Make Your Holiday Giving Count

make your holiday giving count

Many organizations give gifts to their employees, partners, and/or clients at this time of the year. It’s common to give food baskets, or alcohol, or other generic types gifts to let these important people know you care.

But, do these people really NEED the gifts you give them? Maybe your employees really NEED that holiday turkey or other token of your appreciation. But, for others, your holiday giving simply adds to the over abundance of the holiday season.

Instead, think about all the good you might do with that money. Making a donation to your favorite charity in the name of your holiday recipients is one way to make your holiday giving count. But, think how much more special your gift is when you allow your recipients to choose their own favorite charity to receive much-needed funds.

Making your holiday giving count

That’s where JustGive helps. You simply buy gift cards and mail them via email or snail mail to all the folks on your list. Recipients go online and choose from one of the over 1 million charities listed on the company’s website. And, gift cards are for any amount, starting at only $10.

left_promo_GC_holiday_2013_trq2soIf your recipient doesn’t know WHO should receive money from their gift card, the JustGive website offers a searchable database of over 1.8 million charities and gives recipients the option of searching for only local charities.

What a great way to make sure your holiday giving counts!


Other ways to make your giving count

Gift cards are available throughout the year. I first learned of them when I received one from a firm thanking me for doing a presentation at their conference.

I was thrilled with the opportunity to support my favorite charity — Rotary Foundation, which is instrumental in supporting needs worldwide. Rotary Foundation provides grants to build schools, dig wells to provide safe drinking water, helps orphanages, and builds transportation for kids to go to school or other educational activities. Rotary Foundation was instrumental in the nearly complete goal of eradicating Polio.

You can give gift cards for birthdays, anniversaries, in memory of departed loved ones … As a Jew, they’re particularly appropriate to give a Bar/Bat Mitzva, as most celebrants are required to do a public service project as part of the process.

Make a pledge to make your holiday giving count

So, I’m asking each of my loyal readers who own organizations to consider using these charitable gift cards instead of other types of holiday gifts. Trust me, they mean more to the recipient than if you’d given them any other token of your appreciation.



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Steve Jobs: The Movie, The Man, The Apple

innovation at apple computer
Jobs with Ashton Kutcher

For many of you, Steve Jobs IS Apple Computer. So, last night I went to see the new movie about Steve Jobs with great interest. I’d read the book on Next Computers, which Jobs spearheaded after being ungraciously dismissed from the company he founded with Steve Wozniak. The Steves, as I call them, embody the fantasy of creating a company from nothing and seeing it become one of the most profitable and widely known brands worldwide.

If you clicked on this post hoping to see a movie review, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but you can learn more about the movie — with Ashton Kutcher playing Jobs — here. I will say, I did like the movie and recommend it. Based on what I know, it seemed pretty accurate.

I was surprised to see the audience at a theater in Metro DC because I expected to see a bunch of my geek colleagues from Mashable, TechCocktail, and DC Tech Meetups. Instead, I found the audience mostly middle-aged couples who probably remember the introduction of Apple (and other personal computers) and the iconic 1984 Super Bowl commercial that introduced the Apple Macintosh — I happen to be penning the article on the grandson of one of those first Macs.

Jobs — I’m gonna change the world

Jobs didn’t set out to create a better computer, he set out to change the world and I think most readers would agree that Apple, led by his vision, DID change the world. And, Apple Computers became synonyms with innovation — from the innovative graphic interface of the early Mac, to the intuitive iPod, to the miniaturized iPad.

Of course, not everything Apple Computers touched turned to gold — as the movie shows with the failed Lisa Computer, named for Jobs illegitimate daughter. And Jobs himself, was an incredible ass — from walking away from Lisa’s mother when she told him she was pregnant to the way he snubbed those who sweated with him in his parents garage by giving them no shares in the company when it went public.

The brilliance of Steve Jobs

Of course, his lack of people skills didn’t help the company, but his brilliance allowed the company to flourish despite his arrogance, his impatience, and the way he alienated those closest to him. His brilliance was that he intuitively understood and embraced elements of innovation management without studying them. So, what made Apple Computer the standout company it is? And, will Apple Computer survive now that Steve Jobs is dead?

Customers buy solutions, not products

Jobs knew this. Computers solved problems for buyers and that’s what they wanted. They didn’t want a computer, they wanted what a computer did for them.

Consumers don’t know they need something until you show them

It’s true. Consumers struggle with a problem and accept it because they don’t know there’s a solution somewhere. Analysts predicted air travel would remain a novelty at State Fairs until Pan Am started scheduled flights. Now, air travel is ubiquitous and the foundation for an entire industry. Steve saw a problem and fixed it.

You’re not competing with others in your industry

You’re competing with 2 guys out there in their garage willing to give up everything to change the world. At the time the Steves founded Apple Computers, IBM ruled the computer industry with an iron fist. Companies like HP, Sperry, Honeywell, Commodore, and a host of others created business based on one-upping IBM. Only Steve Jobs knew that you can’t create an iconic business by doing what your competitors do — just doing it better. Instead of jumping into the red ocean, he plunged headlong into a blue one.

Identifying your company by its products is a fools game

Apple didn’t make computers, it changed people’s lives by helping them with problems. If Apple only made computers, we might never have smartphones, or apps, or little computers that fit in your purse.

You can’t run a company with numbers

Now, don’t go off the deep end. I’m NOT saying you should ignore numbers — and as someone currently writing a book on social media analytics you can bet I’m a firm believer in numbers. But, you can’t let the numbers tell YOU what to do. Metrics help GUIDE decisions — they don’t tell you what to do. And, metrics are backward looking. They tell you where you’ve been. That’s great for tactical decisions like how much product are we selling so we know how much to make. Using metrics for strategic decisions is a little more intuitive. You can’t just extend a trend line and expect that sales will follow the trend.

To make strategic decisions, you need metrics that are forward looking — like what are consumers saying about your brand — NOT what are stockholders doing with your stock. Almost by definition, stock price is a short-term valuation of your brand and doesn’t look at the long-run. However, your strategic decisions must look 5 – 10 years out. Putting money into an obsolete technology – the Apple II — just because it was currently selling well is naive and short-sighted.

Will Apple survive without Steve Jobs?

That’s a good question. The answer lies not in the man — because Steve Jobs was a seriously flawed man — but in the organization to replace him with another visionary who embodies the principles of Steve Jobs and gives him/ her the time and resources he/she needs to continue the innovative legacy of Steve Jobs.



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Small Business Saturday: Spreading the Christmas Cheer

small business saturdayBlack Friday! Sounds like a particularly bad day, but for retailers across the country this is the biggest shopping day of the year and the official start of the Christmas season.  The term CyberMonday was coined to reflect the following Monday, where online businesses experience a similar boost in holiday sales.

Last year, American Express introduced Small Business Saturday and it’s exploded this year with lots of high-profile sponsors, like Google, Twitter, and Facebook.

How your business gets a boost?

Small Business Saturday is much more robust this year — generating tons of engagement and urging consumers to shop small businesses. These efforts alone should drive significant traffic to small businesses in general.

  1. Facebook fanpage engagement – the page promotes engagement and helps spread the word about Small Business Saturday with all the share buttons, peer support, etc.  The site has over 2 million fans. The fanpage is linked to their website, integrating social media efforts to maximize returns.
  2. $25 credit – consumers get a $25 credit by registering their AMEX cards and buying $25 or more at a small business on Small Business Saturday.
  3. Posters for your store and banners for your website – whether you marketing online or off, Small Business Saturday has promotional materials developed to promote you small business for the event.
  4. Advertise your deal – retailers can advertise specials they’re offering for Small Business Saturday and merchants accepting AMEX cards can share their deals with customers.
  5. Find a small business – the fanpage lets you search local small businesses by zip (in case you don’t know about them already).
  6. City guides – are in the works for several cities.  Guides highlight special offers by small local businesses.
  7. Links to local events – organizers in various cities link their fanpages so you can easily find local events and special offers.

Small Business Resources

The benefit of Small Business Saturday extends beyond helping businesses cash in on the holiday shopping frenzy.  Resources help small businesses stand out online and market themselves more effectively.

  1. Create a Facebook page for your business – you won’t end up with a cool landing page, but it steps you through the easy process of creating a fan page for your business.
  2. $100 in Free Facebook ads - whether you’re creating a new fan page or already have one, you’ll get free Facebook ads (once approved).  The ads are easily customizable, but only distributed to your local area.  This is great for local retailers and services, but not so good from internet businesses.
  3. YouTube – Add your story to the YouTube video created as part of the Small Business Saturday project.  Currently, over 100,000 people viewed this video.
  4. Get more Twitter followers – a tool for adding a “follow me on twitter” button to your site.
  5. There’s also a checklist to prepare for Small Business Saturday and a link to learn more marketing from experts at American Express OPEN.

What are you doing to build your small business?  How can Small Business Saturday help?

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Digital Capital Week: Our Session on Social Media Marketing

We’re presenting a session Tuesday night (Nov. 8 ) at 6:30 on social media and internet marketing.  Get details and RSVP for the social media marketing and internet marketing event here.  Our session features a Keynote from  Ken McArthur, best-selling author, speaker, and founder of JV Alert which brings together top speakers and businesses.

Ken McArthur and social media marketing





The session, called Creating Community and Change out of Thin Air, LIVE also features the launch of Bootstrap America.  BootStrap America, co-founded by Ronald B. Hanley and Barry C. McLawhorn, is a non-profit corporation creating local jobs now in 2 primary ways:
1)  We’ll raise $200,000,000 for micro-grants to deserving individuals and small businesses, mentoring them to success, and creating at least 10 local jobs for each grantee via the support of successful business leaders.
2)  We’ll raise $200,000,000 to revitalize the Howard University School of Business infrastructure and retain and recruit premier faculty members to preserve Howard’s legacy of excellence in education.

BootStrap America seeks to give our grandchildren’s children a legacy of freedom, responsibility, and accountability and to preserve American freedom perpetually.  The idea is to begin in the DC Metro area then spread to other communities.

My presentation on Engagement in Social Media rounds out the evening.  I’ll share more about the event afterwards, but today I wanted to share my presentation with you.

The presentation is actually in 2 parts.  The powerpoint presentation is a Zen presentation thanks to Guy Kawasaki’s advice, but that’s a story for another day.  Which means, you need to also check out the document supporting the presentation.  And here they are:

First the presentation:

Next, the document:

Engagement in Social Media


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ConvergeUS: Using Tech for Social Good

Wednesday night ConvergeUS launched in DC with the slogan of “Working with Tech.  Winning with Tech”  The kickoff reception for about 200 DC area folks working in technology, innovation, education, government, and social media boasted a whos who of tech including:

  • FCC Chair, Julius Genachowski
  • Joseph Was, Jr, Sr VP of External Affairs of Comcast
  • Twitter co-founder, Biz Stone
  • Andrew McLaughlin, former White House Deputy CTO
  • President and CEO of TechNet, Ray Ramsey
  • Marta Urquilla, Sr Policy Advisor to the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation
  • President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, Muhammed Chaudhry
  • Leland Devon Melvin, NASA Assoc. Admin for Education (also former NASA astronaut and pro-football player)
ConvergeUS Launch

The goal of the launch was to gain support from the tech community to generate ideas for combining technologies and human capital to solve social problems such as illiteracy, obesity, and other social problems.  The initiative is starting in the US, but there’s certainly the notion of helping people in at-risk populations globally. Let me have them speak for themselves.

TechNet, the bipartisan, political network of CEOs and Senior Executives established ConvergeUS in the spring of 2010. TechNet’s current CEO, Rey Ramsey envisions a non-profit that not only reinforces TechNet’s role as the “Voice of the Innovation Economy”, but also leverages TechNet’s access to human, technology and financial resources of the technology sector.

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