your audience is what makes both a great radio personality AND a great blogger. Remember that the next time you listen to your morning radio show!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Facebook Hotties as a business training tool?

OK, I admit it. I don’t use Facebook only for business/networking purposes. I do play the occasional game. As a matter of fact, I have become fascinated by one of the applications available on Facebook called You’re a Hottie, and so should you!

Basically, you buy and sell hotties (other Facebook users) to make money and increase your Net Worth. It is quite addictive in itself but it has more to it than meets the eye.

In order to be successful, you need to be able to recognize a “good deal”, a hottie whose value you can increase and sell back at a profit. This means you have to understand the Hotties market, pick-up on buying and selling trends, and know when to buy and when to sell. You can check to see recent trades on any hottie of interest to help you decide if this hottie is indeed a hot property or simply overinflated.

You can increase your hotties value by petting them (groan) once every 24 hours, or by placing them in a manor. Manors increase the value of your hotties quickly but you have to buy the manors and incur maintenance fees that cut into your cash flow. But before you crank up the value of your hotties, you need to understand offer and demand for the Hotties market.

You have to judge how much you can increase the value of a particular hottie so that he/she will sell well on the market. If you don’t increase the value enough, you will make only a meagre profit on your investment. On the flip side, increase the value too much and the hottie in question could become unsellable, too expensive for the market. Another wrinkle - since the pictures are pulled from the user’s profiles, they change when the user changes his/her main picture. This means you also have to decide whether this picture is likely to stay for a while or change often. That hottie in a bikini could quickly become a shot of a baby, or of the family pet. All this to say that you are going to need to develop a buying/selling strategy, test it out, and make adjustments accordingly.

Marketing is very limited. You can offer your hotties for sale to other owners using a button and then, only once a day. You can also give them a nickname which basically provides you a space to put teaser text so others will want to buy your hottie. Since you only have about 12 characters of space, you need to write killer short copy. This alone is great business practice!

Is this application going to turn you into a cutting edge business man/woman? No. But it is a great mental exercise that will help keep you sharp and hone your business acumen. It will also help put you in the right state of mind. Opportunities come our way regularly - the trick is in recognizing those opportunities and seizing them when they present themselves. And that is how play becomes pay!

Tip: When considering buying a hottie, check to see if the present owner has bought this hottie more than once recently. This might mean he/she is emotionally attached to the hottie and will buy him/her back from you (a quick profit for you) if you buy the hottie from them. (Do check if they have sufficient funds to buy the hottie back though!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Girl on the corner

In an age of rush-rush, digital media, reality tv (that’s never quite as real as they would have us believe) and get-the-most-bang-for-your-buck philosophy, the little things are often set aside in lieu of the “bigger picture”, little things like a friendly smile handed out with the morning paper.

On the corner of Wellington and Bank st. in downtown Ottawa, a young woman hands out free copies of Metro, a local daily newspaper. The young woman is pretty but that’s not what you notice – it’s the beaming smile that lights up her face like fireworks.

Now, before you assume that she is smiling at me for my rugged handsomeness and charm, you should know that she smiles at everyone, whether they take a newspaper from her or not. She hands out smiles like she hands out papers, freely and without expecting anything in return. And every morning, I wonder how she does it.

After all, her job is not glamorous by any means. And I can’t imagine it pays very well. Plus, it requires her to get up early and stand on a street corner for extended periods of time. And yet there she is, day in day out, rain or shine, offering a bit of free news to the hundreds of people who get off the bus on that corner, and so much more; more, I would think, that even she realises. It’s like your morning cup of coffee – it wakes you up and makes you feel good.

There is no moral to this story. A smile won't change the world but the little things do count. And on a dreary workday morning, her smile brings just that extra little bit of warmth that can make all the difference in your day.

It's a terrible thing to lose someone.

It's a terrible thing to lose someone. To know you will never again be able to touch them or hear their voice. It is painful and tragic. But a greater tragedy still waits for us down the road - when their memory starts to fade from our mind...

Maman (mama) Bédard was not family but she had been a part of my family's life since before I was born; since before my mother was born. She had been a friend of my grandmother for most of her life. When my parents went to work at their first jobs, she babysat me, as she had babysat my mother some 23 years before. Many of my early childhood memories are of her and of her house. I can remember looking on for hours at the drinking bird they had displayed in the kitchen. It was the most fascinating thing I had ever seen and I never tired of it.

Maman Bédard passed away some years ago. She had been sick for a long time so it was something of a relief to us that her suffering was over.

I thought about her the other day. I don't know what triggered it. A sound? A smell perhaps? All I know is that I felt a tightening in my stomach when I realised I couldn't call up her face clearly in my mind's eye. And I suddently felt very sad. She was slipping away. I was loosing her completely, slowly but surely. I could still recall her shining smile and the sparkle in her eyes when she laughed. But her nose? Ears? The colour of her eyes? It was as if I was trying to look at her reflection in a fogged up bathroom mirror and I couldn't see all of her face anymore. Closing my eyes, I could almost hear her voice. I knew I would recognize it if I heard it but I couldn't recall her saying my name.

As human beings, we have been blessed with a special gift. Long after we have lost something, or someone, in the physical world, we can still recall them in our mind. At first, it is often as vivid as if the person was right in front of us. And the greater the bond with this person, the easier it is to bring up the person in our mind's eye and the clearer the images we can recall. But this is an imperfect gift for no matter how much we cherished the person, their memory will eventually ebb away.

I know there will come a time when I will struggle to recall Maman Bédard's first name and that one day, her face will be completely gone. And on that day, I will shed a tear. But only one!

Because although her face may slip from my mind, the love that she gave me so freely and generously for so many years never will. The head may forget but the heart does not. Love does not fade. If anything, it grows with time and becomes part of you. I know now that Maman Bédard will always be with me and that her love for me is passed on everytime I treat children with the same kindness and respect she showed to me. Besides, to this day, I believe that she still watches over us. I think I might just have heard he laugh.