A daring step

I had never seen that before — a man on the cover of Good Housekeeping.

I asked Heather if that cover would appeal to her more than their normal cover, showing a female good housekeeper. She said a female.

Why? Maybe because she can relate with the woman more than with Dr. Oz.

In any case, I thought it was a noble experiment for Good Housekeeping to put a man on their cover. (I was unable to contact their editorial staff to find out if newsstand sales dropped for the April 2011 issue, but my guess is that it did.)

What small act of daring can you do today? Even if you fail, the risk might reveal new things you would not have known otherwise. (And I admit that my headline was a teaser — Good Housekeeping’s move was not as daring as putting Gaddafi on their cover.)

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SXSW Review

I have a review of the South by Southwest Interactive Festival over at Greener Grass Media’s blog today. For those who don’t know, I am launching a new venture — Greener Grass Media. You’ll have to go over there to discover what that’s about.

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Spammy tactics

I am amused by spam.

But I am not amused at spammers. Recently these two “young women” followed me — and they had very similar tweets, which immediately flagged the fact that they were not real people.

My question is this: do any women Twitter users who are reading this get spammy “female” followers like this? (I am just wondering if they only target males — though I did not want to click on their links to see just who they were targeting.)

For those of you who want to follow more of my thoughts along these lines, check out my archives about spam.

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Really really sweet

The Civil WarsI stayed one day past the end of South by Southwest Interactive. My brother came up from San Antonio and we savored a day of free music together. Literally every nook and cranny of 6th Street in Austin was taken over by live music of every stripe (within the realm of popular music).

It was great to hang out with my brother. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing several bands play in intimate venues.

The definite highlight was a band called The Civil Wars. Joy and John Paul rocked the house in a very gentle way. Every song garnered a standing ovation. (Well, it was standing room only.) Their intricate harmonies perfectly blended while John Paul played a variety of acoustic guitars. Their presence was genuine.

Here is the video I took of the song 20 Years. Enjoy.

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Chevrolet Volt test drive

Chevrolet Volt test driveChevrolet had a huge promotion at South by Southwest. One hook was free local taxi rides in the Cruze, their version of the Honda Civic/Toyota Corolla.

The second hook was what got me — a test drive in the new Chevrolet Volt — a mostly electric car that won’t hit the market till “the end of 2010” — and then only in seven states.

I enjoyed it! It was very quiet. The build quality seemed to be solid. It was about as roomy as a Prius. I hit the pedal to the metal, and the acceleration wasn’t bad… maybe slightly faster than a Prius. The coolest thing was that during my 5 mile test drive, the gas engine didn’t kick in once.

My recommendation? Wait.The Volt has a lot of cutting-edge technology, and it will be a few years till it becomes cheap enough to compete with the value of a Prius. My real recommendation is that if you want to buy a green car, get a used Prius. Buying used is almost always more green than buying new. You’ll save as much as $20,000 — and you won’t have to wait until they are available in your market.

Yes, the photo is really poor, due to my cheapo cell phone.

http://www.chevrolet.com/volt
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Using QR codes in marketing

Here at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, QR codes are everywhere. If you don’t know what they are, here’s the Wikipedia description. (In short, they are smartphone scannable codes that send users off to a website or mobile application. They often allow the originator to grab a potential new customer.)

Problem? Too many of these babies are all over the place here. It’s as if each company said, “We need to get something out there with a QR code on it — and it doesn’t matter what it says or links to. Just get it out now, now. We only have two weeks till the event kicks off!”

Fail.

None of them (that I saw) thought of a hook to make themselves stand out among the sea of other QR codes. Moral of the story? Take a little longer to think through your marketing effort before you launch it.

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Away for a little while

Life is getting overwhelming. I’m headed to Austin for South by Southwest Interactive conference. After that, I have a huge freelance job that will keep me crazy-busy for my non-daytime hours.

Meanwhile, wander over to my right sidebar. Notice the little “ARCHIVES” panel. Dig into there and you should be able to find some pleasure in my absence.

I took that photo in Kenya. It’s the back of a human-powered cart. I know that I’m not as overloaded as some people are!

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I learned my lesson

I was about to leave the supermarket parking lot. A lady tapped on my window with a concerned look on her face. “Did you know that it’s unsafe to drive while listening to headphones?”

My reply: “Thanks for letting me know.”

Inside my head: “I know that. I’m driving extra carefully while I have these on. And did you know that deaf people drive too?”

The lesson I learned? I often have the urge to tap on people’s car windows while they are sitting with their engine running for long periods of time and say, “I have to breathe this air. Would you mind turning your engine off?”

I won’t.

Reason? That lady made me feel angry toward her. I don’t want people to feel angry toward me — and they may not change, anyhow, so it would just be a waste of my (ahem) breath.

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Humility looks good on you

(This is one of those blog posts that has been rolling around in my head for a couple of weeks.)

We were visiting some friends overseas. One of them said, “That’s not how we pronounce that here — that’s only how it’s pronounced in America.”

At the time I thought, “Oh, I just didn’t know that.” But later, I realized how that friend made me feel stupid.

I’ve done that many times. “I’ve been there, and that’s not the way it really is.” Or, “It’s bad because there’s such a better way that it’s done in England, where we lived.”

I hope I lean toward humility and not toward arrogance. And I try to remember what C.S. Lewis once said: “If you think you’re not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.” I have a long way to go.

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