Category Archives: communications

Facebook: How to See What’s Really Important to You

Facebook Tip Sheet #1

Facebook: How to See What’s Really Important to You

The Solution: Creating a Friends List
Time needed: about 10 minutes

Ever get the feeling that you’re missing something? Once you get over a certain number of friends on Facebook–somewhere around 50 or 60 people–you probably are! With all that information flowing by, it can be difficult to see what you really want to see about the people who are important to you. In fact, you may not have any idea their posts are even there, so you might not know what you’re missing.

By creating specific lists of your friends, you’ll find it much easier to see what’s going on with the people you care about, and to respond back to them.

To create a Friends list:

  • Go to your Newsfeed page (the one you reach when you click on the “Facebook” logo on the top left of your page).
  • In the menu bar on the left side of the page, click on “Friends.”
  • On this “Friends” page, click on the box at the top, “Create a list.”
  • This opens up a new window. Enter the name of the list you’d like to make, and then go to town and select the friends you want to include in this list.

After you’ve created the list, it will show up as a sub-menu under the “Friends” menu on the left side of your Newsfeed page. (You’ll first need to click on “Friends” to open up these sub-menus.)

Here are some ways to organize your lists:

  • You may want to create one just for your “Family” and another for your closest friends. I call this list “True Friends.” Other possibilities are “Inner Circle,” “My Peeps.” You get the idea.
  • You may want a “Work” list, or perhaps “Co-workers.”
  • If you have your own business and also use FB for this purpose, you may want a list for “Clients” or “Customers.” It’s also good to create a list for “Potential Customers” so that you can easily view those folks and comment on their FB posts as a way to build relationships and trust.
  • You might want to create lists for your interest areas. For example, if you are an avid soccer fan and a group of your friends are too, that might be your “Soccer” list.
  • You can also create geographical lists – you may want to group all your friends who live in the same city as you. An alternate way to get this information is to join a Network on Facebook.

It would be great to hear if this information is helpful to you.


How Can I Help You? Listening With an Open Heart…

I haven’t written much here lately because I’ve been busy with a number of great clients, and also because I’m taking some time to step back and re-think how I offer my services.

The people I most enjoy working with are doing amazing things… some of you are leading social profits (aka nonprofits) that are doing much-needed work; some of you are writers and artists; some of you are therapists and healers.

For many of us, these are challenging economic times. I’ve heard from a number of people who would like to work with me (or other consultants who offer similar services) but that money is limited right now. I really want to find a way to support you—so I’m researching some new ways to work together that will be more affordable.

Some of these new forms might be group learning and coaching events, as well as tools that you can download and work with at your own pace (articles, e-books, etc.)

Here’s where you come in: The Survey

I’d like to invite you to help me in this process. I’ve created a short survey to help me better understand the kinds of tools I could create that might serve you. You can find the survey here.

Thank you for your interest in Five Directions and this blog — I look forward to continuing to connect with you!


And a p.s.

By the way, one resource that I’ve found incredibly helpful as I re-think my own business is a course called the Empire Building Kit, developed by writer and entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau. (Chris is a pretty unique guy. His mission is to live his own life to the fullest—his goal is to travel to every country in the world by the time he’s 35—and to help others do so as well.)

Chris has put together a collection of detailed case studies (in video as well as on print) and 365 daily lessons designed to help people build successful online businesses. If this is something you’re interested in doing, I can’t recommend the Empire Building Kit highly enough – I’m learning so much from it. (Full disclosure: I am in Chris’ affiliate program so if you do end up purchasing the EBK or any of the other excellent products on that website, I’ll receive a portion of the sale.)

Wisdom 2.0: Technology and Mindfulness

After two rich days at Wisdom 2.0 in Mountain View, CA, I have piles of notes as well as hundreds of thoughts, experiences, and interactions to digest. I feel like I need some mental Pepto Bismol… I guess that’s kind of what meditation is.

Usually I’m the kind of writer who needs to agonize over a subject for days, weeks even, and keeps revising and revising until the words and flow are just right. This time, I’m going to jettison that instinct and give ya what I got right now… a series of impressions coming out of this conference. After all, a few of my brother/sister W 2.0 attendees have already put out their posts (namely One City, MindDeep, Samantha Bell, Beth Kanter), so my ego tells me “Let’s go!” Otherwise it might be months before you see something.

♥ To my knowledge, this is the first major event to ever bring together these two seemingly different strands: technology (in particular social networking) and mindfulness. So right off the bat, this felt like history in the making.

And the kind of people drawn to W 2.0 were the same sorts of folks who would have shown up at that cornfield-turned-into-a-baseball-field in Iowa. You know, if you build it they will come. Many of us looked around the room in awe that there could be so many kindred souls in the same space… people who get a rush out of both tweeting and following our breaths. This doesn’t seem to happen often in our ‘real’ lives.

Huge gratitude goes to Soren Gordhamer who had the vision to see this intersection and create this event to manifest it.

♥ One big theme of the conference: Happiness is good business. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, is the lead singer of this movement, but he’s not the only one. I was impressed to hear how not only Zappos but Twitter, Google, Facebook, Whole Foods, and Samovar (a group of tea houses in San Francisco) place the physical and emotional wellbeing of their employees as a top priority, and are going about it in creative ways. Meng Tan, Google’s Jolly Good Fellow (that’s really his job title!), started up Google’s School of Personal Growth, and also told us about the free, local, organic food served in Google’s cafeteria.

When I was research director at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society in 2003/2004, we started playing around with the idea of “Contemplative Organizations,” a concept that emerged out of the qualitative data we were analyzing at the time. These were organizations that used values often cultivated by contemplative practice as their guiding principles (e.g. reflection, interconnection), and they created ways to support this in the workplace, like meditation rooms. One of the companies we studied back then was Sounds True, whose founder Tami Simon was part of this conference.

But what’s happening now is that the scope of that idea has amplified greatly. Google, for example, has 10,000 employees. I had a real sense that a new paradigm of work and leadership is finally busting through, one based more in altruism than greed, leaving the old CEO image of Donald Trump in the dust. Some of that may be generational… I wonder if the 20- to 40-ish year-old generations have an easier time with integrating work and spirituality so that these don’t feel like two separate parts of life.

♥ Something I totally didn’t expect – learning how Twitter can actually support mindfulness and awareness. Greg Pass, Twitter’s Chief Technical Officer, gave a fascinating talk about the aesthetics of Twitter, as he experiences them. He related the art of writing and reading 140-character tweets to the points in a painting… individually they may not say or mean much, but if you follow the stream of tweets over time, you begin to see patterns and themes emerge, which evoke something more so than describe something. In essence, it activates and appeals to a different part of our brain than more ‘objective’ or descriptive essays might (my words, not his).

Greg also spoke poetically about Twitter as an invitation to experience a moment in time more deeply, to give “extraordinary attention” to something in our lives that might otherwise pass us by. Wow… never thought of it that way.

Chris Sacca, a smart-as-a-whip strategic advisor to a number of tech companies, talked about how he saw his email box as “a logjam” that interrupts his “flow and yet for him Twitter “just keeps flowing by…it’s ephemeral.” That quality of Twitter allowed him to dip into the stream of tweets when he could, to be more discerning about how he chose to spend his time and attention, and who he chooses to respond to.

♥ A number of people spoke about the usual divide between these two camps… spiritual folks often have an aversive reaction to social networking tools and technology in general. Roshi Joan Halifax broke that stereotype, talking about her appreciation of Facebook and her Blackberry. She also spoke of the “two ends of the stick” – and these are now my words again: Technology is neither inherently good nor bad. It has great capacity to connect us, to give us new modes of expression, to give us access to a wealth of information and resources, to mobilize us to action from compassion. And it can also lead to dissociation, to isolation.

This theme, too, came up repeatedly during the two days of W 2.0. Lots of people emphasized the importance of skillful means, of bringing the same quality of attention and thoughtful consideration to our decisions regarding how and when we use the social networking tools as we do to other parts of our life.

♥ Finally, one of the big takeaways for me:  I felt very grateful and inspired that at least some of the leaders at major companies like Twitter aspire to support awareness and engagement, in both their employees and the users of these technologies. And I had never thought of information and system design as a way to do this… but these guys are really thinking this through. This obviously doesn’t mean it’s always going to be used that way, but the aspiration is there.

There’s more, lots more, but that’s enough for now. History has been made.

My Top 10 Top 10 Lists

If you’re trying to figure out how to write something that will get people’s attention, either on your blog or somewhere else, it’s hard to go wrong with a Top 10 list.

Think about what you know best – whether that’s mindfulness in daily life, productivity, raising kids, making cupcakes, or something else – and see if you can generate a Top 10 list related to that topic. Maybe it’s the 10 most fun ingredients to use in cupcakes, or the 10 best things to say to your kids when they’ve gotten out of control. I can almost guarantee that you’ll get more hits or visits for that post than anything else.

Top 10 lists can be incredibly profound, useful, fun, or ridiculous. They can be done in words, pictures, videos, or a combination of all three. They put information into a bite-sized package that enables people to feel it can actually change their lives in some way. That’s what so great about them.

And so in that spirit, here are 10 of my favorite Top 10 lists (well, with one ‘11’ in the mix!):

• Gandhi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World

• 10 Things Science Says Will Make You Happy

• 10 Things You Can Do to Shrink Your Carbon Footprint

• 10 True Stories That Oughta Be Movies

• 10 Simple Ways to Save Yourself from Messing Up Your Life

• Top 10 Incredible Sounds (with audio!)

• Top 10 Individual Protests

• Ten Ways to Tell if Someone is Lying to You (a nifty slideshow)

• 10 Courageous Things You Can Do to Build Community

• The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating

Mindfulness and Social Media: Not an Oxymoron!

Lately, we’ve been talking about the effective use of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter as a part of your communications plan.

If you’ve read deeper into this blog, you’ll know that one of Five Directions’ core values is mindfulness – the practice of loving awareness and attention to everything in our environment.

This may seem at odds with the usual practice of marketing and communications, and particularly social media, which often emphasizes quantity rather than quality, and speed.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. This spring, there’s a wonderful event being held in San Jose, CA (the heart of Silicon Valley) called Wisdom 2.0. Organized by Soren Gordhamer, author of the book by the same name, the summit features speakers from the world of technology, business, and spirituality. Some of the people in the spotlight include Meng Tan (of Google), Greg Pass (of Twitter), Roshi Joan Halifax (founder of Upaya Zen Center), Tami Simon (founder of Sounds True), and Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos).

If you’re interested in attending, the dates are April 30 and May 1. You can find out more information here. I’ll be there as a journalist and covering the event for a white paper that I’m preparing for the Fetzer Institute on the current state of contemplative practices in society. Let me know if you plan to attend – I’d be happy to meet you!

Hoo Loves Ya, Baby? A Secret to Help Manage All That Information

One secret to working effectively with social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is to use some of the third-party applications that have been developed to help you manage all that information. If you’re only using FB, Twitter, or LI, you’re probably doing way more work than you need to, and spending more time than you want to.

There are people who devote nearly their entire lives to tracking the many support applications that come out each week — it’s like rabbits breeding. I am not one of those folks. But I can tell you that, after trying a couple, my favorite is Hootsuite (some other choices are Tweetdeck and Seesmic).

I like Hootsuite because it allows me to do all this:

  • Manage my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts all in the same place.
  • Schedule posts ahead of time. This means that I can spend one 20-minute period each week writing posts that are then distributed throughout the week — way better than finding time each day to do this.
  • Easily share an interesting web page with just one click, using the “Hootlet” feature on my web browser toolbar.
  • Create and  view lists so that I can divide the large number of people I follow into more manageable units. For example, I have a Twitter list of “social transformers” – people and organizations that are doing cutting-edge social justice work. If I didn’t use Hootsuite, the interesting things that those folks share would likely get buried under the stream of posts that comes in through Twitter.

Hootsuite also gives me statistics so that I can see which of my posts are the most interesting to people. And it probably does more stuff that I haven’t even discovered yet. Plus, the owl is pretty cool.

And no, I’m not getting a commission from Hootsuite to say all this stuff. I just like it.

If you’re using one or more of the big three social media and you’re not yet using Hootsuite (or another third-party app), I highly encourage you to check it out and add it to your toolbox. It takes a little effort to set it up and learn the different features, but it’s well worth your time. You’ll be amazed at how it can simplify your online life.

What methods do you use to manage the stream of information that comes your way? Please share your tips with us in the comments…

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Social Media (Twitter et al) *but were afraid to ask

In the last post, I gave an overview of an Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMC) plan, and how qualitative research can work in tandem with it to help you learn more about your customers, members, or audience.

Today we’ll drill down a bit and look at how to use social media tools, like Facebook and Twitter, as part of that plan. (These are also sometimes called Web 2.0.) I like to emphasize that these are “part” of the plan. Often people think that simply having a Facebook page is the plan.

But remember the holistic nature of IMC. It’s possible that other tools will also help to meet your goals as well as, and sometimes more effectively than, social media. I like what Tony Hsieh of Zappos says: “Embarking on a social media strategy to help with marketing is like embarking on a facial muscle strategy to help with smiling.” You gotta have the whole face (and body!) involved.

First, if you do decide to include social media tools in your plan, I suggest focusing your efforts on the top three: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. There are other choices out there, but these three are the most popular and road-tested.

Why even use social media? One good reason: There are more than 400 million active Facebook users. If even just .00001 percent of them are part of your ideal audience, having a presence on FB means that you’re able to reach 4,000 potential new members or customers. (I hope I got the math right on that.) And it’s free. Hard to pass that up!

Another good reason is that it gives you access to a specialized stream of information that you probably couldn’t otherwise find, the kind of information that’s related to your field or interest and can enhance your work, and can also help you learn more about your ideal audience and how to connect with them.

The more skilled you get in using social media, the more you’ll learn how to tweak your information streams so that they give you what you are looking for and filter out what you don’t need.

The most common resistance people have to using FB, Twitter, and LI is that they worry about getting sucked into a time drain. That certainly can happen, but it doesn’t have to. It’s actually possible to devote as little as 20 minutes a week to social media and use it very effectively in the service of your business or organizational goals.

There are some basic guidelines that will help you optimize your use of these tools:

  • The golden rule of reciprocity – if someone follows you, follow them back.
  • More is better. You’ll only realize the full benefits of social media as you acquire more followers… there is an exponential effect that helps to spread word of mouth through these networks.
  • Remember that you are building your brand with every post, so be mindful and strategic in the content that you share.

I’ve learned much of what I know from George Kao, a social media and productivity coach. George offers an excellent free teleseminar to show you the ropes, which I highly recommend. I’m giving you a bare-bones outline here; George is a master of the medium. Check him out – you won’t regret it.

Next time: One Big Secret for Managing All That Information (hint: it involves an owl)