Of Oreos and Internet Access

For me, it’s Oreos or Pringles. For my husband, it’s ice cream. I believe everyone has a food or two that they can’t resist.

I don’t just mean a simple craving. No, this is something different. Something that “owns” you as my pastor once described the cookies his mother in law made that “called” to him in the middle of the night until he got up and ate them all.

This is not something you just like to have. This is that thing that you can’t know is there and not go for it. I’m talking about that thing that even when you don’t really want it, you want it.

It could be a serious daily addiction, or as in my case, just something that’s best not to have in the house unless you’re ready for a binge.

Why am I thinking of this tonight? Well, one reason is that my husband came home with a can of Pringles yesterday and I now find myself eating several despite the fact that I just got back from a great dinner with friends and I’m not at all hungry.

The other is that, while eating them, I read this article from The New Yorker titled “In Praise of Distraction.” It’s about how blocking employees from the distractions of the Internet at work may actually be detrimental to their ability to get work done.

It looks at several different scientific studies that point to our inability to concentrate on a task when we know of a distraction that is within our grasp, but is forbidden. They note that “asking people to regulate their behavior without interruption (by, say, never going online at work) may very well make them less focussed and less effective.”

While many team managers may loathe the idea of having to take responsibility for actively managing how their employees spend their time, rather than letting IT firewalls do it for them. And many IT managers may seek only to save their organizations money by saving bandwidth rather than worrying they’re watching too many cute kitten videos. They may both actually be standing in the way of their company’s growth.

Sure, too many Oreos are bad for me. And, I know I can’t keep them around the house on a regular basis. But, there’s no getting around the fact that we all know the distractions of the Internet are right there every time we’re on a computer – there’s just no way to keep it out of the house.

So, don’t expect your employees to be able to resist and don’t expect them to be more productive if you try to tell them they can’t go get it out of the pantry. Instead, allow for it, and actively manage it to ensure it doesn’t become a problem.

Image via Creative Commons by mihoda

An April Fool’s Confession

No one seems to know exactly how April Fool’s Day got started. Even that great investigator Snopes can’t confirm its origins.

The internet, however, has fully embraced the day for pranks. I’d contemplated trying one with today’s post, but I’m just not really that good at it. My daughter was disappointed I didn’t prank her, but I’ve just never been good at coming up with something that doesn’t just seem mean to whoever you’re duping. I like things more along the lines of how Hulu put their home page into a way back machine today.


Since that sort of thing takes a lot more work than I want to put into blogging this Friday evening, instead I’m going to share a true confession.

This is prompted by a blog post I read yesterday with much disdain. It was giving advice for job interviews, including that women should wear no jewelery so that people wouldn’t make hiring decisions based on their marital status along these lines:

    • Diamond engagement ring.  “Will probably need time off for the wedding and honeymoon.”
    • Diamond ring with wedding band.  “Wonder if there’s a maternity leave in her future or little kids at home?”
    • Gigantic diamond ring with wedding band.  “Hubby must earn a good living so she doesn’t need this job.  Probably high maintenance who will whine or quit if she can’t have her way.”

I tweeted about how terrible I thought it was that people did that, feeling rather better than those who would.

Later that evening, however, it hit me. I had been that person before. Not just the person who judges a book by its cover, but actually the person who makes hiring decisions based on it. I was the fool.

It turned out to be a lesson learned, however. Because within a year, the one I chose was obviously not the one I should have chosen and eventually I had to fire them. Not really instant Karma – it was the more long-drawn out kind with multiple “performance discussions” and attempts to make it all work out.

So, I guess I shouldn’t be self-righteous about a blog that perpetuates the games people play when hiring. I just need to learn from my mistakes in that area and do my best not to repeat them.

Is LinkedIn Chasing Facebook or Innovating Group Conversations?

In my recent post about why businesses should consider Facebook for B2B marketing, I alluded to some new things coming in LinkedIn. Yesterday, we announced them on the Direct2Dell blog. And while I don’t often cross-post from there to here, it seems the thing to do this time.

New Group Look from LinkedIn, New LinkedIn Group from Dell

Wed, Jul 14 2010 4:13 PM

Recently, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with over 70 million members, announced the roll out of a new look for its Groups feature. eWEEK Europe described it as a “Facebook makeover.” But, Mashable noted that with the new design “strong emphasis has been placed on starting conversations.”

It’s the same emphasis we are placing on the launch of our first LinkedIn custom group, providing business owners with a platform to network, discuss IT issues and better understand how technology can help their businesses grow and thrive.  We want to help connect business professionals with trusted Dell contacts, while providing a forum for the exchange of knowledge, ideas and opportunities.

Dell is one of five companies to launch a custom LinkedIn group, but we’re the first to offer video content.   In addition to video, the new group offers discussion threads, white papers and articles related to technologies such as data storage, virtualization, systems management, mobility, security and cloud computing. 

The group supports our global Take Your Own Path campaign, which celebrates the Dell customer as a hero and features entrepreneurial personalities such as Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn and Warren Brown, attorney-turned-celebrity-baker and owner of CakeLove.  Each month, the LinkedIn group will showcase inspiring video testimonial from Dell heroes regarding how technology has helped them achieve success in business. 

Additional enhancements we’re already working on include the launch of related subgroups focused on issues specific to audiences such as “women in business,” C-level executives and industry verticals. 

Dell’s vision is to eventually have thousands of members worldwide engaging in technology-oriented conversations with each other. 

Come join the group and join in the technology discussions!

Facebook: Does it Help or Hurt Your Job Search?

That was the question posed in a social media LinkedIn group recently by a soon-to-be college graduate and I was one of the first to answer with this:

In my personal opinion, it’s all about how you use your page and what is posted on it.

If your updates and photos are primarily about keggers, hooking up and skipping classes, then it’s not going to benefit your job search and you should keep it private. However, if you’re posting links to blog posts you’ve written on topics related to your particular career field, or seen attending events by professional associations/clubs and other such activities that indicate you’re serious about your chosen profession, then it can help.

Also remain mindful of what your friends might post for you – don’t let yourself be photographed in situations you wouldn’t want a potential employer (or your mom?) to see.

Many other great comments soon followed in the thread of discussion.

One young job-seeker shared how she felt embarrased when an interviewer commented on how many friends she had in Facebook and what photos she had posted. It doesn’t sound like the friends and photos themselves were embarrasing, but the interviewee was taken aback by the fact that her personal life was being discussed in an interview. Laws are different around the world, but I know from the human resources training I received when I was a hiring manager at a past job that here in the U.S. there are many personal questions employers cannot legally ask a job applicant.

Which was a point another commenter made, when she said “employers are getting up to speed and grappling with a host of legal issues around monitoring potential employee or employee social networking activity.” A social media practitioner herself, she noted that she keeps her own Facebook privacy settings at maximum, but points people to other public spaces where they can evaluate her expertise.

 Someone chimed in with the human resource perspective, too. She said, “Is what you do on your own time your own business? If only… While many employers and HR folks are completely conflicted about how to make the best and most legal use of information contained via sites like Facebook, they worry constantly about hiring people who leave potential clues about bad behavior. Will the gun lover be violent at work? Will the party girl damage our reputation with clients? Will the guy who took a mental health day on Wednesday turn out to be a slacker?”

With that in mind, she considers how all her Facebook comments might be viewed by consulting clients or prospective employers. “That makes Facebook much less fun, but being employed is a beautiful thing,” she added.
Social Networks
 But, my favorite comment of all was “The best thing you can do is create your own personal information policies about your social networks and stick to them.”

This is something I think I’ve been doing, although not in as formal of a way as might be good.  It felt awkward recently when I tried to redirect someone’s friend request in Facebook over to a connection in LinkedIn intsead. You see, for me, my personal information policy has been about different requirements for entry to the different networks.


My largest is on Twitter, where the bar to entry is pretty low. I expect that everything I say there is extremly public and my two main criteria for following someone are 1) do i find them interesting and/or 2) have they started a conversation with me there?


For Facebook, I need to have known you somewhere else first, although that is not limited to meeting in real life. Maybe we went to school together or maybe we’ve been Twitter friends for a long time. Either way, I have to have more of a connection to you to be friends on Facebook than to follow you on Twitter.


And, then there’s LinkedIn, where the whole conversation that prompted this post took place. This network I reserve for old-fashioned career networking. It is filled with people I’ve actually worked with, some I’ve worked with indirectly, some are vendors, and some I may have only met at conferences or on a plane. But no matter how we met, we met first somewhere outside of LinkedIn and they are someone that I think may be useful to my career somewhere down the road. 

What about you? Do you have similar personal policies for managing your social networks?

Image credit (click through to see some more great conversation around the designer’s “thinking I’ve been doing lately about the ecosystem of social networks and the problem of managing it all and of keeping the personal separate from the professional.”): http://www.flickr.com/photos/joepemberton/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

SlideShare Revisited – Slidecasting, LeadShare and AdShare, Oh My!

YouTube for presentations. That’s how I’ve most often explained SlideShare to people when asked about the site. However, some new business-focused enhancements make it a much more useful marketing tool, IMHO.

For those of us in the corporate world that seems to live and die by PowerPoint, SlideShare presents a great opportunity to make those decks our organization is so good a producing available to a wide audience for viewing and sharing. And, according to an article today in eMarketer, Americans want brands that inform them.

I opened my SlideShare account two years ago when I was being asked to speak about bringing Dell into the virtual world of Second Life. Around that same time I opened an account for Dell that is now managed by the Corporate Communications team.

However, as my speaking opportunities have become fewer and farther between, I began to visit the site less often and am now discovering that I’ve missed out on many enhancements! And, I’m not just talking about the cool viral metrics they now show on their home page for what presentations are “Hot on Facebook” and “Hot on Twitter.”

What led me to revisit what you can do with SlideShare was a combination of hearing talk about their new SlideShare Business services and my own snide remark on Twitter about someone else’s presentation on SlideShare.

On October 12, I followed a link to a WOMMA presentation regarding the FTC’s new guidelines for bloggers. I began clicking through the slides manually as I’d always done with SlideShare presentations before and found every other slide to be a duplicate. To which I dashed off this tweet: “ok, i know repetition is good 4 memory & this slide show probably sounded better w/a speaker talking 2 it, but really? http://womma.org/diresta…”

I then filed in my mind an idea for a post here about what not to do with presentations on SlideShare and expected to use that presentation as my prime example. I intended to point out how presentations that might make sense when you were speaking to them needed to be edited for an audience that can’t hear you before you post them to SlideShare.

Well … it’s a good thing I usually think longer about and do more research for my blog posts than I do my microblog tweets.

The first time I looked at it, I had not noticed the little yellow triangle in the top left corner of the presentation that told me it was a Slidecast.
SlideShare + Podcast = Slidecast
Slidecasting, it turns out, is a new multimedia option on SlideShare for viewing slide decks synchronized with an audio file. It allows you to take slides and audio and link them together using SlideShare’s free, web based interface. You currently have to find your own host for the audio file, but SlideShare says they may host those in the future, too.

While the visuals remained a bit boring, listening to someone narrate the slides made them much more impactful than silent viewing had done. There’s a lot of potential here, I think, to reach your online audiences! Wouldn’t be surprised, too, if the audio hosting might be SlideShare’s next line of revenue.

A couple of their first revenue-generating options are the other new features that I think makes SlideShare an even better tool for businesses – especially small business on tight budgets: LeadShare and AdShare. They group them together under a title of SlideShare Business and explain it with this presentation:

[flash width="425" height="355"]http://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=introducingslidesharebusiness-090927122347-phpapp02&stripped_title=introducing-slideshare-business[/flash]

You only pay for LeadShare if you collect a lead, and you only pay for AdShare if you get a click. And the cost of those payments is more than reasonable for small and medium businesses – much less large enterprises used to paying much more for lead generation.

Measuring the ROI on social media is a much-discussed challenge (see: Mashable, The BrandBuilder Blog, eMarketer and of course, a presentation on SlideShare, or two) and SlideShare Business looks to make it that much easier. Sure, a long-term relationship with your audience should still be the ultimate goal, but having metrics like this makes it that much easier for you to justify your social media investment.

Bringing the Com to MarCom

I guess enough people know about it around the office that I can go ahead and let the rest of the world know – I’m moving into a new job!

I wasn’t really looking, but the opportunity presented itself and it seemed like time to challenge myself again.  As one person said after IMing me to follow up on the rumor she’d heard, I pretty much had my current job “nailed.”

That’s not to brag that everything was perfect (you might have heard about our last earnings announcement). Or that there weren’t still things to be done in my role setting strategy and managing the corporate “About Dell” content on Dell.com. I’m passing many ideas not yet implemented on to the person comes behind me, and there are probably many more that she will see.

That’s really why a move appealed to me – I don’t want to get in a rut of doing the same thing, the same way. I’ve always done my best work when pushed beyond my comfort zone, and some “fresh blood” will be good in my current role.

So, where am I going? Well, not too far it turns out. I’m moving on to another position at Dell in Small and Medium Business Marcom as part of the Global Digital Capabilities team. The official title is MarCom Senior Consultant, and my first order of business will be the optimization of several global landing pages.

It’s not without some trepidation that this next twist of my career path takes me into more of a pure marketing role. Spending many years in employee communications, public relations and now online communications, I must admit I’ve often viewed marketing as a little slimy. (And I just rewrote that sentence three or four times trying to figure out how not to slam the field into which I’m moving.)

I’m not alone in that feeling. As someone pointed out:

There have been some misconceptions, some bad karma, some seedy compromises, and broken promises over the last few thousand years or so that have wrecked the simple notion of marketing and sales.

But, the truth is without sales there would be no business to communicate about. While some still say PR is more interested in relationships, I have to believe that social media and the impact it is having on how companies interact with people online is causing marketing to place more value on relationships, too.

So, I’m excited for the opportunity to bring all of my background in business communication and social media to this new role and to make an impact on how Dell markets our products and services to small and medium business customers. I’ll be transitioning jobs (read: doing two at once) through the month of October and will be working to immerse myself in the SMB world.

If you work in a small or medium-size business, be prepared for me to pick your brain!

Sidewiki Just a Less Fun Weblins

I decided to check out Google’s newest toy today. If you haven’t heard of Sidewiki yet, you will. Google says it will enable us all to “help and learn from others as you browse the web.”

Their example of it in action is rather optimistic. They show a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) page where “Doctors add detailed expert insights on heart disease prevention.” I’ll believe it when I see it.

On the sidewiki comments of that same page, however, someone brings up an interesting idea: a global “user rank” meter below each commenter’s name so we can see how well each user’s overall comments fair across sites.

That sounds like a community. Something John Battelle made a point to say Google is not good at: “But as much as I love the idea of SideWiki, I’m skeptical of it for one simple reason: Google isn’t in the community business, and SideWiki, if it’s going to work, needs to either A/be driven by communities or B/Needs to be embraced as a standard by publishers, who are the proxy for communities.”

Like an unmoderated community, many suspect it will simply be filled with snarky comments, trolls and a term I rather like “web graffiti.” Jeff Jarvis worried it would take comments off his blog itself and into the sidelines robbing his site of its value. And, The IT Chronicle notes how it is open to abuse by spammers, in the same way Google’s Searchwiki has been.

A quick look at the three comments seen on my employer’s site today would back that up (click the image to see the full size):
Dell website with Sidewiki

Still, many marketing/branding/PR/reputation management gurus are going to say it is a big deal. Some are even using Sidewiki to say it:
Issac Pigott sidewiki comment

I think I’m going to take a wait-and-see approach. Certainly it is something to keep an eye on, but if it fills up with nothing but spammy comments and trolls, it won’t be useful and our customers won’t bother to look. And, without an active community, I suspect it will be nothing more than a less fun version of Weblins.  Remember them?

Weblins launched in early 2007 and enabled you to create an avatar of yourself that appeared that on any web page you viewed. You could also see and interact with the avatars of any other Weblin users who happened to be on that page at the same time.

Many saw promise in the “co-presence” it allowed and the way it could be another step toward a 3D internet; but I rarely saw others on the pages I was surfing when I used it, and when I did there was no real conversation happening. In the end, it just became annoying to have it blocking my view of the bottom of the page and I uninstalled. Recently, they’ve retooled Weblins as Club Cooee – another 3D chat like IMVU or, dare I say, Google Lively?

Womenomics: A Bill of Goods or New World Order?

One challange with posting on three different blogs (here, This Mommy Gig, and Direct2Dell) – in addition to just keeping them all updated – is that sometimes I have a hard time deciding which post belongs where.

That was the the case with my latest look at women, men, work, family and flexibility for all of them. While I try not to cross-post too much, I think it deserves space in my personal blog, as well as This Mommy Gig.

So, here is how it starts out:

The #10 book on the New York Times bestseller list for the week of June 21 was one titled “Womenomics.” I haven’t read the book because, well, about the only time I ever get to read is when I’m on a plane by myself and I haven’t had the opportunity to travel in six months.

But, this news article on “Womenomics” has been an open tab in my Firefox browser for nearly a month now, as my own blending of work and life has prevented me from writing about it.

What made that article really jump out at me was that it mentions “a legendary ad sold working women on the idea they could have it all” and I have to believe the writer was thinking of this one that had so much influence on me growing up…

View the video and read more at This Mommy Gig!

Why I’m Not “LauraatDell” on Twitter

The blending of work life and personal life on social networks is a topic for long discussion in and of itself. But, today I thought I would try to articulate how I walk the line between the two with my Twitter activity.

If you haven’t read my bio here, or figured it out otherwise, I work at Dell.  Dell has become well-known as an active Twitter participant. The DellOutlet account especially has been touted by Dell executives, social media consultants and many mainstream media outlets as proof that Twitter can be used for business.  RichardatDELL and LionelatDell are individuals at Dell who blog and respond to blogs that have also gathered quite a following on Twitter.

Brand Blending

When a person adds their company name to their own like that in a social media setting, they more strongly attach their company reputation to their own and vice versa. Or, in popular terms of the moment – they mix their personal brand with their employer’s. Doug Walker at Social Media Group recently raised some good questions about what happens when those two break up.

While I do tweet about things I’m doing at work and things others at Dell are working on that I think are cool, I also tweet on random topics of personal interest, things I’m doing with my family and even the now stereotypical (or useful, depending on your view) tweet about what I’m having for lunch or dinner.

This blending of somewhat professional and personal tweets I think is more easily achieved because I am not as official of a Dell representative as I would be if I tweeted as LauraatDell.

Risky Responsibility

A prime example of how difficult it is to be social when you are the corporate voice happened recently with Dell’s education community manager. Bri Brewer is a great gal whose education tweets under the Edu4U corporate account have been interspersed with light, humorous tweets.  A teacher/blogger recently expressed fears that those off-the-cuff tweets could diminsh her efforts to have social media or Web 2.0 technologies taken seriously by many in the education profession.

That teacher makes a very valid point about official company interactions online when she says, “What I say may or may not be long soon forgotten. What you say can and may influence the way vast millions of people think about educational technology.” It is a great reminder to all who enter social media on behalf of their companies that they carry greater power with the backing of a well-known brand.
Everything is Risky

The fear of that sort of responsibility, however, is not the reason I tweet as myself instead of my company. As a corporate communications professional I know well what it means to be a company spokesperson and I’ve been trained and gained many years of experience in dealing with the media and the general public on behalf of an organization.

No, the reason I tweet as LPT rather than LauraatDell is much simpler – I was LPT on Twitter before Dell ever came into that online neighborhood. I’m the one LionelatDell credits with getting him to really engage there; and, then he and I both brought RichardatDell into the fold. So, I had already begun to build my own presence as an individual before my company was there.

But, Lionel was not originally “atDell” either – he later changed his name.  Why didn’t I?

Ambassador Spokesperson

While I have been a company spokesperson in the past, it is not something that is currently part of my official job at Dell. I basically get paid to manage the content in the corporate section of Dell.com known as About Dell.  In doing that, I work closely with our PR and Investor Relations teams, and I look for new ways to leverage and integrate social media/Web 2.0 technologies. I also get to dabble in virtual worlds to help Dell learn about these environments and how we might leverage them – sorta the way that Google engineers get to spend 20 percent of their time on projects outside of their job description.

I do occassionally have the opportunity to speak to media or at conferences as our subject matter expert on that topic, but I feel that on Twitter I’m more of an ambassador than a spokesperson for Dell. My profile links from there to my bio here that explains who I work for, in keeping with Dell’s Online Communication Policy about transparency. My “bio” on the Twitter profile, however, has not changed since I whimsically dashed it off when I signed up for Twitter more than two years ago.  Until today.

To be super clear for those who don’t click-through the web link, I’ve just added “(who works at Dell)” to my profile. If that job status should change, I can easly adjust that without making a major change to my “personal brand” of LPT.

And that, my friends, is the rest of the story. (Rest in peace Paul Harvey)

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Been Blogging Elsewhere

Just a quick note to let you know that while I haven’t posted here in a while, I have still been blogging.  Here are excerpts from a couple recent posts on Direct2Dell.com and ThisMommyGig.com:

 Return of the 3D

In 2007, it was anticipated by Slashfilm.com that at least five feature films would be released in 3D in 2008 and that the amount would nearly double in 2009. Those numbers actually came in higher, and it’s no wonder when Screen Digest reports that digital 3D cinema is delivering three times the revenue per screen of its 2D counterpart.

Read more.


Dear Diuyre (Dear Diary)

Evidently one of those days he too laid down some law that she didn’t like because she left him a note that I couldn’t help but laugh at; and, when I shared it with some friends at SXSW the next day, they all agreed I should share it with you:

Read more.

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