November 23, 2010


yell crop 750x822When you put content online, you leverage your time and help clients find you. What's wrong with that?

The best medium for you is the medium you like best.

If you like talking then podcast. Instead of speaking into a telephone, you use a microphone. You'll get better results with a better quality equipment.

If you like showing then use video. If you like drawing on paper or whiteboards, record that. Ditto if you like using PowerPoint or giving speeches. For better results, consider using a video camera and a better quality microphone.

If you like writing then blog. This is my preferred format. You don't need special equipment or a pristine environment. Pen and paper are enough for a draft. Iterations boost quality and are easy to make. Also, search engines are best at indexing text.

Comfort with your medium helps you come across as natural. Exuding your personality is a great way to show your uniqueness.

What About Your Clients?

The best medium for your clients is the medium they like best. That may not be your preferred choice. Despair not. Clients consume different media and will probably "tolerate" your choice.

The media are interrelated. Transcribe your podcast with a tool like Dragon NaturallySpeaking and you'll have text for a blog post. Dictate your blog post and you have a podcast or video.  Extract the audio from a video and you have a podcast.

When I write a blog post for Riscario Insider, I read it aloud to ensure the style is conversational. With minimal work, that becomes the Riscario Radio podcast — 93 episodes already. Video is next … once I figure out how to use a teleprompter and do the editing. The soundtrack could then become the podcast, saving a step.

The key is getting started and mastering a medium.

Add Polish

You needn't be perfect when you start. There's lots of time to improve later.

To expand reach, Coke comes in cans and bottles of different sizes. As you gain experience, your best strategy is to use different media.

For instance, I released Does billionaire Seymour Schulich help you "Get Smarter" in two formats:
Using only one medium would have slashed the audience.


Making yourself visible is quick, simple and often free. The key is starting and sustaining momentum. 


PS If you're not happy with your initial results, you needn't publish them. You're in control.

November 16, 2010


TEDxToronto and TEDxIBYork
Making comparisons may not be fair but we routinely do. Previous experiences raise expectations but future events have the advantage of learning from the past. Which is better?

In this case, we're looking at two volunteer-run, non-profit TEDx events. If you're new to TED and TEDx, here's a primer and a summary of TEDxToronto, my first TEDx event.

Both events could have been very similar but weren't. By extension, you can give your events their own niche or personality too. Here are examples.


The two events had different focuses (foci?). TEDxToronto had a corporate feel and was much like a professionally run conference.

TEDxIBYork had an educational orientation. Many attendees were students in an International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Try spelling that five times fast without a spelling checker!
IB provides a higher level of high school education and has standardized exams in grade 12. The US Advanced Placement (AP) program also provides enriched education. The York School has a private IB program and hosted the TEDx event.


TEDxToronto was free (including lunch) and took place in downtown Toronto in the Glen Gould Studio. Thanks sponsors!

TEDxIBYork also had sponsors but charged for tickets to cover costs($75 for students and $100 for adults). The talks took place in the auditorium of the spacious Ontario Science Centre. Admission included breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Anyone could go to TEDxIBYork but TEDxToronto required an application. Maybe that's why everyone at TEDxToronto knew what TED was. At TEDxIBYork, the adults I spoke to rarely knew!?! They attended because of their children.

Each system has merits. I'd prefer to pay money and be assured of admission.


TEDxToronto encouraged attendees to give live updates via Twitter. That's the norm at many events, including Third Tuesday (see Dell's flubbed opportunity from last week). TEDxIBYork banned electronics. Maybe that's because students were attending? 


At TEDxToronto, you could keep the same seat for the whole day, and most did. At TEDxIBYork, you were forced to find a new spot after each break. Since both venues were fairly intimate, both approaches work. I prefer a fixed seat near the front.

The Big Difference

TEDxToronto had two celebrity hosts but they didn't have much to do since speaker introductions were pre-recorded. In the afternoon, one left but this didn't matter.

TEDxIBYork had one host, David Newland. I've seen too many MCs over the years and he's the best. He truly was part of the event, rather than an interjection like a commercial break. He worked from a thick stack of index cards. There may have been major mishaps behind the scenes but we never knew since the day flowed so smoothly for us. David was low-key but witty. He spoke like a late night radio announcer, but kept us captivated and alert (reminiscent of Augusta LaPaix on Brave New Waves).

I thought David had practiced for ages. Not true. He volunteered mere days earlier when the original host quit. I didn't appreciate the value of exceptional hosting before.

Which Is Better?

Do you see how there are enough differences between TEDxIBYork and TEDxToronto? Attending both is ideal and that's my plan for next time.


PS Visit on your next coffee or lunch break for ideas worth spreading.

November 9, 2010


Dell's "iTunes killer" shows a contest that ended 6+ months ago
"We always start by going where the customer is."
--- Richard Binhammer
We have three business-grade Dell notebooks and my primary monitor is the Dell FP2001.

Yet Dell feels like yesterday's company. They've flopped with numerous initiatives:
  • no iPad killer: the Latitude XT tablet launched in July 2008 but Apple has 95.5% market share now
  • no iPhone killer: their design was rejected by carriers as too dull
  • no iTunes killer: their site currently shows a contest which ended on April 30, 2010 (enlarge the screenshot)
  • no iPod killer: Dell makes music players?
Even in their core computer business, Dell dropped below HP in 2006 and Acer in 2009. Dell shuttered their last large US plant in January 2010.

Wait, There's More

Dell has other problems too
Isn't there any good news?

Dell's Secret Weapon

Maybe social media is Dell's secret weapon.

With anticipation, I went to see RichardAtDell at Third Tuesday Toronto. This was the first time I've seen anyone from Dell (since they shut down their mall kiosks in 2008).

Richard didn't seem prepared. His talk consisted of points jotted on a piece of paper. Dell missed an ideal opportunity to showcase their technology. I didn't expect Richard to use an iPad but why not a Streak tablet or some other gizmo?

You wouldn't expect a presenter from Nike to walk in with bare feet. By his actions, Richard implied there wasn't a single Dell product worth using to enhance his presentation.


Dell claims to listen to customers and Richard said he'd leave lots of time for questions. He didn't and he refused to take any about Dell Hell. Why restrict or direct conversations? Maybe product quality is still a concern.

On @RichardatDELL, the bio warns "DO NOT AUTO DM" him. Is this necessary? No one wants to receive automated direct messages. Does warning the culprits really stop them?

I got the overall feeling that open dialog is not truly encouraged.

What Was Discussed

Richard gave examples of how Dell is using social media. There are 170,000 consumer reviews on their sites and engineers have read every single one. Dell has held unconferences for employees (these are attendee-run events like BookCamp, FreelanceCamp or PodCamp). They invited 15 fans and 15 unfans to spend a day at Dell asking questions (outcome not explained).

Richard explained that social media is not a channel. It's a tool that leads to better business. Social media doesn't scale unless it's used as a business tool.

Dell does sophisticated data analysis. They've found that the social web can also be used for B2B. Other discoveries are currently secret. For instance, Dell claims they can track social media to revenue.

The Main Point

Without knowing what competitors do, it's difficult to tell if Dell is a social media master and has a competitive advantage. There were no jaw-dropping insights in the presentation. Dell had the opportunity to show they're the company to watch, but didn't.

Maybe this was the main point: Dell uses social media so extensively that it's become boring. After all, we now take electricity, air conditioning, power windows, and the Internet for granted.

If social media is still new to you, you may feel excited or anxious. With experience, you may get bored too. Maybe that's when the financial benefits flow in.


PS The Samsung hard drive in my Dell Mini 10 netbook is reporting problems even though I have a pricey SSD (no moving parts). The one year warranty expired last month. This netbook cost more than my new iPad but is hardly comparable in performance or joy of use.

November 2, 2010


A Monegask Guard stops a young girl
We want what we can't have. That's the lure of scarcity.

We hate gatekeepers when they block our access. Without them, we could get our message to people who want and need our help. We have noble intentions. We have skills. We can deliver results … if we can squeeze through (or sneak by).

The gatekeeper could be
  • an organization: you have a message for their members
  • a prospect: your calls, email and mail get screened
  • your current clients: you don't get referrals
In the photo, a Monegask Guard is stopping a harmless-looking young girl.


Gatekeepers are acting as stewards and protecting their group from outsiders. This power can corrupt but folks are basically decent. Let's assume we're dealing with someone like that.

Since the gatekeeper isn't your ideal client, they may have difficulty assessing the merits of what you offer and how you differ from the herd. When in doubt, keep 'em out.

Can you communicate in a unique, simple, clear and compelling way?

The Other Way Around

Others also want what they can't have. You're a gatekeeper too.
An accountant’s greatest asset might be his or her network. Large firms have an advantage in this respect, but smaller firms can compete by partnering with other firms to create high-value informal networks.
10 ways to add value (CA Magazine, Aug 2009)
Your network also benefits from products and services from outsiders. As a steward, who do you let through?

Even within the same firm, there's often a reluctance to provide referrals to colleagues. What if something goes wrong? Here's the paradox. If you want others to take a chance and trust you, don't you need to take a chance and trust them too? If you agree, why not take the first step?

As Paul McCartney said
Someone's knockin' at the door.
Somebody's ringin' the bell.
Do me a favour, open the door and let 'em in.
Then they're likely to open doors for you, thanks to reciprocity. Isn't that better than these sentiments from Pink Floyd in The Final Cut?
If you negotiate the minefield in the drive
And beat the dogs and cheat the cold electronic eyes
And if you make it past the shotgun in the hall
Dial the combination open the priesthole
And if I'm in I'll tell you
Your choice.


PS: Depending on your arrangements, you may get paid for opening doors.