The waste-of-time webinar

As technology evolves, people always find new ways to make money off it. Don't know how to use Twitter? Come learn in our free webinar! Wanna maximize your presence on Facebook? This free webinar is just for you! Somewhere along the line, the word "webinar" has taken on a negative connotation for me. Although, I suppose it's not the webinar idea itself that needs fixing; it's many of the people who offer them.

Since I've been laid off, I've had the time to participate in several free webinars. I'm always eager to learn something new, so what the heck? Each time, I am woefully disappointed in the content (and after today's useless webinar, I will never waste my time again). It's always the same ole' drill: present some information that a first-grader would know, and then after an hour, hit up the audience for the $500 to $1,000 system. Like with most things, it's all about marketing. I don't suppose too many people would sign up for something that was promoted as a a bunch of garbage with a sales pitch thrown in at the end.

But, here's what gets me. People always seem to tweet about how great it was! They put comments up on the organizers' Facebook walls, gushing about how valuable the information was and how these people are such gurus. Are you kidding me? Are these simpletons really impressed with a few slides that are nothing more than common sense? Surely, people can't be that gullible and easily to please, can they?

Yes, I know there are folks out there who offer quality webinars (and to them, know that this is not directed at you). However, the good ones are outnumbered by the people who are misrepresenting the content in their presentations. Don't make a big deal of saying you're giving away your best content for free, because you aren't.

Is anyone with me? Can I get an Amen?

Is there a wrong way to honor Martin Luther King Jr.?

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A national holiday to remember a remarkable man who changed the direction of a country.

In Los Angeles, the city marks the occasion with the Kingdom Day Parade. For the past 25 years, junior high school bands have played and dancers have pranced through the streets to commemorate the life of this incredible man. For as long as I can remember, the local ABC affiliate has pre-empted regular programming for two hours to show the parade live. Since they have that sponsorship title, the ABC talent rides in the parade. The local sports guys wave to the crowd and other reporters swarm the streets. For some reason, this has always seemed slightly inappropriate to me.

In my opinion, it seems like a more fitting tribute to King, a man who was all about social change, would be something more relevant. Perhaps a national day of service where people do something to benefit their community. Or, maybe, a designated moment of silence across the US where people stop to reflect on King's life and influence--and what they can do to make a difference.

This man was gunned down; assassinated. Somehow, a huge Ryder moving truck pulling a flatbed of local newscasters and scantily clad dancers shaking what their mamas gave them just seems like a woefully inappropriate tribute. A man of his caliber, to me, deserves a more dignified remembrance. Something of substance; something with meaning.

Is it me? Am I being too conservative? Is there a right and wrong way to honor a man who was killed because of his quest for social change? Or, is just remembering enough?

This blog post is brought to you by...

I don't know about you, but I feel as though as everything is sponsored nowadays. The weather forecast on my local news is sponsored by a furniture company, the concert that I just bought tickets to is sponsored by an electronics company, the community event I'm attending next weekend is sponsored by a fast food chain. Everything is "brought to you" by someone.

Well, apparently comedian Elayne Boosler feels the same way.

I found this great stand-up routine she did a few years ago at Tony La Russa's 60th birthday bash. Since Tony is a baseball legend, Elayne delivered color commentary for a ball game (and you'll get a kick out of the sponsorship angle!). If you work in marketing, enjoy baseball, or just want a good laugh, this is a great piece!

When ordinary people become paparazzi

Today, singer Adam Lambert sent out the following tweet:

Shortly afterwards, he sent out these two tweets:

Obviously, with less than one year in the limelight, Adam is new to the world of celebrity. He has maintained an active presence on Twitter and is pretty candid about where he goes and what he does. However, as his star rises, it seems as though he's starting to realize that every ordinary citizen is now an unofficial member of the paparazzi.

In this day and age where nearly everyone has a smartphone, a digital camera, and mobile video capturing capabilities, is anything off limits? Should celebrities consider the invasion of privacy the price of fame? Or has technology and social media destroyed our ability to think of anything as private?

What do YOU think?

Don't be afraid to share what you know

This evening I asked a new gal pal of mine for her opinion about something pertaining to business. We exchanged a few tweets on the subject and ended up talking on the phone for a more in-depth conversation.

As we discussed a smattering of ideas, I was impressed with her approach to sharing information and experiences. We even talked about that specifically. Her philosophy, she told me, was simple, "My mission is to share and connect." Although I possess that same attitude toward helping colleagues and peers, I've never expressed it that way. I thought that was spectacular!

It is so refreshing when you meet people who realize that we are all better as a community when we are real with one another. Not all of us are experts on everything. We have our areas of expertise, but we also have our areas of weakness. It's alright not to know something. There is no shame in asking people whom you admire or respect for a little old-fashioned advice. And you are not diminishing your value by sharing what you know.

When times get tough, many people tend to be stingy with information. We think to ourselves: "If I know this and Joe Shmoe doesn't, I'm more likely to keep my job, get that promotion, or snag that client." However, never underestimate the value of being a team player, mentoring someone deserving, or establishing a reputation as someone who always makes the time to provide professional guidance. It's about paying it forward, but more than that it's about being human.

There's a wonderful quote that I use frequently and I think it sums up my feelings on the subject perfectly. I'll leave you to ponder (and hopefully embrace!) these words from Gandhi, a great thought leader: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Now, go tackle the day and be great!

Is international KFC commercial racist?

This commercial for KFC was recently shown in Australia during a cricket match. Many in the U.S. are outraged, calling the piece racist. However, KFC reps abroad say that there would be no negative connotation in Australian culture.

What do you think?

Is $10 million too much to run Wikipedia?

I love Wikipedia. I refer to it regularly and link to it frequently. It has made learning easy and brought vast knowledge into homes across the globe.

As you've likely heard, Wikipedia is facing some significant financial problems. The founder, Jimmy Wales, has even put a plea up on every page of the site asking for donations (as of 12/31/09 he has raised more than 2/3 of his fundraising goal for 2010). But, here's what I don't get (and if you're a small business owner or techie, please help me understand this): why does it take $10 million dollars a year to run Wikipedia? I don't have an MBA, but that seems like too much to me.

Lots of news sites are toying with the idea of instituting pay walls, and perhaps this might be in Wikipedia's future, as well. And, heck, if I frequent a site regularly, I might consider paying for the privilege. But, as a "donor" (it's the nonprofit arm of Wikipedia that is soliciting the funds) I'd like to feel confident that my donation is being spent wisely.

Do you run your own small business (Wikipedia has fewer than 35 employees)? Do you understand all the technical requirements and costs associated with a robust site like Wikipedia? If so, I'd really like your opinion. Is $10 million reasonable to operate Wikipedia for just one year?

Fitness website helps people meet goals

It's January first which means one thing to the majority of people: eat better and exercise more. It seems to be the one resolution that brings us together as a society.

To help you get started on the right path this year, check out It's a great cyber fitness journal and activity log that allows you to track your workouts, create fitness goals, posts photos and videos, make and share walking or running routes, and meet like-minded people.

DailyMile has a handy events section that lists marathons, 5Ks, and half-marathons so you know what's happening in your area (and you can add activities to your online calendar). There is a robust forum for Q & A, and a variety of groups to join (e.g. running, cycling, triathlon, etc.). You can also invite your friends to join your community so you can compete against one another!

For those of you who want to incorporate more techie features into your DailyMile experience, you can sync your Facebook or Twitter accounts to the site so you can update your activities when you're out and about. There are also some great widgets that allow you to share your training schedules and upcoming races!

So, if your New Year's resolution is to hop on the fitness bandwagon, check out DailyMile. It could be just the thing to keep yourself committed to your healthy, new lifestyle!
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