Sharing What I’m Always Learning – at the Winnipeg World Trade Centre!

Thrilled to be invited to present seminars on various aspects of online marketing as part of this new Federal/Provincial initiative, as programming shifts from the CMBSC to the Winnipeg World Trade Centre.   I’ll be there April 17th, talking about LinkedIn.  More details to follow on other sessions.

From their Press Release:

The Government of Canada and the Province of Manitoba are launching new ways of providing services to Manitoba’s small business community. For more information on business services offered by Entrepreneurship Manitoba, call 204-945-8200 or toll-free 1-855-836-7250, visit www.manitoba.ca/emb or email EMBinfo@gov.mb.ca.

Starting April 1, 2014 the federal functions of the Canada/Manitoba Business Service Centre will now be offered by the World Trade Centre Winnipeg. Their office will be called the Business InfoCentre, located on the third floor at 219 Provencher Boulevard in Winnipeg. Services offered will include:

  • business information and guidance to start or grow your business;
  • information on business programs, regulations, licensing information;
  • assistance with business planning and problem solving; and
  • business seminars.

Business InfoCentre services will be available in-person, on the phone or via the web. For more information, call 204-984-2272 or toll-free 1-800-665-2019, or visit http://www.wtcwinnipeg.com/.

Raising the Dead – A Hallowe’en Meditation

I honor the ancestors that came before me, my beloved dead to whom I am tied by strands of both DNA and destiny.

Looking behind me I know of caretakers and caregivers, postal clerks and plowmen, coal miners and tea merchants, Boer War soldiers and Blue Beret Peacekeepers.  There were Loyalists to the Empire that journeyed homeward, northward, one with a Seminole wife to brave a Halifax winter rather submit to the enemy in the bayous of Florida.  Some were tyrants, some fought against tyranny and for social justice.

Survivors the Great Depression, the Great Wars, the Golden Age, the Turning of the Last Century, the Last Millennium. Some were midwives who caught the babies, some were men with shovels who buried children taken before their time, and who laid grey heads to rest in red clay, brown earth, green peaty loam, heather filled hills.  A “Little Black Devil” in an unmarked grave in France.  Canadian Soldier #88 in a family plot with park bench,  in deepest suburbia.

Travelers by plane, train, automobile.  Steerage passengers on steamships crossing a turbulent Atlantic, Pacific bound Guests of His Majesty who settled a nation Down Under and discovered Opals in the Australian desert. An Opera Singer who performed for a Queen and her Court just a few generations later.

Common working folk who toiled as Industry underwent its Revolution.  Farmers who tilled the earth with an eye on the weather.  Makers of things, dreamers of dreams, writers of books and composers and players of music.

People who lives in Great Houses – sometimes the Master, sometimes the servant, as the generations turned. The most ancient one we know of, a Norman French Knight, who journeyed across an English Channel at the side of a man who would become a Warrior King. And before him, all who were his lifeline of ancestors, back through time to our homo sapiens origins on the African plain.

I am from these people. They live within me, and they will die with me.  This braided chord of ancestry ends with me, I have no children of my body. The strands that make up my life and legacy will be cut by the hands of the Fates; when my name is called, and I cross the river, my beloved dead will welcome me to stand with them on the shore of eternity.  They and I will be forgotten, lost to Time with no living descendants to call up our memory on a cool Samhain night.

So tonight, I remember them, and I honor them, by raising them up from the dead once again.

Sanmitsu for 2013

Green Bean Coffee - love in a cup.Spending some time in my inbox this morning, Manitoba roasted coffee in one hand, with the intention to clean up the clutter in prep for what I anticipate will be the busiest year ever.  I’m using the “first email is from “x” – search for all “x” emails – review quickly – keep important stuff – select the rest – delete! Repeat!” method.  Newsletter subscriptions are getting evaluated (goodbye and good luck), coupon sites are getting axed (tired of companies doing it wrong), and personal email getting filed (some say it is counter-intuitive in the age of search, but I like filing systems).

Ah, what have we here – the year end edition of  Christopher Penn‘s Almost Timely Newsletter.  He’s always a good read, and today, he makes even more sense than usual.  He is talking about Sanmitsu – or the Three Mysteries of Buddhism – but in decidedly non-traditional non-sectarian context.  His secular exposition on these three mysteries aligns with my own belief system.  Is this an oracle for the new year?  I think Buddha Penn may be here to remind me of the truths I already know.

Traditional Sanmitsu says:  Mindfullness in Thought – Word – Deed

OR Our Thoughts Become our Actions which become our Habits which become our Destiny

Christopher breaks it down like this – I believe in myself – I believe in my goals – I believe in my community.

My thoughts?

Do I believe in myself? Like most of us the answer is yes and no.  I have areas of belief and disbelief when it comes to my own knowledge, skills, abilities, etc…  Even when I know I am right, I tend to back down in confrontation, or in the presence of (perceived) intimidation when I believe (right or wrong) that the other person “must” know more than me if I’m being asked all these questions.  I know what I believe in (existentially, spiritually, politically etc) but I don’t always believe in myself.

Note to self: work on this.

Do I believe in my goals? Do I have goals that I can articulate – commit to – accomplish? I’m not talking about a bucket list type list of  ”before I die dreams, I want to see the Buddhas in Thailand” – I’m talking about Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely goals.  And, as of Winter Solstice, I do have a few of those (Body: Move more, Mind: write more, Spirit: “Be” More ). There is a lot more to these goals than I want to get into here today and I know that they will be challenging to accomplish.

Note to self: work on this.

Do I believe in my community?  Most days, I would say I have a small circle of close friends, a grouping of co-workers,  a large oval of acquaintances, a wider orbit of folks that I recognize by face/name/social media profile (and vice versa).  But “community”?  In the online world, it now seems to mean “a commodified group of people herded together around an idea, product or personality, “friends/fans/likes that require engagement and management in order to provide conversion”.  (definition: mine).

For me, and hopefully for many of you, a true community is something different – a diverse group of people gathered together in mutual respect and purpose, who genuinely care about the sanmitsu of themselves and each other.  I do try to believe that everyone shows up every day (wherever they are) with the belief that they want to do the best they can, and I am consistently disappointed.  That means people are equally disappointed in me – because what I see in others only reflects the truth about myself.

Note to self: work on this.

Speaking of reflection, anyone else seeing themselves in all this?  Can you say that YOU believe in yourself, in your goals, in your community?  What can you work on this year to affect change where it is needed – in your inner and outer worlds?  Or is it just me.  Some days, I really do think it’s just “me”.  Everyone else sails along in life without all this angst.

Thank you,  Kierkegaard.

Enjoy the day!

28 Reasons for the Season (of Sadness)

In times like these, the media is filled with hyperbolic statements by well meaning, well spoken commentators, politicians and their ilk –  many of which contradict the reality of day to day life as experienced by their fellow citizens.  This is understandable – we seek to make sense of the evil that we inflict upon each other by encircling ourselves with cultural insulation as we ride out the storm of emotions caused by tragedy, especially one involving matricide, infanticide and suicide on one cold crisp winter’s day so close to the Season of Peace and Love and Light.

We want to believe that “Every Child is Precious.”  The state of the average American inner city, with its legion of homeless families proves this to be a lie, as homelessness is rampant in the greatest, most abundantly endowed country of the world.  1.37 million or 39% of the those homeless in the USA are children under the age of 18 – some with their homeless parent(s) and up to 5% of homeless kids are under 18 with no supervisory adult.

We want to believe that “Our Children are Safe.”   According to the Children’s Defense Fund, in 2008 and 2009, 5740 children died due to the discharge of a fire-arm.  That’s one every 8 hours – 3 per day – 55 per week.  Think of a playground.  The crowds in the shopping mall.  Imagine 55 children you know.  Imagine them gathered together.  More than twice the number of the fallen in Sandy Hook.  Every week.  The mind cannot comprehend, but because these losses are scattered across a populous nation, they become statistics, blips on the national radar, and somehow less than worthy of the nation’s attention. It is time to pay attention.

And now, in one day, 20 children, their six education providers, a loving mother and one mentally ill assailant are dead.  28 lives lost.  27 families forever changed.  A community for whom Christmas will not come this year, but instead, the eyes of the world are upon them as they grieve, offering comfort without joy.   These families provide space in their personal grief for the vicarious sympathy of their fellow global citizens, who have been moved by their loss, and who are silently thankful that it did not happen to their family, their community, their state, their country.

Except for those who remember or live in Camden (1949), Austin TX (1966), Wilkes-Barre PA (1982), San Ysidro CA (1984), Kileen TX (1991), Columbine CO (1999),  Atlanta GA (1999), Fort Worth TX (1999), Washington DC (2002), Chicago (2003), Birchwood WI (2004), Brookfield WI (2005), Nickel Mines PA (2006), Virginia Tech VA (2007), Delaware State University (2007), Omaha NB (2007), Carnation WA (2007), Chicago IL (2008), NIU Dekalb IL (2008), Alger WA (2008), Covina CA (2008), North Carolina (2009), Santa Clara CA (2009),  Kinston AL (2009), Binghampton NY (2009), STU Houston (2009), Fort Hood TX (2009), U of A Huntsville AL (2010), Tucson AZ (2011), Oakland CA (2012), Oak Creek WI (2012), The Empire State Bulding NYNY (2012), Minneapolis MN (2012), Milwaukee WI (2012), Aurora CO (2012).  There were mass killings in all of these cities.  Their residents remember, even if their own local tragedy didn’t merit a Presidential visit, or more than a passing mention on the evening news.

All these families in all these communities and many more must endure their pain being perpetually re-opened through  the re-energized and vigorous debate about controlling weaponry in a nation that has enshrined the right of the average citizen to be armed to the teeth, to stand their ground against all real and imagined intruders, and that has devoted an immense amount of their national budget to the industrial-military complex.

And back in Newtown CT (2012)- 27 Families changed. 28 Lives lost.  28 names forever consigned to history, together, bound by blood spilled and mingled on a classroom floor by a son who started this sad day by killing his mother in her bed.  She is the forgotten one in this story, too close to the cause of pain to be a true victim in the eyes of many.  The fictional omniscience – omnipotence – omnipresence of motherhood should somehow have prevented this day from happening.  If she cannot be faulted as a parent, then perhaps she should not have had guns in her home.  Legal guns – for personal use and personal or home defense within her 2nd Amendment rights as a citizen of the NRA Nation. The pundits and politicos cannot have it both ways.  Hypocrisy, Contradiction, Self-righteousness and Pandering – these are the Four Horsemen, and I hear hoofbeats.

Each of these 28 lives lost had a name.  I believe that to name a thing is to know it, somewhat.  Parents select names for their newborns with great care – to embody the characteristics they hope that their child will manifest in life, to imbue them with a magic charm, a family legacy, a spiritual blessing.

There are many places where those lost in Newtown are listed, with birth dates, with details of their families, where they were born, their favourite color.  I would like to list them differently – and ask for us to dwell on the promises that were made to us through their naming – and that in time, their blessings be what we receive when we look back at a far distant time in our cultural history when guns were legal and gay marriage was not, and wonder how or why we ever allowed firearms to be such a pervasive part of our culture.

In memory of Freedom (Charlotte) – May God be my judge (Daniel) – Nurturing Abundance – the Ewe (Rachel) – The Olive Branch (Olivia) – May God increase his blessings (Josehphine) – Gracious & merciful (Ana) – A Son of the Sea (Dylan) – Sunrise (Dawn) – Tower of Refuge and Strength (Madeleine) – Purity (Catherine) – The Hunter (Chase) – The Gift (Jesse) – The Conqueror (James) – Charm (Grace) – Gracious & Merciful (Anne) – To Strive & Excel (Emilie) – God is gracious (Jack) – Rest & Peace (Noah) – Beautiful (Catherine) – God beholds (Jessica) – Breath (Avielle) – The Laurel (Lauren ) – Of the Sea (Mary) – Conqueror (Victoria) – Of My Right Hand (Benjamin) – Of the Noble Ones (Allison) – Grace (Nancy) –  Made of the Earth (Adam).

May the coming Winter Solstice help each family find healing in the renewal of the Light.

May the first 27 names be remembered for their Light, and may the world come to understand the man Made of the Earth who took them into darkness.

And so it is.

Susan

 

Ring Around The Rosie…….

On the bus this morning, there was a little girl about four years old singing Ring Around the Rosie.  At the top of her lungs.  She would end each repetition with peals of delighted laughter, and people on the bus smiled because it brightened up their morning commute.

This little ditty (which doesn’t have anything to do with the Black Plague according to Wikipedia) first made its appearance in the early 1880′s, but may go back an additional 100 years to 1790.   That makes it over 200 years old.   Will it be sung on spacecraft shuttles on colonized Mars 200 years from now? I’m thinking yes.

Pocket full of Posies…….

Is there such a thing as a modern nursery rhyme?   There are a few 1940′s and 1950′s pop songs that have entered lullaby designation (Mr. Sandman got sung a lot in my early years – thanks Mom!)   but I can’t think of any current “nursery rhymes”.  And I don’t mean “kids music” like Fred Penner or Raffi or the Wiggles or the Sesame Street tunes (though I do love the Cookie Monster’s version of Call Me Maybe).  Do we capture our political and social fabric in rhyming couplets and turn them into games for children in the playground?  Or is the most current nursery rhyme really “Itsy Bitsy Spider” (a personal favourite) – documented in 1910?

Are there playgrounds anymore?  Do children get to play in that good old fashioned wayl?  Do kids still play what my generation would think of as “traditional” old-school (pardon the pun) playground type games?  Hopscotch? Red Rover? Duck Duck Goose?

But back to Ring Around the Rosie.  Teaching history (biased and somewhat flawed) in rhyming couplets and story songs.  Do kids learn them anymore?  Do we have current historic events that might be worthy of being passed down orally from generation to generation?

Husha  Husha…..

What about “folk songs” – and I mean those written by Woody Guthrie and those who preceded him.  Does anyone sing around a campfire anymore?  Do you know all the verses to “She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain”? Does it matter?

In my childhood, I have memories of adult parties and family gatherings where people would cluster around a piano, or pull out a guitar and other instruments and people would sing (and drink) for hours – laughing, telling tales, but always weaving songs into the social fabric  of the evening.  Does this happen anymore?

Maybe if someone created an interactive Wii program we wouldn’t completely lose this part of our oral and literary history.

or do We All Fall Down?

#NMMBlog – Getting My Butt Kicked

Greetings from a desultory blogger.  I don’t know why I don’t post more often.  It isn’t lack of ideas or lack of time. I always have an opinion on something or other, and I make time for the most ridiculous things (okay – Firefly Marathons on long weekends are not ridiculous).

I am a good writer.  Occasionally, I am an inspired writer.  I have taught workshops on empowering people to find their voice and sing, speak, write both poetry & prose.

So what’s my problem?  I’m hoping to find out today.  I am attending and (gasp) speaking on a panel at the 1st Annual (we hope) Manitoba Blog Conference – presented by New Media Manitoba and the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba.   One of the companies I work for – Modern Earth Web Design – is one of the sponsors.  My panel is on Business Blog Strategy and my topic is Why Your Small Business Needs a Blog.  This really is a case of the Consultant Cobbler not being shod.  My professional/work blogging is much more regular than my personal contributions to this space.  Bad Blogger – no biscuit.

So far, the questions that the conference is raising for me are outnumbering the very long list of great ideas – and I will be waiting to the end of the day to sum it all up and see if I end up with more questions than inspirations when it is all blogged and done.

Enjoy(ing) the day,

Susan

 

Popping the Filter Bubble

As one of my many tasks at neovation is to co-teach online courses for the LERN organization in their UGotClass.com interface on e-marketing essentials.  In one of my virtual classrooms, I have just introduced the learners to the concept of the “Filter Bubble” as identified and described by Eli Pariser in his brilliant TED.com Talk.  As always, there are some strong opinions about why Google is “allowed” to customize our results” and that we, the consumers, should have say in the degree of personalization that we experience.

It reminds me of how so many people “get mad” at Facebook or Twitter or any other free platform service that they are using when the user interface gets changed, or the privacy settings get changed (but rarely when the actual terms of service get changed because only the geeks & nerds read “those”).

The online world is a wonderful place, and with the exception of paying for a computer and an internet connection – the web experience is largely a completely no cost adventure in digital exploration.  We have become dependent upon sites like Facebook to connect to family & friends, to Twitter to get news and informational updates, to LinkedIn to do our business networking & sales prospecting, and to the Almighty and Gracious Google to find what we are searching for (unless you choose BING).

All of these are companies that provide us with a free service, to deliver our eyeballs to their advertisers.  This is not a new concept.  Magazines, newspapers & other broadcast media have been doing this for years.  Content is based on the advertising that is sold.  In the case of print media – we even PAY for the illusion of buying news, when we are being sold an abundance of advertising.  Without advertising dollars, media channels cease to exist.  It has never been about the content – that is incidental to the story – we want to thing that this is a cultural medium, but it really all exists to deliver advertising messages to potential customers.

So Facebook can change its interface, and may occasionally bow to the outrage and re-tweak a decision -but for the most part, it does what it wants to and people keep signing up.  Google can re-slice the search pie into highly personalized slices that deliver precisely targeted slivers of information to its users, and we don’t get to ask for cherry instead of apple pie, if we have a history of looking at apples instead of cherries – Google already knows what we like best, and delivers that most relevant content to us.  We don’t even question it.  We just pick up our forks and ask for another slice.

Free(dom)’s just another word for nothing left to choose (not lose) when it comes to the digital content we digest so easily and accept without question.

Social Media as Day Job, Hobby, Essential Business Skill

It was my privilege to be asked to speak to the Marketing class at Red River College at the end of February – this course is part of the Creative Communications Program and is taught by Melodie Richard.  My post on the Modern Earth blog tells the story of my visit that afternoon.  It was fun. They were great.

I recently got a quick mention in the Winnipeg Free Press “INSIDERS” column, written by my dear friend Maureen Scurfield.  She noted my presence at the recent FLMC awards event as part of the Modern Earth Tweet Team – and called me a Hired Tweeter.  I’ve been called worse.

In the vast amount of time since my last post here, I’ve done a LOT of public speaking on social media.  From sessions at the Canada/Manitoba Small Business Centre (a fabulous resource) to various conferences and trade shows – from large rooms to very small groups – talking about almost anything that has to do with promoting your business online.  I even did a short series at the Buhler Centre at the U of Wpg called Digital Dim Sum.

My day job has changed.  Same office, different masthead. New old boss, whole new direction.  You can read about what I’m doing at a brand new company called Neovation - still working for Dan Belhassen.  My job is still “getting the word out”, and wearing a few more hats than that simple job description would imply.  That part will never change, and for now, I’m good with that.

But back to getting paid to talk about using social media in a professional capacity.  I’ve got a few more events on my calendar for the year, and would love to have more <hint>.  I have always enjoyed speaking to people, teaching classes on various topics and seeing the lightbulb of understanding form over people’s heads.

And success in one area of my life is being mirrored by the energy of renewal in another equally important area of my world – talking about spirituality – a subject near & dear to my body/mind/spirit.  I recently spoke to the Spiritual Care Provider Students at the Health Sciences Centre, and will be speaking at the Spirit Seekers Conference on the Power of Ritual (and reading tarot cards) on March 17/18.  I am planning to teach some tarot classes again, and some workshops for my little Marriage Commissioner practice, for brides and grooms to learn how to write their own vows without tears.

I really do understand the challenges that a small business person faces when it comes to implementing social media to promote their business.  It does take time.  It does take strategy.  And it is often the first thing that gets put to one side when another priority comes us – because we can always do it later – from home – from my phone – from anywhere.   Why is it so much easier to provide advice and consultative services to others (for free or for fee) and so much harder to “Do It For Yourself” to paraphrase an old pop song (you knew there would be a music reference in there somewhere).

So here’s the thing.  I’m going to try to do better.  In addition to Neovation, I am still doing the marketing for Modern Earth.  I also do the marketing for Largo Organics, my other little side business.  Then there is “Modern Susan” – speaker, coach, trainer.  Ceremonies With Spirit, and my whole emergent rebirth talking about the “other side” of my life as “CrankyCrone” (soon to be on Facebook as such).   I have no shortage of opinions on a wide variety of topics.  So why don’t I just write them down already?

Answering that, my friends, will be the key that unlocks the door to glory and riches, as they said in the Knight’s Tale.  We’ll see how that works out.

Enjoy the day!

Tweet Team at Tedx Manitoba

Hello, Sportsfans!

Ian Rountree and I have the deep privilege of having been asked to be the Tweet Team representing Modern Earth Web Design at the most amazing event – Tedx Manitoba.  We’ve got great seats in a booth at the back of the Park Theatre with our huge horkin laptops, a digital camera, and a great view of the room.

You can follow our tweets during the day at #tedxmb on Twitter – and watch the live stream video at www.tedxmanitoba.com

I’ll keep you updated periodically if I possibly can on the day as it unfolds – maybe a quick note at lunch and one towards the end of what promises to be a very long but very fulfilling and exciting day.

Today – I truly get to take my own advice – and …

Enjoy the day,

Susan

No Discount on Hypocrisy – The Groupon Superbowl Ads

There is nothing so prickly as the righteous indignation of the armchair in-activist.  Those who philosophically hold the noble and high ideals for the Cause close to their heart, but who lack the drive or dedication or determination to actually get up and do something to benefit said philanthropic endeavor.  Those who take immediate offence should anyone besmirch the name of the Cause, and who waste no time or energy in using all the means at their disposal to broadcast their displeasure and lambaste the offending party with energy, verve, vigor and venom.

I’ve heard people rails against sweatshops, and how foreign manufacturers are taking local jobs, but they still shop at the Big Box Discount Store or the Brand Name Trendy Place that shows up on the Dirty Laundry hit list.  There are those of my acquaintance who complain about higher taxes to facilitate recycling in our community, but who eat at fast food restaurants off paper and plastic and have green bags full of Styrofoam take out containers on their curb each Tuesday.  I know some very intelligent people who are shocked and appalled by the number of teen prostitutes in the inner city, but who tune in to shows that show underage girls on the beauty pageant catwalk behaving completely inappropriately for their age.   We ALL do this in some way in our privileged developed world lifestyle.  Me too. Truth hurts.

This is why so many people found the Groupon ad offensive.  Because they show the average person the exact level of their involvement in some of the major charitable causes of our time – Whales, Tibet, Rainforests, Poverty.  We talk about it – passionately. We believe something needs to be done – absolutely.

But we would rather have cheap mass produced goods made in countries that have no labor laws to diminish profits regardless of the impact on the environment or the standard of living of their workers, than pay more for “Canadian made” or start a carpool to reduce emissions or go on a destination vacation, forgetting that the people living outside the guarded and gated walls of our resort area are living in dirt-scraping poverty.

We are all in some way living below our potential when it comes to doing the right thing.  It IS too hard – too challenging – too expensive – too time consuming – too much to be expected from good people who just want to live the life we’ve been promised in the culture we’ve created.  We all want a discount to the best things in life.  And just like there is no place called “away” – there is no such thing as a “free lunch”.

Groupon had the balls to show us our hypocrisy.  And then they had the good sense to give us the opportunity to do the right thing – from right where we are in front of our screens and they will match our donation.  They held up a mirror to our collective sense of self-indulgence and reminded us that there is always a cost behind every transaction.  The man serving you your food may be a political refugee.  The whales you watch from the deck of your ship may be the last of their kind.  The cosmetic product you use may be made from a non-renewable resource.

Groupon knows we’re not going to change. We’re going to consume our way into oblivion.  We will always want fries with that.  But at least they had the balls to present us with the option to do a little armchair activism while we get our 75% off coupon – we can click a link and donate some of the money we save to do some good in the world.  But of course, so many people are threatening to quit Groupon in protest of these ads that there may not be enough remaining faithful frugal souls to make a difference.

And Groupon might just get a few people angry or aware enough to get out of their armchairs and into their communities to do something more tangible – to contribute some sweat equity in their planet’s upkeep – to expand their consciousness to include the less fortunate as fellow citizens.  If that motivation occurs and creates change, even in a small group of people, the world will start to change.

Buyer beware indeed.  There is no discount on hypocrisy.