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Category: Personal

It’s been more than three months since I last updated this blog. Moreover, I’ve written at least five posts, all in various degrees of completeness, that have never been published. Assuming I still have readers (do I? :-D ), you might wonder why. The reason is that I decided that I want to change the nature of this blog but I was not sure in what direction to take it.

 
Until now, I’ve primarily written about social media (with a focus on Twitter), occasionally included internet marketing, and every now and then wrote about other topics.

 
In the past few months, I kind of realized that often what I want to discuss has already been covered in other places, at times in great detail. I felt there’s no point in discussing what I had in mind since I’m not going to add much new.

 
There have been other topics – related to affiliate marketing / social media – that I have much to say about. But some could be considered controversial. Quite frankly, I have no patience for flame wars. I’ve had those in an older blog and don’t feel like going through this again. (Ever been in a situation where someone responds to something you said and you just HAVE to respond – only for him to respond again, a cycle that can takes days to complete? I have, and I really don’t have the time to go through this).

 
I also miss having a personal blog. I’ve had several in the past and I’ve always enjoyed the experience. However, these were quasi-anonymous – I was not using my name, though my loyal readers knew who I was. This blog is too strongly associated with my name for me to feel comfortable doing this, at least at the degree I used to do it.

 
In the past several months I’ve also greatly expanded the technical aspect of my business. I’ve gone back to my programming roots, as I’ve intended from the very moment I launched my business. I’ve considered writing about this subject, though frankly I’m not sure most of my audience would find this interesting. Besides, I don’t want this to be 100% of what I write about either.

 
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to do, and so, simply posted nothing.

 
I’ve decided to have no plan. Since I’m mainly writing for myself (my blog was never written with the goal of making money), I’ll simply write a mixture of the above. Hopefully enough people would find it interesting.. and if not? Well, it’s a risk I’ll have to take.

 

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Before I move on to other posts I want to do (and considering my absence, I have quite a few of those), I want to describe a very unpleasant experience I had last week and some lessons I learned.

 
Last Thursday I moved to a new place. I’m pretty used to this by now as I move, on average, slightly less than once a year – so this wasn’t supposed to be a big deal. However, this time things were quite unusual.

 
In order to get moving quotes from various companies, my wife filled the details of our move using some online form. She’s already done this before. Hell, who doesn’t? This is similar to the way you can get auto insurance quotes from several companies – I offer this on three of my own sites – you can do the same thing with moving companies. We got many offers, invited three to our home to give final proposals, and agreed to go with one.

 
It turns out that one of the companies that sent an offer which we immediately eliminated (obviously a total scam based on online reviews) figured which company we were going to go with. Then they called them, impersonated my wife and canceled our move claiming to be her. The next day they sent their people who claimed they are the representative of the moving company we called. The day before the move they also called my wife and warned her about “scams” so if anything looks out of the ordinary, she should give them a call to make sure things are fine.

 
Considering these, it took about an hour and a half for us to figure out we are dealing with criminals and not who we were supposed to. Thanks to Google, we also found out, in real time, what is next to come: based on dozens of online reviews, this company takes your belongings then hold them hostage until you pay, in cash, an outrageous sum (several times the amount you were promised – assuming you hired them in the first place). All these, however, were based on people who actually hired them. We never did – they got to our place in a criminal fashion. We never saw any review that mirrored our story either.

 
We called the police and the original moving company. After they arrived (the police sent 5 cops!) we heard that neither has heard of a similar case before (though I’d be surprised if we were the first). By then it seemed that it would be better to finish what we started – not our preferred choice, but the police took the movers’ details and assured us that they won’t try to hijack our items.

 
It was pretty stressful, but eventually the move ended despite fears we’ll never get our belongings OR get only some OR will have to pay a crazy sum. Or even worse.

 
My conclusion
Both my wife and I use the net all the time. We’ve always been very careful with our identities. Like I said, I even offer a similar service myself. Scams and frauds are one thing, criminal activity is quite another. It is important to emphasize we weren’t the only victims here, the original moving company was cheated as well (and who knows how many times?).

 
Despite being so careful, this unfortunate scenario still took place. So I ask, how could this have been prevented?

 
My advice
For starters, even if someone calls to confirm your order/move/etc, do not trust this but rather call the company yourself to confirm it.

 
More importantly, I think that from now on, it might be a good idea that whenever I’m asking for quotes, not to give my real name (or to alter it in a way that would be noticeable if someone were to use it). Of course, once dealing with a company, preferably in the flesh, I would use my name. Had we done this, if some criminal company were to call us or come to us using these details it would’ve been immediately obvious.

 
The final option is to avoid using such services.. but I think to have this attitude means going back to the stone ages. We may as well not be online at all. And the same thing could’ve happened had we done everything using phones.

 
Note that there’s more to this story though I can’t share it for various reasons (just yet).

 
Any thoughts?

 

 

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Update

Aug 20

I’m almost done writing up my coverage of affiliate summit (it’ll be 3 or 4 blog posts). But in light of yesterday’s events, I want to dedicate a post to that first. Just need to decide what I can and cannot share for legal reasons.

 
I’m deliberately writing this in a separate posts since I don’t want a really positive experience (affiliate summit) to have even a tiniest connection with what took place yesterday.

 
Back in a few..

 

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Contests are a really useful way of drawing traffic and attention to a site. They can be used to launch a product, a site, a television show… You, of course, know all this since so many companies utilize them in order to get subscriptions, feedback, reviews, tweets, whatever. They gain potentially a very large amount of publicity (at times) for a small amount of money.

 
But let’s disregard that. I think contests are fun. I’ve won a handful during my lifetime and that was always exciting (even if I didn’t want the prize).

 
The very first ‘modern’ site I created is a book and movie review site (I’m not considering the sites I created in the mid 90s nor the eCommerce-type sites I created for work). This site is still up and running – it’s the site I put the most effort into, but, unfortunately, is practically abandoned. The problem is that even though it has quite a lot of dedicated followers (and a Facebook group), it is simply not worth the time I put into it: no ad or any form of monetization seemed to work and I just couldn’t afford working on it.

 
At the time I thought of running weekly contests. I never finalized the details, but I thought of sending a book (of choice) to the person who will write the most interesting book review, which I could use. I thought it would be a good way of getting content, even if somewhat expensive, but more importantly, it would be fun! BUT I was too busy so I never did it.

 
Several conversations I had recently made me feel like running such a contest again. This time, here, on my blog. However, I am still unsure about the details. Nor am I sure I want to go ahead with it.

 
I figured, why not use the blog itself to get answers to my dilemma? At the moment I’m considering that in order to participate in the contest a person will have to:

  • Sign up to my blog newsletter (he can always unsubscribe later).
  • Tweet about the contest
  • Leave a comment that he’s signed up
  • And that sort of thing. Nothing that requires any effort or commitment.

In exchange, I’ll help the winner get 3,000 followers – actually, almost certainly more – in about 10-12 days (I don’t want to commit myself to a certain number of days because this largely depends on the starting point: a brand new user is definitely harder). If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you probably know I’m pretty good at getting many followers, and quickly too ;)

 
For some people this might be trivial. For others uninteresting – many people don’t want more followers. However, I know people who both want more followers but don’t know how to get them. Often they are “stuck” at the 2,000 Twitter follower barrier.

 
A friend of mine said that people might think there’s a catch. No catch. The thing I will gain is potentially more traffic to this blog and have fun. Furthermore, it would involve some work on my end; I wish I could wave a wand and make an account suddenly have 3,000 extra followers – but I’m not Ashton Kutcher, you know (for me he’ll always be the king of Twitter! You hear this, Britney??). Also, obviously I’d need to know the user’s password to arrange this, but he/she can change it every day and let me know, whatever. I truly don’t care.

 
If people think this is a good idea, I’d also need to determine a way to pick the winner. Could be random, could be another criteria, like, coming up with the funniest Twitter Jail joke (a trend I began at the time!). Frankly, I’m undecided.

 
Is this ‘prize’ worth it? You tell me. Let me know your thoughts. I really like the idea of running a contest but as I said, still fine-tuning the details. I only want to do this if other people think this could be fun too.

 

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Since it’s a four part story, here are links to the other parts.
The Prehistoric Times of Social Media (Part 1 of 4)
The Prehistoric Times of Social Media: The Sting (Part 2 of 4)
The Prehistoric Times of Social Media: Cybercrime (Part 3 of 4)

 

This is the conclusion of the events that took place in 1991.

 
One day, right after I logged in as Solarwind, I found myself in a large room filled with wizards. What was going on? A wizard by the name of Destruction (whom I knew and was even my friend!) claimed that they know what I’m up to, that I’m cheating by helping a user. They demanded an explanation!

 
I was shocked! I got caught! In retrospect, I know they caught me easily. It wasn’t that hard to see that a wizard and a player were constantly together. Turns out that Destruction was sent on a mission to spy on me: he followed me invisibly and saw what I was doing. Of course, there was an easy way for Solarwind to see invisible wizards… but I didn’t know it at the time.

 
However, my paranoia did pay off. Because I logged in from two separate countries (separate continents, actually), they still believed these are two individuals: one Israeli and one American. I still don’t know how this fooled them: couldn’t they see we never talked? ever? What, we were telepathic?!

 
So I confessed, yes, I cheated. Yet I still didn’t tell them I was just one person.

 
The council of wizards told me that my punishment would be given within 24 hours. In retrospect, these wizards were pretty formal… I imagine a group of chubby computer science geeks/student corresponding about technicalities and legalities. Though that was in the “real” world – in the MUD they were powerful and almighty entities.

 
I believed that they would delete both Solarwind and Thor. Consequently, I still had a day to be a wizard – so I decided to use my powers for good, to make the MUD a better place. From now on, I am not Solarwind… I am Solarhood (y’know, like Robin Hood?). I shall steal from the wealthy and give to the poor.

 
I went out and found people to help. I went to the shop – which was magically shielded, but could not stop me - and stole all the weapons and armor and gave it away. I created vast amount of gold and gave it to the people. I healed the weak, cured the blind, turned frogs to humans, kissed babies and hugged widows. I did a lot of good things that day. I wanted my downfall to mean something.

 
Then I bid farewell to Solarwind and logged off.

 
The next day I connected and heard the following story: apparently the council had no plans of deleting either Solarwind or Thor. They planned to return Thor to – roughly – the state he was in when Solarwind started helping him, and just issue a warning to Solarwind.

 
However, since I caused quite a riot, they decided to permanently suspend Solarwind (for my nefarious activities. They did NOT approve of my benevolent actions!), and “only” demote Thor to his previous level.

 
Oh yes, I was told, they had to laboriously go through all the MUD logs and nullify everything I’ve done: cancel all the gold I created, take away all the weapons I handed out. It was hard, but they were able to do it.

 
All my good deeds were stripped away. Solarhood was caught, the Man won.

 
I could still log in as Thor but from that moment I lost all motivation to play. I never became a wizard in that MUD. Though, as I briefly mentioned, a few years later I did become one in other MUDs (the internet connection dramatically improved by then – and apparently, most MUDs were vastly easier).

 
Sometimes I wonder what happened to the real Solarwind. My guess: nothing. I’m pretty confident the original player probably never even heard of this episode. And if he did, he must’ve been quite amused of this story.

 
Strangely, after these events I took on myself the Solarwind persona. To this day – two decades! – I often register in forums and other sites as Solarwind. I guess I liked the Solarhood aspect so much I decided to take it with me.. It just feels right. Though I do plan to return it if the original Solarwind wants it back…

 

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Since it’s a four part story, here are links to the other parts.
The Prehistoric Times of Social Media (Part 1 of 4)
The Prehistoric Times of Social Media: The Sting (Part 2 of 4)
The Prehistoric Times of Social Media: Crime and Punishment (Part 4 of 4)

 
(I’ve decided to speed up the posting of this event. Since it’s long, I will still chop it to one more part, and will post this and the other post today. There are other things I want to discuss and I don’t like posting more than a post a day…)

 
This time no recap. If you’ve gotten here, I assume you read part 2.

 
As I was saying, I was becoming increasingly nervous that I won’t make it, so decided to pull a sting.

 
Note that the following took place in 1990-1991, when I was already familiar with MUDs for a while. Also note that this was prior to the creation of the World Wide Web, so the whole concept of cybercrime was pretty much in its infancy. And also, I was a minor ;-) I would not have done this today.

 
With that in mind, I will continue.

 
As I mentioned before, there were many MUDs. The vast majority of them originated from the same code. Every MUD creator took the code, made changes, and expanded on it. However, in almost all of them there were regions that were identical – these were the areas that were created in the original MUD.

 
Usually MUDs grew a lot like real world cities do. The first domains created by wizards would surround the original city, and every new addition was placed farther and farther away. Though some wizards used to outsmart this by doing something creative, like placing a closet in one of the original rooms which would take you to their realm if you entered it (obviously, inspired by the Narnia series).

 
In my MUD, one area was right next to the entrance. I was playing for more than a year at the time, and during the entire period there was no change – it was clearly abandoned. There was absolutely nothing going on there. After investigating this, I found out it was created by a wizard name Solarwind whom I knew (there was a way of checking) had not logged in for years. Since at the time virtually all internet access originated in academic institutions, my guess was that he simply graduated and moved on. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure that was the case.

 
Considering his vanishing and the fact his area was so close to the entrance, my theory was that Solarwind must’ve been one of the original founders of the MUD.

 
I decided I would try and “borrow” his account in order to help Thor reach Wizardhood – and then I would abandon it. I’m not going to say “steal” since I genuinely intended only to use it to advance my own character. Time was running out and I had to do something!

 
Since it was obvious Solarwind was long gone, I was certain he would not even know it, and where he was he probably wouldn’t even care. Listen, I was under a lot of pressure, I had to get this done! We’re talking addiction here.

 
I didn’t know how much information MUD administrators had on users, so I decided to be cautious. I had access to an American account (through a friend of my father) and I used telnet (nice to see some things haven’t changed in 2 decades – telnet is the same as it was back then) to log in to the MUD from that account.

 
This is a good time to mention that every MUD had a God. Meaning, the person who literally owned the MUD – set it up and maintained it. I imagine most MUD Gods were geeky, computer science students in real life. But to us… they were gods! They could do everything! They could even raise the dead – NOTHING was beyond their reach.

 
I guessed that Solarwind must’ve been a friend of the MUD’s God because he was one of the original founders. Yes, this was all a series of speculations, but I decided to risk it.

 
So one day, when the God materialized in the MUD, I logged in through my American account, and created a user by the name of “Solarwin”.

 
I sent the God a message “Hey buddy, long time no see! How are you?”.

 
[my heart was beating like crazy]

 
He responded: “I’m good, and yourself?”

 
[I couldn't believe it!]

 
I said: “Things are great here. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I haven’t been here for so long that I can’t remember my password anymore. Can you help me out?”

 
[Every second felt like hours]

 
He responded: “Sure, no problem”.

 
And before I knew it… I was Solarwind. I was an immortal force of nature, I wielded powers beyond even the mightiest of mortals. I logged in and found myself in Solarwind’s personal chamber (all wizards had one, it’s where they had guests come over. Seriously). My plan worked!

 
With the year’s 2010 perspective, I know that what I did was Phishing. I don’t know when this term was coined, but I probably did it way before. This was 1991.

 
Again, just so you won’t judge me: I was just a teen at the time, it was a victimless crime, and I intended to abandon Solarwind’s account once I’m done. And don’t they say addicts will do everything to get their next fix? I just had to do this.

 
Immediately I proceeded with my plan. To my great disappointment, I found out that it’s much harder to be a wizard than I realized. And worse, I could not ask anyone for help. There was no one to guide me nor were there tutorials.

 
A few years later I became (legitimately) a wizard in a different MUD, so in hindsight I know what I did was incredibly clumsy and awkward. I could’ve accomplished my goal so easily – but I barely knew what I was doing.

 
What I did was log in to both Thor (my real account) and Solarwind simultaneously – each from a different country – and have Solarwind constantly provide information to Thor on how he could defeat monsters. Even then I knew that in principle Solarwind could’ve made weapons that would kill any monster on a hit – but would be caught. He could heal Thor – but would be caught. He could bring every monster to the point of death and allow Thor to “finish it off” – but would be caught. So I did the only thing I knew is safe.

 
I also used Solarwind to gather intel and objects from places unreachable. I even manufactured one of the items needed for a quest – I suspected this won’t raise any red flags.

 
Slowly – yet much faster than before – I was approaching my goal… Thor was becoming very close to becoming a wizard. Then I could really do things the right way.

 
Yet I failed. I was caught.

 

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mud

 

Since it’s a four part story, here are links to the other parts.
The Prehistoric Times of Social Media (Part 1 of 4)
The Prehistoric Times of Social Media: Cybercrime (Part 3 of 4)
The Prehistoric Times of Social Media: Crime and Punishment (Part 4 of 4)

 
This is the sequel to “The Prehistoric Times of Social Media” post. Quick recap: in the previous post I elaborated why social media is not a new phenomenon and in fact, was already alive and kicking back in the mid 80s in various forms, notably BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems) and MUDs (Multi User Domains). MUDs are the prehistoric ancestors of massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPGs) like World of Warcarft, in the sense that every user created a fantasy character, fought monsters, gained experience, solved quests, cast spells, etc – all in order to advance in levels and become more powerful. However, MUDs had a huge advantage over modern games: once a user got to a certain point (level 20) he would become a “Wizard”, the MUD equivalent of an administrator. Then he would be allowed to program his own realm in the MUD universe with any theme or concept he had in mind.

 
This background, while interesting in its own right (I hope?), was necessary in order to share this story.

 
Just like many modern gamers are obsessed – even addicted – to these games (I even dedicated a post on how to break this addiction). I became obsessed with becoming a MUD wizard. I just had to! There was something almost magical in becoming one. Whereas previously you were just a player – as a wizard you could do anything: teleport anywhere you wanted, become invisible, pull pranks (well, you weren’t supposed to), be invulnerable. Since I spent so much time in the game, gaining these… super powers.. would’ve felt almost real. I planned to be a kind and benevolent wizard. Create easy and imaginative areas that would be fun and reward players.

 
Since I was living in Israel at the time, playing MUDs was a major problem. The internet connection of the entire country was flaky and unreliable. Often the connection would just die for a while. Could be a few minutes, could be a few hours. But it happened a lot. Therefore, playing the game was not easy.

 
Some MUDs required a LOT of effort in order to reach “wizardhood”, in particular, the one I describe. I had to skip class a few times. Quite often I used to spend the entire night playing. Unlike today, I had to physically go to a local university and connect from there (I still remember the expression of the night guard who caught me one night… utter shock. He just looked at me and went away). There was even one missile attack sent by Saddam Hussein during the first gulf war… instead of sitting home with a gas mask, I was at the university, trying to kill monsters. Death by biological and chemical weapons? Ha, worth the risk if it means I become a wizard.

 
Because of the unreliable connection, death was a sad fact of life. I always became furious when in the midst of a terrible combat, the connection died, and when it returned a few minutes afterwards, I found myself as a ghost hovering above the body of Thor (my character). Yes, MUDs had an amusing concept of ghosts.. it was necessary to go to a location and pray in order to be resurrected. Every death resulted in a major setback and it particularly frustrated me since often it was not my fault at all!

 
A friend and I came up with a solution: we will establish an Israeli MUD! We sent a proposal to the person in charge of the internet connection in Israel at the time. He got so angry at us for even coming up with this suggestion, that he blocked port 2000 – the port used for MUD connection – for the entire country. Imagine a single person pulling off something like this now… Of course, we easily found a way around this limitation and continued playing, but till this day, there has never been an Israeli MUD to my knowledge.

 
So I continued playing, often dying for reasons out of my control. And time went by.

 
As you probably know, in Israel military service is compulsory. By the age of 18, everyone must enlist for 3 years (men) and 2 years (women). I became increasingly nervous that despite my best efforts, I will be drafted and still not become a wizard.

 
Therefore, I decided to take action. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

 
I decided to pull a sting.

 
It was dangerous and risky, but I just couldn’t accept my dream not turning to a reality.

 

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Me and my son, taking a nap

Me and my son, taking a nap

 

This is a bit different from what I normally discuss here.

 
A few years ago, while I was still employed, the thing I hated the most about the jobs I held was the rigidity of the work schedule. Even though many workplaces brag about their flexibility, and I worked in at least two such places, in practice neither was flexible. In fact, one was the most rigid place I ever worked at: it’s very easy for a company to claim it offers flexible hours as a perk but put so many conditions that in practice it’s impossible.

 
I remember thinking: if only I can get 2-3 hours a week where I come late to work and leave much later to make up for this time, that would be perfect – then I could go see the occasional movie without requiring a babysitter, see doctors if I need to without having to describe my ailments to my boss, etc. But even that was frowned upon. Why? I suspect because if I did this, then my colleagues would be jealous and would resent me and/or my boss. Alternatively, they would want to do this too. And if everybody did this.. well, most companies don’t really want flexible schedules… it’s just a method of enticing people to come work for them.

 
Another point: even though I heard of people working in 9 to 5 jobs, I never had such a job in my entire life. Ever. It’s probably a matter of industry, but the vast majority of jobs I held required at least a 9 to 7 workday, sometimes a lot more. With this type of work day, often there were days I would not see my son at all: I’d leave when he’d still be asleep, and return when he’s asleep. What’s the point of working if you don’t get to enjoy the after hours?

 
Therefore, when I started my own company, one of my primary goals was to work when I want to. If I want to go see a movie, then I go. If I want to take a nap, I can. Of course, there are always limitations (clients, meetings, etc) but still this was my goal. Note that this requires discipline – something that is actually harder than it sounds, but is definitely possible.

 
So I did it. I structured my entire workday in a bizarre way. Specifically, I work around my family’s hours: whenever my son & wife are at home, I am with them. When they go to sleep, I start working again. This results in two shifts: a day shift (10:30am – 6pm) and a night shift (10:30pm – 4-5am). I know I don’t have to work so much, but since there’s so many things I want to do or learn, I feel I need this time.

 
At first I didn’t like working after 1am… but I got used to it. It’s quiet.. no one calls. Now there are days I finish everything I planned to do at 3:30am but still pass time for an hour or more (sometimes just chat or watch videos). I once collaborated with a team who had a similar work schedule, so often we’d have conference chats at 4am – which was admittedly bit strange (even though I do work at these hours, I’m definitely not at my best).

 
I also nap quite often during the day. I think companies would have much more productive employees – not to mention happier ones – if they allowed an optional 30-60 minute nap during the day – even demand that employees work late if they choose this. I find that napping really refreshes me.

 
I’m curious: if you’re self employed, how do you manage your time? What do you allow yourself to do that you wouldn’t in an ordinary job? And if you’re not self employed, what would you like to have as a perfect work day?

 

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Somehow often my best posts involve videos by Darren Williger. Darren created a “behind the scenes” video summarizing our experiences at Social Media 201 which I just had to share (my own perspective is described in this post).

 
I barely appear in this video (fine with me!), part of because Darren’s camera had a hiccup during my talk.. and when I do appear, from some reason I’m whispering (not sure what was going through my mind…). Also featured are Darren, Bille Baty, Jeff Dance, Joe Kennedy, Eric Weaver, Kris Ruby – and even the SeattleWineGal.

 

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Social Media 201


 
Before I begin, I’ll diverge a tiny bit: Years ago I used to get quite nervous when I had to do any form of public speaking. While I can’t say this is second nature to me even now, a simple advice given to me by my Ph.D. adviser has really made a big difference. His advice was very (very) simple: “try to enjoy it”. After years of public speaking, I can say: it’s true.

 
I give the same advice to people who are interviewing for jobs. It might sound a bit surprising, but when I used to interview for positions myself (before becoming self employed) 95% of the time I genuinely enjoyed my job interviews – after all, it gives an opportunity to speak about myself and my accomplishments – so what’s not to like? Probably as a result, I used to be very good at job interviews. I believe the same kind of logic applies for public speaking. When one talks about a subject he or she is an expert about and likes it, the passion comes through and people get it.

 
Ok, back on track. Social Media 201: What a blast! Hard to summarize these three+ intense days.

 
This conference originated from the mastermind calls of a group I’m a member of. We have weekly calls, though since we work on joint projects, sometimes we form subgroups and talk twice or even three times a week. We’re a pretty big group and we’re spread out all over the US. As you may imagine, speaking so often with a group of people whom you share both your professional and technical experiences as well as personal lives brought us together, and we have all become close friends even though most of us have never met in person.

 

From left to right: Bille Baty, Darren Williger, Udi Schlessinger (me), Mike Whitmore and Eric Weaver

From left to right: Bille Baty, Darren Williger, Udi Schlessinger (me), Mike Whitmore and Eric Weaver



 
Social Media 201 included several of us: myself, Darren Williger, Bille Baty and Mike Whitmore, who co-organized the event with Joe Kennedy. It was more than exciting to finally meet my close friends in person – and in fact, it felt like we already know each other. Even “fate” made it more excited: Mike picked me and Bille, we came out of the elevator exactly when Joe and Darren came out of another elevator… the timing could not have been better.

 
So, to me, and I believe everyone else, the speakers dinner on the first day was fantastic. Even though the food was great, it was the company that really mattered.

 
The next day we rented a recording studio. Our goal was to create professional videos that can be used in group projects as well as by each of us for his/her own products. Since I’ve never been in a professional studio (green screen and all), and in fact, kind of avoid doing videos since I never like the way I come off, to me this was a very new experience. However, this was a LOT of fun.

 
A professional recording studio

A professional recording studio



 
Darren and me

Darren and me



 
Darren and Kris talk about dating (in Social Media!)

Darren and Kris talk about dating (in Social Media!)



 
We took turns interviewing each other. Not sure which background I want for my interview with Darren – which was as serious as we get (we never get serious!) – perhaps the Matrix’s scrolling green code. Trust me, it’ll fit well with what we discussed (the future of advertising in the context of the increase in mobile devices: Smartphones, iPads, etc).

 
Social Media 201 at Microsoft Headquarters

Social Media 201 at Microsoft Headquarters



 
The next day was the main event: Social Media 201. The conference was sponsored by Microsoft and Comcast in addition to several other companies, and took place at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond. Since I’ve known Microsoft and used their products since the mid 80s, it was exhilarating visiting MS HQ. I certainly hope it’s not the last time!

 
The conference itself was superb. Obviously, the main theme was social media and how small to medium businesses can leverage it to their advantage, and do so correctly. Eric Weaver gave a fantastic keynote speech. Jeff Dance, Kris Ruby and Bille Baty shared their expertise on various aspects of this process. Darren Williger gave an amazing keynote speech about the future of social media (check out the site he made for this topic).

 
My talk about SEO for Small Businesses

My talk about SEO for Small Businesses


My talk was about SEO for small businesses: how small businesses can improve their positioning on all search engines. Although this is not exactly Social Media, considering the target audience, we felt this fit right in – and in fact, someone tweeted at some point “how come no one mentioned SEO so far? – only to have me talk afterwards.

 
I think it went very well: many people approached me during the break, quoted me in tweets, and sent email to let me know they liked it. In addition, I really enjoyed giving my talk, which might be a reason why it went so well. My favorite tweet about my talk was “Dude’s hip hop” – since I used the phrase “it’s all about the Benjamins” as a reference to getting more business :)

 
SeattleWineGal and Kris

SeattleWineGal and Kris


After this was done, we went to a tweetup organized by SeattleWineGal, Seattle’s female answer to Gary V :) This was great, and I got to meet a lot of great people.

 
And then it was all done. After a few days of bonding with good friends who became much closer in this time, I have to say I was quite sad to say goodbye. Darren Williger is a walking, amazingly funny, personification of energy. Bille Baty is a legend – just being next to him makes a person wiser. I didn’t know Kris Ruby until before but she’s fun, smart – and our group will be much enhanced by her joining.

 
This may sound a bit melodramatic, but that’s how it feels. Fantastic 3 1/2 days.

 
Here are a number of websites and blogs that mentioned Social Media 201. It got rave reviews!

http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2010/04/guest_post_social_media_201.html

http://seattledesigner.blogspot.com/2010/04/business-card-is-still-currency-in.html

http://eco-maven.com/2010/04/20/a-social-media-freshman-in-the-sophomore-trenches%E2%80%A6-sm201-conference/

 

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