One of my closest friends is a lawyer. He and I talk business all the time. After moving to California and passing the Bar Exam, my attorney friend set up his solo practice, and is working hard to establish himself professionally.
Our discussions are lively. I grill my friend about contract law, ethics and, I get to learn about how the law is applied to day-to-day circumstances. But our real affinity comes from elsewhere. While he grows his solo legal practice, the evolution of my solo PR practice mirrors his. I’m struck lately by how similar what we do is.
Both publicists and attorneys strive to represent clients to the best of their abilities. We help clients share their story, knowing that a judge will rule on the facts of the case. And while legal clients plead their case in the court of law, entrepreneurs are tried in the court of public opinion.
And while my job is to present the best version of the truth, I know it’s not the full story. My clients hide things from me. Sometimes–often–important things. Whether intentional, or accidental, it’s a tricky part of our professional relationship. As a lawyer will tell you, there’s always two sides to a story. There’s no perfect client or business. It’s important to complete due diligence before entering into a relationship, but if I were waiting for the unblemished, inoffensive and media-ready client to walk up to my door, I wouldn’t last long in the business.
Just like my attorney friend, I take the good and bad parts of a client’s story, get them ready for the public, and help them reach the outcome they desire. I don’t like it when my clients hide things from me, but it happens. I need to be prepared for it. But while the public may be fickle, they know when something works, and are very unforgiving when people try to pull a fast one.
Attorneys and PRs are here to help. If we don’t get the full story, and something blows up, it’s very, very hard for us to do our job after the fact. That doesn’t mean we won’t do everything in our power to get the desired outcome, it just means the relationship will be strained afterwards.
Exactly three years ago I left Bangalore, India, and moved back home with my parents. A publisher in New York soon offered me a job as a full-time reporter and tasked me with the mission to help launch a daily blog covering renewable energy and transportation. It seemed like a dream come true.
I moved to San Francisco for work in the summer of 2010 and began a whirlwind of career highs and lows that has pounded me into a tougher and more resourceful individual than I imagined was possible. I’ve made amazing new friends, and have watched happily as old friends launched successful businesses, married wonderful spouses, and welcomed children of their own into the world. I am also honored to have lead weddings for two friends.
Six months ago I was at a low point in my life. I had recently lost my grandfather on the same day I was fired from a job that was destroying my soul. I was running out of options, and I did the unthinkable. I sent a letter hiding none of the urgency of my situation, and asked for your help finding a new job and a new path forward. What made it hardest was that no one wants to announce to the world when their ass is flapping in the wind.
I just saw the Harlem Shake video that put me over the edge. Path founder Dave Morin filmed his team in their office cafeteria doing the Harlem Shake, and I couldn’t hold back.
For the record, I haven’t seen that many Harlem Shake videos, but the Internet is abuzz with them. After the Grammys on Sunday I had no idea what people were talking about, and it was a little disconcerting. As someone who lives on the Internet–and by it–I take trend spotting very seriously. Either on my client’s behalf, or for my own edification, I appreciate knowing the scoop.
The Harlem Shake is the new Gangnam Style according to New Media Rockstars, whose opinion on all things Internet I value highly. In the YouTube era, dance crazes like the Harlem Shake are part of a global conversation. Millions of Gangnam Style tribute videos have been produced, and their proliferation adds to the popularity of the original. See below:
The original video that spawned the craze was posted to YouTube on Feb. 2, 2013 and has racked up a respectable 5 million views. The song itself was released by Baauer more than one year ago on his SoundCloud page, and published to iTunes on Jan. 8, 2013. According to NMR more than 11,000 tribute videos have been uploaded, as of Monday. I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of new uploads has tripled or quadrupled this week. That’s just how things go on the Internet.
The digestible, 30-second length and semi-predictability are no-doubt triggers for the rapid proliferation of the meme. It’s also a pretty damn cool song.
D’Vo, a UK-based producer who has quickly become one of my favorites, first exposed me to Baauer’s Harlem Shake as part of his Winter Warrior Mix, which I’ve embedded below. I like to listen to it when I jog.
Going back further in time, the real Harlem Shake dance, was a street style that was laughed out of existence after being popularized by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs of Bad Boy Records fame. If you tried to break out your best Harlem Shake moves on a dance floor I think you would still get seriously clowned. I’m including the quintessential video of Harlem Shake moves, from G Dep’s ‘Let’s Get It’ so you can just how far the dance has come in the last decade.
And in case you’re still interested in reviving the lost art form, here’s a handy tutorial. Shine like a diamond!
This morning it dawned upon me that I’ve set a chess board for myself, and I’m playing both sides. Professionally I’ve trimmed back my activities to the few that I can do best, but they’re in direct competition for my attention.
I’m in the process of growing my consulting practice, while experiencing a creative and entrepreneurial tug. Both lines of business have to do with my writing talent, but work opposite sides of the brain. My consulting work requires me to think like a small business owner, pour over Quickbooks, and obsess about taxes, cashflow and new customer acquisition.
The more creative side project is about content curation, developing a community and having an eye for what is cool and cutting edge. These two are not polar opposites, but there’s no easy way to make them work in tandem. I’m spending lots of time online (nothing new there), but it’s a matter of focusing my efforts to achieve a client’s goals, or to treat myself as the client.
The metaphor is striking. On the one hand, it’s an intellectual and emotional challenge. On the other, I can’t lose if I execute well. I am carving out a life for myself where online
I love to write. I love plot and strategize. More than anything I’m committed to getting myself professionally established and having a career on my terms. I’ve never been good about saying no to cool opportunities. It’s a trait that goes back years. At this point, fortunately I suppose–these are opportunities I’ve created for myself, and ones I definitely intend to see through.
Playing the patience game. It’s not easy. My Uncle Andy once told me that anything that comes easy isn’t worth a damn. I know he’s right. There’s always the delicate balance between the urgency of the current moment, and building a future. We have the present only.
When the cold winds howl, can we wrap ourselves in trajectory to seek comfort in trajectory, and wrap it around ourselves like a blanket? It’s a new year, and the possibilities ahead seem endless. Before we know it, though, we’ll be turning our calendars over to 2014. Hard to believe when I’m still grappling with 2013 atop documents.
At times like these I need to remind myself that I’ve got my health, my family, and supportive friends who are there for me when I need them to be. What more can we really ask for. My wants are not material anyway. What I would like is a greater sense of security and stability, but that goes for anyone, at any stage of life. What I have now I wouldn’t change for the world, so why even fret?
Perhaps patience isn’t what is needed, after all. Maybe it’s even more gratitude. I’m grateful that people come to me for advice when they’re in need. That alone makes me feel that I’m making a contribution in the world. I know there’s more to it, but that’s enough for now.
As Americans we have a thing for watching how the other half lives. It makes us feel better about ourselves. When we watch reality shows about down-and-out 16-year-old moms, it reminds us that we’re doing ok, in spite of any hardships. Equally, we enjoy watching shows about the ultra wealthy, because when seen with all their warts, it’s clear they’re tacky, unsophisticated people who happen to have tons of cash.
Such is the case in The Queen of Versailles, a movie watched tonight on Netflix. Timeshare magnate and billionaire David Siegel is building America’s largest house, a 90,000 square foot monster outside Orlando, FL, when the global financial crisis erases his fortune overnight. The dream house Siegel and his wife designed has an indoor ice skating rink, a bowling alley, a grand ballroom, 17 bathrooms and $5 million of Chinese marble. I’m sure I’m leaving stuff out, but the point is made. Right?
Posted on : 23-10-2012 | By : Chikodi | In : Errata
Around every corner is mystery, excitement and wonder. After two years I heard from a whom I never thought I would speak to again. Just about the last person in the world I thought I would hear from. If you’re the one other woman in the world who I don’t expect to hear from, you could make a strange day even more unusual.
Blogging is something I love. There are many forms of writing I have done, but none suit me quite like this. As I have traveled, travailed and lived many lives, the blogging medium has always allowed me to collect my thoughts, digest the day’s events, and think to the future I am creating.
I’m an expository writer. One of my classmates called me the ‘Class Philosopher’ during our high school graduation ceremony, and it’s a very fitting title. I write from the heart, and it’s something I can do for hours. Lately, though, I haven’t done much writing for myself, with the exception of a few letters and emails sent to family and close friends. Time to get back into the habit.
Life is all about choices. To do something, and do it well, means not doing other things. I’ve recently come to the realization that my mind is only capable of carrying so many thoughts at any given time. Shouldn’t be news, but it was a new way of understanding the world. More specifically, when people ask me, “Have you done X, or considered Y,” my honest answer has frequently been, “No, I haven’t even thought of that.” This means the thought has not entered my brain, not only have I not thought it through, or made up my mind.
Blogging is something I’ve thought about a lot, and haven’t brought myself to do. One friend even told me that my day-to-day events were interesting enough for a blog. Whether or not this friend was right, it’s important for me to get back into the discipline, as a way to continue on the creative path. There are several books in me, possibly dozens. Today I was at a coffee shop thinking about how I could write a better book on sales techniques for my generation than the one I was reading. I’ve had this thought often. The only way to make that happen is to do it.
Posted on : 03-10-2011 | By : Chikodi | In : Errata
What difference does 30 years make in the evolution of breakdancing?
These two videos should speak for themselves. Above you can see the finals of The Notorious IBE, an international breakdance exhibition held yearly in the Netherlands since 1998.
Courtesy of the homie Rob Flow is a throwback video from the movie Beatstreet, showing a choreographed breakdance battle in a 1980s New York City nightclub.
While you can see shreds of the past in the moves of the IBE dancers, it’s really amazing to see just how far the art has come in the intervening years. The power moves are infinitely more powerful, the technical skills more precise, more daring and more enthralling, and the swagger more swaggerific. Oh, those kids have some swagger, indeed. It’s also interesting to see how today’s breakers dress a lot more hipster, with tight pants, skater shoes and keffiyehs, all part of their outfits. Long gone are the days of the matching track suit.
All praise due to the pioneers of the art form, without whose invention none of today’s mastery would be possible. Still, from watching the two videos it really feels like watching two separate millennia, not just two time periods separated by 27 years.
Can you remember the T-Mobile Sidekick? The feature phone with the swiveling screen used to be all the rage. The device is now as good as any for measuring the passage of time in the tech world.
I’m practically giddy with anticipation of the iPhone 5, slated to be released in a matter of weeks. I’ve never before owned an iPhone, and the iPhone 5 will be my first. In typical Apple fashion, no hint of the existence of an iPhone 5 has officially been uttered, but the speculation is rampant, with no shortage of credible tidbits pointing to October 15 as the all-important day. If there’s one gadget I must own this year, that would be it.
I was in the shower (where I do a lot of good thinking) and I remembered how just popular the T-Mobile Sidekick was back in the day. While security vulnerabilities lead to some pretty high profile hacks of the Sidekick, it was pretty much the must-have phone and texting device among celebrities, rappers, and the glitterati at large. However, I’m sure it pales in comparison to today’s iPhone fever. If you’re a public personality, and you don’t have an iPhone, you’re pretty much a loser.
What I find amusing about this current state of affairs is how Apple’s popularity and ubiquity means that you have to own the same iPhone as everyone else in order to maintain your cool. For a company whose public image has long revolved around arming cultural rebels with their stylish, niche laptops and computers, it’s an interesting turnaround, albeit a ludicrously lucrative one.
In any case, it’s that awe-inspiring buffet of apps in the iTunes store that makes any iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch unique, there are still those few must-have apps such as Yelp!, Facebook and Shazam that I downloaded, and use regularly. In this way, the uniformity extends even to the apps. There are well more than 500,000 apps available in the app store, but fewer than a handful greatly improve my daily life, and those are the ones I use regularly.
I would never bejewel my T-Mobile Sidekick, if I ever owned one, and personally don’t indulge in much phone customization. However, the fact people would go through trouble to make their phone stand out from the crowd is something to acknowledge. There’s a stunning array of custom iPhone cases that look like everything from ears, books, and anything else you can imagine, at the end of the day, it’s still the same phone that everyone has.
While the iPhone may be the new standard in smart phone technology, an unexpected attribute of its success is homogeneity. And with that said, I still can’t wait to buy one!
Posted on : 03-09-2011 | By : Chikodi | In : Errata
These kids kill it. They’re 22-years-old, from Paris, and really about to take the world by storm. It’s also worth mentioning that they stand 6’4″ tall.
I hate to say it, but when I watch them dance with most other dancers, it makes me mad, because Les Twins are so much better than anyone else out there. Think L.A. Krumping from David LaChappelle’s classic street dance film Rize, with more than a little Oakland Turf Dancing, with a whole lot of extra swagger. There’s still much life in hip hop culture. Bear witness.
In just 48 hours, former radio announcer Ted Williams has gone from homeless on the streets of Columbus, OH, to the couches of The Today Show. A stunning turn of events to be sure, and likely one of the greatest social media coups of all times.
Williams, who had battled with drug and alcohol addition, but says he had been clean for two years became an instant hit when a video with his story was published on the website of The Columbus Dispatch. This is the stuff that social media viral sensations are made of.
Since being discovered, Williams has been beset with offers of aid. The Cleveland Cavaliers organization has offered him a job as an announcer, and a caller to a radio show where Williams was being interviewed offered him a mortgage on a house. Kraft Foods has also swooped in with an offer for voiceover work, noting Williams remarkable voice, and also capitalizing on the instant Internet frenzy he has inadvertently created.
This is a heartwarming story, but also one that shows the Cleveland Cavaliers organization gets the power of social media. The fact that a cameraman from the Columbus Dispatch filmed this guy from the roadside, placed a video of it on the newspaper’s website, and catapulted Ted Williams to instant celebrity is proof of how powerful social media tools have become in instantly connecting the globe.
From the standpoint of the Cleveland Cavaliers organization, they’ve found a compelling character about whom they can tell a long story. Will he be able to deal with the pressures of notoriety? How good is he really? Will he be able to accomplish more than people expect? The only way to know is to stay tuned. As long as curiosity lingers, the Cavs organization wins, regardless of how the players perform.
It seems without question that Ted Williams will help sell tickets for the Cavaliers, and while not replacing a superstar like Lebron James, he will help the team change the conversation at a critical moment in franchise history. That he will be able to do so at a fraction of the cost is an obvious bonus.
Another interesting facet of the Ted Williams saga is that in an age of social media, scrubs make better stories than celebs. Normal people going through the ups and downs of life will elicit far more empathy and engagement from an audience of peers than the travails of celebrities such as Paris Hilton and frenemy Nicole Richie playing the role plebian princesses on their show The Simple Life. With no safety net, no one looking out for him, and no where to go if he fails, the stakes are much higher for Williams.
While reality shows allow us to peer into the lives of celebrities, we envy them and and hate them at the same time. They also can manipulate the experience to show only the sides of themselves they want seen. It’s unlikely that Williams will be able to demonstrate the same level of media savvy, and there’s no good reason to think he would. In any case, Ted Williams is one of us, and if he succeeds, we succeed. If he fails, well, how many second chances are there? It’s going to be a real cliffhanger.
Also, because he is a social media sensation, he will give the organization unique opportunities to engage an online audience around his story. People who don’t care about basketball will still love to hear about his resurrection story, and they should be able to see every detail play out on the Web.