Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Movie Review: Avatar

Thought I would squeeze in a movie review before dinner. Avatar is an amazing film. We were lucky enough to see it in IMAX and 3-D together. This created the most amazing visual experience I have ever had in a theatre. I strongly recommend you see this movie in 3D at least and Imax if you possibly can.

The basic story is very simple - on a distant moon, Pandora, a corporation is attempting to mine a valuable mineral (20 million dollars a kilogram). A crew has just arrived, including ex-Marine and now paralyzed Jake Sully. Jake is going to be working with the native tribe the Na'vi while inhabiting the body of an Avatar. The Avatar's are necessary because the humans cannot breathe the air on the planet. Jake adapts to his avatar incredibly well and he soon meets the leader of the Na'vi's daughter who teaches him the ways of her people. I won't tell you much more, anyone who has seen the trailer knows that things eventually do go wrong.

The story is great, and the digital effects are fantastic. You come out of the movie exhausted - the 3D effects are so real you feel that you've been running, jumping, and flying through the movie yourself. James Cameron has re-invented the way people will be experiencing movies. Sigourney Weaver is a wonderful addition to the cast - she has added yet another strong woman character to her repetoire and I loved seeing her in this movie.

So do go see Avatar. A great way to ring in the new year.

The Last Book - A tale of a digital Christmas

This year's holiday season has been a little different for me - I seemed to be inundated with new technology. Most years I get books, calendars, bath stuff. This year was a little different. Because Mike and I got lost on our way to a comedy show in Redwood City (we ended up in the Port of Redwood City and were saved by his iPhone) we gifted each other with GPS systems - yes I now have a Garmin. Gone are the days when I will have to sit with a list of addresses in front of my computer printing out directions from Mapquest. Finding my way to Holiday fairs just won't be the same.

My cousin Chris also gifted me with a very special gift. Chris works for Sprint and he added me to his Family and Friends account for my personal phone - I now have a phone that costs about 1/4 of what my old phone did every month - but even better it is a Samsung Android Phone. So while I traveled this holiday I didn't have to carry a computer with me at all - I could check both my work and home emails from my phone. I haven't started downloading apps yet but it is on my to do list. My packing for Christmas got a little lighter - no need to bring a laptop.

My final gift leads me to the title of this post - the Last Book. As many of you know I am a voracious reader. My home office is filled with a desk, two chairs and nine bookcases heaped with books. And they aren't the only bookcases in my house - most rooms have at least one or two bookcases in them. I have always loved books and I really love reading on airplanes since it is pure uninterrupted reading time. So every time I traveled in the past I would have a suitcase loaded down with books - at least one for every day of my trip. (if you think that's crazy wait till I publish my report on the number of books I read this year - yes I kept track). Plane rides would often consume 2-3 books unless I brought magazines along as well.

All that will now change. This year I received a gift of a Kindle. Yes, a whole new world has opened up for me. I received the Kindle the day before I left for the holidays and was faced with a choice - do I just load up and bring the Kindle or do I also bring with me the book I have been waiting to read for weeks - Stephen King's Under the Dome. I had bought the book to read over Thanksgiving but my food poisoning put an end to that plan. So, when I packed for the trip I packed the Kindle, a stack of magazines, and Under the Dome. I was way behind on my magazine reading and gleefully discarded Time, Newsweeks,and O magazines on my to Rochester. While in Rochester I demonstrated for Kathy all the attributes of the Kindle and displayed the impressive list of free books which I'd downloaded at SFO while waiting for my flight. I read Kathy's books and magazines while in Rochester and a Christmas Carol on the Kindle.

Yesterday it was time to fly home and I put my Kindle and Under the Dome in my carry on and headed to the airport. I settled in at the airport and cracked open Under the Dome and commenced reading. The book was 1072 pages long and I just kept reading. Throughout both flights and at the gates I read Under the Dome, only closing it for brief breaks. When I got home yesterday I had 200 pages to go and I plowed through the rest of the book - finishing it at midnight when my luggage was finally delivered by American Airlines. So that was it - the last physical book I will ever take on a flight. Of course my house is still full of books and I certainly plan to keep buying books. But before I unpacked my carry on last night I compared the difference in the bag with just the kindle and just the book. The Kindle is so light it feels like nothing. Under the Dome was a back breaker. So while I will continue happily reading on flights my reading will now be strictly digital.

And for those who are interested I thought Under the Dome was a great read - better than some of Stephen King's latest books (Duma Key was unreadable to me) but not as good as Salem's Lot or his all time classic the Stand.

I also saw 7 movies while in Rochester so movie reviews to follow.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Deck the Halls

Every year the question comes down to marketing from senior management - what are we going to do for the holidays? What will we do for our customers, our partners, our employees, the world? I just wanted to share a few examples from seasons past.


When I worked in New Holland, PA, the heart of Lancaster county and Amish country, I ran the business office and did the marketing for a telephone company with 25,000 access lines (we counted lines not people in those days). Since I also ran the phone store of course I did a holiday sale, hoping to clear inventory and get ready for the next year's phones. My second year I had goals for PR events - activities that would positively impact our customers. So I did a contest - stop by the office (hence walk past all those phones) and fill out a card for a drawing. The winner won a giant (taller than I am) stocking stuffed full of toys. I can tell you the winning family was thrilled - and we all gathered around for photos for the local paper with the winner.


The next year we decided to do this same event for all our subsidiaries in the state (5 phone companies ranging from 2000 lines to our 25,000 in Lancaster). We decided to give out genuine handmade Amish sleds. These wooden sleds were things of beauty and came with a lovely plaque reading handmade in Intercourse, PA. Yes, Intercourse was in our territory and the sleds were gorgeous. Unbelievably there were people who objected to the sleds having that name on the sleds. Even more surreal to me, the sled maker said it happened all the time and changed out the small metal plaques to read Lancaster, PA.

Several years later I was back in Rochester NY and was having a tough year, my mom had passed away and I had this urge to find a way to make a difference. I was volunteering at the Volunteers of America Daycare Center which was for children who were abused and neglected. The stories would curl your hair - think the orphans in Dickens a Christmas Carol. I was able to raise money through the internal communications system, even getting a check for $1000 from our Ceo when he heard about it. I got a list from the Daycare center manager with sex and ages and off I went to Costco. We had enough $ for every child to get two gifts. Volunteers wrapped the gifts (bringing in their own wrap, tape and scissors) and I even secured a Santa and the Telephone Pioneers donated a handmade teddy bear for every child. Three gifts per child. The day of the event I dressed all in red (yes, I was a youthful Ms. Claus - perhaps Santa's) and off we went. If you want a thrill drive through a busy city with Santa in your passenger seat waving out the window. We distributed the gifts - my favorite moment was one of my volunteers bursting into tears. He told me later that the little girl he was sitting with (he's the father of 3 girls) had told him moments before Santa and I arrived that all she wanted was a doll - she'd never had one before (she was 4) and Dave said he prayed over and over - dear god let Jerri have a doll for her. Yes, she got a doll and Dave was a puddle. How does this have anything to do with Marketing/PR? We had the local tv crew there and a camera crew - we were on the 6 p.m. news and were on the front page of the VOA newsletter.


At my last company each year we'd throw a holiday pot luck - everyone brought in a dish. We would do drawings and you won tickets by bringing in a dish, for showing up, and in the last two years you also got a ticket for donating a toy to our toys for tots drive. Our best year we had over 60 presents to donate.


Through the years I've dealt with a wide range of christmas card catalogs. I've had sales people convinced they would do 500 cards - up until the moment they were handed all 500 cards. I've struggled to find a card that has no religious connotations in any way - Happy holidays, dove of peace with a globe in the background is always a winner.


That brings us to this year. Telle and I discussed doing an e-card. I called our fabulous designer Alex and he and I brainstormed. A big part of this quarter had to do with our I am a technical woman video. So he created the I am a technical woman holiday card. Here it is so check it out.
Happy holidays



Sunday, December 13, 2009

Movie Review: Up In The Air

Up in the Air is a must see movie for everyone, but especially for those of us who have lived the life of the road warrior. You know who you are - someone who has ever had a wallet full of gold and platinum frequent flyer cards, Hertz Gold Membership and knows at least one flight attendant by their first name. I have been a road warrior many times in my career - for one year at the phone company, as Corporate Manager of Learning and training, I went to all 52 of our subsidiary companies- many more than once - in 37 states (this included one crazy drive from Miami to Statesboro Georgia). I was gold on five airlines that year. And one year for 5 months I commuted weekly between Dallas and Atlanta, before I finally moved to Atlanta. Every Friday night I got on the same flight home to Dallas, where I was greeted by name by flight attendants who would, on occasion, upgrade me themselves to first class for the ride home. Yes, I was a road warrior.

George Clooney's Ryan Bingham is the ultimate road warrior - on the road some 300+ days per year he is an American Airlines/Hilton Hotels/ Hertz Gold club member. He is a corporate terminator, going from city and city to carry out layoffs. The use of real laid off people and their reactions in the film is touching and heartbreaking. Ryan's primary interactions in the movie are a fellow road warrior, a woman named Alex(Vera Farmiga) who he romances across the country in places as diverse as Miami, Vegas and Wisconsin. His other companion, a fellow terminator named Natalie played by Anna Kendrick, travels along as a woman who is seeking to automate and remove the personal touch from the layoff process.

This movie resonates in many ways. The reactions of the people who are laid off are devastating. Ryan's romance with Alex is captivating. Clooney and Farmiga have a wonderful chemistry. And the trio's experience at a conference resonated with me as someone who has been to my share of tradeshows. I've even been on the yacht ride in Miami Beach just like the one in the movie.I strongly recommend this movie, be prepared for the unexpected twists and turns and enjoy the frequent flyer miles.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Why I believe in Health Care Reform

This blog post is both an explanation of why I believe in Health Care Reform and also an explanation of why I haven't posted to my blog for a long time. 9 days before Thanksgiving I got very ill - the doctors weren't sure whether it was food poisoning, a virus or something else. Ill enough that we had to call my doctor and go to the emergency room at 9 at night. Ill enough that if I hadn't gotten treatment I could potentially have died. Ill enough that we were in the Emergency Room until 3:30 in the morning when I was finally released rehydrated, no longer delirious and myself again.

So why do I write about this today? I just go the bill from the hospital last night for the roughly 6 hours I spent in the ER. The Total Charges - $19,053.12. When I opened the bill my eyes were immediately drawn to that number since it was actually more than what I paid for my brand new car 4 years ago. How is this possible? I could just not imagine it. After sitting down and catching my breath, upon reading the bill more closely I saw that the amount I actually owe the hospital is - $35. Yes, I have health insurance that rocks. I may even send them a Christmas card this year along with a big box of See's Candy. Seriously - from 19,053.12 to $35 is a miracle.

So do I need healthcare reform? No I don't. But there are people out there, people who are living paycheck to paycheck. People on minimum wage jobs that get no insurance, or who are self insured (as I once was and my coverage was not good). People who at the end of the month are living on spaghetti because they are waiting for their paycheck to come in two days. Those people who don't have health insurance would be destroyed by that bill. I can't imagine someone seeing $19,000 on a bill in the amount due column when they only bring home $7.25 per hour - which is the minimum wage.

No health insurance can destroy someone's life in an instant. Or worse, the fear of such a hospital bill can kill them. I absolutely needed treatment that night And because I had insurance it never occurred to me to say no to going to the ER when my doctor ordered it. And because I have insurance I had a primary care doctor I could call to tell me I had to go.

So I don't need healthcare reform - but for those 1 out of 3 Americans out there without insurance something does need to be done.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Making of a Viral Video

What defines a viral video? What is the exact number that takes it from a simple nice little video to something that is truly a hit? In looking at movie openings this weekend they are saying Disneys' A Christmas Carol (I didn't know Walt Disney wrote A Christmas Carol - I thought Charles Dickens had - silly me) is a hit having made $31 million. I'm sorry but I saw Transformers last summer and it made over $100 million on opening weekend - that's a hit.

In any case - at the 2007 Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando I was transfixed by how happy all the participants were. And their incredible diversity. When we got our video booth funded by SAP for the 2008 GHC I worked with the video crew and had them have everyone they filmed say I am a technical woman, or some form of that. My fabulous interns found all the instances of that being said on all our footage then our marvelous editors at Total Media Group laid it out. Then came the hardest part - the music. Megan and I spent about an hour going through my ipod finding music that had the requisite level of happiness in it for the video then she went to find music that had that happiness. And she did.

I thought the video was good but I was still incredibly nervous showing it to my co-workers. They had known that I was doing some sort of video but hadn't seen it. Their positive reaction made my day. It's not often that people tell you don't change a thing on a project like that.

We launched the video - I am a technical woman at the 2009 GHC in Tucson. What helped the initial kickoff was a well planned launch - we included a link to the video in a press release that went out exactly at the time the video was shown at the conference. The video got a key link on the front page of our website. And I asked all the attendees to tweet about the video after they saw it - BJ tells me 700 people tweeted in that hour. And the launch continued - we gave copies of the video to all our board of trustee members, to all 100 attendees of our K12 Workshop (100 teachers taking the video back to show in their classrooms), and we made it downloadable from our site so anyone who wanted to show it or embed it could. And of course we put it up on youtube.

And so it continues - a teacher I'd heard from in Colorado has shown it to every class in his school. The video has been shown at several other conferences including one in Australia. And it is embedded on multiple blogs and facebook pages including several of our board members.

The video has been downloaded 200 times from the website in over 24 countries. On Youtube it has been viewed 6400 times. The best feedback of all was from a co-worker who's daughter showed the video in her second grade class. One of the classmates said I didn't know technical woman could be so cool. They really are.

So what can you do to keep the video going - watch it and pass it on to others. Is it a viral video? I think so. Tell me what you think.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Marketing: Saying Goodbye to Publications

I've noticed in the past few months that I've been saying goodbye to a lot of publications and as a reader and a marketer that makes me sad. Here is a short list of just a few that we've lost:

  • San Jose Magazine - I subscribed when I first moved to the Bay Area - I didn't feel it was really my taste since it focused on the more luxury market but it was a great magazine to learn more about what was going on in this area.
  • Pink Magazine - Pink did a great job celebrating women leaders - ABI was mentioned in it in an article about Helen Greiner. The editors were nice enough to send me a file copy when I couldn't get it in the stores here. Distribution is a major thing and a women's business magazine didn't seem to fly. The Magazine also did a great Best Companies for Women to work for listing.
  • Memories - my crazy little scrapbooking/card making magazine. I loved reading it for ideas of things to make. Since I did actually subscribe I found their method for fulfilling my subscription - giving me access to some other magazine online was very frustrating since they never send reminders that the new issue is available.
  • PCWorld.ca - who've covered ABI several times. They sent a lovely note to their online subscribers and directed us to other online newsletters. It's just sad to see some great people losing their jobs.

What do they all have in common? All 4 are niche magazines? Will niche pubs survive? Perhaps not. Online and print magazines face the same thing - shrinking advertising budgets, shrinking subscribers.

So what does this all mean? In hard times some companies survive and others don't and the same is true for the media. I know that personally I have taken a very long hard look at all the magazines that come into my house - and there are quite a few. I have taken note of what I read right away and what linger in piles for weeks and months before being read. The ones that linger are not being renewed, the ones that I consume immediately are getting my dollars. So what magazines are you cutting out of your mailbox and what have you noticed disappearing?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Marketing: Shipping is more important than you know

So I'm way behind on my posts - my apologies to everyone. I've decided to go back and look at all the components of the event for my upcoming blogs. The first of these is shipping for events. I know that seems like a no brainer but you would be amazed at the things that can go wrong. Here are a few of my - sadly- real life stories.

At one show our shipment worked perfectly, sadly none of the sales team that were supposed to staff the booth showed up at the show. I won't even try to tell you the sorry excuses they gave me. Suddenly I was in a panic. We had a booth space filled with a sad pile of boxes in Portland Oregon while I was sitting in my office in Milpitas. All those items had to be relabeled and redirected home. Thank goodness for our shipper. He got in touch with someone on site or I would have had to fly to Portland just to bring everything back.

I heard about one show company that went out of business in 2007 but didn't tell exhibitors at their upcoming European show in time for people to stop their shipments. Someone from each company had to go to Amsterdam just to hunt down and ship back their shipments. Sounds silly? Not when your systems can cost upwards of $50-100K.

When I started my current job the worst shipping disaster took place - the shipment didn't arrive. It went to Chicago, which I'm sure was fun for all the signage - sadly we were all in Orlando. That shipper is no longer with the company.

One shipper I actually terminated during a show. The driver had shown up and violated the processes of the show by cutting in line- with an 18 wheeler no less. So he was punished by being the last truck unloaded at the show. Since we had an enormous booth we had to pay all our workers overtime so we'd be ready when the show opened. He had also taken some cash under the table and added another company's load on top of our load - breaking some of our booth components. He also lost several of our items. With all that info in hand I set out into the bowels of the convention center in Los Vegas and located and negotiated for a new shipping company. Then I came back and fired the wayward shipper.

My favorite shipping story is one where everything went according to plan - not that my CEO didn't do his darnedest. Picture this - we're in Barcelona Spain in a tiny 10x10 trade show booth at GSM Congress - the largest wireless show in the world with hundreds of exhibitors and over 60,000 attendees. 1/3 of the booth is taken up with our media server. A media server is not a single item but one that has to sit inside a rack that can hold all the various components. We had shipped the server to Spain at the insistence of my CEO who always likes to show customers what the equipment looks like. I had not let the workers at the show take away our huge crate that the server shipped in. Instead I had draped it with sheets I procured from our hotel (best not to think about that too much) and used it to hold literature and the copious number of briefcases and coats our staffers insisted on carrying to the show every day. It also simplified our move out from the show. The guys all worked together and lifted the server in its rack into the crate and helped me secure it. It was tightly packed ( I crammed all our leftover collateral and giveaways in amongst the components), I put a shipping label on it, returned all our rented equipment and off we walked.

Two hours later I was standing on the Ramblas in Barcelona in front of the Hard Rock Cafe waiting for my team to decide where we would eat dinner. Then my phone rang. It was our CEO who had an idea - instead of shipping the server back to the US we would send it to our sales VP's house in Amsterdam. "No," I said. He argued further, outlining all the benefits of this plan, how it would help them all to have the server. "No," I said. He continued the argument. I thought of the million reasons this would not work - one was that I was not with the server but about to have dinner, the second was the complexity of international shipping and customs forms, the third was that the server was not actually fully functional because we hadn't fully loaded all the hardware and 4th - it had all the stuff I needed back in the states packed around it. Instead I very simply explained, "Did you ever see Raiders of the Lost Ark?" He said yes. "Remember the scene at the end when the Ark was sent into the giant warehouse?" He said yes.
"That's where the server is." There was a long pause. "Oh, never mind." He hung up and I went off to eat.

So lessons learned - a lot can go wrong with shipping so it makes sense to work with high quality firms that deliver what they promise.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back From Grace Hopper Celebration: Many Posts to Follow

I'm back from the 2009 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Tucson, AZ. I know that I should have been blogging throughout the conference but quite honestly I spent most of the time running. Over the next few weeks I will blog about all the different parts of the conference. I am on vacation the next two days then back at work. But I'm lining up my topics and will be back in the saddle shortly.

So have a great couple of days, enjoy the autumn weather and stay tuned.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Movie Review: The Informant

I was looking forward to the Informant - mostly because it was well reviewed and starring Matt Damon who rarely disappointments. However, I was disappointed. The movie is based on a true story of Vice President on a large corporation who decides to go to the FBI about price fixing. What's truly amazing is that the FBI goes along with him and works to gather evidence when in fact he is lying to them in almost every conversation, yet in fact the price fixing is happening. Its too hard to explain in a review but somehow the movie just lacks a spark, the thing that makes great movies. Am I sorry we paid full price, yes. Would I suggest Netflixing it? Maybe. All in all I say save your money and time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Movie Review: Inglorious Basterds

First off let me say that I am a huge Pulp Fiction fan. Quentin Tarentino's other movies get mixed reviews - some are gory for the sake of being gory (see Kill Bill parts 1 and 2) but Pulp Fiction was the perfect blend of violence, plot, and stellar dialogue.

In Inglorious Basterds Tarentino once again mixes violence, plot and dialogue to make a riveting film. He introduces American audiences to a new star, Christoph Waltz who played the evil Hans Landa. Best villain since Darth Vader in my opinion. His character captures the audience from the very first "chapter" of the movie and every time he is on screen he is riveting. Compared to him Brad Pitt is just a pretty boy with a really strange southern accent.

Speaking of Mr. Pitt - he is the one thing I don't feel very sure of in the movie. The Basterds are a group of 8 Jewish American soldiers who's job it is to kill Nazi's and bring back scalps. I know that some scalping took place in the movie - however I didn't watch those parts at all - and I can assure you Marina did not either. Major yuck factor. The Basterds are terrific and even add to their forces as the movie progresses. But Brad Pitt is just not that good at accents - you can almost every time he speaks that he's thinking about his accent. And his effort to play a real man also seems forced. I found myself trying to cast the role of Aldo Raine in the movie and finally I came up with young Robert Mitchum - he would have been absolutely perfect in that role - he had the right mix of Southern Drawl (think Night of the Hunter) and real menace that would have made him perfect. Pitt becomes more a figure of humor every time he speaks, which is a relief during some of the more violent portions of the movie.

So do I recommend this movie - absolutely see it. Brad Pitt isn't in as much of it as you'd think from the commercials and the other characters are all fascinating. Be prepared for some violence - ok a lot of violence - but once you get through Chapter 1 you will see why I am voting Christoph Waltz for the Oscars. He literally blows you mind as he conducts the most civilized and horrifying of questioning in French, German and English.

When is a gift card not a gift card - at Santana Row in San Jose

Ok, I don't normally do product rants - but this time I just have to. I received a Santana Row gift card about two years ago as a gift. I used it once or twice then it became lost in an old wallet. I rediscovered it during a recent purse/wallet reorg and it went into a little wallet where I keep all my gift cards. I went to use it last night and was horrified to find it had expired - which I challenged because in California gift cards can't expire. We went over to the Santana Row Concierge and found out that the card shouldn't have been expired but I did discover to my horror that Santana Row had been assessing a $2.50 per month "fee" on the gift card - so in the time the card lived in my old wallet it lost about a lot of its value.

I got home last night and immediately checked all my other gift cards. None of them are due to expire (I have a lot of Starbucks cards from an old boss who handed them out at the drop of a hat - since I don't drink coffee I use them very rarely but they are great for buying water in airports). So why does Santana Row, a bastion of high end shopping, feel that they have to charge such fees? You think they'd want to encourage shoppers to patronize their stores and if I have a positive experience I'm more likely to return to shop again. I doubt the purchaser of my gift card ever thought to look at the fine print (really fine - I had to get my reading glassed to read it) . As a recipient it never occurred to me that I should read fine print on a gift card since I knew they couldn't expire.

So this is just fair warning to everyone as they gear up for the holiday season - check your gift cards carefully - it seems that Santana Row has found a loop hole in California's law on gift cards/gift certificates. Who knows what other desperate retailers might do? The Santana Row concierge said - it's not really a gift card - she got that right.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Running a Charity Auction

I was horrified today when I realized it's been a month since I blogged. My only excuse is that the Grace Hopper Celebration is looming and I have a boat load of deliverables - more about that when they are delivered, and I was also spending my evenings and weekends working on a charity auction I did up in Lake Tahoe last weekend.

On the way home tonight I was thinking about how to break down the auction into its component parts and I think I found it. So here goes.

Running a successful auction involves 4 key components:

1. The audience - you need to fill the audience with people who have a passion - either for the objects you are selling or the charity you are supporting. I was lucky - I was doing the auction at a fan convention so the audience was pre filled with enthusiastic fans who were eager to see just what kind of memorabilia we had collected. The other important part was that if you are doing the auction as part of a larger event, make sure you don't have competition for the audience's attention. I would have been doomed if there had been a panel against me . But since there was no competition even non bidders came in to see what was being offered. The more people the more pressure is being applied for someone to bid. And some of those non bidders will often bid just to fill a void.

2. The Auction Items - you need a wide range of things to fill an auction. If you only have high ticket items you lose your audience except for those with deep pockets. You want people to win and get excited about a perceived bargain. I saw people ecstatic over winning a $10 item and others thrilled about a $1700 item. Our auction was great because it had a mix of memorabilia, paintings, and some new items - specifically some beautiful quilts and wall hangings made by one of the attendees. I think each of those items (there were 4) each brought in more than $700. There was one I just adored but I had promised myself no more big items.

3. The Team - an auctioneer can not manage an auction alone. The convention leadership supported me by soliciting donations. I put together the auction form and sorted the items in order. My friend Marina (who loves it when I give her shout outs in the blog) spent an evening with me writing up the index cards for all the items. Then I had my intake buddy - Carla - who helped me collect all the donated items, the team who helped bring everything down from my room and setup for the auction; the runners during the auction who showed the items to the audience and delivered the winning cards; and then the team who helped distribute the items. But I will say the most critical person was my facilitator Susan who kept me running during the auction. She was the one who would hand me the card for each item - made sure the runners had it and generally kept everything moving. I know she did a great job because the auction was flawless - we finished on time and broke all our previous records. And we both missed the cruise on the Lake the next morning because we were both physically exhausted. Without Susan the auction would have been a disaster and I thank her for it.

4. The Energy - I used to be a trainer and I always believed that as a speaker of any kind you have to emit energy to the audience in order to engage and hold their attention. I have always chosen to do this with humor. I love it when the energy is there - and it was on Saturday - people responded from the very first and that made it incredible. The only rough part was at the end of the auction when all the energy was used up. I ended up flat on my back with one of our convention director's giving me a Reiki massage - which by the way worked wonders. Pat - I thank you so much.

So the stats- we raised $15,500 in the auction - selling 108 items in exactly 120 minutes of auction time. The next day we raised another roughly $300 with a mini auction which was great fun as well. Our highest ticket item was $1700. The lowest were I think $5. We even had one person bid on something that somehow we had managed to lose track of - it had literally disappeared. The woman very kindly bid to save us the embarrassment of dealing with the seller. When we found the item she kept the item and frankly what an incredibly generous thing to do. The money raised went to several very deserving charities.

So that was my 4th time calling a charity auction - hey I'm from New Jersey - I talk fast. I know this was our last gathering with this group but so many people came up to me afterwards and assumed I was a professional auctioneer I must admit I'd like to do more. Not every day- I don't think I'd survive it - but if you know a charity that needs an auctioneer - well give me a call.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Movie Review: District 9

So I'm on my way to bed but just had to write about District 9. This very cool new movie opened this weekend and it is really terrific. Without any well known actors in it (though they may be well known in South Africa where the movie is set) the movie is the story of a spaceship filled with aliens that came to South Africa 20 years ago. The ship was filled with suffering alien "Workers" who were relocated from the ship to District 9 which rapidly became a ghetto. The first part of the movie sets the scene as a documentary film crew tells of how the ship came to earth, what's gone on in the last 20 years and follows a mid level management type as he begins the daunting process of moving 1 million aliens to their new settlement.

Where it goes from there is completely different than anything I've seen in a long time. It's amazing to have seen two truly unique movies in one weekend. District 9 is riveting, disgusting, horrifying and thrilling all at the same time.

Now, I have to say while I liked the movie Mike did not. He gave it a D+. He felt there was no plot and there were a few too many plot holes. I agree about the plot holes but I only thought about them after. During the movie I was riveted and fascinated. That they could make such a great movie for 30 million was incredible. And I didn't miss having a well known leading man at all. In fact I predict that Sharlto Copley who plays the lead character, Wikus, will be well on his way to being a leading man - he's attractive and hey he's on the cover of this week's Entertainment Weekly.

One warning, there were several scenes where I did hide my eyes on Mike's shoulder - there are some gory parts that are not pleasant at all. Definitely not for little kids.

Monterey Aquarium: Save the Seahorses







So this post is about 1/3 Marketing, 1/3 Non Profit and 1/3 the cool thing I did this weekend. Yesterday my friend Ellen and I went to the Monterey Aquarium to celebrate her birthday. It was a gorgeous day and we were going primarily to see the Seahorses and Seadragons exhibit at the aquarium. It was a case of repeated viewing of tv promotions for the exhibit driving our desire to see them. So yes, TV marketing does work -even on Marketers who recognize what is being done and should know better than to succumb. But a big part of marketing is informing people of what is available and appealing to them. So some personal responsibility must be taken.

Now I've always loved seahorses - I had a dried one when I was a kid I'm now horrified to admit. It was a post vacation gift from my grandparents who saw it on one of their many trips to Florida and brought it back as a souvenir. Those dried seahorses. which are sold in all sorts of beach gift shops, are literally driving these beautiful creatures to extinction. Millions of seahorses are harvested every year for these gifts. So please join the boycott and help save the seahorses from extinction.

If you want to show your kids a seahorse go to the Monterey Aquarium where they can see them alive and hanging out with their friends. You will also get the chance to see Seadragons. They are amazing - that is not seaweed in the pictures - it is a real seadragon that looks like seaweed - very gorgeous.

Movie Review: 500 Days of Summer

I have to admit - Friday was not a good day for me. I was inundated at work, odd things had been going wrong with my computer all week and I was nearly hit by two different cars on the 101 who's drivers were talking on their cell phones when they decided to merge into my lane while I was right next to them. So I was very much in the mood for a blow em up type movie like District 9. But since I planned to see that on Sunday (review to come sometime this week) we decided to keep to our original plan to see 500 Days of Summer. And wow, am I glad we did.

This is a charming little movie about the highs and lows of a 500 day relationship between Summer and Tom, two co-workers at a greeting card company. The first thing you find out is that this relationship does end but we get to see how they get there - the highs and the lows - all playing out in a somewhat random order since you are bounced between the beginning, middle and end of the relationship throughout the movie. And it really works well.

Zoey Deschanel is very lovely as Summer, who doesn't really want a relationship with Tom but gives out so many mixed signals that poor Tom is just never really sure what's going on. Joseph Gordon Levitt as Tom is a revelation. He's grown up extremely well and his acting in this is superb. You can't help but feel for Tom throughout the movie and curse Summer for not appreciating just how much he loves her.

I strongly recommend this movie. It can make a bad day much better, I'm proof of that. I came out of the movie relaxed and happy and that's always a good thing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Women Owned Business of the Year Awards

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting at my desk working on the GHC program when I received a call. A woman from the Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment was calling and asking me to be on their leadership council. I must admit I was taken aback. I hadn't heard of the organization before and I certainly wasn't used to be called to be on leadership councils of other non profits. As a marketer I'm used to securing speaking slots and awards for other members of my organization.

It soon became clear that the role of the leadership council was mostly promotional but I agreed to participate for a few reasons.

The first is that I think that unemployment and its impact on women is a huge issue in this recession. I couldn't help but think of friends who've been laid off. The Women's Initiative for Self-Employment's goal is to create a movement promoting women’s entrepreneurship and to get the word out about the Women’s Initiative’s training and support programs for low-income women who seek to become entrepreneurs. Anything that can help women become self supporting is to me a good thing.

The second reason I participated is that I enjoy using my marketing skills to help non profits succeed. I was able to include the announcement of the Women-Owned Business of the Year Awards in our newsletter and of course I'm telling everyone who reads this blog about it. I've also passed on the info to others I know so they can help seek more nominations.

The third reason is I participated is that I love to network and meet new people. The leadership council met a few days ago and it was great connecting with people in other organizations that are helping like the local Chambers of Commerce and the Santa Clara Convention Center.

The fourth reason is that as a member of the leadership council I'll get to go to one of the awards ceremonies which will be held in November. Google, as I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, is a major supporter of non-profits and it's always great to be able to participate in one of their events.

And the final reason I chose to participate is a personal one. When I was a kid my dad passed away and my mom needed to go find a job. We'd had the money for her to not work for a while but at one point it was just the two of us and something in the house broke. We had to trade my dad's small boat (which lived under our front porch) to have the repairs done. I remember being scared but we were very lucky, good friends of my father helped her get a job at his old company where she was very successful. I've always remembered that scary time and believed that everything possible should be done to enable women to be self-supporting, to earn a good living for themselves and their children. The Women's Initiative for Self-Employment supports women so they can be self supporting and self sufficient. It's a good cause and I encourage you to let women you know who own their businesses to submit for these great awards.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Seminar at Google on Google Tools

Life has gotten really hectic with everything converging on the end of this month. But last week I had the chance to take a day and spend it in a Google workshop on Google tools along with about 100-140 other Non Profit Marketing people. The crowd was extremely diverse and I had a wonderful time connecting with people at very different organizations. The best part was getting to learn from all of them about their organizations and what they're passionate about.

I got to meet the guy who is running Save the Frogs and learned that over 100 species of Amphibians have become extinct since 1980 and before that we were only losing about one species every 250 years. We all talked about how he can optimize his site - you should check it out for the awesome frog pictures and to learn how we can all save the frogs.

I met a wonderful woman who runs the website Kidsandcars.org. She had a great way of introducing herself - she is first non profit leader I've ever met who actually achieved her mission - she got a bill passed that forced car manufacturers to put release levers on the inside of car trunks. She's amazing and has moved on to do more great work to help save children.

I had a wonderful chat with a gentleman from NPR (of course I'm a huge fan) who talked with me about the difficulty of organizing vast quantities of information on a website.

What was fascinating was meeting so many different people all of whom believe passionately in their work and were equally interested in what I was doing. That day brought me back to work with a renewed interest in helping change the part of the world I can impact and also reminded me to spend a bit more time helping out with other organizations. More on that tomorrow.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Working on Grace Hopper

August and September are for me the craziest most hectic time of the year. I try and take a vacation in late June/early July in order to rest up and get ready. Why is it such a hectic and crazy time - the coming of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Never have so many different projects all had to take place simultaneously. My to do list is heading towards the triple digits, my two interns are working madly and all of us have begun having bizarre dreams about work on a nightly basis. And yet, I'm having a blast.

There is something to be said for the adrenalin rush of being busy when you're in marketing. And marketing for a non profit means that on an almost daily basis I get to talk to or email with people who are being positively impacted by what we are doing.

So while my blogging has suffered my work productivity is ramping ever upward. Over the coming weeks I'll be blogging about all the different things that make up working on the marketing of the conference.

For today, since my to do list is looming, if you want to read more about GHC check out the interview I did for www.bitsource.com - http://www.thebitsource.com/2009/07/30/celebrating-women-in-technology-the-anita-borg-institute%E2%80%99s-jerri-barrett-talks-about-the-grace-hopper-conference/ and if you are a technical woman thing about coming - it's an amazing experience.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Movie Reviews: The Proposal, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, My Sisters Keeper

You may be wondering what the three movies I've listed in the title have to do with each other. Well, they were the movies my friend Kathy and I watched over the 4th of July Weekend - which seems like eons ago. In fact so long that I didn't want to write three more reviews but rather do them all at once.

The Proposal: We saw this movie for two reasons - Sandra Bullock (we just love her) and Ryan Reynolds Abs. The movie is a light puff piece - perfect for a very hot (it was over 100 that week) Saturday afternoon. The plot was horrible boss convinces her secretary to marry her so she can stay in the country; he takes her home to meet the family; hilarity ensues. We liked the movie but if you haven't already seen it save the $10.75 and Netflix it. Note: Betty White steals the movie from them both.

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen: I liked the first Transformers movie - but I saw it on a really hot day and dehydration may have played a part in my enjoyment. I was well hydrated for number 2. The movie was very very very busy. Lots of running, lots of stuff blowing up. The problem I had was that there was no character development and I frequently had a hard time telling the difference between the good robots and the bad. So it was very hard to know who to cheer for during the various fight scenes. We came out of the move fairly positive but over time I just look back and can't possibly tell you a decent plot summary. Suffice it to say Megan Fox did little but look hot - it's amazing someone can run forever in the desert, never get near a bathroom and still have their makeup intact. Shia LeBoeuf didn't have much to do but run around and scream the names of various robots. All in all - Netflix it.


My Sisters Keeper: I knew I could never get Mike to see this one. And I had the advantage/disadvantage of having read the book the movie was based on. It's a weeper - somewhat manipulatively so. Basic story is that a young girl is dying so her parents have another child that they genetically engineer to be the perfect donor. And eventually the engineered daughter rebels and hires a lawyer - a terrific Alec Baldwin - to defend her from her parents. Cameron Diaz does a great job as the mother who is such a control freak that she would willingly force her daughter to donate an organ without ever considering the damage it is causing. The movie does have a very different ending than the book - and they've changed the motivations of the daughter as well so it was a surprise ending for me. All in all a good movie. Bring tissues. I would say Netflix it though - no need to see it on the big screen.

I think I'm all caught up for the month on movie reviews. Back to Marketing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Movie Review: Bruno

Ok, I'll admit it. I'm a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen's films. I liked Borat quite a bit -the scene at the rodeo brought back a lot of memories of my time in Dallas where I was a regular attendee at the Mesquite Rodeo. And I love seeing how Americans deal with his outrageous behavior - some as I would like them to and some not so much.

Bruno is a more extreme movie than Borat since it deals with a flamboyant gay character, Bruno, who comes from Austria to be a celebrity in the United States. I will point out - he comes to become a celebrity, not an actor. The movie ranges from the disgusting to the hysterical. My favorite parts are when he adopts a child in Africa, when he joins the military and when he becomes involved with a gay deprogrammer. As Mike said - I didn't know there were level 1 and level 2 deprogrammers - I wonder what the difference is?

Some parts of the movie obviously don't work - there are some things you just don't need to see- I'll leave it at that. But parts were amazing - and set a few stereotypes on their head. A segment where Bruno goes hunting with some "good old boys" could have been very ugly - instead the 4 hunters merely tolerate his bizarre behavior.

As a marketer my favorite scene was the focus group for Bruno's potential interview show. I've sat behind that glass wall and watched people turn six months of work to nothing but for me the focus group was hilarious. And Bruno did what every marketer dreams of doing - getting out of the glass booth to go explain to the focus group exactly why they are wrong.

So, my suggestion is rent Bruno, make sure the kids cannot possibly enter the room, and prepare to laugh and cringe. More reviews tomorrow - July was a very busy month movie wise.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Let me start off by saying that I am a definite Harry Potter fan. No, I don't dress up as a witch and go to the movies and yes, I once accidentally ended up in the midst of a Harry Potter party at Barnes and Noble - we stopped after a movie for a dessert and got caught up in the insanity. But I did love the books. I vaguely recall Mike steering me through the Honolulu airport after I'd begun one of the books and I didn't look up till I finished and we were back in SFO.

So, did I enjoy the movie - yes I did. I'd really forgotten the plot given that I'd read the book several years ago. This made the movie entertaining and occasionally surprising - how could I have forgotten horcruxes. I'm such a muggle.

I won't summarize the plot since if you're a fan you know it and if you're not it will be rather meaningless. Suffice it to say it's quite entertaining to see Harry and his friends deal with Death Eaters, assorted evil doers and snogging. And yes there is quite a bit of snogging in this movie. Rupert Grint provides outstanding comic relief - and foreshadowing of his career for the next 20 years. Daniel Radcliffe is always excellent as Harry - especially when he is under a luck spell.

I must reserve some special praise of Alan Rickman - what a delight the man is. He makes a single sentence drip with loathing so vividly he really never needs to say more. I shall miss his Snape more than anyone I think once the movies conclude.

My only complaint is that when the movie comes to an end you get that slight I've been left hanging feeling. Somewhat like the end of Empire Strikes Back - you realize everyone is simply waiting for the next movie - as are we all.

As a marketing aside - kudos to the studio for deciding to split the final book into two movies. With a 400 million dollar take in the first five days world wide I think that the last two movies are a guaranteed revenue stream for 2010 and 2011. Given that few of us could sit through a 5 hour movie and there are so many pieces people would object to omitting I can understand it. But 2011 is a long time to wait for closure.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Movie Review: The Ugly Truth

Hi Everyone. I'm woefully behind in all my movie review writing so hopefully this week I can get caught up. I've seen a ton of movies in July. So I'm going last in first out. Tonight Mike and I went to see the Ugly Truth. And we had a good time. Mike was a good sport - be warned guys the theatre is about 80% women. We both thought the movie was very funny. Basic story is simple - uptight tv producer (Katherine Heigl) and rough neck tv commentator (Gerard Butler) meet and fight and well you'll have to watch it to see what happens. He decides to help her get a new boyfriend - her very attractive neighbor - and she does. The movie isn't too long - only 96 minutes - but great fun and perfect for a hot summer night. Could the movie be better - yes - it is fairly shallow. For the Californians - the movie is set in Sacramento and of course Mike was thrilled that our hero attended San Jose State. Gerard Butler is British so his American accent is a bit forced.

By the way - we came home to watch At The Movies - and both commentators said skip it. I think it would be best if At the Movies replaced one of their male reviewers with a woman so we could get a bit of diversity in their reviews. Anyway, if you like a nice romantic comedy - see The Ugly Truth. Beware - the language is a bit racier than usual in these movies but that just adds to the fun.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Catching Up After Vacation

Somehow I always underestimate how long it is going to take to catch up after a vacation. I spent the week before the 4th of July in the Eastern Sierras - hiking in Yosemite, cavorting around Mono Lake and tramping through Bodie (an old ghost town that is now a state park in danger of being closed by the Governator). When I returned I had about 900 emails - I always think there will be more but then I realize when you aren't responding to email you aren't getting the five that always follow the first one.

So last week was spent catching up - running to meetings, making calls, and trying to reboot my brain on all things Marketing. Fortunately I had left myself a giant to do list of all the things that need to get done and this week those items are getting broken down into their components for implementation.

I'm sorry I've been remiss in Blogging but I realized that a vacation couldn't truly be a vacation without cutting all ties to technology. The vacation took place somewhere with no WiFi, no dial up, and no cell phone service. I was able to let my sore shoulders take a break from all the typing and just enjoy the beauty that is the Sierras.

But I promise to catch up and this week I'll get caught up on all my Movie reviews - so be on the lookout for reviews of My Sisters's Keeper, The Proposals, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and from this weekend - Bruno.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Movie Review: The Hangover

I should preface this review by mentioning that normally I do not like movies that mention or show bodily fluids. However, The Hangover is the exception - this movie is a laugh riot from beginning to end. I'm sure many of you have seen the previews - the basic premise - 4 friends go off to Vegas for a Bachelor Party - after almost everyone has repeated the mantra what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Fast forward and three of the friends wake up in their luxury villa and discover one friend is missing, a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in the closet and one of the 3 is also missing an incisor. From there they work to find out exactly what took place since none of them remembers a thing.

The movie has great performances by the entire cast - the only ones remotely recognizable is Bradley Cooper from He's Just Not That Into You and Ed Helms from The Office. And of course Mike Tyson. But the humor comes largely from the great story and surprises that await the crew at every turn as they try to find out what happened and find their lost friend. Mike and I laughed like crazy.

Is The Hangover great art - not really. Is it a great way to spend a few hours - absolutely. Big thumbs up.

I do want to note I give a thumbs down in advance for whoever scheduled the trailer for The Final Destination 3 D that preceded the movie. The trailer totally freaked me out - I am not a fan of that kind of movie and between that and the terrifying trailer for the Orphan I was a little jumpy by the time our movie started.

Oh, and The Hangover is definitely a hard R - not for children. And the woman three rows in front of me who brought the screaming two year old should be ashamed of herself - who in their right mind brings a two year old to the movies - but especially one like this.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Marketing in China: Traveling to a New Culture

Recently I've been engaged in a number of discussions about markting to another culture. I've done quite a bit of that. I spent two years working for a Chinese company and four years for one that was essentially an Indian company. This first story is about my first trip to China.

I went to work for LinkAir in January 2000. In fact I was the second employee in the US. I'd actually gotten my job offer first but the HR/Accounting person had to be hired first so I could get processed in properly. My job was to take this Beijing based company and effectively launch it in both countries. Those are stories for another post. This is about my first business trip over.

So I was hired and spent the first month or so hiring those essentials - a design/collateral firm and a Public Relations firm. The design firm was great - though not the best listeners. One thing we told them was that anything fire related was bad luck in China - their first proposed police of collateral had flames on it and looked like it had been singed. They thought fire was good luck in China. Ack.

My first trip to Beijing was when I had been in my job only about 2 months. It was a long flight - I changed planes in Japan and had a 4 hour layover - I'm not sure Mike ever quite recovered from a long distance call from Tokyo saying I'm bored and I have three more hours - talk to me.
When I finally arrived I had been awake for roughly 24 hours and I was desperate for sleep. Somehow I'd managed to arrive towards the end of the day and my firm sent me greeters - the office manager, my translator and my driver.

To prepare for the trip I had done extensive research - I read 4 books about China, consulted the members of Allexperts.com and did a lot of web research. So when I arrived I was prepared with copious numbers of gifts in my bag for everyone I encountered. I had also learned that Watermelon was a leading national crop. What I was not prepared for was the reluctance of my greeting committee to let me just go to bed. They insisted on taking me to dinner.

Finally I succumbed - it seemed they would never let me go. I was faced with an enormous menu in Chinese though there were some photos. I was in despair - I speak no Chinese and frankly would never even attempt to read it - and so I desperately pointed to one item which I took to be a large sausage . "What's that?" I asked. The translator looked at the item and immediately began an intense discussion with the rest of the group in Chinese. Finally he spoke, "Braised Ass Penis".

I thought I would faint. "Seriously?"

"Yes it is a great delicacy in our culture. Men eat it so they can give their wives many children."

"Never mind".

"No no, it's ok. It's just very expensive - 1000 Yen."

I was even more horrified. What must they think? 1000 Yen was the equivalent of rougly $80 at the time - and more than most people make in a month.

the more I protested the more they insisted but I would not give up. i insisted I just wanted a salad. The waiter suggested Caesar salad. I agreed and we were able to move on. That is until my salad showed up - consisting of soggy lettuce with a large fish on top - the fish was completely intact - scales, fins and eyes. I couldn't help myself - i just had to ask. "What kind of fish is this?"

"Anchovy".

I did my best - between chopsticks and the unscaled fish I was doomed to go hungry - but I remain convinced to this day that I had been offered the Moby Dick of all anchovies - but better that than eating.....

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Movie Review: A big thumbs up for UP

I am a self professed Pixar fan. I love all their movies and have seen them all more than once. Well except for the rat movie but my aversion to rats is one I have no pressing need to overcome.

UP however is one of the most satisfying movie experiences I've had this year. I laughed, I sobbed, I cheered, I clutched my seat - it was wonderful.

The basic story is simple, a lonely old man decides to move his house to Paradise Falls, a remote location in South America, to honor a promse he made to his dear departed wife. He does it by attaching 1000's of helium filled balloons to the house. On the way there he discovers a stowaway and the adventure begins.

The movie is a visual delight - the colors are amazing from the balloons to the giant bird they encounter, named Kevin, and even the house itself. The voices are terrific - gruff Ed Asner, a favorite of mine from the days of Mary Tyler Moore and Lou Grant and the boy who voices the stowaway Russell to the villain voiced by Christopher Plummer. Looks good, sounds good and the movie engages your heart.

I won't spoil the fun, I just think that everyone should run out and see UP. Our theatre did not have 3D (which always gives me a headache so no problem) but if anyone does see it in 3D let me know what it's like.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Movie Review: Terminator Salvation

Despite the mixed reviews I felt compelled to go see Terminator Salvation this weekend - in part because we had to postpone from last weekend and in part because I'd seen and enjoyed the first three movies and I like robot movies (yes I'll be seeing the new Transformers movie later this summer).

The setting of Terminator Salvation is the remains of California after the Judgement Day foretold in the first two movies and experienced in the third. The human Resistance is battling daily with the robots who are intent on erradicating mankind. John Connor is full grown, about to become a father and a resistance fighter who has also taken to broadcasting on the radio inspirational messages to pockets of resistance fighters around the world. He is in some respects the young spiritual leader - though there is a hardbitten crew of older men that are something of a counsel of resistance leaders from around the world.

The movie starts however with an execution in the 1980's. The prisoner - Marcus - is seen years later, remarkably unchanged, and he becomes involved with Kyle Reese, John Connor's father to be (if you haven't seen the other movies it's way too hard to explain).

So, that's all the plot I will share. The character of Marcus is great - he really is the focal point for the movie and the actor Sam Worthington does an outstanding job. He is truly riveting to watch. You realize this because the scenes with John Connor that don't include Marcus just don't have the same energy. I have never been a Christian Bale fan - I think he's actually a very dull actor - and he was lucky to have Heath Ledger in the last Batman flick. In this movie Christian Bale is largely a symbolic hero, the character of Marcus is the real hero and I predict a long career for Sam Worthington.

So I do suggest seeing Terminator Salvation - but I would see it after you see Star Trek - which is still the best movie of the summer.



I think it is a movie that's great to see on the big screen

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Being an "Authentic" Marketer

While I was in NY at the Media Relations conference I noticed a word being used quite frequently in presentations. That word was Authentic. I heard it so much in fact that I found myself in the airport pondering what being an Authentic marketing person would actually mean.

According to Wikipedia - Authenticity refers to the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions.

So what does it truly mean to be an authentic PR/marketing person? Dan Rather exhorted us all to be authentic in our actions and speak truth to power. The blogging panel talked about being authentic in what we write. Another speaker encouraged us to be authentic with the media when we deal with them. Yet no one told us why they think we aren't being authentic. What are we if not authentic?

Then the question becomes how does anyone judge authenticity in this day and age. So am I an authentic marketer? At the end of a long day - after meetings, 3 media interviews and putting together a newsletter if I am not an authentic marketer then I am faking it pretty well.

Let me know how you judge authenticity.

Media Relations Summit: The New Newsweek

Last week, while at the Media Relations Summit, I attended a panel on how to pitch to the major news magazines - Time, Newsweek and Businessweek. It was an interesting panel. It rapidly became clear to me that the only news magazine that I would probably get coverage for ABI was Businessweek. This was in large part because they covered us previously and we have a relationship, the other part was because they were interested in covering news related to business and technology - our sector.

I am a longtime reader of Time and Newsweek and have subscriptions to both. I started getting Newsweek several years ago when my friend Kathy got a buy one get a gift subscription free deal from Newsweek and gifted me with it. It's now one of my annual Christmas gifts (my sister gives me Martha Stewart Living and I now have a friend who is giving me People Magazine - great gifts all of them). I started Time last year because they made me a great offer - 1 year for $15 - such a ridiculously good deal I couldn't refuse. And I'm lucky to work in HP Labs where I get to read Businessweek in the library which is just feet from my desk.

During the conference the speaker from Newsweek spent his time, not speaking about how to get stories into Newsweek, but rather how Newsweek has reinvented itself. It has become in large part a think piece type magazine. There will be more essays and reporters views on the news rather than covering the news itself. He spoke about the redesign of the magazine and how it was making the magazine more relevant and readable. The trouble with a magazine of think pieces and essays from my perspective,as the person promoting ABI, is that there isn't much room for coverage of a study done on underrepresented minorities in technology. In the new publication there are about 10 small articles up front - each about a column long that cover the week's news. The rest was all essays - which looked remarkably consistent at exactly a page long with nary a picture for several sections. The one extended article this week was on the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street which was quite good.

I recognize that each magazine must follow its own path but as a reader I'm disappointed in the new Newsweek (I didn't like new Coke either). I know that with the age of the Internet and instant news and 24 hour news networks, that the news magazines have to change to remain relevant and offer an alternate perspective on the news. But I miss the CW which highlighted what was in and out that week, the one page of odd celebrity gossip (always amusing and quirky itself), the short articles on happenings in odd corners of the country - the crime articles always made me go scrambling to the net to read more details since I do love a mystery and I'm fascinated by how crime impacts a community. And as someone who spends a lot of time proofreading - I'm not loving the font. They did preserve Perspectives - the mixture of quotes and cartoons from the weeks news - but the page seems oddly washed out and less readable.

Still I will continue to give them a chance - I have months left on my subscription and a few of the essays were somewhat interesting though I didn't find them as riveting as the more hard news articles that were on the pages just a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Movie Review: Angels and Demons

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day. Mike and I ventured out on Sunday to see Angels and Demons. I had enjoyed the first DaVinci Code movie though I'd felt it left a lot of the book on the table. Angels and Demons did the same only for some reason I didn't find it compelling at all to watch.


The movie concerns a secret cult in the Catholic Church who kidnap the 4 top contenders for the role of new Pope after the old one dies. Tom Hanks character is called in to solve the puzzle of the Illuminati and save the day. There is a great sarcastic line by Stellan Skarsgard when Tom Hanks arrives - Oh good, the symbologist is here. For the rest of the movie you watch Tom Hanks figure things out - thank goodness he's smarter than everyone else in the movie. He moved things along very well - though of course to build suspense he's always a bit late in figuring stuff out by mere seconds. The death scenes are truly horrifying - but I'll leave that to you to see.

So how do I rate this movie? Rent it. The visuals are stunning - Rome is truly beautiful and ancient - but if you have a decent size TV Screen you've got it covered.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Media Relations Conference; The Keynotes

I've spent the last three days at the Media Relations Summit that was put on by Bulldog Reporter. There's a lot that has taken place in the last few days so I will be doing multiple posts about my time at the event.
This first post is about the two keynotes for Day 1, Dan Rather, Former anchorman of CBS News, and for Day 2, Dan Abrams, from CNBC. And you couldn't have any more different speeches.

Dan Rather, who I remember seeing as a kid when he was a correspondent from Vietnam, was a perfect speaker. He was beautifully prepared - telling two very funny stories that bookended his talk. His talk focused around Speaking Truth to Power and the need for everyone to support a strong and independent media. The media remains an additional check in the system of checks and balances. He spoke of how he discovered that Richard Nixon's White house attempted to pressure William Paley of CBS to stop the investigation of Watergate by CBS. CBS stood firm. Contrast this with the way today's much weaker media, confronted with a punitive FCC failed to followup on things like why we were going to war in Iraq.

Dan Rather spoke for over an hour, graciously answered our questions in a Q&A session and received an enthusiastic standing ovation.

Today's keynote was quite different. Dan Abrams spoke about his formation of a new firm, Abrams Research which hires freelance journalists to consult with companies on media strategy. It seems that this is an issue fo great controversy and Mr. Abrams seems to think that everyone in the room was strongly disapproving of this action - and that we considered him some sort of axis of evil - a lawyer, a journalist and gasp - perhaps worst of all -a media strategist. His talk, also an hour, was very up and down in tone. I felt like we were getting some very odd kind of sales pitch. That since other journalists (those not laid off that had full time jobs) were somehow disapproving of people hiring their former peers - people who have lost their jobs in media and needing a job - he had to explain why his firm was great. I can't help but feel he was giving some bad information. Few people in the room were aware of his firm, and far fewer seemed to care about the issues he was raising. We gained little insight from his talk and sadly no inspiration.

I will treasure getting to see Dan Rather. As for Abrams, I'll look forward to seeing him in the pages of Us Magazine at the hair dresser when he is shown out and about with Renee Zellewegger. A better talk might have been how it feels to go from being a reporter chasing the news to being a celebrity consort being endlessly chased by the paparazzi.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Editing Videos

So, it's been over a week since the end of Women of Vision and the number one email question I get is - where is Padmasree Warrior's keynote video. We were able to post the three videos I created for the event the next day -but the reason we could was that they already existed in finished format.

So once I finished up the general clean up after WOV and pushed a few projects that had been sorely neglected forward, I set about doing video editing. Our great Video firm, Total Media Group, and our producer Megan initially had to take the raw video tape and convert it into a format that I could watch on my computer. Then they sent me the DVD which is 1 hour and 45 minutes in length.

First I had to determine what footage we wanted and how we would use it. For our MC it's good to have footage of just her speaking to use for reference as we write scripts next year and of course to provide to her so she can see how she did. Then each of the speeches need to be edited so they have a clean start and finish. And of course you also need to pull clips - brief bits of speeches that will have impact and resonate if included in a presentation or used as an example.

Now, you may not know this but Youtube can only handle uploads that are 10 minutes and 59 seconds long - so nothing you upload can be longer than that (to be safe I try and stick to 10 minutes 45 seconds max). This was good for most of the speakers but several speeches ran over that time - so once I've made the larger cuts - I always make sure we get cuts that include an entire speech in case someone wants to see it - then I have to go in and find what makes sense in a part 1, part 2, part 3 scenario. When does the speaker pause long enough or when have they completed a full thought or point. You don't want to cut someone in the 4th of 5 items they're listing if you can help it.

And finding clips means listening to many of the speeches over and over to see what stands out as impactful. What got a laugh, applause, etc. What makes sense and doesn't run too long.

I'm pleased to say I finished making all my editing choices this afternoon. The lists have gone back to Total Media Group who need to book a room and an editor and make all the edits, and create the videos. Then we'll load them all on youtube.

We also issued our post event release today - filled with highlights of Women of Vision - you can check it out on the ABI website - www.anitaborg.org.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Movie Review: Star Trek

All right, I'll admit it. I am a huge fan of the original Star Trek. Yes, people have explained to me about the fake rocks, the bad special effects, the occasional bit of overacting. Doesn't matter. I saw the original Star Trek when I was a kid when it was first running. I even remember the first episode - the crew beamed down to an Eden like planet but the plants were shooting poison needles at people. Thank goodness it got a red shirt first but when it got Spock he was ok. I was hooked. My very first boyfriend was even a Trekkie. When I was home with the flu he brought me my very first token of love - Spock ears. I would wear one while we talked on the phone at night. He'd gotten them at one of the very first conventions back in the 70's. I wish I still had those ears - they'd go for a fortune on Ebay but I think my mother disappeared them (along with my Bobby Sherman poster). Over the years I've probably seen every episode of the original Star Trek ten times. And I never really like the other series though I did like most of the movies - especially IV - the one with the whales.

But this new movie was amazing. It is a thrill ride even before the opening title sequence and it maintains an incredible momentum throughout. The casting of the picture is perfect. The new cast does not spoof the previous generation that played the role but they all completely nail their roles. And though the movie is a thrill a minute - they manage to throw in perfect moments of humor.

My friend, Marina, and I had dinner post movie and talked about why it worked so well. First off - as a standalone movie it works. There is enough exposition that a generation that has not seen the original will be thrilled. And for those who have seen enough episodes of the original to understand and know the original characters - this movie has a layer of inside jokes that just work on all levels.

This movie is really the story of James Tiberius Kirk - from the moment of his birth to his taking over as Captain of the Enterprise. The story is different than the one we know from the series - something happens in the first moments of the movie that changes everything. And that's good - unless you are a purist who expects the movies to perfectly recreate the series.

I really don't want to give too much away so I'll focus on characters. Chris Pine as Kirk is a perfect combination of confidence, command and cocky - he captures Kirk's swagger and his leadership skills beautifully. The new Spock, Zachary Quinto, is a perfect phsyical match though he does not have Leonard Nimoy's skill at keeping his face perfectly still and conveying his feelings with a quirk of an eye brow. McCoy doesn't have much of a role but the evolution of the relationship his character has with Spock was beautifully captured and a comic highlight. Zoe Saldana as Uhura is a delight and there is a fabulous twist that is quite unexpected given what the commercials and previews have shown. Chekhov and Scotty and to some extent Sulu are still minor characters but each shines in the movie.


The real revelation is Eric Bana as the villanous Nero. If I hadn't read somewhere that he was playing that character I never would have recognized him. He is completely unrecognizable and it's not all make up - he just is completely different than in any other movie (and somewhat redeems himself for the terrible version of The Incredible Hulk).

I understand people have been complaining about Winona Ryder as Spock's mother. I didn't think she was great or terrible - it's such a minor role I'm surprised anyone even noticed it.

So I suggest strongly that everyone head to the theatres on this hot and sticky weekend and enjoy the coolest movie of the summer. I'm already planning to head back and see it again in IMAX.

The Week After Women of Vision

The week after a major event is, for marketing, all about clean up and followup. I spent all day Wednesday working my way through the raw video footage of the event - noting cuts and edits so that we can post clips and the speeches on Youtube. I still have about 3 more hours to go where I look for inspiring clips that we can use for presentations, etc. I also wrote a followup press release that will go out on Monday. And of course we were tracking the media coverage post event. For a fabulous summary check out www.valleyzen.com for their article and photos from the event. If you go down to the bottom you can see the photo of me with the winners at the event.

We also got to do the nitty gritty clean up - unloading the cars, integrating the collateral back into our piles, and of course starting to through out all the drafts of everything. And we did our debrief meetings - identifying what we can improve next year.

All in all a busy week. Things will stabilize a bit more next week then it's off to the Media Relations Conference in NY for a few days.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Two Articles in the Sacramento Bee

I was thrilled this weekend when the Google Alert I set up to search for Jerri Barrett actually came back with a hit. I was quoted in two articles on job hunting in the Sacramento Bee. Here are the links:

http://www.sacbee.com/business/story/1828201.html

http://www.sacbee.com/1320/story/1828212.html

What's even more exciting is that this blog was mentioned in one of the articles. So if you read this blog because you saw the article leave a comment - I would love to hear from you.

The articles came about because a reporter had seen a previous interview I did with the Christian Science Monitor on job hunting. We spoke not once, but twice as he developed the story. As I said in the article and on this blog - it pays to keep building your network and being open about issues like job hunting and layoffs.

Enjoy the articles. I'll be writing tomorrow about Women of Vision and how it all went.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Movie Review: Wolverine

Ok, so I will admit - I love X-Men movies - they are fun and always have a great sense of humor. And I've been looking forward to seeing Wolverine for about a year now. So, the negative reviews that were inundating Google news all this week did little to dampen my enthusiasm for the movie. And I am happy to report - now that I've seen X-Men Origins: Wolverine- my enthusiasm remains undiminished. As the woman said in the bathroom after the movie - it was like a chick flick only with fight scenes.

In the opening of the movie we are introduced to sickly Jimmy Logan, his loving father, and his glowering brother Victor Creed. Things don't start to well for the family and soon we are racing through American history with highlights of the two brothers fighting in every major American War. It soon become clear that Victor has a major personality disorder and enjoyed the fighting, killing and ravaging of women a bit too much and the brothers end up imprisoned, only to be recruited by an evil Army Colonel Stryker. And things go on from there.

So why do we call this a chick movie. Well it's amazing just how frequently Logan has to shed his shirt, and in several scenes that thrilled all the women in the audience all his clothes - though careful to retain the PG-13 rating for the movie. And Hugh Jackman finally has a love interest that does not try to kill him (see the last X-Men movie and his encounter with the Phoenix).

And the other mutants that are added, and in some cases dispatched, during the movie are also quite entertaining. Liev Shrieber as Logan's brother Victor (Sabretooth) is quite riveting. My friend and I were quite entranced with the character of Gambit and are prepared to campaign for an Origins movie for that character, and Ryan Reynolds did a great job as Wade, later to be known as Deadpool (though in the credits Deadpool is played by a different actor so there was a bit of confusion on exactly what took place there.

So if you want a fun summer movie with great action, humor and thrills - go see Wolverine. Two tips - stay through all the credits. After the first set of credits there is a clip. And many people thought that was the piece they were staying for and left. We stayed to the bitter end and were rewarded in the very last moment with a fabulous segment that you must see.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mingling 101

Recently I was asked to do a presentation on networking for June 1st. Fortunately this is a topic I've presented on before and we have a great presentation that Deanna has developed that I can deliver. So no worries there. Then my hostess sent me a question that echos questions I've heard from other people - ok, so I've left my cube and I'm confronted with a room full of strangers, what do I do, how to I start a conversation with a total stranger? Do I try and join a group, exactly how do I do that?

These are all great questions and I'll be doing an extended article on this for the ABI site in the next week or so, with research and references to other sites, etc. But for now I thought I'd share my own personal philosophy of mingling. You see I'm very good at picking up strangers - airports, movie lines, bookstores, etc - if you leave me alone for a few minutes and come back I'll usually be talking to someone. One of my former bosses would always leave me with the piles of luggage while he went off to do calls, when he came back I'd be deep in a conversation with the person next to me as if we were old friends. Yet if he stayed with me nothing would happen. He would ask me why and I'd tell him - when you're here I talk to you. Drove him nuts.

While some people are extremely goal oriented - they have a target list of people to meet and do research on those people and plan what they want to achieve at an event - which by the way is excellent if you are entering an event with a goal, meeting new people for me is more for fun.

So , how is it done? How do I approach mingling at large events? This process assumes I'm alone - I'm very different when I'm in a pack of co-workers, etc. If I'm alone- I always do two things.

1. The first is I look for people who aren't speaking to anyone. The person standing alone looking awkward. My mom gave me a great book year's ago - the story was Everyone's Lonely - and the theory in the story was that if you assume everyone else lonely then you've found the secret to happiness. If you make someone else less lonely you will make yourself happier. So if I see someone alone I smile, make eye contact and then move to step 2.

2. I ask questions. I just go up and introduce myself. Hi, I'm Jerri works great. Next come the questions:
  • What's your name?
  • What are you doing here? Are they at this place/event for the first time, or have they been before? If it's the first time then I ask why they came? If not, then why did they come back?
  • Where are you from? I have a huge advantage here - I've been in 43 of the 50 states and I've traveled abroad - so I can almost always find a link. It's also a big advantage having been from New Jersey - it's amazing how many people come from NJ, have family there, have been there, or loved the Sopranos. My home town was the town Tony Soprano's mother lived in - people love that. So it's good to build a bridge and find something I have in common with the other person.
  • What do you do and where do you work? Obvious questions but with strangers it's a good ice breaker. If I know the job they do I talk about it or ask questions - oh, I'm in marketing too, what specifically do you do in marketing? If I don't I try to find out more about their job? So, you're in banking - what exactly do you do? Do you enjoy it? How long have you done it?

Once the conversation has gone on for a while I try and see if we have other areas in common:

  • Are you a movie fan? When I first moved to Lancaster PA my boss decided I needed someone in the company to be my advocate - someone the other employees would respect. Since it was a small town and I was an outsider in many ways, he wanted someone who would help me be accepted. He sent myself and the head of Operations off on a road trip for a day to a Water Company Seminar. In the car the silence had gone on for a while until John turned to me and said - you don't like movies do you? Well I love movies and we talked about them all the way to and from the meeting. And that was it - I was in.
  • Do you like to travel? Always interesting to hear about people's vacations and trips. I have a list of places people have told me about that I'd still like to see. And if you show you're truly interested they will talk for quite a while.
  • What are your hobbies? Again it sounds trite but people are really interesting when they talk about what they love to do.

And that's how I mingle. I seldom talk about work related issues - unless I am asked. I never try to sell anyone anything in that first conversation - it's all about relationship building. And I try to never have a personal agenda. I'm not mingling with people because I need a job, a sale, etc. I don't go in expecting anything. What I do look for is interesting conversation.

So what is my advice for people emerging from their cubes and wanting to mingle:

1. Practice - don't go into that first mingling opportunity with an agenda. Look for someone nice and practice introducing yourself and making small talk. And if they aren't interested move on. And if things get awkward - just excuse yourself to get a drink or use the ladies room. And when you come back in move on to someone else.

2. Don't be afraid - remember everyone is lonely and hoping to talk to someone nice and interesting.

3. Be well read - I read about 4 magazines a week religiously - Newsweek, People, Entertainment Weekly, and Time. Monthly I read Fast Company, Interview, W, Martha Stewart, O (Oprah's Magazine), InStyle. I check Google News Once a day to check the headlines. Plus I read about 5 books a week. All that reading provides lots of interesting nuggets for conversation. And if I fall behind on my magazines I read them on the plane and give them away to strangers - a great in flight conversation starter. You'd be amazed how you can make someone's day by offering them a People Magazine on a long boring flight.

4. Be yourself - if you're a quiet person then look for another quiet person to chat with. Don't struggle to be the center of attention.

5. And if you do have a good conversation going on and see another person standing alone invite them to join in with the conversation. Be a person that bridges people together. You can say, Suzie was just telling me about her trip to Puerto Rico, and let her continue. When there is a natural break ask if the new person has been to Puerto Rico and introduce youself to them. And if you are part of a host company do make an effort to introduce people to each other.

I'm always looking for more tips - so what are your best tips on how to mingle?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Key Learnings from the Churchill Club Event

Last night the Anita Borg Institute was one of three women's organization acting as hosts at an event held by the Churchill Club. The tradeoff was very good - we helped promote the event to our constituency in our newsletter and the Churchill Club mentioned us in their promotions and gave us a table in the lobby for our materials. The most popular item on the table? Our research report - all the copies I brought were immediately picked up. I should have brought a whole box.

The event featured a panel discussion with four women representatives from KPMG, Adobe, McKinsey and Duarte. The panel was facilitated by Ann Hummer Winblatt. I enjoyed their discussion a great deal through I did have reservations when the conversation came to the fact that 3% of the Fortune 500 had women CEO's. 3% is not even close to where that number should be.

I did enjoy the panelists each sharing what they've learned. I'll share their lists with you:

Gerri Martin-Flickinger of Adobe Systems
1. Listen
2. Get in your own head as a leader
3. Do what you'll say you do.

Nancy Duarte, Duarte Inc.
1. Don't believe in lies
2. Learn to tell stories in a compelling ways
3. Find the thing in the world you are best at and focus on that.

Barbara Carbone, KPMG
1. Stretch and take challenges
2. Be a sponge - learn anything and everything from everyone
3. Connect with people and develop lifelong relationships

Janaki Akella, McKinsey & Company
1. Dream Big
2. Be open
3. Aspire to be a valued and unique individual

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Working with Your Vendors

One of the things I've learned in my 20 years of marketing is how important it is to have a close, personal relationship with your vendors. I recently had a conversation with a vendor who told me that I had an old fashioned view of vendor relationships. While so many others view vendors products as commoditized, I maintain that it is just as important to have that human relationship. I am very loyal to good vendors, and I have found over time that they are loyal to me.

Here are some examples. A few years ago my tradeshow company had a dispute with our shipping company. I wasn't paying that much attention to that part of it and when my tradeshow person said he could save us some money with a new shipper I allowed him to switch. Biggest mistake of my life. The new shipper allowed some other exhibitor to put their materials into our shipment, packing carelessly and breaking the stair rail on our two story booth; their driver lied and cut the line at the next tradeshow causing our shipment to be moved to the very end of the line, and he then somehow managed to lose 2 of my very expensive leather chairs. When I found out I was beyond livid. I immediately searched the show for my old shipper, apologized profusely, rehired him on the spot, then hunted down the new shipper and fired him. I also itemized the costs of all the damage he had caused (we had to replace the chairs and stair rail and pay overtime to the booth builders because of his being the last one to the show) and deducted them from the half payment we were making to the "new"shipper for getting us to the show. Because my tradeshow people had always been good to me I forgave them but I forced the two companies to reconcile to the point where they would at least both support me. So I've learned that when you have a great vendor you stick with them - you may save a few dollars by switching but you can get burned on the other end.

Another example is our printer. They have dealt with a great deal of nuttiness on our part - especially last year - we gave them a lot of tight deadlines and they always came through. When other people send me solicitations or suggestions for other vendors they end up deleted - it is worth a penny or two a copy to know that everything will get delivered on time and in perfect condition.

On the flip side - I am also very willing to take care of my vendors - I make sure they get visibility with ads in our programs, invitations to our local events, etc. So many smaller businesses today are struggling I want to be sure that my vendors survive.

One story I've heard about a not good vendor. A friend went on a trip to a Skating event earlier this month. When they arrived they discovered that even though the tour group had prepaid the hotel through their tour coordinator the hotel had their reservations but no record of the prepayments. It turned out that the vendor had disappeared - taking the hotel deposits with her, plus all the prepayments for the next event in January. It served as a reminder to me that good vendors are like gold. Sadly my friend is out several thousand dollars, had to pay for her hotel room twice and can no longer attend an event she's been to every year for the past 15 years. She had the Bernie Madoff of Travel Agents.

So the moral is take care of your good vendors but always keep an eye on what's going on.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Check Out My Guest Blog on Non Profit Conversations

One of the great ways to increase visibility is to do writing as a guest blogger, guest columnist, etc. It's a great way to gain access to a different audience. I wrote a blog post this week for NonProfit Conversations. The blog post was all about how the Anita Borg Institute launched a new program - Savvy Geek Chix. Enjoy.

Nonprofit Conversation - http://nonprofitconversation.blogspot.com/

The Marketing of Earth Day

What a great job has been done this year by the media companies for Earth Day. What used to be an event that only the staunchest environmentalists and school children paid attention to is now a global event. Every TV show that can has had an Earth Day Theme. Oprah herself devoted an entire episode to Earth Day, the giant garbage swirl the size of Texas is an image that will stick with me for a long time.

Earth the movie opened today - a must see. We're going to see it this weekend - hopefully. Anything that reminds us that we are not the center of the world, and that increases our appreciation of nature, is a good thing.

And HP had signs up the last two weeks outlining activities at all of its locations for the employees.

For myself, I spent today at home - not using gas, taking a walk to the library, looking carefully on what can be recyled, donated and re-used rather than tossed into the garbage and ending up in a landfill.

So, what did you do for earth day?