Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why social media is like Stone Soup

I have always loved the story of Stone Soup. In it, a hungry traveler only has a soup pot. He fills the pot up with water, puts a stone in it, puts it over a fire and convinces an entire town of people to contribute to his soup. The end result is something wonderful and everyone, including the hungry stranger, enjoys the delicious soup.

It got me thinking that social media started out pretty much the same way. You had this blank canvas of internet, and people just kept adding to it. We do it everyday on Twitter. Someone has something to share, and then someone else finds it interesting and retweets it, and so on.

A new person, or a person who has been on there a long time, fueled with all of this great information, can go off and create something wonderful -- all because they were open to this information that everyone freely shares. It's how passions are found and formed. You hear something, you try it out, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The great thing is that all you have to do is watch your stream, and maybe you'll see something else that might strike your fancy.

Sometimes in social media we get fooled into thinking everything happening in our own little network is all there is. It is a big world out there. There's room for everyone. Share freely and enjoy the rewards of your own Stone Soup.

Photo acknowledgement

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Countdown to the big......... BIRTHDAY!

This year I hit a milestone number. I have been planning the way I was going to celebrate for about a year now.  The plans have been many, and sometimes they change monthly, weekly and several times a day. It's not odd to have someone reaching a milestone plan their celebration, but you have to understand my history with birthdays to know the angst this particular one brings me.

My birthday is the day after Christmas. Yes -- the day after! After a month of preparation and partying for Christmas, who wants to celebrate the day after. I have grown up with "combined gifts", the obligatory birthday cake after Christmas dinner, or gifts forgotten. No school parties because everyone was on vacation, and for most of them - leftovers for dinner.

Now - not all of my birthdays have been the woe is me kind, as I got older, I started planning them myself. I've done the day after Christmas shopping (because doesn't everyone want to fight crazed crowds trying to get a bargain?!?), hitting the road to make the trek down to FL to see the parentals, and just staying in bed while everyone else cleans up the Christmas mess.  On and off the last couple of years, we've started going to sushi restaurants because that's the only food we haven't eaten during the month.

Yes -- the day after Christmas is quite the day to celebrate. We even had a suspension of the day as 8 years ago our first dog died on that day. My daughter refused to acknowledge the day as anything but the day Gizmo died for a few years. Thank goodness we've gotten past that!

That leads us to this year. The plans (all by me) have run the spectrum from taking a trip with the girls, taking a trip with the family, spending a week learning to be a rock star (yes - you can purchase this gift for me for $10,000), taking a limo to spend the day in the city, going to a spa, doing Karaoke, to planning my own party (complete with Pommery Louise champagne & purple M&Ms). Included in this plan is to wear a tiara the entire day. (We'll address that in another post).

Oh -- that brings me to the cake.  I want one of those fancy schmancy cakes. @CakeBossBuddy keeps ignoring my tweets. And........ it needs to be chocolate. My favorite. The one I've never gotten.

So what are the plans as of today? To spend the month celebrating in some small way. Doing the things that I love so that on the day it's no big deal. Or maybe, celebrate the month after. As for the actual day? Sleeping in and realizing it's just another day! I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How to lose 2 customers forever...

As you guys know, customer service is a huge part of what I do online. I pride myself in being able to turn around a volatile situation, always keeping in mind that the customer is always right, even when I know they aren't.

Last week I went to dinner with BFF @TwittyWoman and the guys. We went to a local restaurant (which, after much deliberation I have decided not to mention -- although if you follow me on 4sq...). Lets call it TR for That Restaurant. I don't frequent the restaurant much because years ago we had an incident there. We were out to dinner with another of our BFF couples and in the midst of a really good time, the appetizers were brought to the table and my husband immediately turned his away.  The 3 of us looked at each other, perplexed, as we watched him adamantly insisting that the waitress take away his appetizer. When asked what was wrong, he pointed out that there was a big huge ROACH in his dish. As grossed out as we were, my husband insisted that we didn't have to leave - and that it happens and we were sure that management would apologize. Dinner came and went  -- we even  ordered dessert and then asked for the check.  We dawdled expecting the manager at any time to offer us an after dinner drink, something in appreciation of us not making a big stink about the cockroach.  NADA. Okay, lets see if they comped us drinks, a dish -- anything.  Again, nothing. We were really shocked that they could be so silly as to not even mention the incident. We still didn't make a big deal, we just made the decision to stay away, and away we did for a couple of years.

Fast forward last month when my hubby had to meet a client. The client suggests TR as a meeting place and he says fine. The restaurant was closed for a private party, and the manager gave my husband a $20 gift certificate for his inconvenience.

Fast forward again to last week. BFF texts to say, "How about TR at 7:30."  I type out, "J will never go to TR" but before sending it, text J instead to tell him about proposed venue. I am surprised to see him answer, "TR is fine." "Perfect" I text the BFF. We start out at the bar and we have a drink and we only wait about 15 minutes past our reservation before we are taken to the table.  We're ready for another round of drinks so we order 3 glasses of wine. 10, 15, 20 minutes and the waitress finally comes over to tell us that our wine will be there "shortly" but they have run out of clean glasses.  We laugh at the absurdity of it. Another 10 minutes before we get our wine and our dinner. Thank goodness the dinner was good because the service was slow and slower. Each time our waitress came she seemed to give us less and less attention.

The bill comes and we put in the $20 gift certificate that we had along with $130 that was our part of the check. We joked about the waitress being able to figure everything out. When she comes back with the receipt to sign she tells us that only $9.00 could be used and only for one of the sushi dishes we ordered because it was only for sushi and the least expensive one at that. I was confused. Three of us had sushi, couldn't we use $18 of it if that were the case?  We look at the certificate again and surely it says $20 Gift Certificate with some really small writing on the other side that could only be read with a magnifying glass. This coupled with the really bad service is making me kind of mad.

The guys leave, but TW and I decide to stay and try to make things right. I want some satisfaction. We talk to the hostess who tells us there really is nothing she can do except get the manager on duty. Out walks this guy, and you know when you can tell someone is already on the defensive? I proceed to explain the gift certificate and how hubby got it and how I am only getting $9 out of a $20 gc. He says, "Well at least you are getting something."  And yes, I am -- but that's not what the certificate says! He goes on to say, it's not really a certificate, but a promotion to get people to try to the sushi. Well, okay, but 3 of us had sushi. so why not use the entire certificate? He can't really give us a reason except to say basically, "It is what it is." I say to him, "I'm in customer service and it's really not about the money, it's about the principal of it all." Look buddy, just say you're sorry, there's nothing more you can do -- but he never does apologize. What he says is, "It's not our fault we were closed, and goes on to tell me something that I know for a fact wasn't the truth, that my husband had to have gotten it on March.  NO -- he got it just a few months ago... my point to him is that why give it out at all? My husband didn't ask for it! I tell him that for a measly $10 he could have made a good faith gesture and we would have come back.  Instead, he is losing two customers FOREVER.

TW now tells him that her husband always has his Christmas party there and surely, he doesn't want to lost that!  Apparently he doesn't care about that either.  I tell him that I write a blog, Magnanimous Musings of Lu -- he should look it up because I will be blogging about this. He is unimpressed. And I am unimpressed with him.

SO... after even more deliberation, I think it's only right that I tell you that this is a restaurant in Smithtown... on West Main Street.... and they serve sushi, but they aren't a sushi restaurant but a seafood restaurant... and their name? Well it's the chemical equation for WATER.

BTW -- TW went back there to talk to the manager since her husband really does have his Christmas party there. She spoke with another manager, explained everything and said, "You know, really all my friends want is an apology."  Never once was she asked for our name, her name or any phone numbers and she never wrote anything down.  Needless to say they are looking for someplace else to party!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

To Jump or Not to Jump....

This weekend is a journey to small town USA - otherwise known as Ludlow VT. A jaunt that I didn't want to take because I was too busy and too jaded to be away from it all.  My bff owns a condo here and she invited us.  After much deliberation I decided to break down and go with hubby and youngest.

This afternoon we went to a rope swing. How much more quaint can you get than that? A rope that leads to a lake.  Very Norman Rockwell. I thought I was going to watch the kids have fun.  Instead, I got a lesson on life -- on facing your fears -- or being comfortable enough in your skin not to.

There are thrill seekers and there are those who play it safe and there are those who fall somewhere in the middle.  I know that I am not a thrill seeker, and I am quite comfortable in that knowledge. Never was -- never will be.  I am a thrill seeker in other ways, but not in the physical thrill seeking kind of way.

I don't do rides that dip (I once freaked out on Epcot's Norway exhibit).  I've never been on Space Mountain and the thought of bungee jumping or sky diving make me ill. I don't climb mountains or ski, snow or water. I can get up and talk in front of 1,000 people, but that physical thrill seeking just isn't my cup of tea. But I digress...

So off we went with 5 teenagers:  3 thrill seekers, 1 middle of the road, and 1 play it safer. C, the bravest of the thrill seekers and only boy present (my son -- a play it safer, chose to go hiking rather than have to say he didn't want to swing) quickly took the rope and swung right in. He continued to do so until his twin sister A took the rope, hesitated a bit, and away she went.  Thrill seeker #3 (K), who had never swung before, took the rope..... hesitated a bit, and decided she wasn't ready. She handed off to her sister N who is middle of the road (although I didn't know it at the time, I figured she was just like the other 3).  N hesitated, swung, but didn't let go and swung back, barely missing a tree, and gave the rope back to her sister K. K took the rope, swung and away she went. Exhilerated, she was hooked. This gave N the courage to go, swing and as she let go of the rope, held her nose and went into the water.

In the meantime, C, getting braver with each swing, was twisting and diving off of the rope into the water.  K also started twisting with gusto, and A followed suit, although a bit more reserved.  N just did her swings bravely in, but had no desire to twist and turn.

(See the kids jumping here:

Each one of them clearly demonstrating their outlooks on life by the way they approached the water. I asked the oldest M why she wouldn't go in. "Oh no Aunt Louise, I'm not sure I could hold onto the rope long enough, and I'm afraid I'd let go too soon and fall into the rocks." I totally identified with her. Even as a child I would have never swung the rope.

The difference between now and then is that then I would have felt defeated, feeling inferior for not having the courage to face my fears and have fun like the others. Today, in fact, right now as I am typing, the adults have gone back with the kids each to have a try at it. When one adult asked if I was going to go, I thought about the fun I had watching, knew there was no way I'd do it, and thought about how inspired I was to write about it.  "Nah" I said, "I think I'll stay behind and write."  I feel good about my decision. 

As a side note, M and my son went with them, both saying that they didn't want to swing.  When M came out and had on her bathing suit I asked her if she was going to try.  "We'll see Aunt Louise."  I'll keep you posted!

Just in.... Son (who insists that I report that he has swung before) and M did not go in!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Your mother would be SO proud

Today I was doing some customer service work for one of my clients. I had written a blog post for my business site awhile ago about online etiquette. I have been doing customer service online for close to 15 years (don't try to do the math - you know how old I am!) My experience is that people are extremely brave behind the face of anonymity. I have been in charge of teams of people and had otherwise intelligent people say the nastiest things to me - as their supervisor - and then expect no ramifications. They always stammer when confronted on their rudeness and when pointed out that they would never speak to a superior, or anyone, like that in person.

That brings me to today's scenario.  My client happens to send a decent amount of marketing emails. I am not expected to answer people who send nasty rude emails because they think our emails are stupid or they wish to be removed from our email list. I usually just remove them and do not even answer since they don't want to hear from us anyway. Today was different. I am tired of people not using the same manners they would use face to face OR even worse yet, maybe they don't have any to speak of. It is time for me to do a little Miss Manners!

I am plowing through the weekend worth of emails when I come upon the following, sent yesterday:
"Go and f*** your mother     you a**h**e     STOP sending me s**t

I want to reply (which is my favorite reply to rants like this) Your mother must be so proud... I think it, but I don't dare type it. I remove this member from our list and, still bothered, reply with the following:
"Thank you so much for your kind words about my mother. You have been removed from our mailing list."

Feeling good about my response, I continue along the emails when I find another email sent hours later from the first email yesterday saying...
"just f*** your mom a**h**e"

Ahhh I see they were having a good day. Knowing that I replied to the first email and don't want this email to go unanswered, I continue the "kill em with kindness" crusade. I reply again saying,
"Again -- thank you for your kind words."

As I'm ready to sign off, I see that I have a new email from my favorite buddy...
"look brother or sister i am trully sorry about those words i mean it     really sorry"

I giggle and know that I have made a dent in teaching this person a lesson. I decide to continue the lesson.
"Apology accepted.  Have a great weekend."  Before I even hit send I receive another email saying,
"no problem ma'm   sir"

I feel good that we've seen the light. This person will think twice before sending an email like that to an "anonymous" person.

I decide this is worthy of a blog post and I start typing.  Wanting to use the exact exchange I sign back into the email to start copy & pasting and see one more email from my friend...
"ohhh thank you so much and you have a great weekend as well
i am happy you accepted my apology"

Ahhhh - their mother would be SO proud!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mama gets an iPhone

I am a Capricorn. Capricorns by nature tend to be pretty serious folk. I don't appear that way to the outside world - I am outgoing and vivacious. But inside my head - I am pretty serious. I over think way too many things. The flip side though is that I am sometimes incredibly impetuous. That was very much the case with my latest purchase (doesn't it always involve a purchase?)

On the morning of June 24th, I decided to get up early so I could quickly get in and out of the Apple Store to pick up my brand new iPhone4 which I dutifully pre-ordered on the morning of June 15th (yes - I remember the day because I put it on my calendar so I wouldn't forget). I live seconds away from the Apple Store so I set my alarm and set out to get to the store a few minutes before it opened. I figured between setting it up and a few people in front of me, it would take no more than an hour.

Imagine my surprise when I actually saw a few cars ahead of me turning into the mall parking lot. I got worried when I saw a LOT of cars in the parking lot. I was horrified when I got into the court to find two HUGE lines.. one for unreserved, and one for pre-orders. I made my way to the end of the pre-order line and  tried to assess the waiting time. From my calculations I figured 2 hours. Right!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I'm back so what did I learn

I ended my digital cleanse on Friday and I thought I would be up and online at 9:01. The truth is I was exhausted from the night before and didn't rush back.

I don't know what I was expecting. I got a good amount of welcomes and ribbings (and a nasty comment said in jest that I chose to ignore), but it was very non-eventful. It made me think about an article from one of my favorite bloggers/writers Gretchen Rubin (author of the new best seller "The Happiness Project"). Many months ago she wrote an article on Unconscious Overclaiming. "unconscious overclaiming; i.e., we unconsciously overestimate our contributions or skills relative to other people’s." I think this is especially true with our time online.  So I guess I expected my return to be memorable.

I've been asked a lot about what I thought my digital cleanse accomplished.  I didn't learn anything new... everything I experienced I had already known.. maybe I had just forgotten about it since I have been enamored with social media since the mid 90s.  That's a long time and, social media has been my "mistress" since day 1. I thought I would accomplish a lot more, and I thought I would do a lot more without the distraction of social media.  I did however, become re-introduced to a lot of things that led me to the computer in the first place. This is not unique to me - I'm sure everyone can relate...

1) A wife and mother is not supposed to expect remote control time. The family was not pleased to have someone else requesting tv time.
2) I do not have enough seating area in our den and my "presence" during group time made things even more tight.  My kids did survive sitting on the floor just like I did when I was little.
3) I think I have adult ADHD. I cannot complete a project from start to finish without numerous distractions. Without social media, I just found other things to use as an excuse.
4) I do not need to let people know what I am doing every minute of the day.  It is fun doing things and enjoying them by yourself.
5) As much as I enjoy my virtual friends, my family and IRL friends are pretty awesome and I need to make the same time for them as I do for everything else.