Posted by: Mike Whitmore | June 19, 2010

The First Car I Drove

I just read Lara’s piece at her blog Lamaki – The Mighty Mazda: the Best Car ITW!!! and wrote the following comment. I’ve never posted a comment as an entry on my own blog…is this an acceptable practice? Hmmm

The first car I drove was my parent’s International Scout, which was truly a predecessor to the SUV’s of today. The back seat had been removed so we could fit 3 on the front bench seat and 6-7 more in the cargo area (seat belts weren’t the rule then – more like “guidelines”). The gas gauge didn’t work, but we figured it got 13 miles to the gallon, so my folks knew I couldn’t drive very far. You could actually hear how much gas was being sucked into the 4-barrel carburetor when we’d “punch-it” as it were.

It was also made of solid steel and had stunt-doubled in several war movies as a WWII-era Sherman Tank and in another movie as a cargo freighter in space.

To complete the space-ship effect I added a bumper sticker to the exterior spare tire. Back in the 80’s in Colorado there were these bumper stickers designed to look like the Colorado license plates with the mountains in the background. The original design for the sticker said “Native” to spread the message that THIS car driver was BORN in CO and not some transplant from Texas or California or wherever. Then all sorts of variants on that theme started to appear such as “Transplant” “Alien” or the scariest one “Multi-Level-Marketer.”

I was a true nerd – my sticker read “Jedi.”

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Posted by: Mike Whitmore | May 28, 2010

Steve Martin’s Non-Conformist Oath

STEVE MARTIN: Let’s repeat the Non-Conformist Oath. I promise to be different!

AUDIENCE: I promise to be different.

STEVE MARTIN: I promise to be unique.

AUDIENCE: I promise to be unique.

STEVE MARTIN: I promise not to repeat things other people say.

AUDIENCE: I promise … [Dissolves into nervous laughter.]

STEVE MARTIN: Good!

EAVB_UFQKTNTRLA

Posted by: Mike Whitmore | May 12, 2010

Twitter Becoming Anti-Social

I’m sure you’ve seen this pattern before, but please share your experiences.

In Seattle there is an IT tech group that consists of professional practitioners. In fact, there are chapters similar to this group throughout the US. The original intent was to bring knowledgeable IT resources together to present and discuss trends, solutions, opportunities and threats, build connections and share ideas within the tech community. The group became influential and gathered many of the top CTO’s, CIO’s and other IT business leaders from the area on a regular basis.

Then, over time, it happened…

As staffing, tech, IT and solutions vendors realized their prime sales contacts were all gathered regularly in one place the vendors started sending their reps to troll the events. It was easy to spot the sales-types from the technical professionals because the sales folks were handing out business cards faster than a Blackjack dealer in Vegas. This behavior by the vendors spoiled the events for the participants and, ultimately, even for the vendors themselves as the events were attended by more sales people than the clientele they were pursuing.

Another example of this type of behavior is when The Beatles stopped touring in 1966 in large measure because the band could not hear themselves playing over their fans screaming. (See http://bit.ly/daHF80) The fans themselves not only spoiled the event for the band, but for all the fans as well.

Now there’s a new study released just this week about Twitter, one of the quintessential Social Media platforms, becoming decidedly anti-social. (See http://bit.ly/bfjiSq)

The study convincingly illustrates how Twitter is becoming more of a broadcast news outlet than a social network and supports this premise upon several factors.

  1. Instead of 2-way connections and conversations Marketers are pushing their messaging.
  2. Only 22% of Twitter Follower/Following relationships are reciprocal and
  3. Many tweets themselves are merely pushing timely or newsworthy events rather than carrying on a conversation.

Will Twitter become so infested with tweeple pushing sales & marketing messages that the users will ultimately kill the service?

This would be an unfortunate outcome, but the momentum is decidedly in that direction. And yes, I’ve been guilty of the same behaviors myself and have added to the problem.

Can we fix it?

I don’t know. But I believe Twitter itself is aware of these trends. Users who tweet too frequently or send out too many links are often muted by Twitter (and in many cases they don’t realize they have been muted). Accounts with too much Follower/Following churn are suspended and we all know of the senseless spammers out there. So Twitter has Terms of Use that are helping.

Some additional ideas that might help:

  • One thing you can do to change this trend is converse “more” and broadcast “less.” Don’t blast tweets constantly about your company products or services or about your MLM expertise.
  • An astounding idea – follow back people who follow you. Why are you so picky when they weren’t? (See my thoughts on Following Back http://bit.ly/8tBjwP)
  • Don’t set up auto DM’s that pollute the environment. Go Green, I say, and don’t litter Twitter with spam DM’s. Experienced users don’t like them or trust the links within them.

Twitter can become social again and we can change the trend. If we don’t then Twitter will soon go the way of AM Radio or Newspapers and the only people tuning in will be the pitchmen.

Posted by: Mike Whitmore | May 10, 2010

Mike’s Twitterisms #4 – My Love of Nutella

There’s been a widely publicized and exaggerated report that I’m a huge Nutella fan. Well, it’s true, I am a fan and I’ve added to that mystique by tweeting about it frequently. I also use the phrase, “All Hail Nutella” in my Twitter profile.

When I first joined Twitter I didn’t have a clue as to what I should write for my Profile, but I knew I didn’t want it to be blank. So I wrote some basic info and then included that bit about Nutella as an afterthought and thought it would be funny. In fact, at one time I tried to take it out of my profile and people noticed and asked me to put it back. In fact, they said it was the best part of my profile! Okay then…

Now I do love Nutella, believe me and at home we might go through a jar of Nutella once or twice a year. Moderation is a good thing, you know, even with Nutella in the cupboard.

What I noticed on Twitter though is that my love of chocolate became part of my shtick. It has become part of my online persona, if you will, and it’s been fun connecting with lots of people. In fact, one tweep actually mailed chocolate from Switzerland to our home for our family! I’ll tweet about humor or social media interest or whatever kinda crosses my mind at the time. You need to find your voice (or the voice of your business) and have some fun.

Some great examples I look to include tweeps like:

@billybaty and @LoriMoreno where motivational quotes might be their thing.

For my pal Darren @williger it’s sushi and taking fun photos when he’s out and about.

With @juliaroy it’s fun fashion, humor and great blog updates and @BlondHousewife tweets about work silliness, her hubby and beltway political sarcasm.

There are SOOOO many examples and great tweeps to follow. If you’re looking for ideas on what to tweet just think of what your interests and passions are, what makes you laugh, what entertains or topics of interest. You’ll be surprised how many others share your interests and will connect with you.

Posted by: Mike Whitmore | May 3, 2010

Mike’s Twitterisms #3

If you’re new to Twitter, like I was on February 5th, 2009, once you’ve setup an account you might be asking yourself, “Now what?”

Great question. My teammates at Fresh helped me get started on solid footing and coached me along the way for several weeks. This post will help you get started so you can get the most out of your initial foray into Twitter.

Remember, Twitter is part of the Social Computing / Social Media world, so a lot of these first steps will be about giving everyone a better idea of who you are and what you’re about. (We won’t ask you for your account credentials, your firstborn, nor will we purposely connect you to any of the royal family of Nigeria.)

10 Twitter Initial Steps:

  1. Make sure you have a profile pic of something other than the standard Twitter bird. Weather it’s a company logo, a personal pic (which I use and recommend for most users) or some interesting object at least it’s not the standard bird. A unique profile pic lends credibility to your account.
  2. Web page Fill this in so people can find out more about you whether this leads to a personal blog, company site, your Facebook  or LinkedIn page or whatever. Give us something where we can find out more about you and why we would want to connect with you.
  3. Your Bio should be filled in. It can be funny, informative, sarcastic, or whatever, but make sure it’s filled in with more info about you.
  4. Twitter will recommend you follow some people. This is a good idea for many reasons. It shows you’re interested in others, which means others may find interest in you. It shows you’re here to possibly listen as well as tweet – again, key to being in social media.
  5. Design – I suggest you at least pick one of the other Twitter designs that are available other then the standard blue clouds. Again, this means you cared enough to pick something other than the standard. Getting a custom background is a GREAT next step and you can design your own or other firms (including mine) can help.
  6. Followers / Following Ratio – It’s really important to keep these numbers as balanced as possible. Initially you’ll follow more people than are following you, but as the numbers grow keeping them close to a 1:1 ratio will give you more credibility and will yield more followers for you.
  7. Go to Wefollow.com and setup some terms there for your areas of interest. This will help you find interesting tweeps to connect with based on keywords.
  8. Have fun and find your voice. Enjoy the ride and relax. Eventually you will find what works for you, your firm, your community, whatever it is your trying to accomplish by being on Twitter with time. It took me a few weeks, maybe 6-8, and still I find I change things up once in a while to keep it fun.
  9. Tweet Regularly – even more specifically, tweet daily! Early on I asked if there was an ideal number of tweets per day that yielded the best follower growth. The answer from HubSpot was 22. See http://bit.ly/7vB8q0
  10. TWEET SOMETHING – Your experience with Twitter will be much more complete as you engage with others. If you’re at a dance it’s hard to have a good time standing at the wall. Same with Twitter, so tweet away.  I would post at least 5-10 tweets on your first day.Here are some sample tweets you may use if you like. Just copy and paste these in, kind of like a Twitter Template!
  • Hey all – welcome to my first tweet! I look forward to learning more about you.
  • I own a [type of pet] and my pet’s name is [pet name goes in here]
  • Hello Tweeps – I’m new here. Can you recommend others I should follow
  • I live in the [city name here] metro area and my favorite Led Zeppelin song is [name of favorite Zep tune here]
  • That @mikewhitmore is one cool tweep.
  • I recommend reading and following @mikewhitmore at his blog http://bit.ly/4Oi1Gi
  • My favorite YouTube videos are at http://bit.ly/7d5SIB
  • My favorite place for sushi is [insert favorite sushi place here]
  • One of my all-time rock idols is [insert favorite rock idol here]
  • My favorite Star Trek episode is [enter favorite Star Trek episode name here]

Hopefully this will get you started – and comment here or tweet me if you have questions.

All the best!

Posted by: Mike Whitmore | April 28, 2010

House Concert

Some of you have asked which artist from my recent post (Music & My Phlebotomist) offered to perform a house concert in Seattle. It’s none other than Grammy Winning Artist & Producer William Ackerman!

Since posting he and I have been chatting back and forth about our love of music, different artists we love and then this concept of doing a concert in a home in Seattle with another great artist, David Cullen. Can you believe it? Yeah, I can’t either.

We’re still working on the details, but I’m excited as heck even to be in contact with one of the artists whose work I’ve respected and loved since the first day I heard it back in college.

Posted by: Mike Whitmore | April 22, 2010

Music & My Phlebotomist

I had an amazing experience with my phlebotomist today.

No, seriously. And I’ll bet most of us could not claim that. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

We were talking – wait a minute. Strike that … He was distracting me from what he was about to do in sticking me with a needle. How? He asked me what my outside interests are, what I “do”, when I’m not getting needles stuck into me. I told him the usual, “Well I’m the President of this and I’m on the board of that,” blah blah blah.

Then I told him about my passion for music and how I’m a “recovering” drummer and learning to play guitar. This sent our conversation in a whole new (and much more amazing) direction. He told me how his wife got him a new trumpet and lessons for his recent birthday. (Notice that the two come as one gift.)

But here’s where the magic came into the conversation.

He said he used to be into just rock music. Then, one day while in the library at college, he decided to look through their music section. He stumbled upon a Miles Davis CD and listened. And he listened again, again and again. Four times all the way through the entire CD he really listened.

The music moved him in a very poignant way, right to his soul and he’s never forgotten that moment. It changed his life, influenced his music tastes and his understanding of the power of music.

That reminded me of another friend who told me about hearing The Doors first album at college. He was moved as well and the memory of just sitting and listening – really hearing the music – always stayed with him.

For myself I remember several albums that affected me. Moody Blues & Days of Future Past, RUSH’s Moving Pictures, William Ackerman’s Conferring With the Moon, Dire Straits Brothers in Arms and others.

There is sublime power within music that stirs the soul, creates indelible memories, strengthens friendships and shared experiences and even distracts the haughty and prideful from the dreadful phlebotomist’s poke.

May I suggest that each of us pause and pull out one of those treasured recordings this week or this month and just sit and listen, really listen once more?

Then come back here and share with us your experience?

Posted by: Mike Whitmore | April 18, 2010

One Year

One year after Deborah’s passing I posted the following, reflective thoughts on how I was managing. I had no plans to post any additional pieces here, but I have a friend who’s “hanging in” today. Sometimes that’s all you can do –

One Year

Originally posted by Mike Whitmore, Friday, June 12, 2009, 7:07 PM

Hello everyone,

I can hardly believe it myself as it seems like yesterday, but it was a year ago today that I raced from the Hospice Center to pick up Alexis so we could all gather as a family to her bedside. Alexis completed an oil painting and she wanted mommy to see the finished painting she had worked on for several weeks. The painting is of a mother and daughter sitting together on an elegant park bench, dressed in white with matching hats.

That evening at the hospice we all remember Deborah opening her eyes at two distinct moments. Those of us with her recall these times with vivid clarity –

First, when her father, Doug, came to her bedside. He had traveled by train (he’s afraid to fly) to be at his eldest’s side. There was a very tender moment when her eyes widened with a look of recognition and love was shared though she could no longer speak.

And second, as Alexis showed Deborah the painting she completed.

If I recall correctly I believe that was one of the last times she opened her eyes before she passed away a few hours later. Deborah’s mother, Susan, and myself were the only two in the room when the final moment came.

The times when my heart is most tender is when I recall her sufferings. Oh, how my heart aches and the tears come so easily even at this moment. And then, if I welcome the thought, comes the joy of knowing she’s no longer there in that hospice bed.

Before we had children, back when we had only the Nissan truck with no AC, Deborah and I took a road trip to Durango. If you recall, we took several trips in that truck during the HOTTEST summer on record in Utah. We were, certifiably, crazy. (Not as crazy as her two brothers, however, who rode 50 miles in the back of that uncovered truck during a snowstorm with two sleeping bags and a tarp while IN SHORTS!)

We drove from Provo down to Durango to meet up with my dad, his wife and my sister for some fun in Mesa Verde. Cool place, unlike Utah. Utah was 115’ F and Mesa Verde was maybe 105’. We wore shorts and used that handy water bottle again.

Now I have a fear of heights. It’s silly, irrational, but REAL. And at one point in our adventure we had to climb a wooden, rickety, ancient ladder about 20’ almost straight up. Below us was the canyon above which the dwellings overlooked. I’m convinced archeologists, who have no idea what happened to the inhabitants of Mesa Verde, haven’t looked around in the bottom of that canyon for bones because I’ll bet most of them fall off this thing.

And what, to my surprise, was it not only one 20’ ladder, but you had to go sideways and then up a SECOND 20’ ladder. OSHA would have had a heyday here. No way were these things built to code.

Being the manly fella that I am I was trying to psych myself up for this <gulp> adventure. But I wear my heart on my sleeve and Deborah was having a grand old time teasing me. Oh yeah. She was a professional tease. Agents kept calling her offering $$$ and contracts. (Just ask her crazy brothers!)

So she’s teasing away, I’m trying to act manly in front of her and the rest of the family when we hear a bloodcurdling scream.

“NOOOO DADDY!! Don’t make me do this!!”

Some little girl, maybe 5 years old, was scared stiff. Frozen. Wouldn’t climb with the party. So her dad was scaling this contraption while picking her up (she’s frozen, mind you) and pulling her out towards himself and then putting her up one rung at a time. All the while she’s screaming and it’s echoing through the canyon, park rangers hearing this, I’m sure the bones down below were quaking and all the while I’m thinking, “You go girl!!”

At that moment I felt the same way, and while I couldn’t scream like a 5 year old inside Deborah knew that’s exactly how I was feeling. And she was having a heyday with it.

I laugh about that too now that I’m safe in a comfy chair and thinking back on that day.

But when Deborah passed I felt like I was frozen, unable to move, think or function. And I felt my Heavenly Father pulling towards him and helping me find the next rung. And I also know that Deborah was supporting me helping me to make it. She was and is that kind of friend and lady.

Life does go on in the Whiltmore home. Gabby just got baptized last Saturday And Amy made this amazing video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhVutTyGSKQ

But one day, not too far distant, my eyes will widen with recognition as did hers. And Alexis will sit next to Deborah, dressed in white on a very elegant bench in a very sacred place.

Posted by: Mike Whitmore | April 17, 2010

Okay For Now

This posting was written as part of my first blog which I started as my first wife, Deborah, was going through her chemo treatments for breast cancer.

During my opening keynote at Social Media 201 on April 15th at Microsoft, I related how I discovered the depth of connection to so many came via the blogging medium. Not only did I find writing very therapeutic to myself, I found that it became therapeutic to many as we walked this road together. My hope is that by sharing our experience that others may find comfort and hope.

This post was written a little over a month after Deborah’s passing.

Originally posted on August 18, 2008 at the Lotsahelpinghands Blog Site

Good evening all! I hope you’re well and at peace. I’m okay and I should explain what okay means for any unfamiliar with the term. Okay means “getting by” or “coping with” or “I’m comfortable with my body image” or “Okay, hands up and pass the chocolate” or something like that. If you’ve seen the movie “Babe” (a favorite of Deb’s and mine) the line, “That’ll do Pig, that’ll do.” comes to mind. I’m okay.

Now there are moments where I’m “Unbelievable!!” and that statement could mean I’m doing unbelievably well or bad or . . . ? It’s open for interpretation. The emotions still flow and frankly if they didn’t I would be concerned. I meet with a grief counselor tomorrow morning to cover things with me and then we’ll talk about the children afterwards.

Did I ever tell you that I actually caught arachnophobia from Deborah? I didn’t think phobias were communicable diseases, but I assure you they are. The infection took time to show up in our relationship, but it definitely matured sometime after 1993.

You see, my dad is a graduate of Key West High School, aka the Conchs. Notice that the school mascot isn’t named after something sleek or fast like the Sharks or the Barracudas or something deadly like the Man’o War or Sea Urchin. No, the mascot is a big, loud, shell. Go Conchs!! Well, I guess that’s a better yell than, “Go Sea Turtles!”

Anyway, in 1993 dad and his siblings flew the family down for his 30 year high school reunion and we made a family reunion of it as well. We stayed in this amazing place that had several villas surrounding a pool in the heart of Key West. The room Deb and I were in was HUGE with a bed that was the largest bed I’d ever seen for both length and width and the ceiling peaked upwards with the top of the peak right above the center of the bed.

As we crawl into bed that night Deb spots a tiny (I mean itsy-bitsy) spider at the peak-point 25’ above our heads. If there was an inconvenient spot for that little fella to be it was right there, because even standing on the bed, with a broom, jumping up and down I couldn’t reach him. To be honest I think that’s why he picked that spot. Safety First!! So I jump and I huck the broom at him with Deb encouraging me (i.e. chewing me out) on the side of the bed. And she let me know there was no way she was getting back in that bed or going to sleep with that spider hanging out right there.

I grab the can of bug spray and it sprays a few feet, but still not enough even with me jumping and brooming away. So I go for a pillow. On the third throw Mr. Spidey decides that Safety First means a rapid descent and with all the commotion he successfully drops behind the headboard of this crazy, massive bed! Now the battle becomes trench warefare, but he’s on my turf and he has no knowledge of my tactics. Deborah had turned me into a trained killer and though I was only in my undies I had the spray and the broom. With Deb straining to keep her screams quiet I finally dispensed of the little fella in the usual manner.

Sweating from the ordeal and exhausted from the fight we climbed into bed. We spoke about the epoch battle as the scent of bug spray hung in the air and bade each other goodnight. And just as we were turning out the lights, that’s when she spotted the gecko . . .

I am so touched by the verbal and written responses I’ve received from these entries that it will be hard for me to stop writing. Thanks for your patience with me and your feedback and I hope these are as helpful for others to read as they are therapeutic for me to write. Many of you have remarked at how well you believe we’re doing as a family and, once again, I have to give credit to God. There’s no other explanation for this.

If I may – there’s a great quote from scripture where God tells us, “. . . men are that they might have joy.” One of the definitions of Joy from dictionary.com is, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” So if I’m Okay now when does this Joy come about?

The best way I can relate my thoughts here are to say that I have absolute confidence that God lives and He has a plan for all of us. He shares that plan through many channels including His word whether it comes via answers to prayers, through scripture or through prophets. And I can have perfect faith in Him. That knowledge brings joy to me even in the midst of my despair.

One other quote as to the state of the spirit after death, “Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.”

When I consider that Joy will come and that Deborah is in that special place then I can be okay for now.

Being okay means I’m also open to talking about all that has happened, so please don’t feel hesitant to talk about any of this with me. I won’t take offense and if the timing isn’t good I will let you know. But so far I find it helps to talk.

It also means I can be spontaneous where we could not really be that way before. Drop in! We’re usually fooling around doing something fun actually. And we have air conditioning, so that’s always a good excuse to come over. We’re hip on visitors.

Hats off to Deborah’s mom who is still here by the way as she has accomplished many mammoth tasks. Susan has organized years worth of pictures into photo albums. Remember when pictures used to come on thick paper? Well, we had two huge boxes filled with double and triple shots that we never organized and she did it. She also organized my filing cabinet (which was a Stephen King novel in the making) and went through all the kid’s clothes in storage. She also started the process of cleaning out Deborah’s clothes and such from our closet . . . frankly, a task that I could not bare to do.

Susan leaves for home this Friday and I’m not sure how we’ll function then. She’s been a huge help for me and the children.

But I’m okay. Deb trained me well as I mercilessly killed itsy-bitsy’s relative tonight in the bathroom.

Love,

Mike

Posted by: Mike Whitmore | March 11, 2010

Ode to Workers Everywhere

My grandfather was a mortician and a deputy county-coroner while my grandmother owned a well-known restaurant in our hometown. We kinda figured we had the best of both worlds if a customer became ill for some reason. My first job began when I was 13 years old washing dishes with the family business.

Growing up in the restaurant business taught me an important lesson, namely, that when I grew up the last thing I wanted to do was own a restaurant.

When I came back from my first year of college I needed a job, but didn’t want to go back into the family restaurant. My mom was really encouraging me to work with my granddad, but I didn’t like the thoughts of being in his line of work.

You see, a coroner’s job is to pick up the body when someone passes away outside of a hospital. Coroner’s are highly trained and investigate scenes of crimes, accidents, suicides or, as I saw my first day on the job (thanks Mom!) when someone passes away at home.

The older gentleman we picked up died of starvation at home. He lived with another older gentleman and they were both alcoholics. Willie explained that alcoholics can starve their systems of nutrients because rather than eating they will often just drink.

Granddad dispelled my angst about what a coroner does via this explanation. Society works because people fill needed roles. He saw his work as an act of service because he was honoring the person who passed away by treating their body with respect, investigating any odd circumstances and preparing them for a proper burial.

I’ve always remembered that lesson and appreciate the chance I had to work alongside my granddad. He’s always been an example of compassion and love to me.

Now, to my point, I want to give a shout-out to all those who work around me in whatever capacity. When I see people laboring I often think of my own responsibilities as a husband and father and how much I enjoy providing for my family. I’m sure others are working for their own reasons special to them.

Occasionally I go through a McDonald’s drive through and the guy that works there is probably the happiest man on the planet! He’s also fast and efficient. The Fish Guys at Pikes Market in Seattle are a riot to watch, buy from and speak with.

There are so many examples of people happily working and contributing all around me including those incredible restaurateurs.

My sincere thanks and shout-out to you all!

Mike

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