Monday, November 15, 2010

Brand Haiku: Dominos

After YouTube vids,
New attitude; great pizza
Surprise! Dominos.

Follow along on twitter at #brandhaiku - and be sure to follow the next link to the brilliant Jake McKee from Ant's Eye View

Oh, and if you'd like to know what this is all about ...

A strange idea
From Aaron Strout, mad genius
Welcome: #BrandHaiku

Aaron Strout's Citizen Marketer 2.1

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Movember!

About Movember:
Each year, Movember, the month formerly known as November, is responsible for the sprouting of thousands of Mo's (Australian slang for moustache, where the movement began) on men’s faces around the world, raising vital awareness and funds for men’s health, specifically for cancer affecting men.

Men who grow moustaches for the month of Movember, called Mo Bros, become walking, talking billboards for the cause, raising awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.

- The Movember Foundation

Those of you who've seen me since March will know that I've been experimenting with my first facial hair ... which actually fits in a lot better at WCG than it did at Humana! But I have to tell you that I was both excited and daunted when my friend Aaron Strout asked me to be a part of the illustrious Team Austin for Movember.

You see, I have several factors working against me in the facial-hair department. The first is purely biological; my face just doesn't grow hair in a way that is at all attractive or appealing. It's not that I'm totally hairless, but that I am patchily so. Which tends to make any kind of beard/mustache combo look extraordinarily ridiculous; it gives me a kind of deranged-hillbilly look that is both laughable and frightening.

That brings me to the second negative factor for me; namely, self-preservation. You see, I'm married. 'Nuff said? We tried a test-run for a few days, and Amy just wasn't down with Mo.

This left me with an interesting dilemma; support awareness for men's health (a sadly neglected field) or heed the threats of my better half. So I've come up with what I hope is an effective solution. Rather than looking ridiculous in real life (like these guys), I have elected to make myself look ridiculous online. Therefore, every day, I will be daily updating my profile pictures on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn ... my friend Karen Gahafer, photoshopper extraordinaire, has created a variety of "looks" for me to use during that time, and I hope in that small way to show solidarity with my mo-bros and mo-sistahs on Team Austin.

I also hope that you'll help me in supporting this incredible cause ... my team already has ~150 members and has raised over $12,000, but we're hoping for much more ... to grow to 250 members and raise an enormous big pile of money by the end of Movember. Just click the button below to make your tax-deductible contribution .... my fake facial hair thanks you in advance.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The role of volunteer employee champions in workplace wellness programs

As many of you know, I co-founded the CoHealth workplace wellness tweetchat nearly a year ago with my friend Fran Melmed of Context Communication. We're getting ready to host our 10th chat (if you're wondering what a tweetchat is, check this out), and we'd love for you to participate!

Join us on November 17 at 12 noon EST as we talk about the role of volunteer champions in workplace wellness programs. During the chat (follow hashtag #co_health) we'll be talking through the following topic areas:

What's the role of employee champions in workplace wellness programs?
- Formal
- Informal

What traits make a successful champion?

Have you spelled out the nature of the commitment? What does that look like?

Do you actively recruit employee champions? How?

Do you offer them incentives? Why or why not? What incentives are appropriate/effective?

How do you support your champions?
- tools/materials
- training/orientation
- communication platforms
- context-specific messaging (e.g., Fran's shift-break script/message wheel/handout)

Can you measure the effectiveness of a champion? Any anecdotes/best practices to recommend?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Don't forget the value of The Experience

I recently had a great reminder about how powerful consumer experience can be terms of engaging people and creating lasting impressions ... and it was an experience that was created more or less by accident. I was in Boston presenting at the Community 2.0 conference [LINK] and had had to get back to Logan Airport from the Seaport Conference Center. Anyone who's spent any time in Boston knows that there's a minor obstacle between the city and the airport known as "Boston Harbor." It's certainly not hard to jump in a cab and drive through the Ted Williams Tunnel, but I've never been a huge fan of tunnels - there's just not much to see! However, I remembered several years earlier taking a water taxi to the airport.

As a midwestern guy, I jump at any chance I have to get on a boat, and from a "view" perspective, it's as direct an opposite to the tunnel as you could get. However, I couldn't remember how to find the water taxi, or get it to meet me at the conference center. Eventually, I asked a policeman how the whole process worked, and he pointed me right back to the conference center - he said there'd be a callbox there that I could use.

I have to admit that it seemed odd to me, in this age of ubiquitous mobile phones, to have to use a "callbox" to get in touch with a water taxi dispatcher. But, since I really wanted that boat ride, I followed his direction back to the conference center, and came upon the contraption pictured above. As I read the instructions, I was a little incredulous that they were for real, and feared that i might be in the middle of some prank. I glanced around the busy street to see if anyone was giving me funny looks or behaving suspiciously. Nope, seemed that the coast was clear.

Anyway, I picked up the mic (like the kind you'd have seen attached to a CB radio in 1979) and made my call - "pickup at stop 1!" Lo and behold, a voice came back right away (brilliant New England accent, by the way) saying, "Sit tight theh, sir, I'll be 'round to collect yeh in foive-a-ten minutes. It's eight dawlahs, cash only." [Translation: "Please remain where you are. I will adjourn to stop 11 immediately; my estimated time of arrival is between five and ten minutes. Please be aware that neither credit cards nor personal checks are accepted; my fee is $8 in cash."] Sure enough, it was the captain himself! Why mess with a dispatcher when you can just call the boat captain directly? I dutifully waited on the pier, and in 7 minutes the water taxi showed up to "collect me." There were already two bored busienssmen on board, who kept their heads buried in their cellphones the whole trip. I, however, enjoyed the views of harborfront Boston for the entire 12-minute trip to the airport.

And that's when it sunk in to me how much more had just been added to my day than just transportation from downtown to the airport ... I'd engaged in something mysterious, novel and fun - while also being functional. It made me think about how many mundane activities and transactions we engage in every day. Every one is an interaction with a person ... a customer, a supplier, a co-worker. They all have a functional purpose, but each one also contains an opportunity to dreate a deeper level of intimacy and relationship. Companies spend so much time trying to have more interactions with customers, but how many are really getting everything they could from the interactions they do have? What interactions could you make more memorable today?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Foursquare and the Beer Rule

Techcrunch published an interesting article on the growth of Foursquare and Gowalla today ["Foursquare is 5 times larger than Gowalla and growing 75% faster each day"] that's worth a look if you're into such things (mobile, location-based games and applications). I happen to think that they're pretty important - and pretty fun as well. I've been using both services for some time, but I tend to spend most of my time in Foursquare ... because I have a bigger, more active group of friends there. For the uninitiated, here's how it works:

  1. Either sign up online, or download the foursquare app for your mobile device
  2. Find your friends; it'll allow you to connect to both your twitter and facebook accounts to find active foursquare users. Highly recommended (for reasons you'll see below).
  3. Whenever you go somewhere (with the important exceptions of your home and anywhere your kids go on a regular basis) you use your mobile phone to "check in." By doing so, you alert your friends to where you are; earn points; and move towards becoming the "mayor" of the location (by checking in there more than anyone else).
Although some businesses are getting smart and offering free or discounted stuff to their mayors (imagine how much extra traffic this drives for people trying to take over the mayorship!) I can take or leave the points, badges and mayorships. What I like about foursquare is that it allows me to a) stay in tune with and b) connect with my friends. And that's where the "beer rule" comes in.

Foursquare, still in its early days, is a lot like facebook in its early days in one key respect: People who are complete strangers try to connect with you. This is not only inadvisable in my opinion, its also creepy and potentially dangerous. That's why I have a beer rule, which is as follows:

If I randomly found myself in the same town as this person, would I want to have a beer with them?

If yes, then I would accept a foursquare contact from them (or offer one of my own). If not, I just decline and go about my business. It actually does work (I've met up with foursquare friends in various cities on numerous occasions), which, in my opinion, makes it a good rule. What are YOUR rules for accepting someone's offer to connect on foursquare? Twitter? Facebook? I'd love to know; leave me a comment!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Hello, WCG!

Six years ago I moved to Louisville to take a job at Humana - pulling up roots and leaving my beloved Chicago behind. I was joining a company that had begun to establish itself as a leader in innovation, and was about double in revenue and size. I still remember the line that hooked me:

"Come and join the department that's transforming the company that's transforming the health insurance industry."
- Carleen Haas, VP Human Resources

It was as true - and as compelling - then as it is now. And it's a big part of the reason that I'm moving on six years later. Not because the transformation at Humana has stopped - but because there is a bigger transformation in the business world that is picking up speed and getting ready to explode.

Over the last 10 years, we've seen traditional business models change forever in publishing, music and entertainment - and they are just the harbingers of what people like Don Tapscott, Steve Rubel and Jeff Jarvis refer to as "the Collaboration Economy." I've had the good fortune to be able to explore what that means for Humana. And now I'm headed to WCG - a global communications firm - to help their clients to define its meaning for themselves.

It's hard to sum up what the last six years at Humana, and in Louisville, have meant for me and my family. I've worked with brilliant, passionate people. We've made friends for life in our neighborhood and in our church. I've also had the opportunity to work for some true visionaries - like Jack Lord and Grant Harrison - who helped give form to a few key fundamentals in my professional outlook:

Don't accept the unexceptional - It's really easy to do things the way they've always been done. It can be really efficient to follow optimized processes. And thinking inside the box is usually a way to have things "accepted" inside a corporation. A lot of the time, that's fine ... but you should never stop thinking about whether, if something was done differently, it might open up possibilities you never dreamed of. And at a minimum, it'll get you noticed and help people think differently about YOU.

If you don't like reality, change it - "Do the best you can with the resources you've got." A fine motto. But sometimes you don't know what's possible until you try. When we built TPS, it was because we didn't like any of the publically available twitter monitoring and analysis tools. And we were prepared to make the best of it, and temper our expectations about what we could achieve with the existing toolset. But when we tried to bend reality to create what we really wanted, it opened up new doors for us ... and as a side benefit, completely changed the way that we started thinking about interactive development in the innovation center.

Know when to jump the curve - This is where the wisdom to decide comes into play. Sometimes, the best move is to make incremental improvements on what already is ... sometimes, it's time to do something completely new. The knowing when comes with experience - and working with people who have done it successfully for years.

I believe that following those principles as best I could led to the opportunity before me at WCG - and I can't wait to get started. Please keep my family and I in your prayers as we go through this period of big transition - and I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to use the comments on this post, or connect with me on LinkedIn (professionally), facebook (personally) or twitter (everything!).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

65 Roses

"65 Roses" is what some children with cystic fibrosis (CF) call their disease because the words are much easier for them to pronounce. Mary G. Weiss became a volunteer for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in 1965 after learning that her three little boys had CF. Her duty was to call every civic club, social and service organization seeking financial support for CF research. Mary's 4-year-old son, Richard, listened closely to his mother as she made each call.

After several calls, Richard came into the room and told his Mom, "I know what you are working for." Mary was dumbstruck because Richard did not know what she was doing, nor did he know that he had cystic fibrosis. With some trepidation, Mary asked, "What am I working for, Richard?" He answered, "You are working for 65 Roses." Mary was speechless.

He could not see the tears running down Mary's cheeks as she stammered, "Yes Richard, I'm working for 65 Roses."

- From "65 Roses"

This is a first for me, and it's appropriate that my first online fundraising attempt would be for a cause that is dear to me. Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that affects relatively few people directly - approximately 30,000 children and adults in the United States have cystic fibrosis. But an additional ten million more—or about one in every 31 Americans—are carriers of the defective CF gene, but do not have the disease.

Someone I love has cystic fibrosis
. I'm not going to name him here because he's too young to decide to be a spokesperson. But I've learned enough about CF to know that we can do something meaningful about it. There is no cure - yet - for cystic fibrosis and the disease generally gets worse over time.

The life expectancy for people with cystic fibrosis has been steadily increasing over the past 40 years. The numbers can easily make you sad - but they can also inspire. This timeline shows how incredible the advancements have been in treating CF ... just imagine what could happen in only a few more years if we were able to focus on it!

GREAT STRIDES is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's largest and most successful national fundraising event. My parents, brothers, and their families will be participating in the GREAT STRIDES walk at the Batchelor Middle School on May 1, 2010.

Please help us meet our fundraising goal by supporting Team Matthews. Your generous gift will be used efficiently and effectively, as nearly 90 cents of every dollar of revenue raised is available for investment in vital CF programs to support research, care and education.

Making an on-line donation is easy and secure. Click the "Click to Donate" button on this page to make a donation. Any amount you can donate - even a few dollars - is greatly appreciated!

Research and care supported by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is making a huge difference in improving the quality of life for those with CF. Help is needed now more than ever to ensure that a cure is found. To learn more about CF and the CF Foundation, visit

We believe we can make a difference in the lives of those with CF! Thank you for supporting the mission of the CF Foundation and GREAT STRIDES!

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh's 50 Finest

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

one checkin to rule them all

My team and I have been fiddling around with a lot of different location-based applications recently, and have developed what I think are some pretty good use cases for our company. During the course of that process, we've gotten to know a few things ...

- It's amazing how many apps are out there; we've found at least 20 that fit the bill
- A few, including some of the biggies, have open APIs
- Very few are really interested in partnering with businesses yet on anything; there are too many product-related and competitive hurdles to clear first.

My iPhone was starting to get crowded with location-based apps, and every time I'd walk into a restaurant, my wife wanted to kill me because I'd have to check in using at least four different apps. So as we were fiddling with APIs, we started thinking about how to create a single check-in service that would report your location to all of your apps.

Lo and behold, not even a week later I got an invitation to check out the beta version of, a new mobile app from the guys at brightkite. At the moment, it allows you to check in to brightkite, foursquare and gowalla with a single click. I just tried it at one of my local favorites, and it worked like a charm!

It's going to be really interesting to see how this space evolves ... and I wonder if is going to give brightkite a (needed?) dose of relevance. Hope so; I was always a fan of the app, but it seems to have been overtaken by foursquare, gowalla and causeworld.

Another site that's making cool use of the APIs for foursquare and gowalla is I love the idea and the interface, but if you can figure out why you'd need it, please let me know.

Posted via web from chimoose is (pre)posterous

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

I was one of the folks who was eager to watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution last night ... and I wasn't disappointed.

I spend a lot of time thinking about health, and how to help people live healthier lives. My team at Humana has spent a lot of time thinking about the exercise piece of that equation; much less on the nutritional components. Nonetheless, I have been a big fan of Alice Waters' movement in California, and was really excited when Jamie Oliver took up her mantle in the UK.

The show, if you haven't seen it, is a reality show set in Huntington, WV - recently named the unhealthiest city in the US. More than half of Huntington's adults are obese. So Jamie Oliver has come to Huntington to revolutionize how the citizens there think about food. The show is equal parts entertainment/drama and shock value. And while I think some WV residents have been offended by the way they feel they've been characterized, if we think about this as a WV problem, we are missing the point.

The WV schools abide by the same USDA guidelines as every other public school district in America ... so if your kid goes to public school, it's likely that he or she is subjected to the same (or worse) lousy breakfast and lunch options that the Huntington kids are.

In any case, I think that this show has the potential to cast a bright light on a major problem - and I encourage each of you who reads this to sign Jamie's petition to present his case directly to the President at the conclusion of the show. Oh, and be sure to watch - Friday nights on ABC.

Posted via web from chimoose is (pre)posterous

Monday, March 15, 2010

The ER 2.0 Panel from South by Southwest

I had the pleasure of attending the ER 2.0 "core conversation" at South by Southwest this morning. It turned out to be a terrific conversation - and it didn't hurt that it featured some of my best friends in healthcare and social media.

In this picture are Dr. Bryan Vartabedian of the Baylor Medical Center, Ed Bennett of the University of Maryland Hospitals, Jen McCabe of Contagion Health (and a business partner of mine at Humana) and Aimee Roundtree, a medical writer and researcher at the Texas Medical Center.

Also not coincidentally, I also had the opportunity to spend all day on Thursday with this crew (and about 75 other really sharp people) at the first Social Health summit in Austin (2010) ... a fantastic opportunity to really expand understanding across the health system for how we can all do things differently to improve people's lives.

Thanks to these friends, new and old, for making this year's south by southwest a particularly special experience for me.

Posted via web from chimoose is (pre)posterous

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Twitter list analysis - You heard it here first!

If you're like me, you've been pretty interested in Twitter lists and their evolution. In case you're not like me, and haven't been using Twitter lists, you can catch up here.

As more and more people are using twitter to connect, it's getting harder and harder to stay looped in with the conversations you're most interested in. Twitter lists helps out with that a lot because they allows you to create groups of people (by topic, location, or whatever moves you) so that it's much easier to follow relevant conversation threads.

There are a couple of tools out there that have done a really good job of getting utility from Twitter lists - my two favorites have been Tweetdeck - which allows you to import your twitter lists and see them all on your screen - and TweepML, which allows you to import your twitter lists in such a way that visitors can follow everyone on your list with one button-click. That functionality is really important for conferences, tweetchats, and other circumstances where you want to follow everyone in a given group.

You already know that my team at Humana has been really focused on using twitter to provide insights and analysis (using our home-made tool called the Tweet Positioning System). We've now taken our analytic capability to a new level by allowing anyone with a twitter account to view all of their twitter lists and analyze the results by location, topic and frequency ... including
  • Lists you've created
  • Other lists that you follow
  • Lists that follow you
The coolest part is that you don't have to do anything except to sign in to twitter using OAuth, and click "recent searches." There's a tab there for twitter lists, and once you've signed in, all your lists will show up. I've attached an image of one of my favorite lists (HealthTweeps) - it's Greg's version of the "Health All-Stars" that I think everyone ought to be following.

Get more out of your lists - check out!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

South-by-Social-Health (SxSH)

If you pay much attention to the business of Social Media and Interactive technology, you're already well aware of South by Southwest (SxSW). David Armano calls it, "spring break for geeks." I had my first exposure to it last year, and agree that the atmosphere festive and fun. But I think that it's more than that, too ... it's also a time when people who are really passionate about social media and interactive can come together and share what they've learned, what they're doing, and what they think is going to happen next.

There is no better place to connect, and I still keep in touch with many of the folks I met at SxSW last year. This year, though, I am really excited about more than just SxSW. Over the past year, there has been a massive increase in the number of people in my industry - health - who are using social media to make their businesses stronger, and to help people be healthier. The leading Tweetchat for that space, #HCSM, recently celebrated its first anniversary (a celebration I was honored to be a part of). I've even been involved in starting a new Tweetchat with my friend Fran Melmed that's focused on health and wellness in the workplace (#co_health).

For the first time, there will be a sub-conference on health at SxSW ... it's called South by Social Health (#SxSH), and a lot of my colleagues from #hcsm and #co_health are planning to be there. I don't know exactly what it's going to look or feel like yet, but I am really excited to find out. It's easy to follow all of the details on TPS; just search for SxSH to get all of the latest news (and analysis thereof!) See you in Austin ...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Decision Tree: How Smarter Choices Lead to Better Health | Magazine

After Fran Melmed called this article to my attention, I also heard several other people raving about it before I had a chance to give it a read myself. Now that I have, I am even more intrigued by the concept of visualizing your health decisions.
And while planning out my own decision tree, I noticed that the piece went on to show 3 sample decision trees for people who were dealing with health issues ... and one of them turned out to be my friend Alex Carmichael. Definitely worth a read!

[Editor's Note: "The Decision Tree" is now available; find out more at]

Posted via web from chimoose is (pre)posterous

Friday, January 1, 2010

TPS has a new widget!

We've been adding features galore on TPS ... and are now featuring two new widgets. The first can be seen on my sidebar ... and the second is here. I think that these are great additions to any blog ... or blog post.
We've been experimenting with adding TPS Map widget to all of our posts on CrumpleItUp, and I should probably start doing it here as well. What do you think?

At long last, The State is on video

This short-lived MTV comedy series featured some of the most memorable skits around ... like "I'm Doug" and "$240 worth of Puddin." Check out Rick Klau's blog for the best writeup on that one.
The show featured Michael Ian Black (one of the funniest guys who hasn't quite made it) plus Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney from Reno 911.
If you're into sketch comedy on the edge, The State should be considered the less-well-known little brother of Kids in the Hall, Mr. Show and Chappelle's Show.

Posted via web from chimoose is (pre)posterous