Archive for July, 2010

Top 3 Blog Tips

1. Be Unique – stand out. Remember everything can be blogged and is blogged. There is stiff competition so be different to get attention.

2. Make it Personal – add your own personality to your post. Make it interesting and reflect your own personality.

3. Consistency – it is the key to have readers return to your blog.

I used Crazy Talk software that we use in our COMPUTER EXPLORERS classes. It is certainly different and a great deal of fun. Any wonder why our students come back for more? The background is a photo from my vacation to Niagara Falls.

I love reading blogs so please post your link and share some of your secret tips to successful blogging.

Robin Scott, Franchisee of the Year

It was a last-minute surprise to have Robin Scott, COMPUTER EXPLORERS North Carolina Franchisee join me in New York for the Word of Mouth Supergenius conference organized by GasPedal. Robin is a member of the Franchise Advisory Council and was Franchisee of the Year in 2009. Robin is always supportive of new initiatives, demonstrates creativity and has immersed herself in social media.

Below I asked Robin a few questions about her attendance:

I know as a small business owner you must watch your business expenses very carefully. Attending Word of Mouth Supergenius conference was not a free event. Do you think you received your money’s worth by attending?

Considering the economic times, watching my spending is even more critical now.  The reason I chose to go to this conference was specifically for the subject matter, hoping I would learn things that would benefit my business and in the long run save me money. In that regard I felt it was worth it. I met lots of interesting knowledgeable people with great information on how to build business by word of mouth at no cost to the business owner. Doesn’t get any better than that!!

Speaker, Andy Sernovitz said “Your brand is not what you say it is – it’s what people tell their friends it is.” Do you think that is hard to achieve?

If you have a good product and service it shouldn’t be but consistency and quality is the key. Having good people work for you can make or break you.  WOM (word of mouth) works with good people.  As Andy says, “You have to have a brand worth talking about and a reason to talk about your stuff”. It’s a great message but it takes work. Nothing good can happen overnight.

Many are aware of the Domino’s story (store clerks posting a very unpleasant video on YouTube while making pizzas). We attended a presentation by Ramon DeLeon who spoke about his online presence for Domino’s. I watched you during Ramon’s presentation feverishly taking notes and declare “I want to be just like Ramon!”

Can you tell us what excited you?

Ramon was extremely engaging in his presentation and obviously with his customers and in the social media market. He has a tremendous presence on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, in addition to making personal appearances.  When people explain that you should build relationships with social media this is what Ramon does and with all this his Franchise has flourished. Even with Domino’s negative press, his positive attitude and love for what he does got his business past that. I thought Ramon was a Domino’s corporate employee but he is not. He is a franchisee with six locations in Chicago, Illinois. Ramon is a gentleman I can relate to. He is a perfect example of WOM (word of mouth) marketing, use of social media, and has great interpersonal skills taking him where I would like to see my business achieve.

For the nay-sayers out there, word of mouth marketing and social media does work!!!

Do You Deliver Happiness?

Tony Hsieh and Deb

Tony Hsieh, CEO, knows how to deliver happiness. In his book “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” Tony tells his story of the lessons he learned in business, where it all began and how once he decided to “chase the vision, not the money” he found his true purpose.

I have a dear friend and franchisee, Collette Howell who is a lover of shoes introduced me to Zappos a few years ago. Collette, is the epitome of a word of mouth marketer and Ambassador of Zappos.

Andy Sernovitz, Author, Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talkingsays,  “Your brand isn’t what you say it is – it’s what people tell their friends it is. Word of mouth marketing is the art of creating a company that people love to talk about. When you earn passionate fans who promote you out of love and not for money, you’re rewarded with customers that do your marketing for you, for free, forever.”

I found Collette’s shoes and her passion for Zappos so unique that I actually took a photo and still have it today!

Tony Hsieh and Zappos obviously delivers happiness.

Do you deliver happiness?

There was an addition to the digital generation this week, my grandson! Experiencing his arrival was vastly different from the time my mother was waiting for the arrival of her grandson. She sat by the phone (landline) waiting for a call. I sat with my Smartphone in my hand monitoring text messages from both Mom (my daughter-in-law) and Dad (my son).  Family members hundreds of miles away were glued to Facebook to see the first photo which was posted less than 30 minutes after his birth. Friends and co-workers were anxiously waiting to receive a MMS (multimedia message service – picture message).

My grandson has digital generation parents. They are not afraid to post his photo and information on the internet. My grandson will have an internet domain name establishing his own digital identity. His Mom is connected to Mommy Bloggers and internet support groups. His Dad developed digital skills through computer and video games and prefers receiving information from multiple multimedia sources.

When my children were young I watched parenting television advice shows by Terry Brazleton but today I follow his website and subscribe to blogs like where experts Dr. Kyle Pruett and Sue Adair post articles about healthy eating for children, self-esteem development and other related articles of advice in raising children today. I follow the Digital Grandparent ( ) blog: technology by and for baby boomers.

Last month I attended a session at ISTE (International Society for Technology Education) by Ian Jukes and Lee Crockett: Understanding the Digital Generation. Here are a few of the key points I took away from the session:

  • Digital learners prefer receiving information quickly from multiple multimedia sources.
  • Digital learners prefer instant gratification and immediate rewards.
  • The digital generation processes information differently than the people of the older generation.

As parents, grandparents and educators we have much to do to effectively prepare our digital generation students for the digital culture of today. According to Jukes and Crockett education leadership is needed to bring a shift in instruction to keep students engaged in learning. Educators need to access the value of new online digital experiences with traditional nondigital ones guiding students to develop 21stcentury collaboration skills they need while working on digital online projects.

Jukes and Crocket say, “If we ever want to take a part in nurturing those who will be the architects of our future, it’s up to us to learn their language and step into their world so that we may truly understand the digital generation.”

Energy Vampires

Brian Tracy is Chairman of Brian Tracy International, a company that specializes in training and development of individuals and organizations. Last week I had a heartening call with a franchisee. Afterward he sent me a video similar to the one in this post by  Tracy. It’s worth a few minutes of your time. It was certainly worth mine.

Tracy points out that most of the things you try will not work the first time. He says that in “90% of businesses the business succeeds once it starts in an area completely different from what the founders thought than when it began. You must  keep moving, learning, getting experience and constantly change direction as you get new information. It’s important to be with people who recognize this is the way the world works.” The interviewer calls those that are in our way are “energy vampires.” They don’t appreciate when we want to take a risk and tend to hold us back as we travel on the journey to success.

In this era of open leadership with mantras of  being “open, transparent and authentic” I made a decision to reach out to my franchisees for their assistance. Some say I took a risk asking very direct questions which could possibly open criticism around my leadership. I was also told there are a few that have a pessimistic view on the future and will only share their negativity. Jeff Hayzlett, Kodak’s former chief marketing officer said “An open leader has to be willing to take criticism and know when it’s important or not” in his book The Mirror Test. I met Jeff last month and in a presentation he explained that much of Kodak’s transformation and success came from his ability to listen.

I consider myself an open leader. I believe I have a strong dose of optimism and belief that openness, sharing, and collaboration will achieve my goals and objectives to transform my organization.

I don’t have time for “energy vampires.”

Guest author: Thomas Scott, Brandjournalists

Rebecca Parrent is listening for squeals. The girls in Adams County, Colorado are doing what all kids do in camp – making arts and crafts and having fun. The unexpected twist is that they are learning about computer science and engineering.

The first time she heard them, the squeals of delight took Rebecca by surprise. Now she simply waits for them, and she doesn’t have to wait long!

“Oooooh, this is so COOL!”

Parrent, a COMPUTER EXPLORERS owner, has a daughter herself and is on a mission: engage elementary and middle school aged girls with technology that is fun, and keep them interested as they mature.

Squeals are great, but the stakes are high. Between 2000 and 2005, the number of incoming undergraduate women majoring in computer science fell 70 percent, according to the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines (STEM) have experience similar dramatic drops. The gender gap is real, and has its roots in elementary and middle school.

COMPUTER EXPLORERS doesn’t just want to bridge this gap; we want to blow it up! “We’re making technology come to life, making it fun. When it becomes fun, girls forget the stigma STEM subjects have,” Parrent says.

In one course the girls build a house with Lego’s but add sensors that switch on lights, open doors and operate fans. Younger girls create a robotics-based birthday cake with candles that light up, and that sings recorded songs upon command. More sophisticated robots and video game programming follow.

“Things start lighting up, making noises and literally make STEM subjects come to life,” Parrent reports. “We’re not lecturing girls or making them memorize the way they do in the traditional classroom; we’re making it fun.”

COMPUTER EXPLORERS around the US and in Europe, Asia and Africa offers technology education classes in schools, after school programs, summer camps and recreation centers.

And judging by the noise coming from Adams County camps in Colorado this summer, the squeals could be the beginning of STEM-based careers for a new generation of girls!

Are You A Digital Citizen?

I have returned to the office and trying to process everything I just learned at the International Society for Technology (ISTE) conference in Denver. My mind keeps wondering back to the dancing robot in the Exhibit Hall and contemplating how I can add that program to our offerings!

Three full days of sessions discussing our digital world and the responsibilities of the education industry was enlightening. I was fortunate that my daughter from NJ met me in Denver and my evenings were spent as a tourist. At this point I am totally exhilarated and exhausted.

Off the top of my head here are a few of major take a ways from the conference:

  • Traditional literacy has changed
  • We are a digital nation – is everyone literate?
  • As a nation we have the responsibility to raise digital children
  • Twitter can be used to develop the 21st century fluencies of a digital citizen
    • Solution Fluency, Information Fluency, Creativity Fluency, Media Fluency
  • There are related workplace issues when schools do not prepare students to compete in the new global economy
  • We need to inspire our students and empower our teachers

I love attending educational conferences and especially tech ed conferences where the use of technology is everywhere! Attendees were tweeting sessions using #ISTE10 quoting speakers and sharing what they were learning. ISTE has the world’s largest ed-tech exhibit keeping over 13k educators entertained with exhibits and presentations. There were simulcasts, webcasts and rebroadcasts of the content throughout the Convention Center. If you were unable to attend the conference educators could visit There was a Social Butterfly Lounge featuring the ISTE Connects blogspot and mini crash courses in social media. The “Bloggers Café featured blogging events and a live webcam. The Special Focus Playgrounds were well attended and coordinated by various school districts and organizations. Rebecca and Ross Parrent, COMPUTER EXPLORERS franchisees in Denver hosted The Robotics Arena featuring Denver area K-12 students displaying and demonstrating their robotics programs.

I have a few photos here on my Flickr account:

It’s time to acknowledge that technology does exist and it needs immediate attention in our education system. Businesses can lead the younger generation by example, provide guidance and appropriately use technology to the fullest capabilities as digital citizens.