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Spotlight: The Good Work of Greenhouse Scholars

28 04 2011


Every now and then, you meet people who really can and do change the world.

On Thursday April 28, 2011, Extanz, along with 200 other guests will gather at the Denver Botanic Gardens for Glass Half Full, the first in a series of annual fundraising events for the Greenhouse Scholars program.

This one of a kind event features wine and culinary delights generously contributed by local and regional supporters of the program such as Table 6, Root Down, Sushi Hai, Colt & Gray, Masters of Whisky, Ben Parsons and the Infinite Monkey Theorem wine, and Haystack Mountain.

Silent and live auctions will raise funds for the program, with current scholars presentations rounding out the evening. Key sponsors for the event are Crestone Capital Advisors and Deloitte. Special thanks go to Beverage Distributors who donated all of the wine for the wine tastings, Lathrop & Gage, Liquor Mart (donated wine paired with each auction item and 3 cases of Silver Oak), The Quintess Collection (donated 10 nights), and RC Special Events (partnered on rentals).

Greenhouse Scholars is a non profit organization dedicated to growing Colorado’s community leaders by supporting high performing, under-resourced students in college with mentorship, scholarship, leadership and professional opportunities. Founded by Greenhouse Partners and grounded in the Whole Person approach of mentorship, the program works to support the relentless energy and passion of its incoming classes. The program annually receives in excess of 100 applications for its 12 slots. Scholars receive personal support from a mentor for four years, complete an internship, participate in peer support programs, come together annually for the Summer Symposium and participate in a professional contact program to support networking and professional interviewing skills.  The good work of the scholars as a result of this support is awe-inspiring.

The 55 current Greenhouse Scholars are passionate leaders in their communities.  They graduated from under-resourced high schools and communities across Colorado: 78% are the first in their family to attend college. The Scholars are now attending top universities, including Stanford, Georgetown, University of Denver, University of Colorado, Colorado College, and Dartmouth.  With the support of the Greenhouse Scholars program, they have college GPAs 20% higher than average – and 95% volunteer as mentors and advisors to younger students, compared to 23% of college students nationwide.

If you won’t be at Glass Half Full with us, don’t despair. There will be two more community events to come this year – The Annual Inspire (August 9, 2011) and Venus de Miles (August 28, 2011).

For more information or if you would like to support the program with a contribution, please visit www.greenhousescholars.org. You can also friend us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greenhousescholars/ and follow us on twitter!

With thanks to IraGelb and love2dreamfish for such wonderful images!

Kirsti

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Conversation Drawers VS Sink Hole, FriendFeed kicks ass

5 05 2009

I have found lately that my amount of conversation on Twitter has decreased. I wasn’t quite sure but maybe the hype is just becoming too much or maybe it’s just because every clone can now have a social media megaphone. And then along came an old acquaintance….

I originally used FriendFeed as my ‘pipe management’ system. 12 months ago back in 2008, social networks were harder to sink and FriendFeed was just an obvious method to sink my rich media activities. But I was also being told by many, to try again, try again… so I did and it failed again. But how many screens do you need? The real success of Twitter has been to let everyone else do the work via the API and let people build all kinds of cool apps for Twitter. The best of all these apps being TweetDeck. I could finally cut the noise, do my job, be in the know and feed my appetite for new stuff. But here comes a Keyword: Noise. Cutting noise. The new FriendFeed came out in March 2009. This time, I have been really giving it a try diligently since last week. Here are some key points that are jumping at me after using it as my primary social application for 7 days:

– Pipes management: More than ever I can manage my rich media and social media activity from a single console. From Flickr, Youtube, social bookmarks, Disqus, Twitter…. or any web 2.0 tools you’re using out there, they can all be plugged into FriendFeed to share your activities. Of course you can feed (send your activity stream) to other places like Twitter.

Bookmarklet (found here): This feature is what a mouse is to a computer. (Do you remember when computers didn’t have mouse? I don’t). The gist of it: I can literally grab any webpage, with any pictures or videos in it and share all that in rich media. Exempli gratia: sharing a page and photo from BBC below.

-Share your “Likes” with Twitter, FB… If you use Twitter: RT, or ReTweet is like a rating system. Someone may like your stuff and basically push one button in TweetDeck or place RT in front of your message and pass it on. When many people do it then it becomes overwhelming. FollowFriday was born of a great similar concept but then every Friday it’s like constant noise going through Twitter. It’s ok but the overall stream of information out there is cluttered. Noise kills information. It especially kills conversation! With friendfeed, the rating system is embedded, with the likes, so you can be aware of it or not (through your lists) or look at the “Best of the day”.

– Conversation drawers: When at a good party, you might be better to track the good groups and conversations.  I remember when at The Enthusiast Group (outdoors vertical social networks), Steve and Neal had to basically stay glued to the amount of info coming in and take the best stuff to put it on the front page. Anyone who would come to the home page would see the latest good stuff. We were marrying Social Networks and Editorial power. It was the only way to keep the good stuff above. Here, and again in comparison to Twitter, each time you participate (Comment, Like, Share or simply Post) FriendFeed keeps this in your “My Discussions” tab, it’s easy to come back and you can even set alerts via emails, IM… to keep abreast of the discussions. Here on the left, the thread and discussion between everyone is right below the original post.

Lists: aka the noise cutter. I’ve heard some say “I’m lazy, I don’t want to build those lists”. At the time I kind of agreed. But then I am the first one to admit that I wouldn’t have stuck to Twitter if TweetDeck hadn’t made it easy to create groups. I am also limited by the number of groups I can create in TweetDeck. In FriendFeed, I can very easily create Lists by topics or rank of importance.

Auto-refreshing: Every other network (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin….) needs you to refresh the page if you want to get what’s new or updates on conversations. Here FriendFeed refreshes for you ‘live’ and superfast. I actually run Tweetdeck and Friendfeed simultaneously to compare both. FriendFeed is plainly ‘LIVE’.  Conversations happen and you can track them overtime. In comparison, Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook, are sink holes. It’s just hard to track things and they disappear if you’re not in front of your computer.

Any drawbacks? hmm… Oprah is not on there yet 🙂 Ok, you won’t find as many people but I find that quality is well managed here. I’ll certainly hang here for a while.

Now, where to start? Sign up here. Once you’re signed up, I would import your pipes:

Step 1:  Go to Services

Step 2: Then find your friends: import friends from Facebook, Twitter….

Step 3: Participate.  You can find me there: http://friendfeed.com/yannr



Cheers

Yann





Give ’em a hammer… Give ’em a twitter…

15 04 2009

As far as social media circles and events go, I like to think I get around. While I am getting around, I tend to meet 3 kind of folks. Recently, the kinds of conversations I have had with them have caused me to wonder about this whole social media hype thing that we’ve got going on…. so here’s my view…

Group 1: By far the largest and getting smaller by the minute….Never heard of it or totally confused. Social media what? Why do we need this anyway, it’s not really for business! Kids stuff. Goofing around.  Ok, everyone is talking about Twitter… maybe I should get on Twitter then (law of the hammer) and start pressing “follow”. But, errr, what am I going to do with it? I really don’t have time for this. Our website is a fine piece of art, we look good, we’re different. We’re participating, right?

Group 2: Getting up there now in numbers…..We’re afraid, man. What if someone, somewhere, says something, thinks something… geez we’re so used to sending those press releases over the fence… our sales people are here for the interactions… Inbound marketing, what? No, we have engineers for that.  They can see the future. We’ve just hired a guy who worked at Apple anyway. Sorted, man. The customer voice, yes, we do surveys – candy for  everyone! You’ve probably met someone like this recently too.

Group 3:  Finally the toolers,  social media is equal to social networking –  They are all over it, their company has a twitter account, and man it’s rocking in there, we’re doing it right cos we have a facebook fan page, a twitter account and the CEO is on Linkedin… This is social media, right…? Huh, well, let’s see now. Chances are good what we’re going to see is a bunch of mundane conversations when someone can spare some time… or maybe they’ll hire a junior cos “they know how that stuff works, right?” Ah, not so fast now. And blogging? Yeah, we do that or we thought of doing it but…

Yes folks, Give ’em a twitter… Give ’em a hammer. Everything is looking like a tweet :). Don’t get me wrong, Twitter is an awesome tool, just be mindful. I see workshops on Twitter or Linkedin everywhere like some kind of  new gold that we have all got to get a piece of.  But you know what? I just can’t see how just using one of these tools along is going to turn into a real return. Therein lies the catch….tweety-birds!

Questions you should ask yourself at this moment include:

  1. How is my web strategy supporting my overall marketing strategy?
  2. What are the different components of my web strategy?  Usability, design, copy, SEO, social networks, social media, blogging, adwords… maybe email marketing… Ultimately, it should be about lead generation and converting viewers into customers or at least starting the qualification process… right? Once again push doesn’t work and pull is not easy.
  3. Now, how will social media support your web strategy?  Is this about a time suck or truly turning your customers into advocates? What’s more,  if you venture into the social media space, how is the rest of your marketing plan supporting Social Media and vice-versa…??
Groundswell tool from Forrester Research

Groundswell tool from Forrester Research

My spin on the groundswell levels of success are that they are not mutually exclusive but reaching gold straight off the bat is kinda like managing a hole in one during your first round of golf. Some can. But the rest of us….. you get the picture.

So here is a potential way of looking at levels of success in Social Media…

Not Even On The Podium: You’re pushing your promotions through social networks. Your credibility will suffer. That’s more like a fail.

Bronze: You’re listening and talking with people but having mundane conversation is killing your efforts. Are you truly contributing or making noise e.g. Tweet: “going to the gym now”?

Silver: You’re engaging and energizing your customer base. Passion is the corner stone of social media; where are those passionate users? Are you empowering them to do more with products or services? Are you teaching them, educating them? Are you putting your customer in a position to teach other industry users? They may do a better job than you, you know…

Gold: You’re providing a 3rd space(s) where customers are actually talking to each other and supporting each other. You’ve integrated activities through social media as well as the customer voice or use of your product or services.

Bottom line, if you go on your own, measure and measure your effectiveness; engagement is an art. Wasting time is a hard price to pay for just being on the networks. If you need help, I would seriously check if your prospective provider has a rock solid methodology… it’s no surprise that “Establishing a method for engaging consumers in online conversation” is ranked top of the tactics used by companies by the Aberdeen Group.

Social Media is not a cooking recipe, there will be some experimentation. Having a sound methodology and measurable processes will save you a lot of guess work and just doing social media because everyone is buying a twitmmer these days. Finally,  in the words Social Media, there is also Media… quality media.

Thank you chazferret for his cool picture!

Onwards and upwards,

Yann






Geeks and Shrinks

20 02 2009

Geeks and Shrinks. That’s who Robert Reich (former secretary of labor, not the Robert Reich who runs the BDNT Meetup)  in his book ‘The Future of Work’ believes will rule the new economy. I’m no shrink, (Shrink = translator who communicates technical stuff to regular people). although I am a communication studies graduate, but am I geek? Let’s see what you think after one of my forays into the geek kingdom of the Front Range.

I’m at the Boulder-Denver New Tech meetup held at the Law Building at the University of Colorado at Boulder. If you want to see the new kingdom of geeks in one of their prime territories, there’s no other place to come…..I really wasn’t sure what to expect when driving to Boulder for this event.  Of course the term “geek” pops in my head and I am thinking pocket protectors, single guys in their mid thirties to late 40’s perhaps some of them still living in their mothers basement, writing codes all day long.  Boy was I wrong….

I am pleasantly surprised to find men and women, yes women, of all ages and appearances.  Some dressed as if they just came from work and the rest dressed as a typical casual Coloradoan.  I don’t think I saw any pocket protectors either. We all mingle around trays of chips and guacamole, fruit and of course a bar filled with Colorado micro-brews (so cool)…. @YannR(see we even use his Twitter handle)  tells me that we better find a seat because this place fills up quick.  He sure was right…within 10 minutes of the doors opening majority of the seats w ere taken and many people had to result to sitting on the floor or standing in the doorframes. Geeks in door frames. But wait, there’s more……

As the meeting begins I see that there are three screens up front, one for the speaker’s presentation, one for a bio and info of the speaker and to the right a large screen with a live feed from Twitter of a quickly trending topic; #bdnt.  I see right away people commenting on the speaker and the event, jokes being made, shout outs to friends in the crowd and time to time some heckling.  Everyone around me is tapping away on their laptops or of course iPhones making these micro-blogs themselves.  I suddenly feel naked without my laptop and especially without my non-existent iPhone.  I’m not sure what I would micro-blog about but I find myself wanting to be a part of the action.  The Tweeting I find quite interesting, it reminds me of sitting in grade school passing notes to friends talking about the teacher or friends in our class.  I guess this is the “new tech” way of passing notes.  Only this time the speakers engage as well, unlike my teacher in grade school.  They stop when chuckling begins and look to the Twitter screen to see someone asking if anyone in the door frame can pass him down a beer and continues to describe his location and appearance. It’s like a meeting within a meeting. Tech within tech.

So this is the new geek kingdom……. now I know not everyone lives this way but even if these guys are 5 years ahead of their time, this is one heck of a future we are looking at! All in all, I have to say, my first foray to the Meetup was great.  I learned a lot, not only about what a new geek looks like but also about new tech, and start ups that are popping up all over Northern Colorado.  It was refreshing to see so much passion, intelligence and new ideas all in once place. This Meetup was my christening into my new found geekyness that working for Extanz has given me.

So if you’re like me and you’re not a shrink, heading towards being a geek, and looking towards the future, here’s some things to keep in mind on your journey…

1. If you’re not on Twitter by now, you need to be — www.twitter.com

2. If you want to connect with like minded people, go to search.twitter.com, put your interests as keywords and search for them — then connect with them.  Or you can also use something like www.twitter.grader.com

3. Follow people. Be patient. They will follow you back.

4. To communicate with the Twitter natives, just put @ in front of their usernames (like @YannR).

5. Share. Retweet stuff you think is valuable. Remember, it is not about you. It’s about creating a conversation online that mirrors face to face interaction. Be positive. Be enlightening. Evolve.
Now if I could just get my hands on an iPhone……..

Thanks for the great pics from Frenchista and Coghill Cartooning

Cheers,

Lauren