Archive for category Miscellany

A social quandary

Posted by on Thursday, 29 May, 2014

IMG_0140I’ve often heard the adage that one must never discuss such off-putting topics as religion, politics, or sports at the dinner table. That adage has, of course, been levied as appropriate for any social interactions, be it at the dinner table or in the broader world of social media.

I used to subscribe to this idea, and still do for social business. After all, when it comes to business, professionalism is tantamount and none of those topics really have place for discussion in business dealings. However, I am starting to question the validity of such a phrase in personal relations. Are we to hide our head and ignore a deep undercurrent of cultural shifts simply because we don’t want to rock the boat or engage in passionate discussion?

I know of some people recently who have begun to filter out any religion or politics from their feeds on social sites, while I also know of others who actively seek out people to follow whom hold conflicting or opposite views as themselves in an effort. But I’m conflicted. There are days when I want to bury my head in the sand and forget that not everyone thinks like I do, to ignore the strife and arguments, and live in my cozy world of denial… and then there are other days in which I want to shout from the mountaintops and help steer a cultural/social shift to what I believe is the right way of thinking; to fight for progress and demand the change we need for fear of losing our humanity to cultural implosion.

I’ve been sharing a few sociopolitical posts recently, but in doing so realize that I am likely sharing with people whom already share similar views or opinions, as I generally surround myself with like-minded people. So, in effect, I am preaching to the choir and the people I want to reach will never read, nor likely understand what I share. It puts me in an echo-chamber, or a vacuum of social sharing at times, which really just equates to mental masturbation whenever I share something I believe to be provocative and progressive.

While social media has done wonders for us to engage in these conversations and raise visibility to problematic ways of thinking, it also has a dark side of deep judgment and polarizing effects when passions rise. To this end, I try to retain as many of my network connections as I can, regardless of their socio-political views, as I do believe that being open to seeing opposing views is a great thing and can only serve to improve me as a person. Insulating myself to only those people around me who agree, makes for a silo-ed existence devoid of growth and understanding.

What I strive for (and often fall short of) in my own life both on-line and off, is a balance. To think critically about any questions posed, any statements made, to ask questions with respect and desire to learn, and to take personal responsibility for both my words and my actions. Can you imagine how the adage would change if we all worked to think critically and take personal responsibility? No longer would sports, politics, or religion be taboo at the dinner tables or social gatherings, instead perhaps, they’d be welcome topics driving growth and understanding rather than the divisive and polarizing realms in which they currently exist.

I have a lot more rumbling around in my head here; So many recent events are tied so deeply and complexly together at their roots, that touching on one without acknowledging others is a disservice to truth and will only serve to cause more of the same cultural divide, the polarizing us/them/this/that false dichotomies that I so desperately wish to avoid. Yet, they are so complex in and of themselves that each could be a thesis of their own.

A missive on the TVD Logo

Posted by on Wednesday, 26 March, 2014

tvd_stack-300dpi

A slight change of gears for today’s post as I shift from talking about social business to briefly talking about my new business: Tualatin Valley Distilling. I wanted to explain an important part of our company’s esthetic choice and its symbolism for us:

As you’ve likely noticed, our company logo is a design inspired by both Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Both my business partner, Corey, and I have a predilection towards these architects/designers and their distinct panoply of work. We wanted to replicate the craftsman ethos within our design as a touchstone for our own company’s guiding principles. Also taking inspiration from Compass Box Whisky’s capability for what we call neo-vintage and classically timeless design, we gave that guidance to our brilliant designer, Gary Chelak, who came up with what you see today.

I say brilliant, because Gary incorporated a depth and breadth of thought into the design that reveals itself slowly and intentionally, in layers of complexity and simplicity balanced to what we consider the perfect effect.

On the surface, the logo is a stylized stained glass version of a stalk of barley in the craftsman genre. However, a deeper look shows additional elements nodding to even more significance.

The idea behind the specific elements from top to bottom show the beginnings of the process in which we use barley as the main ingredient of our flagship whiskey, with the color differentiations denoting the grain’s growth, malting, and drying/smoking process. Moving down, we see the two green-blue-ish diamonds signifying the stalk of the barley as well as the water (greener was our design choice over blue) and process used to brew the barley and release the sugars necessary for the next two diamonds to do their job: the yeast. This is the yellow diamonds of yeast which eat the sugars during the fermentation process and in turn produce the alcohol in the mash we then run through the distillation process to the final element of the design; the rosette as the final product.

The design was done with specific intent to use motion drawing the eye from top to bottom, adding color & shape as refinement, to produce the ultimate element at the end as the complete distilling process: A timeless story within a deceivingly simple company logo. We hope you like it even more, now that you know the thought process and story behind the design and some of the driving ideals of our company.

 

My top performing posts in 2013

Posted by on Thursday, 5 December, 2013

waywardcelttop_spots .

Coming up on the end of the year I’ve started reviewing my business results and impact to submit for my day job. Since so much of my work overlaps with my blog posts and activities in the social spaces I figured I could look into the results I’ve seen from blogging this past year and perhaps find a bit of business intelligence from some basic analysis. Just taking a brief look over some of the data, I think I’ve found some great takeaways gleaned from some additional back-end metrics as well…

To that end,  here’s a quick recap of my top 10 most viewed posts in 2013 (note that not all of them were actually published in 2013, but rather just the most viewed this year):

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The etiquette of retweet requests (how to improve your reach)

Finding a Facebook page’s RSS feed

The fear of saying the wrong thing

YouTube and RSS: Building a feed link

Best Practices

2013: The Year of Influence

Blogging 101 for Subject Matter Experts

A discussion on barriers to social participation

Improve your personal digital eminence by adding value

Do influencers deserve to be paid?

 

So, what are some of my takeaways from this data?

  • Firstly, I can surmise from the top post that people are still focused on retweet numbers to drive ‘reach’ and are looking for ways to ask others to help them. By reach, I really just mean visibility and basic potential for engagement. From my bounce rate metrics on that post I can also surmise that most people didn’t find what they were looking for (ie. an easy answer to improving reach).
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  • Secondly, I have consistently seen my YouTube RSS and Facebook RSS feed posts performing well week over week. This tells me I should likely look at more technically focused posts to balance my concept and theory posts around social business. Striking a balance with logistics and thought leadership.
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  • Of course, some of those conceptual posts also seem to be doing relatively well. The ones which really took off look to be around getting started and how-to, with one outlier (“Do influencers deserve to be paid”) which performed well as a result of connecting the content with a related article and engaging with that article’s author. A good lesson to be learned in that one: networking with other authors and driving conversations around topics which they are passionate about will improve the performance of your own related posts.
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Next week I plan to take a look at my UNDER performing posts and highlight some potentially valuable content which you likely have missed.