Make your Facebook page better

Facebook pushes traffic and helps build an online community.

We’re over that. Joining Facebook and learning lessons from it is in the distant past. It’s time to have that next conversation.

I’m interested in moving to the next step, creating more compelling Facebook pages that keep people coming back, attract more eyeballs, develop brands, help create communication and, of course, help push eyeballs.

I’ve been moving through some conversations, trying to pull out the best lessons. I’m not behind anything compelling yet, but I’d love to do something fun with NEast Philly’s incredibly active Facebook page.

Some worthy reading below:

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Fifteen businesses Philadelphia should poach from the suburbs and how they might

In a Technically Philly Entrance Exam back in March, Wil Reynolds called for reminding suburban companies of the value of being in the city: transit, regional hub, talent, quality of life, innovation and the like.

In truth, large companies followed their employees to the suburbs in the 20th century for many of those same reasons, in addition to space and taxes. I wonder if these companies would ever follow their employees back into cities. It’s tricky as Mayor Michael Nutter has repeatedly said during his tenure that he won’t compete with the region for business, and organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the Economy League have been built up around lobbying for the region, not for the city in particular.

I, too, believe in the strength of the region, but I think it’s disingenuous to ignore that Philly is both the region’s face to the world and its driving force, so Philly is the hub and everything after is ancillary. Fundamentally, I believe a strong region starts with a vibrant city. That means jobs to me. (Philly and Pittsburgh each have five Fortune 500 businesses headquartered there)

When I look at Philadelphia regional employers of large size, I can’t help but think of courting them for Philadelphia locations. It makes my blood curdle when I think of Philadelphia leaders who transplanted from homes in, say, New York but upon relocating here, they go to the ‘burbs. Admittedly, there are a lot of cultural and perception issues that go along with that, but I think jobs and high-profile businesses is a big part of that. So I got to thinking how you’d pitch these companies… and why it might never work.

Below is my list of businesses to chase and dissection of how.

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Three most important numbers to Philadelphians right now

Courtesy of the Inquirer

Three recently shared numbers stand out to me as being incredibly powerful, evocative and important for the future of Philadelphia:


The tiny, 0.6 increase in Philadelphia’s population from the 2000 to the 2010 U.S. Census, a small grow that halts an enormous trend: 50 years of population loss from a 1950 height of 2.1 million. MORE HERE


The gain from 2000 to 2009 of the number of 25 to 34 year-olds who have a four-year degree or higher and live within three miles of Center City, the third highest U.S. numerical total (beyond New York City and Boston) and one of the 10 highest percentage increases, 57 percent, in the country. MORE HERE And for broader perspective on youth and wealth growth in specific neighborhoods, despite citywide trends, check this Inquirer article out.


The number of children born to Center City parents between 2000 and 2008, a total that was 300 in 1990 andmore than 2,000 in 2008. Moreover, “nearly three-quarters of kindergarten students in Center City schools are drawn from downtown neighborhoods….So, not only are Center City denizens birthing, they’re staying” MORE HERE

And for dessert, though admittedly not nearly as broadly impactful, I offer you news that again Philadelphia has more per capita bicycle commuters (like me, mostly) than any other of the 10 largest cities in the country:

“…Of the nation’s 10 biggest cities, Philadelphia’s bicycle mode share (which means the percentage of commuters who bike to work) is twice as high as the next-best major city, Chicago.”

Five criteria for the flourishing of news entities of the future

Late at a bar in my neighborhood, a friend asked me: how are you innovative?

His general assessment was that Technically Media, a consultancy, and Technically Philly, a news site, weren’t particularly innovative or interesting for 2011. We’re an online-based startup of 20-somethings creating journalism-fueled content. That might barley bass for envelope-pushing in the late 1990s.

Sure, we think editorial strategy — in which all organizations create content to build audience to have impact — is interesting, and that’s a big part of what we’re doing, but I wasn’t satisfied.

So I’m going to share what I came to: the five criteria of news entities of the future.

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Homelessness in Philadelphia: what I learned working for a social services startup for a year

Last year, I left a position at a homeless advocacy nonprofit and returned to the journalism startup I helped launch. After sharing last month some of the member interviews I collected while working at Back on My Feet, I realized there were other lessons I wanted to share.

I worked for Back on My Feet for less than a year and while there, I wasn’t deep into our programming work, but rather promoting the organization by way of sharing member stories, using social media, managing our website and even working with traditional media contacts. You know, and growing staff interest in content creation, most notably video, like these 15 best examples.

But, you can rest assured that I tried to learn as much as I could with my time there about the social services work and agencies on which our mission and some of my colleagues focused. I was blessed with serving a role that let me meet, speak and share with more of our members than most any of our staff, outside those serving direct care.

I encouraged our staff to use our blog as a way to share homelessness news, and I myself curated weekly news roundups on the subject. I also picked the brains of anyone I came in contact with in or outside ‘the system’ as it is often called.

Given all that, I thought I might share just some of what comes to mind as take aways and lessons from the world of homelessness, particularly in Philadelphia.

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25 things I learned from the best newspapermen (and women) around

Dallas News reporter John Rosenfield sitting at desk, behind typewriter in Houston, TX in November 1948. Photo by Michael Rougier for Life magazine.

Tradition matters to me.

It gives us culture. It is a way to pay remembrance for those who came before. Yes, it’s a little bit fun.

In the world of news, there is a lot of tradition that needs to be lost. Unquestioned impartiality, balance without real context, an ignorance and distance of what funds it, a rigid belief in a strictly reactionary audience.

But, I’ve always felt, there is lot to be taken in from the past. I’ve been blessed to work alongside some talented and hungry older journalists who have imparted great wisdom on me. I thought some of that tradition was worth sharing as, in my own way, I try to preserve the best of it.

Below, find 25 pieces of advice about being a newsman that I take great value in.

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Technically Media meeting style: effective, productive and professional from home

Larry Summers, former Harvard president and National Economic Council director, asleep in an April 2009 meeting. Courtesy of IvyGate

During presentations, we at Technically Media have talked about our failures. We do a lot of speaking (me too), so we’ve also touched on the power of working in threes.

But I think we haven’t touched on what I think is our most innovative reason for sticking together for more than two years: our meeting style. And the power of drag of meetings are important to us.

OK, yah, it sounds pretty boring, and, well, maybe it is, but if you ask about our success (whatever it is) I think it has quite a bit to do with the meetings we’ve almost always held, from the very beginning.

It’s largely a style I’ve advocated for years that has now been further evolved, practiced and cemented into our culture with a lot of follow through from two colleagues who really buy into it and have crafted it on their own. So much do I prefer our meetings over others I often find myself getting into, that I often find myself bringing the style elsewhere.

You can see advice from Google and a startup.

Below, I share a typical agenda from a Technically Philly meeting, some unwritten rules we’ve adopted for these meetings and the phrases you’d be sure to hear at each of our meetings.

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9 YouTube videos that changed my perspective on the world and the lessons I learned

Above, TED co-founder Chris Anderson talks about the impact of Youtube and other online video has on the world.

Youtube was a powerful part of moving forward content dissemination on the web. Suddenly there was a free place to host, distribute and embed easily video that drove traffic and audience.

About which time Youtube was overwhelmed with kitten videos, personal photos looped under copyrighted music and clips of everything in between.

But, through all the muck, there is brilliance. That much I’ve found since I first clicked on a Youtube link in an email in my college sophomore year apartment and shared with my roommate. Universities are beginning to share lectures online, and more teachers, lessons and ideas are spreading on Youtube. (Perhaps not as much as kitten videos)

To prove there is more than the nonsense, below, I share the 10 videos that have made the biggest impact on me and the lessons I took from them.

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Serendipity is alive: where I get my news in 2011

Someone with great influence and interest in the future of news and journalism once spoke with great concern of the loss of serendipity.

When someone picks up a newspaper, she shared, that reader is very likely to come across a story he didn’t expect or otherwise know about. In fumbling with pages and jumps, a newspaper reader is exposed to a carefully packaged product meant to inform. Serendipity is a natural, important and wonderful byproduct, she said.

The internet is destroying all of that, she implied. With narrowing audiences and narrowing focuses, we don’t trip over the important news like we did we newspapers, she lamented. What’s the answer to that, she asked.

With all of the respect warranted, I started, I don’t agree with that premise at all.

Continue reading Serendipity is alive: where I get my news in 2011

Eleven lessons that shaped how I live my life

It came to mind that I toss around a handful of phrases with enough frequency and a long enough time that I feel they have sufficiently affected how I orient myself to what is around me.

Maybe some will have meaning to you.

  1. Fifty percent of people are better off than you, and 50 percent are worse off — It’s one of the more powerful sentiments that my father instilled in me. While I am probably even more privileged than that, the value is limitless.
  2. No judging in brainstorming — The worst thing for collaboration or friendship or teamwork or success or for anything is to question someone’s willingness to share an idea with condescension or criticism. Be kind to those who share their ideas and work with them.
  3. Make a list and keep it — Keep yourself accountable by listing goals, resolutions, priorities and the like. And then stick to them. Promises made, forgotten and never kept are of no value.
  4. Say ‘I don’t know’ and ask questions — If you don’t know something, admit it and ask the question that helps you find out.
  5. In almost all cases, it’s not as serious as you think it is — Calm the Hell down.
  6. Everything online is public — Yes, even e-mail or IM conversations. Consider anything you write or say today to be public. I picked up this logic in college and have tried to follow its underlying logic.
  7. Relationships aren’t business, business is relationships — Get those priorities in order and treat people in a way that reflects this reality.
  8. When you treat people like children, you get children’s work — It was my favorite take away from the very excellent workflow management book by 37signals and a concept I came to learn while working with high school journalism clubs, the members of whom I would treat as if they were professionals. Expect the work you want.
  9. Never admit a big defeat when you can claim a smaller victory — Think creatively about what good can come of a situation, in lessons or experiences or something else.
  10. Diversify everything: from your finances to your coverage — Don’t focus on one anything.
  11. Lust isn’t about sex; it’s about how little we care about each other — It’s something I read somewhere, several years ago, and though I can’t remember the source, it has had a profound impact on my understanding of fidelity. That treatment goes far beyond the physical.
  12. [Updated] Action is a virtue — There is always a reason to say no, so focus on why you ought to do something.
  13. [Updated] Come with Solutions not  just questions — Creativity can flow with conversation, but when bringing up a problem, concern or idea, come with a solution, even if it isn’t the best, have a suggested direction whenever in a meeting, particularly when dealing with other leaders.
  14. [Updated] Be the nicest to the secretaries, assistants, garbage men, janitors and postmen because they really make it happen — My father would be dismayed when people seemed to have a strictly hierarchical sense of who is important and who isn’t, particularly because, when it comes right down to it, the supposed leaders are most often not the ones who actually do the work.
  15. [Updated] Our worst qualities are often our best ones too, just described differently — So whether you’re manipulative or strategic; lazy or relaxed; high-strung or detail orientated all depends on perspective and what the end result is.
  16. [Updated] Luck and opportunity are both about 75 percent found and 25 percent created — Good luck and opportunity certainly come our way, but we still need to earn a healthy portion of it.
  17. [Updated] The only person responsible for your happiness is you. — Take ownership of what you want in your life and when the details are beyond your reach, find what you can grab.
  18. [Updated] “When you realize nothing is lacking/the whole world belongs to you” — Wise words from Lao Tzu
  19. [Updated] Fail fast or succeed big — A lesson from the startup world that teaches it’s worth giving it your all or moving on.
  20. [Updated] You can’t think outside the box unless someone is thinking inside of it — A good reminder for anyone who strives to be different. Remember to not bash those who conform or follow normal practices, because without them, nothing you do would be original.
  21. [Updated] You often don’t lose friends in a year, but you can certainly gain them — So travel, move, try new things and challenge, particularly when you’re young.

And, yes, the old Golden Rule is a good one, just try to treat others close-enough as you might want to be treated.

Do you have any other rules to live by?