Home for my rants, raves and general sharing of 'insytes'. Some of you will enjoy this gathering of text - others will wonder how I tricked them into giving me a Blogger's license...

Saturday, December 31, 2005

All aboard...the Cluetrain

I am probably the last Marketing person on the planet to have read the Cluetrain Manifesto - but the old cliche 'better late than never' definitely applies. Wow. First, a big 'thank you' to Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger for capturing common sense and laying it down in black and white. Though your words are now over six years old, they are able to stand the test of time – ringing as true today as they did in 1999.

You can read it all
online, but I would encourage you to buy the print version and support these guys for putting themselves out there when no one else had the cajones to do so.

They preach the importance of people having ‘human to human’ conversations and giving ‘power’ (or I should say ‘a voice’) back to the people who can make a difference in the world – not just those with a VP in their title. They encourage us to put ourselves out there – whether our ideas are right or wrong – just to keep trying as everyone has something to contribute.

It is such a simple premise, but one I still see being blasted today. In too many organizations (mine is/was no exception), those lower down the totem pole are left with the feeling their opinion doesn’t count. That unless you have an MBA or a 30 direct reports looking up to you – it is just best you do your job and let the ‘professionals’ make all the hard decisions. This has to stop. This has to stop now if businesses wish to be successful.

I have been extremely lucky in my professional life to always have a position where I had direct access to the CEO’s ear, and with that – took the role of corporate cheerleader so to speak, by sticking up for the little guy to ensure their voice is heard throughout the organization. No, my current CEO may not always wish to hear my opinion (as I like to give it often and several times it is totally opposite of his), but at least I have had the opportunity to be heard. I never knew how important this was until recently when the hierarchy started to change within our walls and I found myself no longer part of the ‘in crowd’. I think my outing started when I stood up against a decision made by our CTO which was not something he tolerated - so I got on his shit list which trickled into other departments – ultimately affecting my relationship with our CEO. The ranks started to close and decisions were then being made without consulting those who could offer additional insight or would be directly affected by the choice. I realized I had just lost my voice to help make a difference. It was an interesting feeling to go through as I found myself angry most of the time for not being included, and I pulled back from those who looked to me for support as I figured I could not do anything else for them. Without a voice, what good was I to them? Gosh that was a miserable time, but important I went through it. I learned so much and found I had taken my 'soapbox' for granted.

I started thinking about how lucky I was and felt sorry for all those who had never even been able to speak up on their own. Yes, I might have had it and then lost it – but isn’t that another popular cliché…’better to have had [love] and lost it than to never have had it at all’.

Well, thankfully – I am not one to sit back on my laurels for too long. Faced with the decision of finding another job or sticking with a company I still believed could make a huge difference in the industry – I walked into the CEO’s office and had a heart to heart. Gosh that felt good. Of course, it didn’t hurt knowing if I crossed the line and he fired me for being too outspoken I had a rainy day fund to fall on…but what a sense of empowerment to take my life (and my dignity) back into my own hands. How I wish that for everyone. And, I wish that every business would give their employees the sense of freedom to open up and be heard. There are so many people out there with wonderful ideas that we cannot afford to be close-minded and watchful of titles. Doesn’t matter if you are in sales, accounting, marketing, engineering or customer support – contribute, share your passions - and find a company that allows you to do so.

Is my company perfect now? Absolutely not. I don’t think any are – but at least our CEO is committed to providing an environment that encourages creativity and sharing. And if it starts to change back to crap again…at least my resume is now up to date.

I think one of the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto, Christopher Locke, summed it up best with: 'Imagine a world where everyone was constantly learning, a world where what you wondered was more interesting than what you knew, and curiosity counted for more than certain knowledge. Imagine a world where what you gave away was more valuable than what you held back, where joy was not a dirty word, where play was not forbidden after your eleventh birthday. Imagine a world in which the business of business was to imagine worlds people might actually want to live in someday. Imagine a world created by the people, for the people not perishing from the earth forever.' Every day brings new promise - make the most of it.

The fellas also provided a quasi-12 step program for Internet Business Success in the book, but I think it applies to everyday living:

Relax. Have a sense of humor. Find your voice and use it. Tell the truth. Don’t panic. Enjoy yourself. Be brave. Be curious. Play more. Dream always. Listen up. Rap on.

Cool stuff Maynard. I am a Cluetrain believer.

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This is such a Bridezilla thing to do...

So you get a couple of bottles of beer, a few sake bombs, and two newly engaged girls in the room - and this is what happens. :)

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I really mean it 'this time'

At the suggestion of one of my mates, Rachel, I have started a 43things account to further solidify my desire to accomplish my list of resolutions in 2006. As I sit here on the eve of the New Year, I have now made myself accountable in three places - two in print and once (and most importantly) in my heart.

Watch out world...here I come.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Must be something in the water..

A big 'woot' to my pals Steve and Petrina, who as of Christmas morning - have promised to love, cherish, and have sex with only each other for the rest of their life.

Congrats you guys - I am so very happy for you!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Stick with me kid...you might learn something.

It is a wonderful feeling when you can share something new with those you love. Of course, it is usually Chris enlightening me, but this past weekend, I had the opportunity to bring something cool into my parents world. Flickr.

Ok, so for many out there in geekdom this is old news. But for my folks - this is way cool. My mom is pretty savvy when it comes to computers and programs (though she still uses AOL - yuck), my dad not so much as I had to show him where the 'c' was on the keyboard.

They knew Chris and I were posting photos online, but they would always just click on the link to the set I sent them and didn't think they had access to anything else.

So one night over dinner I was talking about uploading the photos from the camera and it piqued my dad's interest. Downstairs we went and one hour later - he had a Yahoo email address, a Flickr account and a photo posted. It was so much fun to see the excitement in his eyes as he realized how Flickr could not only keep him up to date with what Chris and I (and other family members and friends online) were doing, but how it could really support his business.

You see, daddy paints. I should say daddy paints really well - and he has been fortunate enough to sell his work consistently throughout Oregon and California. We all realized the benefit of trying to branch him out nationally (need him to rebuild my inheritance for one thing), so Chris decided to construct a website for him and we figured loading everything into Flickr would give additional 'brand awareness'
as people could view his paintings/prints online and then have it shipped -vs- having to drive to their little Coastal town which is not always an easy thing to do. I don't think I have ever heard him giggle like that before (though I am sure it had something to do with him learning something new before mom). So, I leave him with all his passwords and say 'play with it a bit' figuring he might log in once more and then lose interest, which would mean I would spend a few hours a night posting his photos online for him.

Well, much to my surprise - he has logged in every day and has been watching mine and Chris' Flickr accounts to see what we have been doing while in Tahoe. He is currently working on snapping photos of his art and as soon as mom shows him how to upload from the camera - will be posting them online. Guess he just can't cut out the 'middle man' (think mom likes to keep a little control - ha!). So Flickr on daddy, I'll be watching.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

It will be easier to elope...

I always thought it would be cool to be barefoot in the sand with a pig roasting over a fire, an endless keg, and my close friends and family there to witness it all. Living in the Bay Area, sunny days at the beach are hard to plan for - so a destination wedding was likely.

Chris proposed, we quickly threw out some suggestions and started to narrow spots down with Santorini, Big Sur, and Key West high on the list. All completely different from each other, any would be fabulous.

Over the last month, it has been interesting to watch the reactions from both friends and family when I mention possible wedding locations. Some are on board no matter where we do it - with several leaning towards Santorini as they would like to make a vacation out of it. Others find it hard to believe we would ask them to travel long distance to attend the wedding.

The latter is mostly my family. My clan figures since I grew up in the Bay Area and 98% of those who I would invite are within a two hour drive, a San Francisco/Napa wedding would make the most sense. They forget my fiance hails from the East Coast and it would be nice if we took his clan into consideration too.

I don't know, maybe Chris and I should just continue to live in sin as I feel like no matter what we decide, someone will not be happy. All that really matters to me is that we are able to spend our lives together - whether there is a ring on my finger or not.

Oh well. Guess we should focus on setting a date first - then worry about the rest of it.

Time to put up or shut up

Every December, I, like millions of others around the world, put together a list of promising resolutions for the coming year - and - like millions of others around the world...lose sight of the list by around April.

This year I intend to change that habit and I am starting by putting my resolutions in writing on my blog to make myself accountable...to me. There is so much going on and so much I need to accomplish - I can't afford to lose another year just stumbling by.

So, in 2006 I intend to:

(1) Exercise. A knee injury over six years ago killed my gym habit and ensured the 'winter coat' I am carrying remained thick. Recent photos popping up on Flickr have shocked me into realization that one cannot simply wish the weight gone - activity is a requirement. I need to get over being pissed at myself for allowing my body to get this way and channel my energy into a reasonable workout plan. My body will see positive change over the next twelve months.

(2) Get healthy. This is way different than excercise to me. I get sick too darn easily and I need to build my body to last another 50 years. I think a good way to start is taking a multi vitamin every day, eating more veggies and focus on building up my immune system. I need to make (and keep) the appointment with my sinus surgeon to finally figure out if I am battling allergies or if he needs to go in and alter what I was born with. I also need to get back into physical therapy to get my knees back into top form. Hard to ski, hike and bike if it hurts to walk.

(3) Save. Gosh I love spending money. However, as I near my 40's (eek gad, it really is just around the corner), I realized I need to have a large rainy day fund. I have set my goals of how much I should have at the end of 2006 and it doesn't matter whether I use it for travel, a house, our wedding - whatever, it just needs to be there. It is funny,
Chris and I were chatting about this topic last night over tequila shots - amazing how the alcohol gave me so much clarity.

(4) Volunteer more. Give back to the community. 2005 gave me the opportunity to donate my mad skills on the BrainJams events, but I realized there is so much more for society I can do. I cruised through Volunteer Match's website and zeroed in on a couple assisted living communities that I believe would be well suited to my personality. I think it would be a wonderful thing to try and spread a little light in the lives of San Francisco's elderly. There are orientations I need to attend that don't start until January - but once those are behind me, I will be unleashed onto them and hoping to make some killer friendships there.

I am also going to finally attend the Duboce Triangle neighborhood monthly meetings as I need to be more active in what happens where I live. Who knows, maybe I will even run for a board seat...

(5) Read. Retain. I have been good at soaking up a lot of stellar books over the past two years, but I am having a hard time remembering who said what and why the book impacted me. Maybe I need gingko, maybe I just need to make notes once I am done so I can refer back to them - but I will do better in this department.

(6) Create. I started painting a couple of years ago and enjoyed the freedom it gave me. Won't commit to do a lot, but I think it would be benficial for me to open this outlet again.

There might be more...but I think this is a good, accomplishable list to start with. The key is to stay focused, stay strong and remember the more I do now - the easier my life will be in the future. It will be interesting to look back on this twelve months from now and see how well I did.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Stella + Snow Pack = Crazy Delicious

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Mom and dad spent my inheritance well.

Tired of the 'rat race' in the Bay Area, my folks sold off everything and moved to the Oregon Coast. Originally, I thought they were crazy. Oregon? Why would they want to leave the house their kids grew up in, all of their friends and the comforts of the Bay Area?

Then I saw it. The plot of land that would soon support their dream house. Nestled into a hillside - sitting 50 feet away from the Pacific Ocean. Ok, now I understand. Go ahead and build - I didn't need to go to college anyway.

That was six years ago and every time I come up here, I am still blown away by this place. Doesn't matter if we are strolling on the beach, fishing in the ocean, or hiking around
Natural Bridges - it always takes my breath away. Last nights sunset is a great example of this as I see 100s of these in San Francisco, but they seem so much more special here. (photo coming shortly).

It also warms my heart to see my parents so darn happy just 'being'. They busted their butt to make sure my sisters and I were never left wanting - and I am happy to see that karma has paid them back nicely. They are amazing people and they deserve everything good in life.

So, I encourage my folks to keep spending my inheritance and enjoying their life - wouldn't hurt me to work a little harder so I can buy my own dream house one day.

Monday, December 19, 2005

BART goes to Berkeley, right?

Get ready for the Valentine's day holiday by sharing the social networking tool(s) that get your heart pumping fast with a bunch of smart and really cool people. Yes that's right - BrainJams is coming to the lovely town of Berkeley on Saturday, February 25th (date change - edited on 01/20/06) . Of course, we plan to have a few surprises for you, so keep watch over the BrainJams website as details will be coming shortly.

We are in need of patrons, volunteers and a venue for this event, so please contact me if you would like to help out in any way or have any recommendations. As for the location, it needs to be somewhere that would be able to hold 60-70 comfortably with rooms for breakout sessions and quiet spaces where people can continue their conversations. Easy access to BART and WiFi is a must. Know anything?

If you write about the Berkeley Brainjam event, p
lease use the tag 'brainjams13Feb2006'.

Jam on!

Another one bites the dust

Sorry ladies - my brother is officially off the market as of 11am yesterday. It was a beautiful ceremony, and I wish you both truckfuls of happiness and good times - and a gaggle of babies too as my niece would like some playmates!

P.S. A little note to the future Mr. Wells. You smear cake on my face - and I am going to kicka your ass. Capice? :)

Dear Father, it has been 10 days...

...since my last confession - oops, I mean blog. Gosh - 10 days?! How did I let that happen? I was on such a roll...

Scouring my Treo, I realized I have been a tad bit busy between business events, parties, holiday shopping, birthday shopping, and a wedding too.

So I come to terms that life will sometimes have to come between my and keyboard. Sounds a little crazy, I know, but some have even said finding things to do away from this lighted screen so many of us cherish, is good for our health. Whatever.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Yahoo is del.icio.us - well, actually - it is the other way around

Yahoo just added del.icio.us to its family of social networking tools. Makes me kick myself I didn't buy the Yahoo stock a year and a half ago when it was at $15/share. Bugger me. Always a day late and a dollar short.

Congrats Yahoo - you seem to be well on your way to conquering the Web world (again).

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Please behave and use your indoor voice...

George Scarlett, a professor of child development at Tufts University in Boston states "The rights of any one individual — whether he or she be a parent, child or stranger — do not negate the rights of others."

I provide this quote as there has been some flack recently over a story about a cafe owner in the Chicago area who posted a a sign on his front door stating 'Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices.' It seems several parents in the area take this as a dig and feel their kids are no longer welcome in the cafe. I think these folks missed the point - it is not about segregation and penalizing them and their childen - it is simply about etiquette and good parenting.

I say kudos to Dan McCauley and encourage more business owners and private citizens to take a stand. Let's bring the issue of bad manners into the light and try to resolve it - peacefully.

Zulema Suarez, a professor who studies parenting, adds, "Children don't need to be allowed to run wild and free, but they do need to be allowed to express themselves." Sure, give them room to explore - just please set guidelines. I understand you can't control the volume of your children's voices every minute - just try for the minutes when they are in public places (movie theatres, restaurants, on red eye flights, etc.) - heck, before they enter my house too. Teach them to respect personal property and other peoples 'zones'. Don't let scream for an hour hoping they'll eventually stop. Do not cave and give them everything they want. This passive attitude turns your child(ren) into selfish, unruly adults - and Lord know there are enough of those people around these days.

Of course, this is easy for me to say/write/share as I am a girl in my 30's who does not currently have any kids. And if Murphy's Law decides to have its way with me - I will spawn a demon child who cannot be controlled by anyone, and those close to me will reminisce about this post for years to come.
Well, hopefully not. There are so many wonderful people around me that I can use as examples of how to raise your kids, including my dear friend Jones who has brought up three lovable, respectable, zany but well-behaved kids who I gladly take with me anywhere. If I could only do half as well as her, I would still be ahead of so many. Thank you Jones for leading by example. I love you man!

And no, mom, I am not pregnant. Yet. :)

It's all part of the process

Tonight I was at the Fillmore grooving to the fluid sounds of Morcheeba. I have loved this band since they first hit the scene in 1996, and the show did not disappoint - they played a great mix of songs from all five albums and even with a new lead singer, sounded dead on.

I also put a notch in my 'first time for everything' belt tonight. Chris was not feeling well, and none of my local buddies dig Morcheeba (their loss of course), so I decided to go to the show by myself. Normally, I would have stayed home as the concert scene is not something I like to do alone. For some reason I can go to a movie by myself, but a concert? Scary stuff man. I then thought about a couple of shows in the past I chose to miss as I couldn't round up a 'date' and said - NO MORE! So off to the Fillmore I went and I am all the better for it. It also makes it easier to get in the front row as I found people allow one person to get through much easier than two or more. :)

I thought the blog title 'It's all part of the process' was appropriate as it is not only one of my favorite Morcheeba songs, but it hits the nail on the head as challenging yourself daily by stepping outside of your comfort zone is all part of the process of ensuring you continually grow as a person.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

BrainJams: Wrap Up

I know I have said this a 100 times in person, but I must give a formal 'thank you' to David Gutelius and the folks at SRI for their genorosity in lending their Menlo Park facility to us on Saturday. Location is the biggest piece in planning the BrainJams events, so their early support and donation of the space made the rest of the logistics a cake walk for me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I would also like to thank the 60+ people who chose to spend their Saturday with us. It is with your support and energetic spirit that BrainJams will persevere to spread positive change in the way we see the world and how technology continues to evolve. I am reading through the surveys now and your insights and recommendations will be put together on a
Mind Map that will be posted to the blog by weeks end.

A big 'thank you' is also given to Noah Kagan from
OkDork.com and FaceBook.com. Noah led a panel with four college students (from Stanford and UC Berkeley) to discuss what they think about the latest technology, what they use and why. It was informative, entertaining and I might even go so far as to say 'scary' as I heard just how many hours these students spend online each day playing in FaceBook, downloading music and shopping for gadgets. Somehow though, they manage to get all their homework done, and I have no doubt these four individuals will be part of the groups curing cancer and developing software that will change how we live our daily lives. Andy Kauffman managed to record a good chunk of the discussion for us to enjoy time and time again. Thanks Andy.

The amazing
Brian Shields from KRON4 skipped the after party to ensure the event was highlighted on the Saturday night news at 9pm and decided sleep was not necessary as he also produced a longer piece for the Sunday morning news. Thank you so much Brian. Your love and support of BrainJams means so much to us both.

Then there are our Patrons who ensured this event could happen without me having to dig into my savings account. Extra 'props' go out to
SRI, Mindjet, TechCrunch, Pandora, Laughing Squid, Nate Koechley, Whole Foods, RateItAll, Scissor, gada.be, and Blakely, Sokoloff, Taylor, & Zafman, LLP. Speaking of gada.be, founder Chris Pirillo interviewed my Chris for the Pirillo Show and came up with a good little diddy. Make sure you check it out.

And last, but surely not least, I would like to thank
Chris Heuer. You have given so much to so many, and positively changed lives with your loving spirit. Thank you for sharing your passion and your ideas with the world. I love you muffin.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Calling all BrainJams volunteers!

We are now 24 hours away from the next BrainJams event to be held at the SRI facility in Menlo Park.

Several people signed up to be a volunteer ('thank you') and I would like to start putting names to specific activities to ensure smooth sailing at the event. On Saturday, we need three types of folks:

1 - the general handyman/handwoman folks: crowd control, problem troubleshooter, general clean up, breakdown, set-up (everyone can pitch in for this, by the way). Need people interested in helping with registration here too as we want to keep the table manned through the morning at least to greet people and direct them as to what is going on.

2 – the technical folks: audiovisual people to handle projectors and general tech assistance during the sessions and during the day. There will be wifi, projectors and an audio system that all need some managing. We also need some broader support from anyone who has Web coding experience as there are many little projects we have for the Web site still to be done, but this is less immediate need.

3 – the 'note makers': people to be in charge of making notes from each of the afternoon sessions. Ideally these notes will be collected and used at the end of the day for the closing session. Note makers will also play a role in the closing session to help direct the conversation of what was talked about so that others who were not in that session can get a sense of what went on. Making sure we have at least one note maker for each session to type up or write up the notes is really important to do before the event. This would be most helpful if you have a PC Laptop to do this with since hand written notes won't work for what we are trying to do with them. People with experience doing MindMaps are especially encouraged to help out here, although we can have separate people for this as necessary.

Of course, we would also encourage you to step up to the plate as a session leader for the afternoon sessions, so please add the topic you would like to talk about most to the agenda page here

Once you've figured out which kind of folk you'll be - handyman, technical, notemaker - put this beside your name on the wiki here
http://www.brainjams.org/wiki/index.php?title=BrainJam3Dec2005 or shoot me an email at kristiewells [at] gmail [dot] com.

If you're available to help out on Friday afternoon or early Saturday morning with setup (setting up tables, badges, etc.), please contact me via email so we can coordinate as appropriate. (We are arriving around 8am Saturday and
Chris will be on site Friday afternoon from 3-5 or so)

Note that registration will loosely open at about 8:30 at SRI, so we need as many folks on hand then as possible to sit down with us and go over what the day will look like as it unfolds. The more people that understand how it all works, the better it will be. In fact, at 8:30am Chris will talk with all the volunteers for about 15 minutes regarding his vision for how the BrainJamming sessions work and what the rest of the day will be like.

And, of course, it goes without saying, please don't forget to blog about the event before, during and after, as necessary and use 'brainjams3Dec2005' as the tag to ensure it is easily trackable. We've done some basic PR for the event and expect a good sized crowd, but it really helps to get the word out. Most importantly in this regards would be to talk about your intentions for the day, a post about what session you want to see and why, or more about the conversations you want to have with other people.

Again, thanks for volunteering, and look forward to seeing and meeting everyone on Saturday. We appreciate all your efforts and look forward to a great Brainjams event!

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