Domo Tuesday

Feeling depressed at night when you finally leave work and go home? (I know I do since I work at Domo.) Missing the synergistic energy from your co-workers? Are you solving hard problems in the loneliness of your basement?

Well don’t reach for your Prozac. Go to Domo Tuesday!

It’s a virtual Twitter party every Tuesday at 8pm MDT. (I know…some of you are still at work and that’s okay.)

How do you join? Simply follow the #DomoTuesday hashtag starting at 9pm on Tuesdays and you’re there. Join the fun or be one of those freaky observers.

Tweet Grid is a great web app to help facilitate these sort of things.

http://tweetgrid.com/grid?l=2&q1=twitter&q2=%23DomoTuesday&q3=%23DomoSocial

Put #DomoTuesday in the hashtag input box and all your tweets are automagically in the mix.

What are we going to tweet about? That’s up to you. It can be work related, personal or whatever. Just remember not to get yourself fired!

Details

  • What: Domo Tuesday
  • When: Tuesdays at 9pm MDT
  • Where: Twitter
  • Why: Because
  • Who: You know who

Social Media for Business – The Social Domolution

Josh James, founder of Domo, has started a social experiment…a #DomoSocial experiment. I was at the kickoff last Tuesday and I have to be honest, I have mixed feelings.

Analysts have asked, “Is social media for business?”, but the elephant in the room is – What if this explodes in our face? We’re in the middle of working our brains off to get an awesome product out the door as soon as possible and this experiment threatens our ability to focus and get the job done.

SaraJoy Pond, Senior Designer – Infographics, shared her reservations about #DomoSocial. Maybe this isn’t the right way to go about the new social universe.

Or is it?

Here’s what Josh said about #DomoSocial:

The program is designed to get everyone here engaged with and learning from consumer and social technologies. We believe this will help us develop a better product, understand the viral nature of web offerings more effectively, assist in getting the Domo brand out there and enable better customer conversations.

Now I’m getting excited! I love technology and awesome web experiences and this program will help me become more of an expert in this space and therefore allow me to provide better value to our customers.

Heather Zynczak, CMO at Domo, gave her reasons why she is excited:

• Increased Social IQ
• Improved Product Quality
• Leveraging employee voices for brand awareness

Do you feel the energy rising? You know I do!

And Josh means business. He is “instituting a social IQ test into [the] hiring process.” So for all those hoping to work at Domo, you better brush up on your social knowledge.

During this kickoff meeting, the PR part of me kept raising red flags. As we all get more social, someone is bound to say something that will come back and bite us. Julie Kehoe, VP of Communications, put me at ease when she went over the Dos and Don’ts:

…it’s a good tip sheet for how not to get fired.

Let the Games Begin

To answer my analyst friends, social media is definitely for business. So, I want to see how social Domo can really be. We are part of an experiment, so let’s experiment with…

Twitter Tuesday = Domo Tuesday.

It’s a long held tradition to get together Tuesday night on Twitter. So I’m inviting all my Domosapien friends to come join me this Tuesday, May 15th at 8pm MDT at #DomoTuesday.

To help facilitate our first #DomoTuesday, I’ve created a TweetGrid URL you can use:

http://tweetgrid.com/grid?l=2&q1=twitter&q2=%23DomoTuesday&q3=%23DomoSocial

I don’t know how long everyone will want to stay on. This is all brand new. But let’s remember Josh’s tweet on How to Cure Social Media Paralysis – Point 4: Focus to drive relationship-building versus broadcasting.

On our quest to become more social and knowledgeable with technology, I look forward to see what happens and hope to see you all there.

Question: What do you think about the #DomoSocial experiment?

SEO Tactics That Move the Needle

WordPress SEODue to popular demand, I am putting the content of my presentation on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in a blog post for my class and anyone else interested.

As an assignment, I was given an article by Rich Brooks – How to Rank Higher at the Search Engines in 5 Minutes and 27 Seconds.

I like what he had to say, but most of this blog post is from what I’ve learned from my own experience and study.

On-Site Optimization

This is everything that you can control on your site and the foundation of any SEO strategy. Everything else you do will either be enhanced or hindered by how well your site is optimized.

How to choose keywords

Ever wondered what it means to optimize a web page for search engines? You’re not the only one.

I’m going to teach you how I prefer to do it even though my way is backwards from what a lot of industry experts say.

My way is to focus on your audience/customer, write compelling content, and then worry about optimizing.

Use Customer’s Words

Wouldn’t your content be much more compelling if you used the words your customers did?

This is where social media can help. Search Twitter and find people talking about what you web page is about. Don’t forget to find what your competitors are talking about as well.

Become an expert on what words are used and what the jargon is for the content on your web page.

Write Awesome Content

After you are familiar with your customer’s needs and how they talk about it, write awesome content that addresses their pain in their language.

Don’t worry about search engines or keywords yet. That’s coming next.

Choose the keywords

What do people search for on the internet? This question may seem elementary, but this is an important concept. It’s important because once you know what they are searching for we can talk about how to make it easier for them to find you.

Google has a great Keyword Tool that helps you understand what people are searching for.

Using this tool, do a search that you think your audience is searching for. (Check the [Exact] box on the left so that we get exact matches on what you are searching for.)

If you need help coming up with keywords, look at the awesome content you just wrote and write down the main ideas of the page.

When you do a search, you’ll see the number of times someone searched for those keywords. Pick the one with the highest number of searches that makes the most sense in relation to your web page (and error on the side of making sense).

If you want more information on this, check out how to use Google Adwords Keyword Tool for SEO.

Titles, Headers and Body…Oh My!

You’ve written compelling content, chosen some relevant and highly searched keywords, and now it’s time to optimize your web page.

This is where I recommend a WordPress SEO plugin called WordPress SEO by Yoast.

This plugin will walk you through some simple steps to make your web page fully optimized.

  • Article Heading
  • Page title
  • Page URL
  • Content
  • Meta description

Taking it one step further, this plugin has a Page Analysis and Advanced features to optimize the page as much as possible.

Not using WordPress? Now might be a good time to consider using it. But if you are going to stick with something else, Yoast has a great website with SEO tips so you can do it yourself.

Internal Linking

You may notice that I do Internal Linking, especially when I’m talking about my Finish Year 2012. Internal Linking is simply a link that goes to another page on your web site.

You’ll notice that I keep you on the same window (or tab) when I do Internal Linking; whereas I take you to a new window (or tab) for external links. I’ll let you wonder why I do that. I’m so cruel.

The anchor text of a link is what Google looks at to help determine what that page is about. So in my example, “Finish Year 2012” is the anchor text of my Internal Link and that is telling Google that I think that page is about “Finish Year 2012.”

Anchor text weighs heavily in Google’s algorithm in determining what a web page is about. Its weight is so heavy, in fact, that some people use it as a Google Bomb, although some Google Bombs are unintentional.

Since you have complete control over your website, Google expects the anchor text of your Internal Links to be very relevant to the destination page.

Don’t go overboard though; Google is actually penalizing sites that are “over optimized” with internal linking and other SEO tactics.

Off-Site Optimization…continue reading.

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Recovering From My First Half Marathon

Updated: Mar 31, 2012 – Added pictures of me during the race.

I just finished my first half marathon last Saturday. Woot!

This marks the official completion of one of my 2012 Finish Year goals.

With my left ankle hurting and my shoulder muscles sore (from running – who knew), it’s time to chronicle this event for praise and ridicule.

Pre-Run

Training for my First Half Marathon was quite the bumpy journey. Feel free to read more about it in my previous post about it.

During the Run

On the bus ride up to the starting point, I sat next to a late-50’s/early-60’s man who has run 30-40 half marathons and will be doing his 30th marathon in a year or so.

Seeing so many older runners was probably one of the coolest things about doing this run.

Another cool thing is being in a port-a-potty when you hear everyone cheer as the starter gun goes off.

Time to go…

Mile 1-2

If there was one thing I heard a lot as I was preparing, it was to take it easy. I have to tell you though, when there is a ton of people surrounding you, it was hard for me not to get a head of the person in front of me.

My shins kept me from going all out though. They were flaring up and so my first goal was to warm them up and take it easy until they felt better…which they did during my second mile.

Mile 3-5

Right before mile 3, I met up with another first-timer, Corrine (or Cory). She was very nice to run with me because it really helped me. If one thing I learned from this run is that it’s much easier to keep a pace and more fun when you have someone running with you.

Cory and I met up with the 2:20 pacers and stayed there for a while. Danny was one of the pacers and he had TONS of energy. He was running left and right, up and down with the 2:20 runners. I learned from his sister later that he normally runs a 1:40.

Danny also gave me a couple of Cliff shots around mile 4, so he’s definitely on my awesome list.

Mile 5

The longest race I had done before this one was The 25th Annual Turkey Trot 5 Mile Run.

When I reached 5 miles during this race, it was a much different feeling than when I ran the Turkey Trot. Before it was more of a “wow, I made it” and now it was “really, is that all?” Granted, I wasn’t running as hard as I did during the 5 mile run.

Mile 5-8

When running a race like this, there are water stations every two miles. How about a beer and donut station? It was pretty funny to see some campers hanging out on a big rock, cheering us runners on, with a table of beer and donuts for us.

I cheered them back, but the thought of any of that after running 5 miles and 8 miles to go almost made me throw up.

At mile 6, we were given Cliff Gel for nutrition. I’m not a gel fan, but I didn’t have any gummy cube shots with me. Boy was it hard to get down.

My stomach was not feeling good for the next half mile or so, but I was glad the feeling went away.

With a happy tummy, I started noticing that my right shoe was rubbing against my skin. I stopped to pull up my socks. It looked good, but I am definitely getting longer socks next time.

Around mile 8 was a sad moment – I fell behind my running buddy Cory. I was just running out of steam and I couldn’t keep up.

Mile 8-10

Without someone to run with and wanting to be done, I began to do some walking. I tried to keep it at a quick pace, because I knew if I rested too much it would be killer to get back to running.

Walking up a hill with an older lady, I looked up and saw a camera guy. So I said, “Camera guy! Let’s go!” The older lady and I picked up the pace and started jogging to make a good show.

As we got closer to the guy, what I thought looked like a camera was actually a cow bell as he was encouraging us on.

The older lady and I laughed and started walking again until we got to the top of the hill. She accused me to tricking her, but she was smiling.

Approaching mile 10 was fun because the Canyonlands Half Marathon has a group of drummers that help your heart beat to the rhythm of their drums. It was cool.

Mile 10-12

Around mile 10, the 2:30 pacers caught up with me and I tried to stay with them. It was at that moment that I realized that 2:30 was my original goal. For a while, I thought 1:30 was maybe what I wanted to do, but that is crazy fast and not what I can do right now.

I stuck with them for several minutes and found out that one of the pacers was the sister of Danny (one of the 2:20 pacers).

After the 2:30 pacers past me up, the race turned onto SR 191. Oh boy!

The wind was blasting sand in my face for the next 2 miles.

I think I walked a total of 3 miles and most of it was done here. I was tired, my feet and body wanted to stop, and I was hungry.

I kept going.

Mile 12-13.1

The final stretch.

I thought I could kick in some energy reserves to jog the whole last mile, but it only took me about half way.

All I could think about was being done and I didn’t want to stop moving until I was there. Those are two conflicting thoughts.

Right before the last bend, the 2:40 pacers caught up with me and I was able to stay with them.

They must have had a GPS or something because sometimes they would slow down to keep the pace. I didn’t mind. 🙂

I was able to pick up the pace for the finish line, which was a little odd because I came in at 2:43:27. I thought I would be closer to 2:40 since I was right ahead of the pacers.

I averaged a 12:12 pace.

Right After

After the race, I wanted to sit down, but I wanted to get over to my wife before I did so I wouldn’t have to get up again.

I decided to get my picture taken on my way to the water. I’ll post it here when I get it.

While in line for bananas, oranges, chocolate milk, etc, I was feeling my right ankle again.

I looked down and saw that my shoe had dug into the back of my ankle and it was bleeding. Now I was aware of it and it started hurting more.

I was feeling okay except for my right ankle. So after eating, getting blister help, and treatment for my bleeding ankle, I washed the sand off my hands and face and headed towards the car.

I really wanted to just lie down, but we had to get home. I was glad my wife was there to drive me.

Going up stairs was a little scary because my knees were not working at 100%.

Post-Race – Day One

Surprise, I slept in. My knees felt better although the arch of my right foot was very sore. My shoulders also started to be really sore.

I kept eating protein and carbs and drinking Gatorade type drinks.

Post-Race – Day Two

I went to the gym and swam for 10 minutes to get my muscles moving again. It actually felt pretty good.

Today’s aches are my left ankle (it must have migrated from my right because it feels better now) and my lower back.

I’m wondering if I’ll have a new pain tomorrow. I get hungry faster and I can’t wait to eat again.

Final Thoughts

I’m very happy that I accomplished this goal and finished the race.

I’m a little bummed because my intramural soccer tournament game is scheduled for this Wednesday and I’m afraid that’s too soon.

The Provo Half Marathon is May 5th and it’s tempting me.

Question

What am I missing as a newbie runner? What did I do right?

Moab Half Marathon Pictures of Me – Click Here

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Learn to Fail Fast

Success Failure Sign PostAll your life you’ve been taught that self-worth comes from success, not failure. This is a complete lie. It’s true that success is great and wonderful and a worthy goal to pursue.

But what worth is it if you didn’t learn anything?

We learn the most from our failures not our successes (assuming that we open our minds to learn from them).

Okay, so maybe you’ve heard this before. So what does it all mean? It seems all too philosophical, “In order to succeed, one must fail.”

For me, it’s about learning. It’s about the journey. If you don’t struggle to find the best answer possible, you won’t appreciate it once you have it.

Now there the phenomenon that proves this wrong when an individual gets lucky. That person will be hard pressed to duplicate the success, however, not knowing how he got it to begin with.

So perhaps the definition of success can be defined as someone who doesn’t quit after failing. Better yet, someone who learns from failure, pivots the line of thought, makes improvements, and then keep moving forward.

One of my all-time favorite professional sports figures, Michael Jordan, said it best:

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

According to Mike, if you aren’t failing, you aren’t succeeding. Perhaps due to fear of failure we hold back and do nothing. We may not fail, but we definitely won’t succeed and that is a true failure.

The same is true with a company launching a new product or service.

Tina Seelig, Executive Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, reports that failure is the secret sauce of Silicon Valley?

Tina Seelig Fail Fast and Frequently

So what’s my newest failure? I was using my precious side developing time to create a blog from scratch using AWS when I could be creating an awesome new cloud service. On top of that, I got my February bill from AWS and it was costing way too much than I was willing to pay.

That is what led me to convert my blog back to WordPress. That will help me focus and it actually frees up a lot of stress.

My Finish Year 2012 goal of creating a website with AWS is now complete. Yay! Now it’s on to the next one.

Question: What are your thoughts on failing fast and frequently in order to ultimately succeed?

Training for my First Half Marathon

So I refreshed this blog on Amazon’s cloud using the Elastic Beanstalk as part of Finish Year 2012.

Another item on my finish list is to run a half marathon.

Runner on Target

I am registered to run in the Canyonlands Half Marathon on March 17th.

To train for this race, I’m using Runner’s World’s 9-week Half Marathon Training Guide.

This week is number seven and I have yet to run up to where the training is telling me to run.

It’s hard.

I’m not one to gripe, but when you are going to school full-time getting an MBA, working 20 hours a week and trying your best to be a good father and husband, there isn’t a lot of free time to train.

The best time for me to train is early in the morning.

The best time to complete homework is at night – sometimes late at night.

When you are staying up late doing homework and trying to wake up early to run, you sometimes sleep in and miss running.

Go figure.

On top of that, I took a week of training off due to a head injury and getting sick doesn’t help either. Having time isn’t the only challenge to overcome here.

I’m still determined and will make it to the finish line.

I really want to finish around one and a half hours, but I’d be happy if I were under two hours. At this point though, finishing will be a victory.

Question: What do you do when faced with challenges?

Update

Read my Recovering from my First Half Marathon.

Twitter in Live Theatrical Performances

Imagine going to see a Shakespeare play. Before the show begins, you are not told to turn off your phone. Instead you are told to turn on your phone and login to twitter.

Now during the show, the audience is tweeting with each other and members of the cast and production staff.

It’s hard to imagine how this experience would actually turn out since a lot of it is determined by what you and others are actually tweeting and how that might translate to the performance on stage.

This has been an interest of mine and I want to try it out.

There’s not a lot of production companies using social media as part of its show, but I found a great article by Gwydion Suilebhan called Theater, Twitter, and Revolution.

He talks a lot about how play writers can use twitter during the creation process.

My favorite quote is by Alli Houseworth who said:

So much of the social media work I do at Woolly is all about transparency. How can I open up the proverbial doors of how we create work to our online audiences? My theory is that the more my audience feels invested in the process of creating new work, the more they will value the experience of attending it live… I want our process to no longer be mysterious, elitist, or something that’s created in a far off room with closed doors.

It seems that there is a group out there that is making social media work when it comes to creating pieces of art.

But what about using twitter during the show?

Suilebhan talks about the Playground Theater whose performances morph as the audience tweets. I would like to experience that.

Okay, the Playground Theater seems to be an improve theater. Can this work with a more traditional theater? What if you don’t want to morph the performance?

Or is morphing a performance a natural extension of using social media during the show?

These are questions I want to experiment with and try to answer.

Question: What are your thoughts? Would you be interested in seeing a play/musical that encouraged you to tweet during the show? What would you want that experience to be like?

Super Bowl Ads 2012

A new tradition of mine (since last year) is to watch all of the super bowl ads. You might just find the next best commercial of all time.

I just finished watching all the ads and wanted to share the ones that connected to me the most.

Pepsi – King’s Court

This one was the most moving for me. There’s something about standing up to oppression and giving a voice to the oppressed that is truly inspiring.

The X Factor winner Melanie Amaro has a powerful voice and is surprisingly grounded.

Chevy Silverado

This is my second favorite. I love how it’s playing off the idea that the year 2012 is the end of the world.

I also enjoyed the shout out to Twinkies. It’s like they are saying “Twinkies will keep coming despite the end of the world.”

Audi Vampire Party

I like the humor on this. It’s playing on the hot topic of vampires right now and it’s well done.

The problem I have with it is that the feature that it’s highlighting is something I despise. Who likes driving down the road and being blinded by a car with LED lights?

I don’t.

I think it’s a safety hazard and should be illegal.

Okay, so besides my annoyance with bright, blinding lights, I was very impressed. There were a lot of great ads and I love how the VW made a shout out to their awesome 2011 super bowl ad.

One great takeaway I have from watching the super bowl ads this year is that I am cutting my ties to Go Daddy. I don’t want to associate myself with a company who is obviously trying to attract porn sites.

It’s going to cost a pretty penny to transfer my 20+ domains, but it’s worth it. I don’t want to support a business that supports porn.

Question: What is your favorite 2012 super bowl ad and why?

Knock on Wood to Avoid Creating an Undesired Reality

Are you avoid talking about certain things because you’re afraid once you mention it, you’re tempting fate and a negative outcome will pursue? You’re not alone. In fact, this is quite common.

Let me give an example that all those who have tried to put kids to bed will definitely relate to.

I’m a father of two wonderful, highly spirited kids and occasionally it’s difficult to help them go to sleep. I know. That’s not the norm, but go with me for a sec.

So imagine you just spent an hour plus putting your kids down. You’re relaxing on the couch watching a show and you suddenly have a thought:

Wow, it’s been 30 minutes and the kids haven’t made a noise. I’m so glad they are finally asleep.

Notice that you only thought this. Why is that?

Why not say it out loud? It’s a great subject to talk with your spouse about. You can both relish in the fact that both of the kids are asleep and that you are finally enjoying some “alone time” together.

The answer is simple. Experience has taught you that once you say it out loud, you are tempting fate and as soon as you say it, the kids will wake up and start whining.

Some people are brave and go ahead and say it, but they knock on wood. Why would someone do that?

Well, there’s also a belief that the knocking sound prevents the Devil from hearing your unwise comments.[1]

Question: What things do you avoid talking about because you’re afraid you’d be tempting fate?

Simply Dynamo

Amazon just announced the immediate availability of their new DynamoDB, a “fully managed NoSQL database service that provides fast and predictable performance with seamless scalability.”

You may recall that I just spent time and effort learning Amazon SimpleDB to re-launch this website.

This is a prime example of how technology works in today’s world — It gets replaced by something better all the time.

Although I don’t look forward to re-coding my data model to connect to DynamoDB, I am excited for what it will bring.

First off, did you know that because of SimpleDB’s 1,024 KB limitation for a unit of data, I had to split my first post into six content “buckets.”

Here’s what it looked like:

  • Write the blog post
  • Divide it up at logical point to be less than 1,024 KB (I did six for the first post)
  • Paste the content parts together when someone visits the website
  • Render up a solid post

Whew! I thought this was supposed to be a Simple Database.

At least Amazon’s CTO, Werner Vogels, agrees me in his blog post about the release of DynamoDB.

“Although many customers worked around SimpleDB’s scaling limitations by partitioning their workloads over many Domains, this side of SimpleDB is certainly not simple.”

I recognize Vogels was talking specifically about the 10 GB limit of a domain, but the sentiment nails exactly how I felt.

I’m hoping that as I play around with Amazon’s DynamoDB that I will find I don’t have to chop up my posts in order to store them in the database.

I can’t complain though. I played around with SimpleDB, learned how to use it, successfully launched an application with it, and now I get to use something else.

Question: Have you ever spent blood, sweat, and tears over something just to learn afterwards that no one is going to use it?