Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why Innovation = Emerson quote + Team

I've always loved this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, because it reminds me that great thoughts and ideas are important, but themselves they don't produce fruit.

"Though is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it."

After my meeting today with some amazing colleagues, I wanted to take the liberty of appending Emerson's poetic theory with a little of my own experience.

Swimming in the same pool with other brilliant minds made me think how the team of people we surround our ideas with are like the water, oxygen, or even the fertile soil that life needs to grow.  For me, that has made all the difference.

While I searched for the Emerson quote to hyperlink, I stumbled upon this exceptional append by Bryant H. McGill.  Didn't know him, but he says it well...

"Where wise actions are the fruit of life, wise discourse is the pollination."

So where do you get your pollination, water, oxygen or soil?  Are you a DIY individual that works best under a focused and controlled scope and objective in order to make sure things happen as you envision?  Or do you thrive in the petri dish of creativity, test and validation, and progression that a team insists on, to bring a group's passion to the purpose and reduce your "squirrel" moments as your chase the goal?

I guess it depends on our personality, circumstances or objective.  Or maybe just how we are wired, which pulls us toward certain people, pleasures or work and reinforces it over time.

I'm an ENTP, so that should give it away.  If it doesn't, go ask Carol.  :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What makes us feel ALIVE at Live Events?

Austin is about to open up it's home to ten's of thousands of music friends and lovers for the ACL Festival.  With people coming from everywhere, there's a strong interest by the people "invested" in the event to learn who these folks are and what they think of our fine city.  

The rumor is that this year the festival producers want to "measure" more by issuing RFID enabled wristbands so we can link them to our Facebook profile and "wave" them as we meander around.  It's interesting that they want to know WHO we are and WHERE we go and WHEN we were there.  The question is whether they'll be able to know a lot of more interesting things like WHAT we think about the festival and HOW we planned to get here and WHY we chose to attend certain shows over others.

My Dad worked faithfully for the Walt Disney Company at the Disneyland Park in Anaheim, CA for 27 years.  That means my sister and I we were blessed to get to go to Disneyland over 100 times as kids growing up.  I am very proud of what he taught me as he watched the park evolve from Walt's vision to Eisner's to what it is today as part of one of the world's largest media companies.  

But relevant to ACL is that my Dad would share at our family dinner table about how Walt spoke of sprinkling "pixie dust" around the park for the "Guests" who visited that day.  Walt believed in putting on a show, and he believed in what is effectively today's Total Quality Management.  He's right - why can't we strive for the same standard for live events?  Social media and mobile should be able to make live events come ALIVE by knowing what's hot, what's not, with friends and with "people like me" regardless of whether I know them.  I wonder if Walt would have embraced social media?

Walt was ahead of his time.  Are we finally catching up?  Well, I'll be watching closely this weekend as I link and swipe my badge, and will report back WHAT I think.  :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My sister: Jennifer Maria (Piening) Carr

On January 10th, 2012 we were notified that after a life of both joy and hard struggles, my loving sister Jennifer passed away.

There is just too much to say and too many emotions to feel and work through to write her obituary now.  Instead, I hope to help those of us who knew her gather and share all of the joy she brought each of us, so that we can celebrate her life.  PLEASE SHARE your story too...

For those of you that were close to her and live in Seattle, the funeral mass will be next Wednesday, January 18th.  Details to come.

"Jennifer's laugh is infectious. She laughs with her eyes, her smile, her voice, her eyes, her posture, her memories and experiences, and most of all her heart. When I think of her laugh, I smile. When I think of the times we laughed so hard that we cried, I cry now." - Mark
Link to Jennifer's Facebook memorial page...

Jennifer's Eulogy
St. Stephens Catholic Church
Renton, WA
January 18, 2012

Philippians 4:6-7
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1. Thanks to all of you who are here.  I'm sure in Jennifer's eyes our presence and meeting each other together today is not some master plan she had, but rather a Coincidence from a life Lived.  We all knew Jennifer, and if there is anything that was true, she loved to laugh.  So let's smile and laugh with her today and remember her giving nature to people, her gifts and talents, and her passion for Life.  

The response from those that knew her in her youth was overwhelming.  Many of those people aren't here today but are saying prayers from CA, TX and around the world.  Those close to her that are here include Mom and Dad, her husband Jason, Deron, their children and their extended families.  Her sister-in-law Lori, her Godmother Henny, her cousin Karin, all of you who reached out to us and were able to be here today.

If you don't know, Jennifer died because of liver failure.  It's an interesting irony, given that Jennifer was a Liver.  I mean, she didn't just "exist" on Earth - she Lived, Big.  In some ways she has had more life experiences than many of us will ever have.  She was passionate about everything she did, especially when she could do so for others.  And we got to see that in action.

Jennifer was born on February 11, 1974 to my parents Tony and Henny Piening in Anaheim, California.  Her early years bring back fantastic memories:
  • Camping in the trailer in the San Bernardino mountains, and watching her fish with my Dad
  • Hosting our family from Holland or saving and flying there every four years, so we could know and be close to our family there
  • Birthday parties, visits and sleepovers with our American family, the McCalls and the Koetsiers, including competitive board and card games that shaped our character.
  • Soccer weekends and softball games, and later drama and choir rehearsals and shows through high school
  • Beach parties at Bolsa Chica and big parties in the backyard with family and friends from school and life, including when she embarrassed me at my 21st birthday with a gift of banana hammock underwear in front of a what felt like a hundred people.  Yes, Jennifer, I admit it:  you got me.  
Jennifer was blessed with so many gifts: 

1. Her laughter, warmth and understanding.  She gave of herself.  She was trusting.  If you read the hundreds of messages our family has received across calls, visits, cards, email, text, Facebook and the guestbook, everyone that knew Jennifer mentions her HUGE smiles, big warm hysterical laughs, including those belly laughs that were so hard she would cry.  You can see her come alive in the photo collages.  Thanks to Claudia Koetsier for assembling them for us to remember Jennifer's wonderful smiles.

2. Jennifer was a wonderful Mother and Advocate, especially for autism for her kids and others afflicted, including Karin's daughter Valerie.  She was passionate about Cure Autism Now's Walk for Austim 5k - in fact, her Facebook profile picture is with Katelyn from that event.  Jennifer had a special bond with her kids, and shared a special handshake and saying with them that I'll leave to Jason to share with you later, only because I would butcher it.  Let's just say it was creative, just like Jennifer. 

3. Jennifer's musical and dramatic gifts were a blessing and a wonderful outlet for her spirit.  The shows she put on at home when she was little, high school choir and drama performances, signing Ave Maria in church, and karaoke.  We learned quickly that she had more talent than I did, which was awesome for her to remind me.  I am four years older than her, but she performed in Fiddler on the Roof at my high school during her 8th grade, which was a source of well-deserved pride for her. Jennifer, sorry I didn't tell you that more often to affirm you, but you knew it and you obviously know it now!

Jennifer had high standards for herself, and she put a lot of pressure on herself to try to Live up to them.  But let's be honest:  she was stubborn too.  She was going to do things her way, she wasn't going to depend on others and admit weakness, and she was convinced there was a new path ahead that would be better than the one she was on.  In fact, while she lived a life of joy and laughter during the ups, Jennifer was always seeking greater degrees of relief from pain, confusion and struggle as things became harder for her.  But Jennifer, even you have to admit some of these times were downright funny:

1. I remember as a kid the time Mom and Dad told her to clean her room.  Sure it was a total disaster area, but with an hour or so and a little help it would have been picked up.  I offered to help.  No way.  She shut the door, pulled everything off of her shelves and out of her closet and drawers, and decided to get "organized".  3 days later!...but man was it clean and polished.

2. Another time she decided she was "outta here", as in going to run away from home.  Of course she was like 10 years old, but she put some stuff in a bag like Bugs Bunny would in a cartoon, and decided to go live somewhere else.  Well, she made it to the elementary school parking lot behind our house.  I remember knowing she would have to come back, but as stubborn as she was I wondering if maybe she wouldn't.  That was Jennifer.  

3. Then there is the last time I saw Jennifer a year ago, with Marty, driving in Seattle.  She was sick then, and she was stubborn then too.  But man did we laugh that day in the car, telling stories and remembering the good times from our childhood.  Her laugh was free and light, and for a few moments I saw the Jennifer I always knew.  That was her spirit fighting for joy and freedom from pain.  

So to butcher and paraphrase Shakespeare's Marc Antony, we come to praise Jennifer, not just to bury her.  In her life, Jennifer deserved to have a defender and an advocate, and today she has one in death. God knows I tried to protect and defend her as she grew into adulthood to live her own life.  We all did.  But really, that's His job and not our burden.  And while she had faults, we all do.  We all are the same in our human suffering that comes from sin.  And in that Truth there is much each of us can learn from Jennifer.  So let's make sure she didn't die in vain, let's laugh about some stories of Jennifer's life, and take away some goodness for our souls in the process. Jennifer's LAUGHTER brought Light into the world, and for that she'll always be remembered:  as her Legacy, and in our hearts.  

Closing Quotes:
From Albert Einstein~
"Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life."

And my favorite Einstein quote:  "Coincidence is where God lives."

Closing Prayer:
That God embraces her in heaven, just as he embraces us on Earth.  That we feel his connection to us every day as we work to make Earth more like Heaven than Hell.  That we live every day to bring Light into the World instead of Darkness.  In a sense, that we "Pay It Forward" with everything we do.  And that we take comfort in knowing that she is with God, looking down on us and laughing about the times we shared together, and knowing that she will not be forgotten.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Authenticity in the 21st century Bazaar

My friend @DrewCarpenter sent over a link to this book along with a radio interview with its author Rajni Bakshi.  Bakshi presents a VERY interesting way to think about how commerce works across the spectrum of capitalism to communism, using the concept of the Bazaar that this article asserts we have been straying from for the last 400+ years...

Authenticity and transparency are topics scattered through social media discussions, and have the potential to be force multipliers to drive the efficient production espoused in the classic Atlas Shrugged, without the selfishness of greed and fear that can follow in its wake.  This NYT book review of a recent Ayn Rand biography does a nice job of considering this balance across economic, social and political planes.  After the market crash, do we still think Gordon Gekko was right in believing "Greed is good" and market externalities are the burdens of the weak...?

The truth is that in the beginning as in the end, "we the people" are social animals.  Efficient market theory doesn't account well for what it takes us to maintain strong and honest relationships between each other - it remains difficult to "price in" the value and the cost.  If anything, social media is forcing us to recalculate and calibrate those values and costs as they increase, since a bad choice today can be communicated widely across a network and the world like a single match can scorch a forest.

There are some great entrepreneurial examples of authenticity and total transparency emerging, but I have to confess that when I heard of I hesitated, just like others are transparently confessing themselves.  While Unvarnished lets people publish anonymous reviews of co-workers or friends/enemies, there is little to no control of our personal and professional image using this tool.  Our friend @AaronStrout is proving brave by appearing in their Beta leaderboard for Marketing.  Nice leadership!

It raises a huge paradox for those of us working to relinquish the tight control we have learned to manage of every aspect of our lives.  We seek to be professional and personal "trust agents", with forms of spiritual development to enjoy the fruits of faith and "pay it forward" to others.  After all, if we can't live by and succeed from our actions and our reputation, then what do we really have?

With 500+ million Facebook members alone, social media networks are here to stay.  Crowdsourcing and UGC (user-generated content) makes us more honest, less selfish and more accountable to each other.  Ayn claim she was transparent and authentic, but it was a mean and selfish transparency that she hid from people and made excuses for.  Sorry Ayn, but as opposed to the "Mad Men" marketing of the 60's, social media is making it suck to be selfish.

But the question still stands:  will embracing Unvarnished through Facebook Connect be like opening Pandora's Box and risk corrupting our image across the real-time digital networks we have been assembling for the last 10 years?  Ultimately, can we enjoy the higher plane of efficient social, political and economic market theory that Bakshi introduces, without bleeding the human relationship capital in the process that Rand's Objectivism selfishly continues to advocate?

I don't want to live and die sad, mean, lonely and angry like Ayn Rand.  I'll pay the authenticity tax and take my chances.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Is Matt Curtin Superman?

Congrats to Matt Curtin and his successful launch of at DEMO 2010 this week.  Lots of great response, including this from Austin SXSW Interactive:  Austin social media startup Socialsmack launched today! 

What's cool about the guy is not just the consumer activist mobile platform he has built with this company, but how his character as a leader and citizen shines through things like The Superhero Foundation.

It was on display today at the CASA Superhero Run 5K at The Domain in Austin, TX this morning, with over 1,000 registered runners and hundreds more volunteers, friends and family cheering on the "heroes" - volunteers and brave kids.

We need to "Prop" the guys that are good stewards and leaders.  I hope you get a chance to meet and know him.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CASA Wants Superheroes for Race

I hope you are here because you care about CASA and the Superhero Run on Sunday, Sep 19th at 8am at the Domain in Austin, TX.  But if you are just to laugh at me in a Superhero costume, then that works too.  ;)

Fox 7 News Austin:  CASA Wants Superheroes for Race

If you would like to Register, Donate, or help promote the event, you can do so here:

Thanks to all of you, from the kids, for your support!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Social Media Revolution vs. Bill Belichick

Nice job by Erik on social media's effect on, well, everything.  If you haven't seen this before.

Makes me laugh when I think of Marvin Lewis and Bill Belichick quotes yesterday about social media, especially:  
Asked by media in New England whether he follows Ochocinco's tweets, Belichick smiled and said, "I don't do Twitter or MyFace or any of that stuff."
Old school coach that prefers to stay in the confines of his past, instead of the Moneyballers of the 21st century.

The stats are changing before our eyes every day, which is why Erik and team updated the video.  Still, his message is really more interesting as a tool to drive understanding and change with those around us.  Hold on!