My Blog: A Year in Review

Last week marked my 1-year anniversary of starting my own personal blog.  Since I’ve actually stuck with it and kept somewhat of a regular schedule, I now have a lot to look back on.  Thanks to all of you who have read, commented, and linked to my blog this year.

My Family at Grand Canyon - Sometime in the 80s

When I started my new blog, I set out with only a couple of specific goals:

  1. Write about subjects that interest me, such as marketing, technology, social media, travel, music
  2. Write at least one post per month.

As for the first goal, this one was easy.  I find a lot of interesting things on the web and I like to stay current on the newest social media trends.  I didn’t write much about music (besides recapping the concerts I’ve attended), but maybe I’ll do more with that in the next 12 months.

With 34 posts under my belt, goal number two was easily met.

So what were my favorite posts?

Ty Webb Has Real Klout

My personal favorite (mainly because it includes a strong reference to the movie Caddyshack) was my short blog on Klout, the new service that measures online “influence.”

My most visited post was written about what we can learn from the Chilean miner rescue from a leadership standpoint.

I also enjoyed writing (and re-reading this week) all my posts about my family and travel.  Honorable mention goes to my posts on marketing and related events I’ve attended.

So where will the next year take me?  Who knows.  I just hope you’re able to come along for the ride.

Facebook in Argentina

I recently returned from a 2-week trip to Buenos Aires with the most interesting professor in the world and several students from the University of San Diego’s MS in Global Leadership program.  They were studying business strategy in the global environment and I had the chance to tag along.

As a digital marketer, I like to pay attention to how businesses are using technology in their marketing mix.  In Buenos Aires I wasn’t surprised to find that traditional billboard advertising was very prevalent.  I also wasn’t surprised to see that most (if not all) contained some sort of URL.  It was extremely rare, however, to see a Facebook URL or icon – or any other mention of social media – in traditional advertising.  I also don’t recall seeing a single QR code.  Not much of this came as a surprise, since the country is still considered to have a ‘developing’ economy.

What did surprise me was the extensive use of Facebook pages by the local government (of all people!).  In fact, “el Gobierno de la Ciudad” does a great job with Facebook pages.  In nearly all of the public spaces, plazas, monuments, and parks, I saw signs like this one that directed visitors to a Facebook page that included a map of the area, photos, and lots of information.

As a first time visitor to the Facebook page, I was directed to a “Welcome” tab, which had a prominent call to action – “like us!”

Since returning home, I’ve done some digging and found at least 55 different pages created by the city of Buenos Aires.  Many of these pages have quite a bit of activity from different visitors – well wishes, comments, and questions.  What’s great is that the community administrator does a nice job of responding and really being part of the conversation.  They’ve actually created 55 different online communities for these public spaces.  It’s interesting to note that these aren’t all huge parks and major attractions, but rather small neighborhood public spaces.  Additionally, many of the Facebook pages include links to SlideShare presentations, YouTube videos, and other rich content.

So the city government in Buenos Aires has Facebook pages dialed in.  Maybe private industry will follow.  What overseas ‘best practices’ in social media have you noticed?

Traveling with the Most Interesting Professor in the World

In a little more than six weeks from now, I’ll be departing for Buenos Aires with a study abroad group from the University of San Diego’s Master of Science in Global Leadership program. The group will be taking a global business strategy course with a professor I’ve always enjoyed – Dr. Jaime Alonzo Gomez.

Dr Jaime Alonzo Gomez - The Most Interesting Professor in the World

 

Dr. Gomez would definitely be in the running for the “Most Interesting Professor in the World.” Consulting for global companies like Dell, WalMart CitiBank, and many others, Dr. Gomez actually has stories of his face-to-face meetings with company CEOs to accompany many of the HBR case studies used in class.  Students will have a chance to meet with execs from the Latin American headquarters from WalMart and discuss the challenges of bringing the American idea of the big-box superstore to Argentina.

Study abroad participants will also have plenty of opportunities to soak in the local culture through a city tour, a tango show, steak and red wine dinners, and a city bicycle tour.

I had a chance to go on this trip three years ago, when I was a student in the program and enjoyed it immensely. Here are a few pictures from my first time around. Best part is that my wife will be joining me for a week in the country and we’ll get to do a lot of things together. Stay tuned for a post in January with new pics and stories!

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The Value of Travel

I’ve been a fan of traveling ever since I can remember.  When I was young, my family would load up in the big red Suburban at least once or twice a year and hit the great American highways to another state – many times that meant several states.  Starting in Crandall, Texas, we were able to reach most destinations within a couple of days.  I recall enjoying the different foods, accents, and attitudes we encountered around the US.  We soaked in the local flavor, staying in modest highway motels and travel lodges.  We perfected the 10-minute gas/bathroom/dinner stop so we could always keep on truckin.’  As a result, I had visited nearly 40 states before I graduated high school.

John on the Alpine Slide, Durango, Colorado

My Family at Grand Canyon

As I grew older, we traveled further – including a trip to the (now former) Soviet Union when I was only 12.  I vividly remember trading “American” items like blue jeans and bubble gum that Russians didn’t have and couldn’t get for Soviet memorabilia and black market items.  It’s funny to think how even at that age I had a mind to negotiate with the traders and had to overcome cultural obstacles, language and age barriers.  I ended up with a few really cool items: a full-size Soviet flag, a Ushanka hat (complete with earflaps and the hammer & sickle pin), a set of matryoshka dolls, and a sailor’s dress uniform hat.  All that for some branded clothing that no longer fit – Reebok, Levi’s, and Nike.  I’d like to think I drove a pretty hard bargain, armed with the knowledge that they simply couldn’t get American clothing in the USSR.

A few years passed before I was overseas again – this time in Japan, Dubai, Singapore, Thailand, and Australia.  These were all port calls with my first Navy ship, USS RUSHMORE (LSD-47), in a pre-2001 terrorist attack world and it couldn’t have been more fun.  As a more mature person, I began to see the fundamental differences in the way many people outside the US live.  I remember encountering incredibly friendly people in each country.  I also got to try some new and interesting foods and had (what seemed like at the time) several near-death experiences with wild taxi drivers.

Since my time in the Navy, I’ve had a chance to travel even more. With USD, I was able to study abroad in Buenos Aires, where we looked at international business strategy while immersed in the local culture. We enjoyed visiting the South American headquarters for Wal-Mart and hearing their take on the recent currency crisis, dealing with Bentonville attitudes towards management, and stocking their discount stores with more food items than everything else combined (over half the store was food – fresh fish, wine, cheese – and all great quality!).

Also while at the University of San Diego, I participated twice in the Global Leadership Conference in Shanghai, China.  Both times the conference was preceded by a visit to Beijing, where we visited with an American expatriate who had lived and worked in China for nearly 20 years.  He expressed some of his highs and lows while working in China and gave some great insight for those who were considering making a career overseas.  We had a unique opportunity to visit the GM headquarters in Shanghai, where we heard a German manager speak about working for an American car company in China.  The entire trip reminded me of Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat and just how small today’s business world really is.

Climbing the Great Wall of China

Global Leadership Students at GM Shanghai

Between my family trips, graduate school, and the Navy; I’ve seen several countries and 44 of the 50 United States. Here’s hoping I can add more to that list very soon. One thing that stands out from a conversation in Shanghai in 2008: no matter where you are in the world, people are more alike than they’re different.