Friday, December 2, 2011

A new video podcast for Social Media, Music and Barbecue - @LiveFromStubbs

I'm really excited to announce that the Live From Stubbs video podcast is live!  This show is the brainchild of my friends Aaron Strout and Kyle Flaherty - and is the follow-up to their highly successful Quick and Dirty Social Media Podcast.

The Quick and Dirty podcast, originally created by Aaron along with the lovely and talented Jennifer Leggio, was a tremendous success.  100 episodes in, the Q&D show was heard by about 5,000 people every week.  I've been really pleased to be associated with both shows ... as an early guest and semi-regular-backup-guest host on the QnD, and as the cameraman on this first episode of Live from Stubbs.

There are some notable format changes in the new version.  One is fairly obvious - the show has moved from pure audio on BlogTalkRadio to a video format on YouTube.  Eventually, the goal is to have the show taped in front of a live studio audience at the legendary Stubbs Bar-B-Q restaurant. [Note: Stubbs is a client of WCG, my employer]  The second major format change is that rather than a thirty minute show, each show is now a YouTube-friendly 10 minutes or less.  The third change is that, rather than a pure digital/social media focus, every other show will be focused on music and barbecue ... reflecting the show's home base in Austin.  Look for some terrific guests coming up as we branch out into those new worlds.

I encourage you to take a look at this first episode.  Aside from my ham-handed camera work (I have subsequently been replaced behind the lens), I think it's great.  The first guest, Andy Sernovitz, was brilliant as usual.  Andy is the CEO of and the founder of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  I'd love to get your feedback on the show, the new format, and anything that you'd like to see featured on upcoming episodes.  In the meantime, if you like the program, be sure to subscribe to the LiveFromStubbs YouTube Channel - and tell all your friends!!

Final note: Terrific job by Brad Mays, the show's executive producer, and Naimul Huq, whose editing was brilliant.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Co_Health Recap: The Social Wellness Episode 2011

Bob Merberg (@wellwork; the Employee Wellness Network) was kind enough to create and share a MindMap of the last #co_health chat ... If you're a visual learner, you'll want to check it out.  Thanks, Bob!!
It was a freewheeling time on last week's #co_health chat.  After a pretty solid series of "special guests," Fran and I decided to return to our usual format - focusing on the "social" aspects of wellness in the workplace.  As an overall summary, I'd go out on a limb and say that making wellness social is still high on the priority list of our members, but that we're still in the very early stages of true innovation in this space.

Fran was driving the @co_health account this month, and kicked things off with the first question:

T1: How are you making wellness social?

@jmcnichol led us off by noting that her organization has begun to use facebook as the center-point for sharing wellness info with their employees and their families.  This is pretty significant, as it's one of the rare corporate wellness initiatives I'm aware of that has recognized the importance of their employees' families in carrying wellness through to all aspects of their lives.  She also encourages employees to guest-post on her blog about their wellness experiences - which allowed them to share their experiences with family and friends inside and outside the organization.

Fran indicated that her clients were using, at various times and measures, offline social challenges, blogs, podcasts and twitter on behalf of their wellness programs ... 

@michellewjames noted that within her workplace (Intel), employees were using an internal social networking tool focused on wellness ... but reminded us that the wellness+social equation doesn't necessarily revolve around technology - and that one of the most popular social wellness initiatives were employee walking groups - delightfully low-tech!

@MarkFrisk also noted that, no matter how you're approaching wellness, it's more important to focus efforts on improvement rather than just participation.

We then moved on to
T2: For those using social media tools, which are you using?  And how did you decide which one(s) to lead with?

Fran noted that most of her clients tended to look at where employees were already congregating and interacting - often facebook or twitter - and start from there.  Not surprisingly, the group's consensus here was around the fact that social wellness is a new enough topic that we're in the "low-hanging fruit" stage ... that our initiatives were focused on the places where we can get the most impact for the least investment and risk.

T3: How have leaders supported your efforts? Have they embraced them or been skeptical (or worse)? 

@FitnessFleet noted that in his/her experience, leaders had been extremely supportive, and focused on working in partnership with others to bring wellness solutions into the workplace.  There seemed to be a pretty big variety of experiences here, though, with leadership ranging from active engagement (executives visibly joining walking groups and funding special wellness initiatives) to generally ignoring wellness ... thereby allowing it to "fly under the radar."

The conversation then evolved into one about metrics ... which at this point seem to be almost exclusively based either a) # of participants and/or b) number of reads/listens of wellness materials.  Most agreed that these are necessary baseline metrics, but expressed desire to become more sophisticated over time to actually measure changed behavior and improved health in addition.

T5 (Fran skipped T4): Have you segmented your audience, using different tools and approaches for different groups?

Much of the "segmentation" that's been employed to date seems to revolve around special program offerings for people with specific chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes) or lifestyle choices (e.g. smoking cessation).  And there was interest in using a Prochaska-esque model of readiness for change to use different messaging and programs - but I don't think that any of our members were doing so at this point.

There was also a divergent conversation thread that emerged and is worth noting related to the linkage (or not) between open enrollment and wellness programs.  A number of our members have begun to use social media and collaborative tools around open enrollment and benefits choices, and fran suggested that OE might make a good gateway to start using social tools and methods for wellness also.  As @jmcnichol astutely noted, though, open enrollment is a once-a-year thing ... and wellness is 24/7.  The implication being that the messaging around them is just different.

We closed with T6: What roadblocks to Social efforts are you experiencing?

The biggies that I called out were that, in many cases, employees were pretty sensitive about any health data being shared on open channels, and perhaps more damaging, that corporate digital security practices caused most social channels to be blocked.  Fran noted that many employers were battling with the "where do we begin" question as well as a concern about how much of a time commitment would be involved.  And @jmcnichol noted that her biggest challenge was just in getting people's attention - they're subject to a veritable firehose of data every day.

To close: It should be noted that we're in the midst of a very interesting opportunity with MeYou health.  As you know, we believe  very strongly in the smarts, passion and commitment of the #co_health gang ... and we'd like to parlay that aggregation of awesomeness into something really special for our members.  We'd like to see this group weighing in on new programs, new services, new technologies and new business models focused on wellness in the workplace.  We've had a number of opportunities in our nearly two years of existence (including a rather successful foray into crowdsourcing innovation led by CoHealth-er @CarolHarnett (BodyShocktheFuture Contest).

We've now found another opportunity that we think is worth our (read: your) time with MeYou health.  As you learned if you tuned into our September episode (Health Games) with Trapper Markelz, there are some potentially paradigm-shifting activities going on that we'd like to be a part of.  MeYou has a health program that they're allowing us to pilot  - LEARN MORE AND SIGN UP HERE NOW! MeYou Health/CoHealth Social Health Pilot 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

CrumpleItUp Redux: Dr. StrangeFit || Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love conference calls

As noted last month, I am re-publishing some of the "greatest hits" from CrumpleItUp. This one came to mind as the Healthy Back Store randomly used a quote of mine that I gave to Steelcase in 2008 about their (absolutely brilliant) Walkstation product.
Dr. StrangeFit || Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love conference calls
from Crumple it up! blogs by Greg Matthews (Originally posted on May 15, 2009)

Meetings - and their cousins, conference calls - are a big part of life in corporate America. Yet I don't know anyone who really likes most meetings. There are some exceptions in my own life: I love our Social Media Chamber of Commerce meetings, for example. And I like the weekly meeting that my peers and I have with our boss. [Note to self: Daily suckup - CHECK.]

And conference calls are even worse . . . they're just not a very human or engaging way to interact. But, like most of the clouds in life, I've found a silver lining in this one. And its name is Walkstation.

Last week my colleague Laura Tabler wrote about her incredible success in fitness and weight loss that's centered around walking during her favorite shows. I was seriously inspired. I mean, losing over 23 pounds in 8 weeks while making minimally invasive life changes is really impressive. So while Laura does her walking as she feeds her passion for reality TV, I am going to do MY walking while I'm on conference calls. In fact, any call that lasts for more than 5 minutes is going to see me aboard the walkstation.

I've got about 15 lbs. that I'd like to lose . . . let's see if Laura's method works as well with me.

What are the little things that you could change to make your normal routine healthier?

[Editor's Note: For those of you to whom this title is pure gibberish, please click here]

Photo by Shane "the Pain" Regala

Thursday, September 15, 2011

When was the last time you looked at your facebook settings?

As you're probably aware, facebook has made some subtle but important changes this week to the way that people can share information on its platform ... see this article from Mashable for details.  I generally am a pretty transparent guy, but facebook is, for me, a walled garden.  Only for people I know and am friends with "in real life."  I therefore wanted to make sure that, with the changes to facebook, that I knew exactly how they'd impact me.  I wanted to be sure that my facebook status updates would continue to be for my friends, and ONLY for my friends.

As I was poking around on the site, though, I discovered that over the last 4 years, I have given about 14 million apps access to my data.  This is bad.  The reason it's bad is that many of the companies that made these apps don't even exist anymore, and each one is a potential security risk.  So I'm writing this post to encourage you to prune your facebook apps, and make sure that the only ones with access to your account are the ones you WANT to be there.  Here's how:

In the upper-right corner of your facebook page, select "ACCOUNT" and then "ACCOUNT SETTINGS."  On the left-hand menu bar, you'll see "Applications" as an option.  Select it ... and prepare to be blown away by how many apps have permissions on your facebook account.  Facebook makes it easy for you, and shows you the ones that access your account most often ... so my advice is to scroll to the bottom, and start deleting anything you aren't using anymore.  [Superpoke?  Are you kidding?  I installed that in 2007 and haven't seen it since!]

Lastly, given facebook's new capabilities for sharing status updates:  If you're like me, and only want for your friends to see your status updates, you can change the default settings for all status posts:  In the upper right corner, select "ACCOUNT" and then "PRIVACY SETTINGS."Click the gigantic radio button in the middle of the page called, "FRIENDS" and you're good to go.  I'm going to get in the habit of updating my facebook settings every six months or so ... just to be safe.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Managing Twitter Followers

Today Chris Brogan unfollowed me on Twitter, and it made me sad.

That sentence probably needs some unpacking; let me start from the beginning.
Twitter has been really important for me in terms of building a career.  It's connected me with business partners (like Jennifer McCabe), community co-founders (like CoHealth's Fran Melmed) and even potential employers (before I joined WCG).  But more importantly, it's started literally hundreds of really great relationships.  It has enhanced hundreds more existing relationships.  In fairness, most of my really strong twitter relationships have a real-life component (although not all do).  But that doesn't lessen the impact of the tool in terms of my general connectedness.

So when people follow me on twitter, I take it really seriously.  That's harder now than it was a year (or two) ago because there are so many more spammers and 'bots out there who are either a) trying to sell you something, b) trying to hack your system, or c) trying to build an attractive-looking number of followers for one of the reasons above.

I follow people on twitter because I am interested in what they're saying ... or what it's likely they'll say, based on their bio, the lists they're on, or people we know in common.  By following them, I'm making an investment in them.  Whenever I follow someone, I always hope that they'll follow me back ... because that opens the possibility that we'll form a relationship, and begin to get to know each other.  It doesn't always happen (in fact, it's a relatively rare thing), but if we *don't* follow each other, there is no possible way for that relationship - or value exchange, call it what you will - to happen.

Anyway, for the last couple of years, I've been using a tool called to manage my followers (it used to be called MyTweeple; it's recently been revamped and rebranded by its very clever creator Shannon Whitley). makes it really easy to go in and look at the people who've started following me that week, and to decide whether I want to follow them back (sometimes), "hide" their profile from my list (so I won't have to sort through them again next week - this is what I do with bots) or block them (which is what I do with pornographers and obviously malicious spammers).  It works really well for me.

And because of the proliferation of accounts that are NOT designed to allow a relationship between two individuals, one of the ways I spot the bots and spammers is to use a tool called twunfollow, which tells me who has unfollowed me that week.  You see, bots and spammers like to follow an account, hope to get a follow-back, and then unfollow after a few days.  When I see that's happened, I know I don't want to follow them.

But every once in a while, a friend unfollows me.  And that always makes me a little sad.  And it brings me back to the fact that my friend Chris Brogan was on that list today.  To be fair, Chris and I are not bosom friends ... but we've broken bread and shared drinks together on multiple occasions, so even though we haven't seen each other for a while, I was sad to be losing the ability to stay in tune together on twitter.  I was curious to see if Chris was unfollowing others as well ... and saw that he had unfollowed practically EVERYBODY (over 100,000 people for him).  That was curious enough that I went out to look at his blog, and discovered his post, The Great Twitter Unfollow Experiment of 2011.  And that made me feel better.  Social media is like real life ... you make friends; you drift away from friends.  Sometimes you have to disconnect in order to get closer.  But the point is ... if you value the channel, and the relationships it brings, don't be lazy about managing the people who've "invested" in you by following you ... do them the courtesy of at least considering whether they're somebody you'd like to follow back.  As I've found so often, it's worth the effort.

Want to be sure I am clear ... I mentioned Chris here because he was helping me to make a broader point, not because I'm concerned about him unfollowing everyone.  On the contrary, I think that Chris is one of the most generous, likable guys in this business ... and he's doing what he needs to do (please read his blog post, linked above, for an explanation).  He's a prince of a guy, and he takes a lot of unwarranted abuse.  Want to be sure this post isn't interpreted like that by anyone.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Facebook Will Kill Photo Filters for Everyone


Great, thought-provoking article from Sam Biddle on Gizmodo ... definitely give it a read if you're into a) Instagram; b) facebook; or c) the relationship between the elitist digerati of the former versus the swarming masses of the latter.

On one hand, I agree that Instagram is special for two reasons ... it gives me, an amateur photographer, the tools to create photos that don't suck without investing thousands of dollars and hours to do so. Second, it give the the opportunity to share those photos with friends ... and in turn, it gives me a window to understand and appreciate those friends more deeply through the photos that they create and share.

On the other hand, I see here much ado about nothing. If, as Mr. Biddle asserts, Instragram will go on about its business; immune to facebook's copying of its service ... and if facebook users start using filters to make crappy photos crappier ... who cares?

What people do behind their own backyard fence is no business of mine - I don't see it, and I couldn't care less. For that reason, this article feels more like elitist claptrap than any kind of real social commentary. But I do thank Mr. Biddle for the thought-provoking piece, and Grant Harrison for sharing it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The evil of food labeling

Today's trip down memory lane is another post from Grant Harrison on the lamentably lost  Grant's wry wit is clearly displayed here; you'd never know that his ancestors were shipped from Millbank Prison to Australia generations before. [Note: This is not true.  Not every Australian emigrant was a criminal.  Especially the ones from New Zealand.]
The evil of food labeling
By: Grant Harrison.  Originally posted on December 7, 2008

the evil of food labeling

If you’ve ever studied any foreign languages it will probably have dawned on you that there’s a link between the language itself and the character of the peoples who use it.
German is a very structured and precise language and breeds a very structured and precise population. People we want to build our cars and nuclear reactors. French is very lyrical and beautiful language but you can’t tell what they mean till they get to the end of the sentence. Even the varieties of English around the world can tell us about the character of the speakers or users. George Bush relishes his capability to present every idea using only ten one-syllable words. We can see how this simplicity has been reflected in US foreign policy!
My point is that the language used affects the ideas that tend to be generated by it. Take this thinking and apply to food labeling. Have you noticed that water has no nutritional value at all? Zero percent of what you need daily in carbohydrates, protein and fat.  
So water doesn’t really matter?
Well… actually, according to the Feinberg School at NorthWestern.
“Water is considered an essential nutrient because it must be consumed from exogenous sources to satisfy metabolic demand. Water constitutes approximately 60% of adult body weight. It is a catalyst for a majority of enzymatic reactions including those involved in nutrient digestion, absorption, transport, and metabolism. It is also required for facilitating excretion of metabolic waste by the kidneys. Inadequate intake of water compromises cell functions by contributing electrolyte imbalances, contraction of plasma volume, and inability to regulate body temperature”
It seems to me that water is an important part of nutrition. In fact we should be consuming approximately 2.5 to 3 liters (10.4-12.5 cups daily) to be healthy.
I suggest that our food labeling is not working right. The nutrition facts on my bottle of water (Im recycling the bottle as a Christmas decoration) says there are zero grams on trans fat and sodium – that’s good news. However, given that the water gives me 0% of what the label says I need in my daily 2,000 calorie diet I have to question why I'm bothering.  
I just checked my Czechvar beer bottle – while it has 5% alcohol, it says nothing whatsoever about nutrition values. I have to assume it’s similar to water. Hurrah!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Welcome back to "The Best of!"  This was my second installment recounting how I started out in social media ... fun nostalgia time.
Greg is Having Eggs for Breakfast, Part II
Originally posted on December 10, 2008

Greg is having eggs for breakfast - Part Two

This is the second of several posts (click here for the first) about my plunge into the deep end of the social media pool.  In addition to being wonderfully self-indulgent, I hope that it'll be instructive (and soothing) to anyone who's as cautious as I was about social media.
Once I was up-and-running on my blog, it was time to turn my attention to Facebook. I changed my name from Elmer Fudd to Greg Matthews, posted a picture and a few likes-and-dislikes, and went searching for friends. I was and am fairly careful about who I “friend” in Facebook. As a general rule I only friend people whom I actually know. When possible, I restrict the list to people I’m actually interested in, although I have another rule: Don’t refuse people just because they’re boring. It’s mean. [NOTE: It is perfectly acceptable to de-friend boring people who are also loquacious; nobody wants to have their newsfeed filled with drivel, after all! In fact, I had to de-friend several people during this year’s political campaigns; there are just so many Sarah Palin parody videos you can watch without feeling nauseated.]
When I jumped into Facebook, I jumped in with both feet. By this time, exploring social media had become part of my job, so I made it my business to take that exploration seriously. I was updating my status 3 or 4 times a day, searching for friends regularly; adding applications that made my page more fun and interesting (cool! A movie compatibility test!) and posting pictures of myself. I found myself getting hooked on being able to check in with old friends and acquaintances I hadn’t seen in years . . . and yes, there was definitely a voyeuristic element to the pleasure in reading their correspondence and looking at their pictures. 
I still have fun with Facebook, but I am a lot cooler now. I don’t really care about applications anymore; most of them are pretty stupid, filled with bugs, and send your personal information to God-knows-where. [NOTE: Any application WE develop will be cool, unintrusive, and lots of fun.]  I like to use Facebook as a way to share cool pictures of places I go (in real time, thanks to iPhone’s brilliant Facebook app), to create clever status updates, and most of all to exercise my rapier wit with funny comments on my friends pictures and posts. 
I should note here that my wife has played an important role in my development as a social media creature . . . and the best way to describe that role would be “wet blanket.” My wife is still very much where I was a year ago in terms of her distrust of social media. When I dive into something, I dive in all the way. So when I started spending too much time on Facebook (especially at home, especially after the kids were asleep) we had a big conversation about keeping Facebook in perspective. [NOTE: Conversation is a diplomatic word for this exchange, as my contributions consisted primarily of, “yes, dear.”]
In our next installment . . . Greg tells the world what he is having for breakfast using Twitter.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wellness in the news - August's CoHealth Tweetchat

For those of you who don't know, I co-lead a workplace wellness community called CoHealth (#co_health; @co_health on Twitter).  This group meets once a month to talk about how to help people be healthier at work.  You can learn more on my co-founder Fran Melmed's blog, free range communication.  The next CoHealth tweetchat will be at noon EDT on Wednesday, August 17.

CoHealth is nothing if not topical.  We've been super-focused on some big topics for the last few months (Employee benefit trends in July; Jamie Oliver's workplace nutrition initiative in June; Health incentives at work in May).  Next week is going to look a little different for two reasons:

First of all, I'm going to be "going solo" - Fran is going to be on a well-deserved vacation.  The second is that we're not going to have one huge topic to dive into ... instead, I've combed the world of wellness (OK, Fran did 99% of the work) to find the hottest topics in health and wellness.  Welcome to the first Wellness News and Comment show!  

Here's what I think we should delve into:
I. There are two conferences coming up in Philly in September - Social Health and the ePatient Conference.  Who's interested?
II. Fowler and Christakis (the authors of Connected.  Don't tell me you haven't read it.) are being questioned by the health establishment.  Do you see aspects of health or unhealth as shared between your employees?
III.  An Israeli study claims that your coworkers can kill you.  Do you see aspects of better or worse health in various groups of employees?  How can you reverse this trend if you can spot it?
IV. Walgreens is widely reported to be offering a health insurance product in the future.  What plans is your company making in the run-up to 2014 when health reform has its deepest impact?

If there are new stories that come up next week, we may build them into the schedule ... or if you've been intrigued by a new story, article or trend that isn't mentioned above - let me know!  This is your big chance to shape the agenda for the tweetchat! ;-)

Just comment below, or tweet your idea out using the #co_health hashtag.  Can't wait to see you next Wednesday at noon eastern ... and the third Wednesday of EVERY month.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

CrumpleItUp Redux: Is Consumerism Making Us Sick?

Another early post in this series of "The Best of CrumpleItUp" ... this time from Grant Harrison.  Grant was never one to mince words (and still isn't).  He's still shaking up the health establishment at his health design firm called The Future Well that he runs with Dr. Jay Parkinson.  If you asked Grant today, I'm guessing he'd tell you that this post is truer than ever.
Is Consumerism Making Us Sick?
By Grant Harrison - Originally published on on November 26, 2008

Sport and Recreation Active New Zealand survey released a few days ago showed that more than 50 percent of people do 30 minutes or less "exercise" a week. Where "exercise" is a "noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate'. This is pretty bad. It is also unchanged from 1999 despite an estimated $900 million dollars spent per year (more than $200 per man, woman and child per year). They must be disappointed.
And this is not just a small pacific island thing. The UK is just starting a similar program which I fear will have the same level of success.

Why has this happened? I don't know. But let me share an argument with you.

Let's say there are 2 key factors behind so little sport, recreation and fitness:
1. people are lazy
2. our world economy is built upon consumption

The entire engine is built on all of us spending more money, buying more stuff - food, entertainment, things to take the effort out of daily life. As we learnt in the US after 9/11, a major act of patriotism is to shop. The dollars or pounds spent on promoting consumption are monumental. No one is selling self control.

Is there an answer?

Here's a "starter for 10". If people don't pay for it, it's not valuable. If it's not marketed (a lot), it won't be bought. I truly believe the answer will be a pill or some form of nanotechnology. Something that involves us reaching into our pockets, not strapping on our running shoes.

So what does this mean for all of us?

We'd better build a compelling health entertainment industry. Cos no one's buying "keep your mouth shut and go for a walk"!

Do you think I'm on to something here?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CrumpleItUp Redux:Greg is Having Eggs for Breakfast, Part I

Per yesterday's post, I am re-publishing some of the "greatest hits" from CrumpleItUp.  This was my very first blog post on, the internet hub of Humana's Innovation Center, back in 2008.  Seems pretty basic now, but back then it was pretty "big stuff" for a health insurance company to be publishing a health innovation blog!  This post is recounting my first experience with Twitter ... fun to look back on now.

This is the first of several posts about my plunge into the deep end of the social media pool.  In addition to being wonderfully self-indulgent, I hope that it'll be instructive (and soothing) to anyone who's as cautious as I was about social media.
Greg is Having Eggs for Breakfast, Part I
By Greg Matthews.  Originally published on on November 21, 2008

When I joined Twitter in late 2007, I did it out of obligation. Everyone in business – at least our business – had started talking about social media. But most of us had done nothing more than read about it in Fortune or Fast Company.

It was starting to look pretty hypocritical. But I can tell you that I was not the least bit interested in making "friends" on Facebook or MySpace with total strangers. I didn’t have the energy to be interesting enough - often enough - to be a blogger. And I certainly didn’t care to tell anyone – whether I knew them or not – what I was doing every minute of the day on Twitter.

Up 'til that point, I had guarded my online identity with great care. My Yahoo profile page (way, WAY before real social media) said my name was Herve Villechaize (bonus points to anyone who can tell me who THAT is). My identity on Facebook and MySpace was Elmer Fudd – a 72 year old polygamist from Arkansas (most of those identifiers are not accurate). I had to introduce myself to the 1 or 2 friends I had in each place by stating that I was really Greg Matthews.

By the end of 2007, I decided that it was time to come out of the social media closet and put myself "out there" if I was ever going to have any real hope of understanding the phenomenon I was reading about. I started a blog. You can still find it at It was about whatever I felt like writing about – and it still is. It is composed mostly of updates on my family (lots of pictures and videos of my daughters that I still don’t feel comfortable posting to YouTube) but was interspersed with my commentary on whatever issues are on my mind . . . usually around politics and religion (and the separation of the two), health and health care, cool technology and IU basketball. My only regular readers are my immediate family, and I rarely say anything interesting to any group of people beyond that. I may someday, but I've decided that it's just not worth forcing. My little blog has served two nice purposes. 1) It got me out there testing stuff out. I know how blogger works, I know how to use Google Analytics to track traffic on my site, and I can even write simple HTML code to program buttons and links on my site. I also learned the art of the link, which was the beginning of my education about the new currency of social media.

You see, while there are a few people who are making money blogging, there are millions and millions more who are blogging because they have something to say, and they can always, ALWAYS find someone to listen if they try a little bit. After I'd been blogging for a couple of months, I noticed that other blogs I liked had "blog rolls" on them – links to other blogs that were relevant (or not) to the author. I decided that I might as well start a blog roll of my own as another way of sharing a little bit of myself – in this case, things I was interested in. What I didn't realize is that I was giving "link-love." What most bloggers want is an audience. And having other sites that link into your own is a great way to accomplish that – particularly because Google searches take the number of relevant links into consideration as their algorithm orders search results.

I had discovered a site called "Inside the Hall" – a blog about Indiana University basketball written by a group of young amateurs (by which I mean that they're not professional journalists - yet). I loved this blog because it was insightful, funny, and updated almost daily with good new material. In fact, it became my primary source of information about my favorite team very quickly. Since my family (the main readers of my blog, if you'll recall) are also Indiana fans, it was only natural for me to provide a link to Inside the Hall on my blog roll.

After doing so, it took about 12 hours for me to get a thank you note from one of the ITH bloggers. He had tracked back to my blog, read it, and realized that I was an IU fan living in Louisville. We sent a few emails back and forth, and formed a relationship of sorts. I am still a regular reader of and commenter on his blog. And I'd learned a great lesson about how to grow a network in the web 2.0 world.

Coming up next, Part 2 in the series: How I overcame my fear of Facebook, and what I've learned as a result

Monday, August 1, 2011

Remembering CrumpleItUp

In 2008, I had the honor to lead the team that created one of the healthcare industry's first (if not THE first) innovation blogs.  As the "face" of Jack Lord and Grant Harrison's vision of health innovation, wound up being talked about in places as diverse as the Wall Street Journal, John Moore's Chilmark Research blog and Fred Wilson's Google Talk on Innovation and Disruption.

In that mass of links, you'll probably notice that there isn't a link to the subject of this post -  The reason is that Humana's innovation team has gone a different direction, and elected to take the site down.  You can find more about their current innovation efforts on the front page of  Because CIU was a team blog, I elected to pipe the RSS feed into my Google Reader - which means that although even the Wayback Machine doesn't have archived copies of those original posts, I do.  And believe me, when I discovered that I had an archived copy of every single post, I felt as if I'd just found the dead sea scrolls.  Those posts document our journey towards truly transforming the healthcare industry to a health industry.  For the next few weeks, and as often as I feel the urge, I will be re-publishing the best of those original blog posts, sometimes with my comments and annotations.

I'll share the first of them here with you ... written by Grant Harrison, who was at the time the VP for Consumer Innovation under Jack Lord, the Chief Innovation Officer and founder of the IC.  Hope that you enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as I plan to.

By Grant Harrison.  Originally published on on November 21, 2008

Welcome to crumple it up. It's our experiment to involve people from all over the world in healthcare innovation. As you explore you'll notice that we are linking across the web to YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Flickr. We are trying to make as many connections as possible.

Hopefully will become a health innovation hub - sharing ideas and developing inspiring health experiences.
We are passionate about bike sharing and social networking, the link between personal and planetary health, the potential for exergames and virtual worlds to entertain people to greater health and the potential of laughter to make people happier and healthier.

If you are passionate about this stuff, please let us know, tell people about us, reach out to us. Thanks for reading.

Grant Harrison
VP Consumer Innovation
Humana Inc

Saturday, May 21, 2011

CoHealth Recap - Designing Incentives for Health and Engagement

A Recap of the CoHealth Tweetchat (#co_health) from May 18, 2011
We were joined this month by Paul Hebert (aka @incentintel). Paul is the managing director and lead consultant for I2I. he’s been interviewed by the BBC, quoted in USA today, and writes for various blogs and HR publications. he’s also a member of the cohealth community, chiming in with wisdom on incentive design from time to time.   As it turns out, there is no shortage of opinions in the CoHealth community about incentives and rewards programs in wellness ... which kept Mr. Hebert very much on his toes!!  This turned out to be one of our most engaged chats ever - and we're grateful to Paul for guiding us through the tricky business of wellness incentives.  

We started the chat (with Fran - @femelmed - driving the @co_health account) asking the group their favorite thing about spring ... turns out that there are a lot of baseball fans in the wellness business.  Who knew?

Q1: @incentintel, give us a sense of you. What’s your general incentive philosophy?

Quoting Paul directly, "incentives should be used sparingly and with great care.  They don't "make" folks do anything - simply give them choices. Incentives are blunt instruments - be careful... incentives in wellness are tough - we want quick results for breaking long-term habits - not always possible"

Our friend Janet McNichol (@jmcnichol) also chimed in: "I have a @incentintel quote on my wall, "a good incentive program involves many behaviors rewarded quickly in small amounts over time accompanied by genuine recognition & demonstrable progress toward the goal."

With that as a "warm-up", we dove right in to the meat with Q2: Knowing that, what’s critical to make an incentive actually do what you intend it to do?

There was a general sense that "rewards" and "recognition" serve very distinct purposes, and we began to explore that theme.  Our group agreed by-and-large that incentives work first (and perhaps best) as attention grabbers:

"incentives should peak interest - get ppl to listen and pay attention - then you drive the changes in behavior thru education"
- Allison Kohler (@amkohler)

"incentives break inertia (because they are so strong) recognition maintains it (because it's more subtle)"
- Paul Hebert (@incentinel)

We also started to broach the subject of control and empowerment, with both Paul and Carrie from Ergotron (@giveafig) recognizing that 1) it's best to focus incentives on things your subjects can control; and that b) a sense of control over one's own space and time can actually be an incentive in and of itself.

We then decided to get a little bit more specific, and look at Q3: Lots of companies and partners are using financial incentives to get people participating. What are the risks?

Bob Merberg (@WellWork) shared a nice resource article from an unusual source (for this group, anyway!): Money over Matter: Can Cash Incentives Keep People Healthy?: Scientific American

Paul introduced an interesting concept here ... the danger of using cash as an incentive creates a relationship that becomes transactional (in an escalating fashion over time).  This can be powerful, as people "do the math" and think about "is this worth it to me?"  But that kind of transactional relationship almost never touches the more significant and lasting psychological triggers associated with behavior change.  

@DialDoctors characterized the role of cash incentives as a "front end" of behavior change as follows: "Incentives should act like the 1st 5 lbs you lose. They keep you pumped to maintain a healthier lifestyle."

And Paul, in making the point about the kind of incentives people really respond to, introduced an analogy that resonated with a lot of people (including me): "think of asking you buddy to help move you - offer them 6-pack vs. offering them $12 - one would insult them right?"  That's a subtle difference, and also brings into question the nature of the relationship between the rewarder and the rewardee: Is it paternal or fraternal?  The indication seems to be that a fraternal (perhaps more accurately, collegial) will be more effective in terms of actually producing desired behaviors.

Paul also introduced another important concept: that of timeliness of rewards ... noting that we tend to discount rewards that are further out in time. Today's reward now has much more value than a (less tangible) reward later - e.g., a burger today -> health tomorrow.

Q4: So, getting a sense that money isn't great for all. Where does it work and where should we use non-financial incentives?

Ray Goldberg (@raygoldberg) framed the question as one of gratification - and the power and challenge of delaying gratification.  And it prompted one of our really interesting side conversations, concerning individuals' motivation for change.  It started with a quote from Janet (@jmcnichol), 
"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. -- A fav delayed gratification quote."  A lot of folks chimed in that this was a favorite quote from them, but there was another (smaller, but noticeable) group that felt turned off.  [Personally, I think a cheeseburger tastes awesome, and can't even remember what it feels like to be "skinny" ;-)]

Another idea that divided the group was about competitions (a la Biggest Loser).  They are certainly popular in corporate wellness programs today, and some of our members swear by them (@dialdoctors is training every day after work and maintains a "challenge board" in the office).  But I always found them a little uninteresting ... especially since (in my experience) when they get big enough, people always cheat.  Paul (@incentinel) also noted that competitions have a dangerous side effect: They have losers.  And we don't want to create losers.

We closed out by getting to the heart of the matter. Q5: What would you advise companies considering their incentive design? About outcomes and design?

An important debate sprang up about reward and incentive programs being based on behaviors vs outcomes.  In the short term, focusing on outcomes seem both better and easier for the company ... if a company is trying to contain costs, for example, they might want to reward people who have a BMI in the "normal" range ... or for dropping X number of pounds.  This has the added benefit of reinforcing norms as "goals."  HOWEVER, this approach is fraught with difficulty, and many felt that outcomes-based incentive programs are eventually doomed to fail.  

Behaviors are much better as a basis for incentive programs for several reasons:
- You can reward in a more timely basis, associated with seeing and reinforcing new, healthier behaviors
- The reality is that there is no "norm" and health looks different on different people.  Focusing on outcomes is going to alienate or render ineligible a significant portion of your population.

Timeboxing incentive programs is also a fairly well-established best practice ... in other words, don't plan on having incentive programs that are open-ended and just go on forever; programs need to be evaluated for success and refreshed regularly.  This is a lot easier when you know up front that you're operating a 90-day program, for example.

Another important element of incentive design is that it can't stand alone ... it has to be associated with recognition and support programs, training, and some level of company support.  [Re: support, some in our group felt that having senior staff "bought in" and demonstrating wellness behaviors was critical, while others felt that it was a "nice to have."  What we all agreed on is that that company at the very least needs to not put up obstacles to healthy behavior in the workplace.]

There were a TON of questions posed on that chat that the group (and especially Paul, in spite of Herculean efforts) wasn't able to get to, so look for follow-up next week on Fran's blog (

While @incentintel massaged his weary typing-fingers, Fran wrapped us up, and reminded us about the next chat.  As always, it'll be on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at noon EDT ... and in June that happens to be June 15.  And we are incredibly excited to be featuring the program that IDEO is running with chef-turned-health-activist @jamieoliver, "Cooking & Company."  Not to be missed!

Thanks again to Paul Hebert (@incentintel) and to all of our participants for a lively, envelope-pushing discussion ... and I'm sure it won't be long before incentives make another appearance on the show.  If you have ideas for an upcoming show, just let Fran (@femelmed; fran@contextcommunication) or I know ... we'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CF = Cured Forever

As many of you will remember from last year, one of the causes that I'm truly passionate about is finding the cure for Cystic Fibrosis.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a devastating genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of tens of thousands of children and adults in the United States. 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

I've had the opportunity to see first-hand how recent advances in treating CF can make an enormous difference in the lives of CF patients ... along with the amazing dedication of their families. The extended Matthews family has made a commitment to doing all we can to stop CF forever ... my parents, my brothers and their families will be walking for CF this weekend. I'm supporting them ... and I hope that you can too. Donations of even a few dollars can make a great difference. If you'd like to donate, I attached a link to my brother, Andy's donation page here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

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My mom has changed her hairstyle once or twice since this photo was taken.  Ironically, however, I have returned to my true "original" style ... which is to say, none.  Happy Mother's Day, mom!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My favorite company video is ... WCG's

I've always admired companies that had the guts and the smarts to try to capture their essence in video.  And I've never worked for a company that did it really, really well.  I've seen some great videos, though, and envied the companies that made them.  Hubspot has done a few good ones; this one being the best of them:

My favorite company video, though, was Digg's version of Groove is in the Heart.  Awesome stuff.

Digg Dubb: Groove Is In The Heart from Trammell on Vimeo.

But ... WCG's new company video has taken over the top spot in my heart.  For those of you who know me, but don't necessarily get what my company does ... watch this.  And you'll know why I love working there.

By the way, we're always looking for the very best, smartest, most creative and successful people in the world to come and join us.  If you're interested, let me know via any of these channels:


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sharing the Nonsense

I've been playing around a bit more with my blogs (I'm trying to stay up-to-speed on Wordpress, Blogger and Posterous), and just found a feature that I love.  As most of us know, the Big 3 things to remember are to make your content easy to:
  • Find
  • Consume; and
  • Share
I'm not going to address the first two here, but the third one is critical.  I've been using an "addthis" button for years, but the truth of the matter is that most of the time, people don't want to push more than one button to share content.  I knew that I wanted to make it easier to share the content on this blog (and I know that all five of my readers have been clamoring for the same thing) but have been having trouble making it happen.  I'm not really very confident with my html skills, and I was having a hard time finding a sharing widget that was a) easily customizable and b) easy to get into the html code for this site.  Well, I found one.  Share This has created a sharing widget that is super-easy to customize, and so easy to get into your code that a moron could do it (one just did, obviously).

All you have to do is to pick your blogging service, select the display you'd prefer, pick the services you'd like to highlight, and then click a button to add the code to your blog.  Voila!  As you can see below, the Nonsense is now easier to share than ever!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

CoHealth Recap - The mHealth Episode

The post below is a recap of the workplace wellness tweetchat (#co_health) that I co-founded with Fran Melmed. For more information, background and history on CoHealth, see the CoHealth page on Fran's blog and our page on the Employee Wellness Network.

Today, Fran and I were honored to have one of the country's leading experts on mobile health as our co-host and content developer. Andre Blackman, whom I've known since my early days in Humana's Innovation Center, has become one of the greatest advocates for mobile health applications - especially as they impact public health and underserved health communities. Andre wears a lot of hats, but you can find him most of the time in one of these roles: the Director of Digital Communications and New Media at the American Heart Association, a member of the advisory board at the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, and blogger at Pulse + Signal. Fran and Andre did a terrific job researching and preparing for today's chat ... which wound up being one of our liveliest ever. After our introductions (which included several new and notable participants*), Fran kicked off with question one - a foundation for the rest of the chat:

Q1: What IS mHealth, anyway?
Andre responded: "mHealth is the use of mobile communications/devices for health services and information (apps, mobile sites, etc.)." He also added the first of what would turn out to be a treasure trove of links: This time to one of the most popular mobile health blogs; MobiHealthNews. He also referred us to a compilation video of what others think mHealth really is.

"mHealth is the fastest moving, most exciting segment I've ever worked in"

Q2: What's the value proposition for mobile health?
Andre noted that the great thing about the mobile opportunity is that instead of having people search for information or resources, it can come directly to them. He also pointed out that the number of people using mobile/smartphones has increased dramatically over the past few years, so there is a critical mass of users. For more information and statistics relative to mobile phone usage, Andre referred us to the Pew Internet Project and Susannah Fox's research as a leading example: Fran also noted that mHealth was "squashing the digital divide; [offering] simplified tracking [and] immediate access to information at point of need." When Kathy Mackey questioned whether there was really a digital divide in the workplace (e.g., company use of mHealth technology for wellness), Fran clarified that there are many people without smartphones in the corporate world: retail, manufacturing, etc ... and was backed up by Sarah Monley.

Fran then posed Q2a: "The growth has been tremendous, yet smartphone adoption still lags. Does that make SMS the better solution right now?"
Andre answered in the affirmative - that SMS is still the most available form of mobile communication, whether you have smartphone or not.

"Also key, the personal connection people have w/ their cell phones. As BJ Fogg says, 'we don't adopt mobile devices, we marry them.'"

Q3: How have you seen SMS used to better public health that we in workplace wellness can benefit from knowing?

This prompted a flood of examples of SMS being used to successfully impact health and healthy behaviors. Andre: "a great program likeText4Baby which is aimed at expectant mothers, is a great example of how workplaces can show support; also initiatives like @Medic that focus on empowering community health workers make use of public health and mobile." Fran pointed to as an interesting SMS-based behavior change support which is currently being researched.

Matt Pepe added that SMS has been shown in numerous studies to increase medication adherence, which in turn saves the healthcare system money. There were a couple of cautionary notes raised, though ... first from CTorgan: "Re SMS, etc, must remember issues with health literacy - see recent IOM report" Chia Hwu also noted some of the shortcomings of SMS: "SMS is powerful in a lot of ways but it's hard to track outcomes. Smartphones can push AND pull information." Along those lines, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn and Kathy Mackey pointed to some excellent studies on how smartphones are changing face of health

Dr. John Lapuma posed a question about whether Jamie Oliver uses SMS or #Likes with LA schoolkids, as it seems a perfect noncorporate public health fit. We all agreed, although nobody knew whether SMS was a part of his #foodrevolution program. Fran did note, though, that Jamie Oliver does have a new corporate venture: cooking & company, started with IDEO. We may be featuring some of the folks from that program as future co_health guests.

To close out the SMS question, Sarah Monley asked intelecare matt about what kind of 2-way SMS interactions were happening;perhaps texting with a personal coach? Matt responded affirmatively: "As well as automated systems which record what someone texts in and replies depending on the message." And LukeLibrarian painted a picture of a program in which a patient wears pedometer, and is reminded daily to text in their number of steps walked that day. Those texts then could populate a database, which can be analyzed in the context of monitoring overall health. And while it didn't come up in this week's chat, I wanted to be sure to give a shout out to "friend of the show" Chris Hall, whose SMS-based program, Mood 24/7 has shown real promise in treating and managing depression.

Q4: Let's talk about some examples of mobile-ready sites, another form of #mhealth - and more relevant to many right now.

This one prompted a flood of examples of mobile-enabled sites that our crew felt were innovative and/or particularly useful:

Kathy Mackey: "Humana & Walgreens have excellent benefit related sites & apps; MedPage Today has mobile ready site & popular app"

Andre: Example of a great mobile website is MedlinePlus and companies like Blue Cross of NC and Aetna have great mobile information applications. The HealthNAV app for @BCBSNC and AETNA site for apps. Another great org in the Maryland area that I just found out about, @Nexercise working on mobile for #co_health; SMS Best Practicse - Lessons Learned from a Text Messaging Pilot at CDC (webinar recorded, slides)

Fran Melmed: County Health Rankings has an interesting app: county health calculator:

BlausenGroup: Blausen healthcare apps are in over 12+ languages at 6-7 grade level on web & mobile to help w literacy

CTorgan: Another example, Keen doing a 15 min recess challenge:

Q5: How can companies take advantage of all of these available tools, apps -- even if they're not producing them?

This one brings it all together. Fran noted that Companies can share recommended, vetted sites and tools with their employees. And let employees review their own favorites. Kerry Johnston felt that companies need to aggregate relevant information, provide links from intranet sources; and most of all let employees know it's OK to use them.

PFAnderson couldn't have been more clear about what role the company ought to be playing relative to mHealth: "CURATION! Collaborate with libraries & experts on assessment". Andre pointed to GE's @gehealthy (Healthymagination initiative) as a source of "a fantastic array of smartphone apps that companies should look at." Carol Harnett noted that yesterday's JAMA featured a great article on games in yesterday's JAMA

To that end, I noted that I was really interested in how to build some mHealth games into my company's wellness arsenal - and that I am particularly intrigued by qubop's new iPhone 4 augmented reality game, "TapCloud." I had a whole bunch of folks who were ready and eager to brainstorm some workplace use cases for games like tapcloud; I'll be getting together virtually soon with Kathy Mackey, Jody Schoger, Janet McNichol and Chia Hwu to bang out some ideas. If you're interested, drop me an email at or DM me at @chimoose. Whichever method you choose, be sure to let me know your email address and twitter handle.

Fran capped off the discussion by noting that there is a significant gap between the consumer health market and the company-provided health effort - and that it's time to close the gap! I think that we can all get behind that one.

This chat was chock-full of resources and links ... but there is no better source than all of you who were on the chat. Particularly notable experts are @mindofandre, @healthythinker @mobilehealth and @ctorgan; be sure to connect with them to stay in tune with all the latest.

CoHealth tweetchats occur on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 12:00 noon EDT, so our next chat will be May 18th. We have a lot of exciting guests coming up in the not-too-distant future, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, MetLife and IDEO. As always, if you have ideas for topics or guests, please contact Fran or I and let us know!

* Jane Sarasohn-Kahn (who I FINALLY met in the flesh last month at SxSW) was in the house; Fran correctly pointed out Jane's web site as a wonderful resource for our group; We were also honored to welcome new (or newish) participants Carol Torgan, P.F. Anderson, Brian Dolan, baciagalupe, Matt Pepe, Luke Rosenberger, and Paul Jacobs.