Social Media

Travel While You Work: Tips for Taking the Show on the Road

Despite what you may think, this isn't what my remote working experience looks like. A) This is an ergonomic disaster and b) I'd knock my laptop into the sea accidentally...

Despite what you may think, this isn’t what my remote working experience looks like. a) This is an ergonomic disaster and b) I’d knock my laptop into the sea accidentally…

Over the past month, I’ve been on the road traveling more than usual. Fortunately the nature of my work is 96% achievable remotely, so I can go on a road tear and work on-the-go.

  1. Go Offline. Spotty or non-existent wifi can be an issue when you’re on the go. I took a bus to Boston for Halloween weekend (there are so many reasons why I chose not to drive, but we don’t need to discuss them here). While wifi is offered on the bus, I’d vaguely remembered it being unreliable/weak. I’d kind of planned for this, so I used my phone for email and the occasional Google search, while working in Google Drive offline. Everything updates when you get back to wifi.
  2. Get Charged. Most buses and trains have places where you can charge your electronics, but sometimes you don’t have that option, and it’s time to think a little differently  Last year, my Gram Strout gave me a portable charger she saw on QVC on a late night t.v. show and it’s been one of the best gizmos for traveling. I’ve only ever used it for my phone, but it can hook up to just about any device you have. Here’s a recent list of portable chargers from Best Buy (in case you didn’t get any Black Friday deals today).
  3. Find office space. I love my family, but if I need to get some work done, I have to actually leave their vicinity. This week I tried using the “Business Room” at the Hampton Inn. While I completely appreciate this was offered to guests, it was kind of weird. First, because it was a tiny room with two computers and a printer- and to be honest, the idea of multiple people working in that room seemed like wishful thinking. I ended up doing most of my checking-in from the room itself, which isn’t ideal (work with what you’ve got, right?). If I was planning on being away for longer, or had to put out a work related fire, I’d try to find a legitimate space (yanno, like Anchorspace) to get some work done without being distracted by family (right now, my dad and brother are watching The Godfather) or an unfortunate ergonomic set up.
  4. Write it out. I’ve talked about this strategy of working in this Tech Thursday video, but here it goes again. If I’m going to be without internet access and electronics, I go back to basics: pen and paper. In college, I used to write papers out by hand, and as I typed, I’d edit. Nowadays, if I know I’m going to be sans wifi/computer, I’ll sit down with a pen and whatever paper I have (sometimes it’s a legit notebook, sometimes it’s a brochure or receipt- the key is not to lose it later).

After a week of travel-as great as it was, I’m ready to settle back into the office for a bit. Hope everyone enjoyed their time with their friends, family, and framily this week!

In honor of the new Star Wars flick.

In honor of the new Star Wars flick. Ode to an Era

Here’s a fact that’s hard to fathom in these late days of 2015: MySpace (remember that?) was once the web’s most visited site, surpassing even Google. Also, MySpace employed 1,600 and generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.myspace_logo

I have nostalgia for the old MySpace. Like for many, MySpace was my first, full-blown introduction to social media. My reasons for joining were basic. It was the mid-to-late aughts, I was single, living by myself in a city that rolled up its sidewalks by 7 p.m. and was snoring complacently by 7:15 p.m. In other words, I thought it might be a good place to meet women.

Social media was big, but hadn’t truly gone mobile. The place to update your status was on your desktop at work, not on your phone in the bathroom.

But during those lonely, bad old days, MySpace introduced me to folks and their interests, and made me feel a little less isolated. I had a creative outlet where I could blog. I could, to some extent, personalize my page.

The introduction of playlists on MySpace was great — we were able to share music in a simple, off-the-cuff way. I place the blame for my introduction and brief obsession with Morrisey’s “Find Out For Yourself” squarely on the shoulders of a MySpace who lived in Mexico of all places, and with whom I connected with totally by accident.

Plus, I got to be friends with Tom. You remember Tom, the guy who you were friends with by default, and couldn’t figure out why. Tom was the company’s co-founder, and we all had to be friends with him, whether we wanted to or not. Tom got crazy-rich when he sold his goofy social network to News Corp.

In 2007, however, I started noticing a change in MySpace. The wallpaper was frequently taken over by garish advertisements for movies I had no interest in seeing, for one thing. For another, the whole experience was getting a little too noisy. I felt like I was staring into some amped-up billboard every time I logged in. It was time to start seeing other social networks.

Besides, there was this emerging social network called Facebook that, by contrast, seemed simple, understated and — I dare say — elegant by comparison. This was back when Facebook was still being targeted toward a younger crowd, long before it had been embraced by people like your parents and Ben Carson supporters.

So, I migrated. So did a lot of other folks, including Tom, who wrote in a 2011 Facebook post: “People seem very confused why I’m on Facebook. I’ve had a profile since 2005 and a “fan page” since 2009. … Why am I not on MySpace? Because, I left the company in early 2009, and like most of you, I don’t like using it anymore.. not a fan of what the new folks have done with MySpace.”

Tom hasn’t appeared to have posted to his public Facebook page since 2014, but still has nearly 1.5 million followers. None of those follower were by default, either. He’s since taken up photography and has been traveling the world. One assumes that he fuels his private plane with raw cash — seeing as how he sold in 2005 his company to News Corp. for a half billion.

Meanwhile, the network he started resembles nothing of what it looked like 10 years ago. MySpace was purchased in 2011 by Tim and Chris Vanderhook and Justin Timberlake for $35 million. It’s their space — music and entertainment oriented.

That’s not to begrudge them any success — with 50 million unique users recorded in November 2014, MySpace appeared to be on the edge of a renaissance. But it’s not the same. MySpace now brands itself as a place where artists can connect with an audience (or rather, consumers). It’s not such a hot place for average schmoes to connect with each other.

I will say this, their ’80s hair metal channel is pretty amazing, but between Spotify, iTunes, Beats, YouTube, the whole thing seems redundant.
So with its A&E focus, will MySpace be around in another 10 years? I think the more appropriate question is: Will it matter?


I’m seriously thinking about crawling out from underneath my bed today. I took shelter there last year along with my wife, children and our pets. We’ve been living off dust bunnies and drinking condensation from the water pipes ever since the pizza guy stopped delivering to our bedroom on account that we were “pathetic” and “in need of mental health services.”

We hid under the bed because society appeared on the brink of collapse and we were all in for a “Walking Dead”-style post-apocalyptic throwdown. The signs were all there: Continuing turmoil in Europe and the Middle East abroad, and, at home, the spectre of a successful Trump candidacy.

But for me, the true sign of the End Times was the emergence of an app called Peeple.


Peeple is the “Yelp for People,” as described by company founders Nicole McCullough, Julia Cordray, and Pazuzu.

As of this writing, Peeple has yet to be released. It’s website just features a spot where you can join its “waiting list” along with the somewhat ominous, Orwellian slogan, “Character is Destiny.”

There’s also the message, “Join the positive revolution #Oct12.”

Oct. 12 has come and gone and so I’m allowing us to emerge from under the bed just long enough to grab some microwavable burritos and the flintlock off the mantle before barricading us in the bathroom (It’s going to be sooooo nice to have access to running water again!)

There’s a lot of reasons why we ought to shun Peeple, not the least of which is the spelling of “Peeple.”’

At best, “Peeple” sounds more like a Fisher-Price line of preschool toys, as opposed to being a harbinger of the end of Western civilization. At worst, “Peeple” also sounds like one of the faux-companies featured in Mike Judge’s brilliant series “Silicon Valley.”


But it’s the concept behind Peeple that’s earned it a big, fat public backlash

The Washington Post described Peeple in this way:

When the app does launch, probably in late November, you will be able to assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy who lives next door. You can’t opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose.

Imagine every interaction you’ve ever had suddenly open to the scrutiny of the Internet public.

In the wake of a very loud public outcry, Cordray revamped in anticipation of its November launch to be 100 percent opt-in, and announced that “ users will need to approve all reviews, meaning that there will no longer be a way to leave abusive, critical or otherwise negative comments,” according to the Post.

The Boston Globe, however, reported that the CEO remained defiant as to Peeple’s original intentions:

“We are bold innovators and sending big waves into motion,” reads a steely “CEO Update” posted to the app’s website, “and we will not apologize for that because we love you enough to give you this gift.”

Just let that sink in.

To be fair, Peeple is hardly the first person-rater on the internet., Hot or Not, and Tinder come to mind. This article in Observer also lists a couple of apps that are somehow even worse than Peeple.

I think, though, that as long as there’s been social media, there’s been a method to judge friends, family and colleagues. I’m thinking about MySpace and the infamous Top 8, where you could name your Top 8 friends. You may remember the grade school-level ire which resulted from that concept.

I’ll examine the fate of Myspace in an upcoming post.

Looking to the future, it seems there’s plenty of social media platforms far more egregious than Myspace’s Top 8 that, in retrospect, appears downright quaint.

I’m not suggesting we throw the baby out with the bathwater. The ability for everyday people to assign ratings can, in fact be a force for powerful change. Yelp!, for instance, can be a fantastic tool for businesses looking to improve customer service.

But those kinds of ratings belong to politicians, companies, corporations, and other public entities. Applying that to your friends and neighbors is enough to shake your faith in humanity and make you want hide under your bed.

So the question is, once Peeple is available, will you download it? Or are you cleaning out under your bed as well?

Masterminds, Forums, and One-Man Wolfpacks

When in doubt, many people turn to Google for answers (most recently because we couldn’t remember the name of the town in The Iron Giant). But what about bigger questions or ongoing issues? These require a discussion that can’t be encapsulated in a Wikipedia/IMDB article. For those who seek improvement, personally and/or professionally, having some sort of support group can make all the difference. I’ve been known to strike out on my own, and as a result, under- or over-shoot my goals, and flounder when I inevitably encounter an obstacle.


Support comes in all shapes and sizes, so I thought I’d share a couple that I’ve encountered recently, and the elements of each that seem unique (and actually helpful).

Forums & Discussions. I started the Whole30 (finally committing after reading the book 3 years ago and a couple half-hearted attempts this summer) with a group of friends. There is an immense amount of online support that comes with this diet, but, being me, I only consulted the shopping list convinced I could wing the rest. By Day 3, I felt miserable. I hadn’t considered the effect this diet may have in other areas of my life. The next 30 days also happens to be my heaviest training for the MDI Marathon. My protein sources are down to eggs, fish, and a limited amount of nuts. One of my friends suggested I consult the Forum, and it was like a light switch flicked on in my head. I probably wasn’t the first person to have this issue. And, after looking at the forum, my issues are really common. If I hadn’t read through the forum, I’m not sure I would have made it through (even just 30 days).

Mastermind Groups: defined as “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.” This type of group has been around for awhile, one popular example being Walt Disney’s early team of animators. Napoleon Hill gave it the formal title of “Mastermind group” in the 60s. Basically, you can make a Mastermind Group for any topic, personal or professional. The goal is what’s important.

These groups don’t have a coach or facilitator and there’s no monetary or networking component. Members of the group are seeking improvement with the help of likeminded individuals. The idea is to discuss current obstacles, set up short term and long term goals, and participate in brainstorming exercises to assist others.

Why do these sorts of support groups work? While everyone is coming from a different background or set of experiences, they have a common purpose, and are looking for a challenge. They also have structure and format (yes, even the more casual ones). It may mean a weekly, hour long meeting, daily check-ins, whatever works for the group. Checkins could even be via Facebook chat, Skype, or Google Hangouts if that’s what the group decides.

Personally, I’m a fan of the open-minded groups that understand a cookie-cutter method doesn’t always cut it. There’s no one fitness regimen or diet or business model that reigns supreme. Some people flourish in a cardio setting, others prefer weight lifting. Whatever works. So, I seek out groups that have a common idea about an issue but are tolerant and inviting of other opinions. Although the Whole30 appears strict in many ways, it encourages people to experiment and find what works for them (i.e. all fruits are Whole30 compliant, but maybe you find that your body is happier sans fruit).

Remember, whatever “it” is, you don’t have to go it alone. There’s power in having a support group, and it’s actually kind of fun to share ideas with other people.

The Internet of Good

“Life is full of ups and downs, you know that. But please take a deep breath, I can’t understand what you’re saying right now”- my mom.

And she’s right, I do know that, and so do you (the ups and downs, anyway)- it’s something we’ve all been told at some point or another. Over the past couple weeks, it seems the world (or the world according to me) is collectively experiencing the down. Some people are saying it’s the moon, but I’m not entirely convinced. It feels like every day, we wake up to more stories about data breaches, violence and terrorism, death, illness, and ongoing issues (drought out west, Ebola in Africa) that I’ve forgotten about because of the newer threats we’re presented with.

But, you know what? There’s always going to be a disaster or craziness. As I became increasingly overwhelmed (and called my mom, because she always doles out the facts of life when I need them), the notion of “you see what you look for” popped into my head. Basically, if you’re looking for something bad, you’ll find it. So, I thought it’d be refreshing to actively look for ways that people use social media and the internet to demonstrate kindness in all shapes and sizes.

Using Internet fame for a cause. Singers and actors are often praised for their charitable actions, but there are quite a few internet famous people who contribute to causes. You may have heard of certain memes using their notoriety for a cause. For example, all proceeds that Lil Bub (the cat) generates go toward animal sheltersThe girl behind “Overly Attached Girlfriend” created a fundraiser that donates to a different, predetermined charity every month. There’s also people who are famous in certain circles, like the gaming world. YouTube famous World of Warcraft player Athene created a charity called “Gaming for Good” after realizing tens of thousands of people regularly view his videos.

Kid President is another example of internet fame for a cause. He spreads his positive messages through short videos and social media in the hopes that it encourages kids and adults to work together to make the world a better place. His pep-talk video is one of my favorites:

These are all people (or cats) who have decided not to rest on their laurels of internet fame, but decided to use it to make an impact besides general hilarity.

Sharing the tough stuff. We’re all on a journey, right? While most people (myself included) share only their highlight reel on social media, some people share their difficulties as a way to raise awareness and/or help others who are also going through difficult times(like the “It Gets Better” campaign). These stories, wherever they are shared, are demonstrations of courage that encourage others to start a conversation.

Yesterday I saw this article about a girl on who has been on a difficult road to recovery since 2012, when she received  up paralyzed from the waist down. In spite of complications along the way, she started a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and documented her recovery process-the good, the bad, and the ugly, on Imgur (a site I admittedly know nothing about).  You can check out the original post hereI’ve also read a lot from those recovering from addiction, abuse, and eating disorders (here is one I read this morning). Even when these stories are submitted anonymously, they comfort people who, like me, tend to internalize their struggles.

A website built around sharing stories of everyday people, Humans of New York , shares stories of those who live in the city. Just the people you walk by on the street. The mini-profiles remind us that there’s always more than meets the eye.


Reading these stories reminds me that a) everyone is experiencing their own adversity, and b) it’s pretty amazing that we can identify with people we’ve never met before.

Losing and Finding. This is probably the most common type of post I’ve seen, and a lot of times, it can be the most heart-wrenching. Any time a local pup gets lost, I’m amazed at how responsive people are on social media. People band together in interesting ways during moments of loss, including loss of tangible things. I guess the amazing part is that things get shared by strangers who have no connection to the people who have lost something- they’re just passing a message along and hoping for the best. No investments or ulterior motives, just people trying to help each other out.

This man found a wedding ring while scuba diving and shared it on Facebook, and after diligently wading through false claims, was able to return the ring to its rightful owner. Little did he know, the couple had been enduring an incredibly difficult time with the deaths of loved ones (on both sides), so the return of the ring served as a reminder “‘there are a lot of good people still out there.'”

Inviting Participation. People have created Facebook groups and websites dedicated to recognizing acts of kindness and general connections with humanity. It’s basically a way to pay it forward. I’m part of an “Awesome Acts of Kindness” Facebook Group, and basically people share the acts of kindness that they’ve either witnessed or experienced and want to share with others. There’s also “Giving Tuesday” and other funding related efforts. Inviting others to participate can mean sharing a photo, using a hashtag, making an online donation, or asking for physical volunteering help.

As a final thought on “The Internet of Good,” I couldn’t ignore Marcel the Shell, who always looks on the bright side (and is the best use of YouTube I’ve ever come across).

The Revolution Will Be On Video

I’m on video not because I’m vain but because that’s where things area headed. We can learn a lot from video’s less intimidating predecessor: photos.

When I began my website, a fellow blogger (after seeing a picture of me on Facebook) told me I should add my photo to the sidebar of my blog. She reasoned that I was attractive and it could only help for people to see me. (For context, in case you don’t know me, I am no great beauty. I’m not the kind of person who would cause a traffic accident or inspire Train would write a whiny song. My brand of attractiveness is soccer mom/Tylenol commercial, which honestly is just fine with me.)

It’s probably hilarious for you to hear a story about someone suggesting someone else upload a photo of themselves (and me not just doing it immediately), but this was kind of novel. Back in 2007, not many people had their pictures on their websites. And even parts of the internet you would actually associate with having pictures (ex: real estate listings) had a limited amount. For example, in 2009, the Maine MLS data feed fetched tenish photos at a time. I remember because the real estate agent wanted 25 photos but since they weren’t in the feed, we had to custom program the page to display the ten photos from the feed plus additional ones.

In 2015, can you think of even a low end real estate listing with only ten pictures? I feel like I see 25 photos of some peoples’ breakfasts sometimes.

I looked for a graph supporting my observations and thought this was a pretty good one (originally on The Atlantic- click over to see other fun graphs!)


Anyway, photos were a new frontier and having them made you cutting edge. In 2007-2008.

In an age of Instagram, Facebook albums, and phone cameras, we now get to be clever with photos. They are not novel but expected. Now taking better photos is important, which is why we have a workshop about taking photos with your smartphone happening this week at our business.

Video is now the novelty.

As I try to coax clients to be in videos (because we always want to be ahead of the curve), there is more resistance then there was when I was begging them for headshots. It does feel more personal for someone to see your facial expressions, hear your voice, and see your unfiltered face (though some video software, like Google Hangout, lets you do some flattering edits if you take time to figure it out). Video also feels like a bigger deal to do. You want a tripod, lighting, a non crappy background, perhaps a microphone or a non-echoy room. There is just more to consider.

Because of this additional consideration, there never seems a time you feel ‘ready’ to make a video. Every time I think of making a video for Anchorspace, for example, I am usually not wearing makeup or otherwise feel not suited for the camera. So two weeks ago, I decided to do a voiceover with photos and stick it on Facebook as an initial video. I spent about two hours on it after I finished cleaning the Anchorspace bathrooms and kitchen. (I really want to set this up as glamourous as it was.) The resulting video was kind of low budget but under 1 minute and got through my main marketing messages.

For comparison, I’ve been posting still photos of the inside of Anchorspace as well. Let’s look at the stats for this somewhat crappy photo:

facebookanchorspace-imagestatsNow here are the stats for my similarly crappy video:

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 12.30.59 PM

Yes there are more views but honestly, the impressive thing is how many more times it was clicked on. And that some people watched the whole thing (5% but still).

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 12.25.13 PM

For the final version of this experiment, I should do a real video (me on camera talking at least part of the time) but this just to show you even a crappy video will get you more attention than a photo, probably because novelty. So don’t be afraid of making something and putting it out there.

Now if you think this was my cop out, I assure you you can see more of us on video on our Google+/Youtube channel:  And yes, every time I see a video of myself, I always think ‘Is my face that round?’ and ‘Why do I move my hands so much?’ But despite my lack of perfection, I am more than willing to be ahead of the curve and in 2015 that means with a camera rolling in a video sense.

I urge you all to consider video… because I bet you can expect where a graph of video uploads between 2013 and 2018 is going to be trending when it exists. Be ahead of the curve and get out from behind the lens. You may be surprised who watches.

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