Monday, February 22, 2010

Social Good is Also a Business- MC Hammer at e-week

These words, doing social good is also a business, music to my ears, came from MC Hammer at the eweek event "The Power of Social Technology". Unfortunately they came right at the end and I didn't get to ask him specifics. But still, having him say it at an entrepreneurship event was good. The panel of experts which included Robert Scoble and Loic Le Meur, shared tips and personal experiences around social media engagement. I was there to find out "why you don’t need money or power to ignite seismic (seesmic - get it?) social change." Well, I was far from convinced, but certainly a good time was had by all and nobody was sleeping - granted - it was lunch time and all around me were scarfing sandwiches. And, it was interesting to see in real time how, even as each panelist logged into their twitter stream, attendees sent messages. So:
- Social software never sleeps: the world is moving fast - its real time -so 24/7 engagement is important - solution is to get a partner in another time zone (not wear yourself to the bone). Loic said his company has no PR department - just 2-3 people managing social media engagement.
- Always try to add value - social media are great source of information: eg. if you are interested in a VC follow him/her on twitter; or follow those who follow them etc. - find out how you add value and pitch to the right people - network in person after getting informed
- Content is king- Don't get caught up in the tools- Before you engage find out what you are passionate about, develop a voice that is personal but also amenable to being a brand

GSB dean made some good points:
- Social media - fastest communication medium today
- increases need for traditional content (else nothing to tweet about)
- is not a substitute but a complement to current tools
- finding a vice on twitter et al is hard - balance your personal voice with the institutional voice

Bottom line - work hard and smart and social media is your ally in getting eyeballs - which can lead to heart and mind.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Social Entrepreneurship During Stanford E-week Feb 21-28

The annual Entrepreneurship Week at Stanford, is February 21-28, 2010 and this year we have more events dedicated to celebrating social entrepreneurship and clean-tech than ever before. These are 2 events I am helping organise which are free and open to all:

February 26, Cordura Hall,9-6: Relief 2.0 in Haiti: Enabling Agile Crisis Response with Entrepreneurship In Relief 2.0 we'll take an inside look at an emergent phenomenon - Agile Crisis Response made possible by social ventures, social media, crowdsourced solutions and other entrepreneurial approaches. We will look at lessons learned and how we might rethink and redesign the way we approach disaster relief and rebuilding, starting with Haiti’s reconstruction effort.

February 28, Wallenberg Hall, 3-5: Structures for Social Enterprise: Panel and Showcase- this lively panel discussion features social entrepreneurs Kjerstin Erickson (, Eve Blossom (, and Esther Kim ( Moderated by Kriss Deiglmeier, executive director for the Center for Social Innovation, the panel will discuss nonprofit, for-profit and hybrid models for starting and growing a social enterprise. From 4-5 p.m., mingle with entrepreneurs at a fair showcasing their intriguing early-stage social ventures. Social entrepreneurs available for interaction during the showcase are:

Lloyd Nimetz: Blitz Bazaar: Starting and Creating a Movement
Akshay Kothari, Kapeesh Saraf: Design for Extreme Affordability Workshop
Varun Jain: E4SI: Engineers for Social Impact
Anu Mahal: Development Alternatives
Carlos Miranda Levy, Margarita Quihuis: How Social Media Allows Us to Instantly Organize for Crisis Intervention
Viji Dilip: Bookshare International: Reaching Out to the Print Disabled in Developing Nations
DC Jayasundera: Rural Returns: Better Value Chains for the Rural Poor
Rodrigo Santibanez: Puentes Global: Non-Profit International Employment Agency for Low-Income Workers

Additionally the Graduate School of business has a panel discussion on social entrepreneurship on 26th afternoon as part of their annual entrepreneurship day

Monday, February 15, 2010

Newsprint: Does it Deserve to Die?

I confess. I am a newspaper subscriber. But for how long? Newspapers are more than news. These days one could argue that newspapers aren't about news at all because a print headline is by definition a day old (compared to TV, Internet, Grapevine). So what is the "more" part? It is a trust I have in print, that I do not have in the other named sources, that information is somehow more authentic, more unbiased. This is the "burden of legacy" of print media. I read stuff on the Internet and I feel compelled to triangulate fact, author credentials etc. but if I read it in a paper, it is gold. Well, no more. Pieces like David Broder's adulation of Sarah Palin "pitch perfect populist message" somehow gain weight by being op-eds. I am depressed, lose faith in my fellow Americans especially women. And then later, I read in small print, in an easy to miss place, that on the same day a nationwide poll showing that 71% of Americans say Palin is unqualified to be president. I feel betrayed; I lose trust in print. Become cynical. Its just another information source. Anything for an alliteration.

Business is built on trust and it is getting harder and harder to trust pundits who pontificate in print.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

3 Tips for a successful internship

A successful salesman "sets customer expectations and then meets (or barely exceeds) them." The first time I heard this was at an HP training event and it has stuck with me ever since. The wisdom in this strategy is undeniable- oversell and the customer is disappointed (or worse, loses trust); undersell and you risk losing the sale altogether. However, setting and meeting expectations is a skill- not always easy to do. Social entrepreneurship is all about selling (your idea, your business plan, your dream, your team .... whatever) and internships are a great way to hone selling skills because an intern has the benefits of a student status, yet is exposed to real life ambiguity. If you have secured an internship, it means the employer has already made an investment (time and /or money) in you. The top 3 things an intern can do are:

Do the Research: Before your first day on the job - research the company, industry and their strengths. Examine your own background and identify skills or reasons why the company wants to invest in you. If you can, figure out a way to make a contribution that would be beyond expectations or make that a goal during internship. Read related professional journals, magazines; keep up with the latest developments

Attitude- Professional, positive, punctual, enthusiastic: Its a job and all the rules of professional conduct apply. Stay away from gossip and drama and make sure to offer to do some grunt work. However, take advantage of your student status to ask questions beyond the scope of the internship. Network with people who interest you professionally. If possible find somebody who will let you shadow them to a relevant meeting. All this of course, providing you have met your assigned internships tasks - (meet and only then exceed). If you can, find a mentor in the organisation. If things go wrong don't take it personally- help others if you can.

Followup: Closure is important. Ask for feedback; ask if you can keep in touch; prepare some written reports; give feedback professionally keeping it factual and unemotional. Above all, remember that the employer wants you to succeed just as much as you do. Make sure they know you understand that.

Go ahead - make it a win-win and convert an internship into a job offer. You can do it!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Trend-spotting and ecars

On January 18th my inbox had an email : My Alerts: NYT-ecars (5 articles) which made me sit up immediately. I know, you are wondering: why? You see, my strategy for alerts is minimalistic: I put alerts for what I think are obscure topics from a media perspective- so I am not bothered by those pesky emails. It's not just a matter of self defense (or your inbox will overtake you) - its also because I use alerts are for trend-spotting. In the long-long time that I have had an alert out for ecars, I don't think I have seen a total of 5 articles in the New York Times and here I am - 5 in one alert! Not only that - these were good stories:

Renault Pledges to Keep a French Factory Busy
By DAVID JOLLY (NYT) : Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Renault, met with French officials to address concerns that the carmaker was intent on sending jobs to Turkey.

Renault Pledges to Build New Electric Vehicle in France
By DAVID JOLLY (NYT) : Renault said it would split production of its new Clio model between France and Turkey and would produce its new electric vehicle entirely in a plant near Paris.

Finally, Some Electricity in the Air
By LAWRENCE ULRICH (NYT) : With some storied brands dead or dying, and upper-crust manufacturers as no-shows in Detroit, the show floor had room for Chinese hybrids, Korean electrics and more.

Chinese Maker Hopes to Offer Electric Car for U.S. by Year-End
By NICK BUNKLEY (NYT) : Many Chinese companies have planned. BYD Auto is better prepared.

A Future That Doesn’t Guzzle
By BILL VLASIC and NICK BUNKLEY (NYT) : Automakers unveiled many hybrid gas-electric and battery-powered cars at the Detroit auto show, a sign of how much emphasis is being placed on the electrification of vehicles.

So of course I followed up;  read that the Nano (TATA) had created a stir at the Detroit Auto show - I follow Reva, Tesla and Nano -  and of course read that Tesla is planning IPO. The San Jose Mercury News is having a week of Green Jobs. I could have almost predicted my most recent alert (and you can too right?)
On Feb 1 my inbox has an email: My Alerts: NYT-ecars (2 articles):

An Electric Boost for Bicyclists
By J. DAVID GOODMAN (NYT) : The booming Chinese electric-bike industry is spurring impressive sales in India, Europe and the U.S.

Tesla Motors Plans Public Offering to Raise $100 Million
By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER (NYT) : The filing from Tesla Motors represents a landmark in the resurgence of electric car technology that most car makers until recently had dismissed as impractical.

Yup - it sure feels good to predict a headline.