The Power of the Listening Hub for the Enterprise

The purpose of this post is to outline a few best-practice actions as related to set-up and the early months of running a Social Media Command Center (SMCC) within a major brand headquarters. Such pilot programs demonstrate the types of insights and recommendations possible through the implementation of a SMCC.

First, let’s start with some definitions:

DEFINITIONS:

Social Media Command Center (SMCC) – A centrally located space where monitors (or signage screens), PCs and desks are configured for research of social data (and other data as prescribed) by in-house employees and 3rd party vendors. The SMCC provides a way to visualize data in various configurations relative to the needs of the corporation. The focus of research at a SMCC is social data.

The phrase “command center” has become common due to the central data research function relative to a brand’s outlets or regional offices. Insights and recommendations relative to past events, current initiatives and/or future opportunities are distributed from the command center.

A SMCC can be used for actions by various silos (upon approval). Such actions can include Marketing Campaign planning & engagement, PR response, HR discovery, Sales prospecting, Customer Service, Call Center integration, Competitive Intelligence, Customer Intelligence, company overview for the C-Suite and much more.

A fully realized SMCC is more than just a research center. The SMCC can be populated by representatives from each silo/department. The representatives can be authorized to take immediate action on critical issues. Policies can be put into place that give these representatives acceptable parameters for action and response.

For example, Customer Service representatives present within the early-stage SMCC can demonstrate an enhanced response time to resolving customer needs. Other names for a SMCC include Social Listening Center, Listening Center, Social Analytics Research Facility, Web Intelligence Center and Data Research Facility.

Social Data – Data specifically derived from the Internet and social networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Slideshare, Instagram, blogs, online forums, websites, and other online communities/networks. The data is public information, meaning it can be accessed by anyone.

VALUE:
The value of a SMCC to a brand or corporation includes:

- provides the possibility to view all mentions of the brand online
- provides the possibility to view all mentions of competitors online
- provides the possibility to discover key influencers as related to the brand, market space and competitors
- provides the possibility to monitor actions by competitors online
- provides customer insights based on conversations online
- provides recommendations for action to be taken in multiple silos at the brand/corporation
- provides recommendations for research projects related to customers, competitors and corporate initiatives

SAMPLE RESEARCH PROJECT SUMMARIES:
The following sample projects demonstrate just a few types of research possible through the use of a SMCC.

Brand Audit – An overview of mentions and sentiment related to the brand. An overview related to brand initiatives using specific search terms. A comprehensive audit of where the brand is being mentioned and by whom. Discovery of key influencers driving opinion about the brand, the maret segment and competitors. A study of competitors’ to the brand and a comparison of mention volume, sentiment and other factors.

Product Launches – As specific new product lines are launched, the SMCC staff can provide key internal decision makers with valuable insights based on mentions.

Marketing Planning Projects – Planning as related to marketing can be enhanced through the use of a SMCC. Specific marketing projects can be created as a result of listening to customer and competitor conversations and noting trending topics. Creatives from the brand & third-party agencies can collaborate in a SMCC while viewing visualizations of mentions and complex query results.

Example: Monitor conversations during brand campaign launches and create on-the-fly sub-marketing campaigns for specific regions/cities based upon mentions. Discover influential voices online (individuals and/or specific sites) that are either detracting or celebrating the brand.

Sales Prospecting Projects – Sales directors can discover prospects for sales teams, along with detailed on these prospects. A SMCC can be used by sales strategists to created finely segmented lists of prospects. The SMCC can also be used to gather and append valuable contact and demographic data to each individual prospect.

Example: Monitor specific regions and deliver B2B prospect lists to enterprise sales staff in those regions. This is based on conversations in those regions by ideal B2B prospects. Deliverable includes a list of B2B prospects in a region with appended contact/social data and intelligence on each prospect (why this is a good prospect for brand business services in that region, along with suggested ways to gain advantage with specific example). The ultimate goal with this project is to demonstrate the efficacy of social data in helping sales leaders close deals for brand Business Services.

Human Resources Discovery – Human Resources can quickly discover ideal candidates for positions within the corporation. Insights on employee sentiment within the brand can be delivered to HR from SMCC analysts. Insights on sentiment of employees at competitors can be delivered to HR also with the SMCC program.

Example: Identify lists of ideal prospects for specific positions at brand and/or brand franchises. Demonstrate how social data can yield ideal prospects for HR purposes. Monitor employee sentiment related to specific initiatives, discover ratings by ex-employees or current staff at sites like Glassdoor.com and LinkedIn.com. Monitor employee sentiment at competitors and discover opportunity for recruitment/head hunting/competitive intelligence. Monitor partners and vendors. Discover core differences between existing partners/vendors and their competitors.

PR Response – Analysts at the SMCC can provide valuable and quick insight into mentions of the brand online. Response times to positive or negative mentions online can be greatly reduced by having one central research hub. In addition, the ability to quickly visualize threats/opportunities, along with ability to append valuable conversation and contact data, will greatly enhance critical PR efficiency. Monitor “watchdog” reports related to specific products at brand.

Example: Monitor specific regions and/or franchisee locations for mentions and sentiment. Develop insights for these regions/franchisees on what customers/local inhabitants are saying about those store locations. Monitor global sentiment relative to competitors – what PR issues are our competitors dealing with. Discover specific threats to the brand. Discover specific social proof (positive trends & mentions) related to the brand.

Customer Service – Customer Service is perhaps the most valuable action within the SMCC. The ability to aggregate/analyze customer sentiment as demonstrated in online conversation and respond quickly to the needs of one’s customers is greatly enhanced in the context of the SMCC. Again, a fully realized SMCC is more than just a research center. The SMCC can be populated by representatives from each silo/department. The representatives can be authorized to take immediate action on critical issues. Policies can be put into place that give these representatives acceptable parameters for action and response. The Customer Service representatives present within the early-stage SMCC can demonstrate an enhanced response time to resolving customer needs.

Example: Monitor specific regions and/or locations for mentions and sentiment. Develop insights for these regions/franchisees on what customers/local inhabitants are saying about those store locations. Monitor mentions related to specific brand products and competitors’ products. Discover venues for providing swifter service, product complaints and other online arenas where brand brand word of mouth is spreading. Recommend specific programs or amendments to existing programs at the brand.

Competitive Intelligence – The SMCC can provide insights related to activities by competitors online, and also to the customers, vendors and employees of these competitors. As a sub-set of this research, we can monitor partners and vendors.

2015: A Fully Woven World Focused on Jubilee

The potential to weave humanity into a unified function has never been greater. And the desire to do so on the part of humanity may be stronger than ever as well. The cause should be a global Jubilee.

What is a Jubilee: It has been said that forgiveness opens possibility, creativity and engenders unity. Forgiveness is the basis of a Jubilee. In the ancient world, a Jubilee was that time when everyone returned to their home field and all debts were forgiven. The world was reset in this way. For some this may seem impossible. But on a global level we must do it. We must reset this global community and begin again in the simplicity of forgiveness, the abundance of Jubilee.

Here’s the present context: The technology for discovering others with similar interests is here. The technology for initiating a project with a global group is here. Within a 24 hour period, a single message can be spread through enough of the world to cause awareness and action. And, of course, the technology for analyzing results is here, giving humans the power to instantly refine a message, to improve rapidly. Our collective ability to knit a completely woven world is here.

We love to work/play together: While it is true that sovereignty and independence is vital to the human spirit, it is also true that humans love to be united in doing something. This is the essence of romance: to unite with others and become one. On a collective level, the excitement at a rock concert, sporting event or festival reflects this human tendency to join as one around a cause. We love to work hard and play hard, to push and to rest, to breathe in and breathe out. The image here is of glasses raised in a cheer at the end of a day.

The moment has arrived: Now is the time to integrate the best of the past and the best of the future. Now is the time to study globally popular past projects that helped humanity. Now is the time to weave our incredible technologies with our perennial love of life for the betterment of all. Now is the time to activate the joy of youth and the wisdom of the aged in a blossoming, an opening. And there is no better global celebration than forgiveness and Jubilee, a reset for all.

Imagine this vision as you reset this summer. Let it seed deeply. 2015 is close. We can do this.

Deep Transparency requires Deep Compassion

To face a real demon, you must first look inwards and conquer your own darkness. ~Luis Marques

Humans have brought two distinct digital worlds into being during the last 10 years: an “exterior” world of websites & apps and an “interior” world of emails, texts & private messages. The veil between these worlds is growing very thin.

A significant layer of privacy is being quietly withdrawn: your Google & Facebook searches are already public information. Soon your emails, texts & private messages will also be searchable, first by marketers and then by anyone.

But have no fear. Transparency foments evolution — to see “everything” creates more choices and opportunities. We are a species that can hold the occult with compassion — the hidden material of life can be met with grace. Your attitude towards this change is an important deciding factor in how you will be affected by the cultural shift of opinion regarding transparency.

So, ask yourself now, will you still love your best friend, your spouse, your community, when you can discover their Facebook searches, when you can read their emails & texts, when you can listen to their phone calls? Will the private opinions of others cause you to boil with rage & jealousy, or will you surrender to the freedom of “truth”?

Certainly, a massive period of resistance to the invisible is currently occurring. This is because everyone knows how powerful the hidden realm is. What you cannot see is currently animating what you see. Leaders with high stakes and numerous other special interests groups are the only obstacle to a totally clarified eco-system of data. And, as we have seen through Assange and Snowden, this is changing — the “truth” is coming out.

Transparency can potentially be used by the collective to quickly resolve serious issues affecting our survival. The truth really can set you free…and a culture where this freedom reigns already exists on this planet. This new culture is similar to the free love generation of the 60′s: people who are comfortable being “naked” in the digital sense (and probably in all other senses) and who are compassionate with the shadow material of others.

So what will it be, my friend? Will you continue to worship the cabal, to bow to the coven, to respect “privacy”? Or will you open the invisible, display the full archive of secrecy, grow comfortable with the next layer of “truth”, of “reality”.

It is easy to bring shadow to the forefront and call upon the hangman, the man with the axe. This is even banal. It is not so easy to open a book of “Deep Transparency” and be compassionate.

The world is about to discover whether it can forgive its devils or whether it will perpetuate a culture of war.

As a person who daily analyzes and studies signals in social networks, I advise you to practice opening your kimono completely with those you trust. Test your ability to have grace on yourself and others in such a circumstance. As a culture, we must be ready to stand naked before one another and come to this process with humor, grace and, above all, deep compassion. This is our only path away from total destruction by the cabals, the covens and the secret societies that continue to rule our human domain.

Enterprise level planning and campaign execution

Earlier this morning, I tweeted a series of actions a large enterprise could weave together for superior planning and campaign execution. The following sequence is an expansion of those tweets into a powerful method for market research and execution of digital campaigns/building of social communities online:

1. Achieve superior market intel by pairing newly minted predictive data solution at @Fliptop with the truly massive product index at @Indix

Fliptop is providing predictive lead scoring using internal and external data. Connects with CRM and Marketing Automation to deliver immediate impact to increase revenue. Indix is offering software for product aware apps, product intelligence, price intelligence, competitive intelligence. Indix has produced what they claim is THE ultimate map of all products on the planet. When one pairs scored leads relative to specific products, one has assembled pools of ideal customers. Pairing Fliptop with Indix is a method for assembling pools of ideal customers for products.

2. Continue the project mentioned in last tweet using @Fliptop & @Indix by appending deep social media resources via @FullContactAPI.

Full Contact offers a mechanism for appending social data to emails in the context of a spreadsheet. When an organization takes the “pools of ideal customers” from the previous step and then appends social data to each customer in its CRM, the result is a way into the deep conversations occurring around specific products. An analyst can also extract other meaningful connections through studying what specific pools of customers are talking about and what trends are developing in those pools. More on how to find those trends in the next step.

3. Bring further depth to aforementioned @Fliptop @Indix @FullContactAPI project by processing entities thru @RecordedFuture temporal analytics.

Recorded Future scans hundreds of thousands of quality public web sources, including news publications, high-caliber blogs, social media platforms, financial databases, government websites, and much more. From these open sources, RF identifies text references to entities and events. Then RF detects time periods: when the events are predicted or reported to occur. Each reference links back to the original source. RF can explore the past, present, and predicted future of almost anything in a matter of seconds. RF’s analysis tools facilitate deep investigation to better understand complex relationships, resulting in actionable insights.

When an analyst takes entities from the previous step in this process and performs analysis on these entities, he has the opportunity to find specific times in the future when a product might be better received. In addition, there may be an opportunity through using the specificity of Recorded Future to literally change a future event simply through when a product is launched. RF offers an analyst myriad signals from web intelligence that can inform a smarter strategic positioning for product launch, product recall and customer acquisition. By knowing what is happening with prospects and competitors through the RF panel, a product dev team can more accurately create a unique selling proposition in the marketplace.

Watch this video for more on how Recorded Future uses web intelligence to produce foresight in markets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a62XTMufWQI

4. After using @RecordedFuture (step 3 in this tweeted process), apply @Brandwatch to extract meaningful mentions from resulting data set

Brandwatch is offering a superior listening & data visualization solution that will bring precise conversation analysis into this process. In addition, one may assemble a scale of influence relative to a product, market segment and/or pool of customers. Finally, Brandwatch has just launched a powerful data visualization format called Vizia that is helpful for C-Suite decision makers to quickly digest complex analysis on a real-time basis. The solution rivals previous set-ups by rivals and will inform the next generation of social media control centers globally. See this sample of Brandwatch Vizia in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvx_yNn_McQ

5. As the penultimate step to ultimate customer intel, deposit nice neat sheet from previous 4 steps into @SpotRight machine for laser insights.

We can further refine insights derived through the Brandwatch methodology by placing data into the Spotright.com process, where truly massive amounts of customer intelligence have already been segmented, tagged and defined. No entity on the planet has assembled such an expansive and deep set of intelligence on individuals as Spotright.com. The principals at Spotright bring a rich diversity of backgrounds and have assembled the ultimate catalog of individuals who buy products. A team choosing to use Spotright at this stage will find verification of previous findings AND, importantly, matches to its internal CRM of customers. Spotright is how to find customers just like your existing regulars.

6. For awareness-bulding actions based upon previously tweeted research sequence, execute campaigns using @JiveSoftware for maximum reach.

To bring an enterprise portfolio of products to market, use Jive Software. Now that the full market research has been completed in the previous 5 steps, it is time to take action. A powerful solution for taking action is Jive, which blends internal facing and external facing capabilities, making team-work across the silos far more efficient. In addition, Jive offers a suite of solutions for building awareness on a massive scale in the social fabric of the Internet. Watch this video for more understanding of how this works on the inside of a large FMCG group: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ISa0VBkyOM

To run this six step process is a means to unlocking powerful potential in online communities for community engagement and sales growth.

Why Spotright is the leading social analytics platform (and could be for years to come)

I had the unique opportunity recently to be led through Spotright’s technology, case studies and outlook. In short, I was blown away by what I saw.

In any industry, there are those exciting moments when the right people and circumstances yield the solution everyone has been looking for. Spotright.com is an example of this for the social analytics and data research niche. Spotright.com has mixed the largest sources of data with technology to append, analyze and segment in a way unrealized by its competitors. Mix in the incredible team leading this Boulder-based tech company and you get a recipe for THE winning source of customer intelligence.

Let’s take a closer look at why Spotright is the leader:

The source: Everyone in the United States. Spotright.com has an executive team that blends digital, direct and online sales backgrounds from the nation’s largest entities involved in each of these realms. Using their rolodex these last three years, Spotright has culled from the richest sources of data. In short, they have every name, every address, every email and a whole lot more in their source data set. That kind of comprehensive resource is not easily assembled or maintained. Spotright has achieved this milestone.

The append: Spotright leaders were wise to see the benefit of appending social data to their immense data set. And they are even wiser to see how this same action performed for the largest business entities would be tremendously valuable. Perfecting the append has been another incredible achievement at Spotright. No-one in the research industry has accomplished this volume of social data append. No-one. (An important note on the append: Spotright uses Twitter and other publicly available data to tap into the social graph for analysis).

The analysis & segment: If I am Target Corporation and I want to know which of the 22.7 million likers of my Facebook page spend the most money in my stores, the only entity I can go to for this type of analysis is Spotright. In addition, Spotright will deliver finely sifted segments of my internal CRM, showing me missed opportunities for sales, marketing and vital PR victories. That type of analysis yields the potent action that directors at any corporation are asking for day in and day out. (Of course, the personal data transferred from corporations for such work is stored anonymously for matching to 1st party data, in order to respect privacy best practices).

The future: Spotright is already delivering the finest customer intelligence to corporate America through its vast data set, its superior append/analysis process and its segmentation formula. Spotright is staffed by the best of the best from online marketing, direct marketing, data analysis, cloud technology and online sales. Spotright has proven its model with very large corporate entities and has case studies that are truly pioneering in the field of customer intelligence.

Social Media Monitoring 2014 techniques and outlook

Customers who buy into a social media monitoring solution in 2014 want a page of insights backed by a “living” appendix. The “living” appendix is your technical solution where the customer can study the evidence for your insights. This evidence, in today’s real-time world, is a simple interface in the form of a mobile app that delivers abundant examples supporting the insights on your one-page.

Once the customer of social media monitoring feels confident in this insight-evidence system, he/she will ask you for ways to grow a business based upon the insights. One of the best ways to build a business based on insights from social media is a robust CRM (Customer Relationship Management data set). A robust CRM means that you have taken every person talking about a topic online and discovered their real name, current address, current mobile/landline, current email, current social links and examples of their interest (tweets, posts, comments).

When you have this depth of information about a market, and its occupants, then you have everything you need to develop engaging content. To develop engaging content means that you have listened to the conversation, you have studied and analyzed its participants and you have stepped into the conversation with something to say that contributes to the cutting edge of the conversation at hand. When you post into a comment thread, it is always wise to read the entire thread. When you reply to a tweet, it is wise to have studied who you are responding to so that your reply develops rapport and demonstrates a “seeing” of that particular person. When you develop a blog post on an industry, it is smart to research that industry. This is how great content is created and sustained.

A powerful tool for listening to and analyzing online conversations is Brandwatch. Run by Giles Palmer, the solution has myriad ways to segment conversation data, and the company culture at Brandwatch combines technical know-how, maturity and a certain understated confidence that makes every conversation with staff an “a-ha” moment for those just getting into social media monitoring. Start with Brandwatch when you are on the listening journey.

Once you’ve spent time listening, you will have the large (but fun) project of assembling a CRM related to a topic. While Brandwatch is very useful in discovering usernames related to a conversation, you will need a few other tools to “append” further details. I recommend SocialBro as an excellent tool for downloading extensive spreadsheets from Twitter of those in conversation on a topic. You will be able to combine spreadsheets from Brandwatch and SocialBro to create a near comprehensive starting point of every username discussing a topic. (SocialBro is also an excellent resource for timing your communication with a particular person or group).

Note: If you want to add to the thought-leader aspect of your spreadsheets quickly, I suggest a solution like PeerReach, an excellent and growing resource developed by Zlatan Menkovic and crew. You can go even further with PeerReach by studying the Twitter lists created by these thought-leaders. In many industries, especially outside the USA, it is vital to also study leading forums where literally 10s of thousands gather to discuss and interact around a niche industry. In addition, there are private groups in LinkedIn and at membership only sites with actual lists of industry leaders in a niche or region. If you want to add the latest news about an individual leader or organization, I recommend Recorded Future.

Next you will need to append contact data to these usernames. The contact data is often discoverable via personal URLs such as a LinkedIn or personal website. You can use services like Whois search, Spokeo, Intelius, 192.com, Leadership Directories, and many other regional people-finders to append current contact data. I also highly recommend an Executive or Recruiter level account at LinkedIn for appending contact data. If you want to go deeper, there are a host of OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) solutions that are constantly evolving to bring deeper info on individuals and organizations: “OSINT tools” feed from Twitter.

The ideal spreadsheet of a community surrounding a topic includes: First Name, Last Name, Username(s), Current Address, Country, Current mobile, Current landline, Current Email(s), Current social links, Several columns of sample posts that demonstrate interest in a topic (where an individual has posted about a topic), Influence score (such as Kred, Klout or PeerIndex). With such a spreadsheet, you can begin to contact thought leaders directly and engage in a learning process about the online discussion around a topic/service/interest.

As you grow in relationship with thought-leaders, you will find that your own posts, content and actions become more precise and effective…mainly because you will be “on the cutting edge” of the conversation in an industry. You will find that being on this edge gives you an edge and develops a maturity of outlook within you. You will find that others’ respect in you about this topic will grow as you listen, listen, listen to a core group of topic thought-leaders. Your contributions will be informed by these thought-leaders and “passionates” in a niche.

Once your network grows in a given niche, you will begin to see where opportunities exist, where something is lacking, where you can contribute to the need in that community. And, because you posses THE comprehensive CRM (or rolodex) for that niche, you will know exactly who to contact to get things done. The satisfaction in having ALL the information at your fingertips related to your chosen niche is immense! This is one of the great results or outcomes of best-practice social media monitoring: a deep understanding of, and connection to, a global niche community for the purpose of getting something meaningful accomplished.

Looking forward in the social media monitoring industry, we have the need for a solution that combines the listening, analysis and append processes into one dashboard. No-one has produced a satisfactory combo of these yet but the time is coming soon when the comprehensive solution will be finalized. The three “underdog” contenders I like most in terms of the “comprehensive solution” include SpotRight, Truelens and Reunify.

Additionally, there will certainly be a further evolution of the privacy debate in 2014. In an increasingly transparent eco-system, JWT Intelligence predicts a growing “Techno-Paranoia” and a flourishing “Privacy Marketplace” amongst consumers. In addition, JWT predicts the adoption of “Privacy by Design” at major global brands. Read more on these possibilities here. Social media monitoring companies should pro-actively prepare arguments for how listening improves the human condition, creating an opportunity for authentic relationship between brand and individual. An argument for a more open, authentic human community may be found in the principles of Council Circle. There is also, of course, a business model for social media monitoring companies to develop the “Privacy by Design” and “Privacy Marketplace” technologies and programs suggested in the JWT report.

We signed up in order to fix the world

Many of us signed up for this social media experiment in order to know one another and ourselves more deeply. And many of us began to share the goal of working together on a massive scale to fix the world. The large organizations that understand this, and work with us, will win our favor and loyalty.

Love stories birth businesses

You know, a lot of people have asked me how and why I founded The Socializers. It’s really a love story. And this love story has swept me into the world for years now. And I’m grateful beyond words for the experiences, relationships and friends I’ve made along the way. I’m also grateful for the lessons learned (not always easy ones).

One lesson I’d like to pass on is that the fervent love story driving your personal war is the most important of all. Try to pay more attention to that love story, to really get into the depth of the relationships that are most important to you. Because it is through the experience of these relationships that your life will blossom.

Another lesson I’d like to pass on is that it is always worth the risk to throw oneself into one’s passion. The abundance awaiting you within the pursuit of a passion far exceeds the tired drudgery of a specific cultural duty or a situation that has sapped you of all your reserves. When you see an image that catches your eye, it is time to make that image real…to experience it in the flesh.

A lot of people have asked me how I did that, how I made images into flesh and how I “realized” my dreams. The deepest drink I took of my dreams always resulted from me taking a massive risk. Every time I decided to “have” an image as flesh, I had to really apply a singular focus on what I wanted. And I had to follow the “genius” of that focus…it is a bodily experience. I could really feel in my body when to do something, when to act on something. It was in my fingers, my toes, my stomach, my chest and throat and the top of my head. And when I felt my image, my passion, like this, then I knew to take the action…to make the move.

I’ve been asked how to know if something is right, how to discover the truth of a situation. To do this, I remember the times when I saw truth clearly. And I put myself in a similar situation in order to produce insight. When I replicate the moments I had before epiphanies of the past, I often am able to see clearly in the present. So it is really about finding that personal formula for success in anything and repeating it: over and over again. It has been said that happiness is the desire to do something over and over again. And I agree.

One of the challenges I’ve noticed people facing throughout the world is feeling stuck in something. Well, I surmounted such stuck-ness simply by taking action. I didn’t allow myself to sit depressed. I made sure to plan a full and varied day as much as possible, where I would experience every bit of what it means to be a human. And I learned this from the Southern Europeans who traditionally divide their days into different experiences. Siesta in the middle of the day was probably one of the biggest revolutions for me in getting “unstuck”. Simply stopping for two hours to love another and to sleep. That’s what Siesta is about. And that’s a revolution in today’s society.

I also learned how to get un-stuck in Australia through studying breath work with a master breath worker. She led me through 35 days of continuous breath work, four hours per day. And I was able to keep this practice in my life ever since. It is truly amazing how a situation that seems insurmountable can be transformed in the moment through simply breathing…and only breathing. The experience can be compared to a tide advancing upon a beach and covering endless acres of sand in a short amount of time. Breathing is like drinking water, like loving yourself in the most elemental way. And when you feel this, you blossom and creativity arrives pretty quickly.

Specific feelings have no barriers when it comes to honesty. Lara Fabian, my favorite singer, said this in an interview. And I agree. We live in a culture that often diminishes emotion, calling it temporary or undependable. But in my experience, emotion is like the oceans of our planet…which take up nearly 70% of our planetary mass. And the psyche and society are like this in relation to emotion. So we really have to pay attention to emotion. We really have to let our emotion have its reign within and find ways to fully express these inner forces. This is why sexuality is so important and why love is such a sought after action. Everyone wants to express their love, wants to show friendship, to show care and to also make love with another. And this has to be honored and placed at a higher level in our culture. Emotion, after all, is what drives markets.

If you are fighting a personal war right now, I encourage you to discover the fervent love story underneath that war. Because, as we all know, armies go to war to protect the interest and, ultimately, love of the kingdom. And this is why you are fighting right now. You are fighting because you found love at last. And you are fighting to keep that love, to hold on to that love and to hold on to the experience of giving your love to someone. But it is better to orient yourself to the fervent love and take action in that context…in the context of the love. Because love-bound warriors will always conquer warriors who forgot the love story driving the war. When a warrior is really in love, he’s going to fight harder and deeper…simply because he looks forward to the arms of his beloved.

So that’s really why I started The Socializers (and many, many other ventures). It was because of love. And I always have to remind myself to keep breathing, to keep taking risks and to keep loving.

Me, the Selfie and I: How Your Mobile Device Will Act as a Magic Carpet to Your Dreams in 2014

Aren’t you tired of being told what to do?

Take my advice: use your mobile device and the social networks as vehicles into a physical experience that you deeply desire and need in 2014. And stop letting temporal realities such as identity, authority and time get in your way. You are more than your perceived identity, you are more than the roles that authority figures have placed you within, and you are certainly an infinite being. Choose Love and Grace as your values this year and apply these values in the context of mobile apps to whisk your spirit into the land of your wildest dreams.

…………………

“I never want to be ruled by anyone,” she said to him as the whistles and drums ushered in 2014.

“The current generation has been handed a portable means to self-governed transport. The mobile phone laden with apps is like a magic carpet for the individual…a means to discovering a personal hall of mirrors…an exit portal for one’s own private island,” he thought to himself.

“But I call this era ‘Me, the Selfie and I’,” she urgently whispered into his ear, with a kind of spiteful, angry tone (almost as if she’d heard his thoughts). And yet, he sensed a question underneath the urgency, a seeking.

“Even Mother Teresa and Gandhi received something from their selfless acts, my dear,” he replied. He went on, “I see these photos they are taking of themselves as explorations, an opening of an inner onion of sorts. They are texting and photographing themselves into being. The selfie is a vehicle to self-realization, a kind of Western darshan, whereby the deity is seen eye-to-eye.”

“But what are you talking about,” she said, in a kind of mournful tone. “What about making a real contribution, where they are paid…where they make something of themselves?”

“Don’t you think money and time are less efficient means to spiritual realization and enlightenment than love and grace?” he replied, looking askance in the strobe-lit room at her wild red eyes and thick, mango-glossed lips. “Don’t you think this generation is simply tired of faking it and being ruled by others? This generation is using mobile phones to dive through their own faces into a kind of experience of eternal moments, infinite self-regard, that profoundly flouts authority, starkly undermines the hierarchy…and yields a freedom, a dip in one’s own nectar, a quick route to deep self-acceptance and an awakening to one’s love-ability. These mobile phones are magic carpets hands down!”

“Yes, but it’s so self-focused!” she exclaimed, her jet black hair splaying against the neon air.

“Exactly,” he said, coyly smiling at her. “And it is via this self-focus that an entire generation is transcending rulership by another, finding its own deification, its own personal sense of royalty… and, in many cases, entering a rich inner life as a result. They are literally texting and photo-chatting themselves into being!”

“Well, I simply don’t want everyone knowing everything about me!” she whispered in a kind of hoarse urgent moan. “I want some privacy too, you know!”

“Really, my dear,” he said, looking straight into her eyes. “Do you think if you post a thousand images of yourself online, tell a hundred thousand tales of your life publicly…do you really think this is more than the tip of the iceberg…more than the lobby of your 100 room mansion? You are an infinite soul, made up of as many identity possibilities, as many layers of expression as this multi-dimensional universe full of galaxies we now spin through! It doesn’t matter how much others discover about you…there’s still so much more of you, isn’t there? These online identities, after all, no matter how robust, are really just fictions…almost as short as spontaneous haikus scrawled on the discotheque bathroom wall!”

“Let’s get out of here,” she breathed heavily.

………………….

Again, take my advice: use your mobile device and the social networks as vehicles into physical experiences that you deeply desire and need in 2014. And stop letting temporal realities such as identity, authority and time get in your way. You are more than your perceived identity, you are more than the roles that authority figures have placed you within, and you are certainly an infinite being. Choose Love and Grace as your values this year and apply these values in the context of mobile apps to whisk your spirit once again into the land of dreams.

The rewards of social network activity

The rewards of social network activity are often realized within the human psyche — in the emotional and spiritual realms. One need only observe the delighted faces of fellow travelers in an airport or train station looking into glowing tablets and mobiles.