A New Chapter

After nearly five and a half years at the University of San Diego, I’ve decided to leave for a new job with Vistage International.  This move for me is bittersweet, since I have enjoyed my time at USD and I’ve built so many great friendships.  My new role will be as a marketing manager for a program called Vistage Inside, and I’m really excited about the new challenges I’ll face there.

My work with the MS in Global Leadership program has touched the lives of more than 350 graduate students in 24 cohorts  (myself included, as I graduated from the program in 2008).  I’ve become friends with many of these alums, and continue to enjoy hearing how they’ve made an impact in the world.

Our word-of-mouth marketing has remained a strong part of the recruiting strategy, and stands as a testament to the quality of the program and the level of satisfaction of our students.  We’ve made great strides using social media to communicate with alumni, students and prospective students.  More than two years ago we established a student-written blog and created more ways for them to tell the world about their experiences in a graduate business program that strayed from the traditional MBA.

I’m leaving behind a business school that has built a lot of momentum in the past few years.  The part-time MBA program was recently ranked #14 in the US by Bloomberg BusinessWeek and many of the same A+ faculty from that survey teach in the MSGL program as well.  As the USD school of business administration continues to gain attention on the national stage, so does the MS in Global Leadership.

My time with USD included two trips to China (Beijing and Shanghai), two trips to Buenos Aires, and numerous recruiting trips around the US.

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My time at USD will always hold a special place in my heart, since it was during these five years that I met my wife, got married, and welcomed our first child into the world.  I’m thankful for the time I’ve been able to spend with my son during his first (almost) two years, and the work-life balance I’ve enjoyed has been a situation most could only hope for.

Moves like this don’t happen without a lot of help.  And help shouldn’t go unrecognized.  So many people have been a part of my professional network for the past few years – offering advice, making introductions, writing recommendations, and providing encouragement.  Bob Schoultz, Dean Dave Pyke, and Stephanie Kiesel were instrumental in my professional development over the past several years.  Their support of my learning and development in the marketing community has been incredible.  Special thanks to Bob for giving me the opportunity to work at USD in 2006 and for his support, guidance, leadership, and friendship for the past 5+ years.  Thanks to the rest of the MSGL team – Stephanie, Sam, & Suzy for always having my back.

There are so many others I could (and should) thank here – but my word count tells me I’m already beyond 500.  If we got together for coffee, had lunch, exchanged emails, talked on the phone, met at a conference, grabbed a beer, tweeted, LinkedIn, Facebooked, or traded business cards – you deserve thanks.  It’s highly likely that your influence helped me reach this point in my career and I’m happy to have you as a part of my network.  If I can ever return the favor…

Most of all, thanks to my incredible wife Danielle for all your love and support.  I love you.

Stay tuned as I embark on my next adventure.  I’m anxious to get started, but first – let’s enjoy a great holiday season!

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Inside SCVNGR: My tour of one of the hottest mobile apps in higher ed

On a recent trip to Boston I had a unique opportunity to learn about one of the fastest growing mobile apps for the iPhone and Android:  SCVNGR.  In just under 9 months, SCVNGR has seen some pretty impressive growth, reaching 1,000,000 registered users in late February and partnering with too many companies and institutions to name.

My gracious host, Jeffrey Kirchick, invited me to come by the SCVNGR offices after I tweeted that I’d be visiting Boston within the next few days.  I gladly accepted the invitation, not really knowing a lot about the company. Boy was I in for a surprise.

I arrived at the SCVNGR offices in Cambridge around 5pm on a Thursday and saw a bustling, energetic group of folks – most of whom weren’t even close to packing up and heading home for the day.  This place was just how I imagined an internet startup would be:  modern workspaces, young faces, white boards galore filled with numbered lists, and of course, an espresso machine.  I even got a peek inside what they call the War Room, though I wonder if any of them have seen Dr. Strangelove and really know what that reference means.


After a brief tour of the spaces, Jeff and I sat down to discuss the exciting things that SCVNGR is doing in higher education.  Partnering with universities and colleges, SCVNGR is able to help schools create an unforgettable mobile experience for new students, which, in turn helps forge a more positive initial impression for a lasting relationship between the student and the institution.

What I liked most about SCVNGR is that they are carefully positioning themselves, not as a foursquare competitor (as you might expect), but instead working to carve out their own niche in mobile gaming.  In a couple of my previous posts (here and here), I’ve been pretty up front about my disappointment with foursquare.  It was great to see SCVNGR taking a new approach, and I think they’re seeing the results of making their app less about the check-in and more about the shared experience.  They’re also aggressively seeking corporate and education partners to help them get to the next level.

All in all, I think SCVNGR is a company poised for more exponential growth in 2011.  Backed by Google Ventures, they secured an additional $15M in funding early this year and they’re getting lots of attention in the mobile app world.

Thanks again to Jeff for showing me around and introducing me to a great new mobile platform.  I’ll be watching in the coming months to see how things progress.

What are your thoughts on mobile gaming and the future of SCVNGR?

Crowdsourcing: Teaching Social Media for Business

I’ve recently been asked by a University of San Diego marketing professor to guest lecture on social media for business in her MBA class.  While other institutions dedicate an entire semester to teaching social media, I’ll be working with a little less time than that:  I’ve got one hour.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

I could probably start by showing Erik Qualman’s “Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh),” but I think they may have already seen that.  I could start with some mind-blowing statistics about the growth of social media.  I could “borrow” some great ideas from presentations from notable gurus, ninjas, authors, and experts I’ve seen over the past three years.  I could even dig up some Harvard Business School case studies on social media for business.  I could do a lot of things, but I have only one hour.

So I thought I’d reach out to you, my regular readers and random guests who stumble upon my humble offerings for some help.

Crowdsourcing:  a term that Wikipedia claims came about in 2006.  A term so new that WordPress throws the spell-check flag (am I spelling it right?).  A term that means asking all of you what I should do with my one hour in front of MBA students who perhaps know more about social media than I assume.

So what do you think?  What should I cover in a marketing class with MBA students in one short hour on social media for business?  Who knows, my best responses might even get a mention in class.

I’d like to be able to point to this blog post as an example of building a social network (that has been cultivated online, as well as in person), asking said network for a little help, and receiving tons of thoughtful, engaging and inspiring feedback.  Is that so much to ask?

Lessons and Links: 3 Takeaways from 3 Days at a Marketing Conference

After spending 2.5 days at the Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education organized by the American Marketing Association, I’ve definitely come away with a ton of new ideas, energy, and renewed focus.  Below is a quick summary and my top 3 takeaways from the great event.

Attendees included folks from higher education from around the country (and a few I met from other countries).   From what I could gather, most of the participants were from the east coast (as shown by the big map displayed at the readMedia booth.  Note: the map continued to fill up and most of the biz cards were pinned to the wrong coast).

Credit: Amy Mengel, readMedia

First, my top 3 takeaways from the week:

  1. Measuring your efforts is key. At the symposium I attended in Chigago in 2008, measuring social media efforts was still a bit of a mystery to most people. Some argued it could be done, but few believed it could be done with any accuracy. Obviously, many things have changed and there are more ways to measure than ever. I heard it said best this week: you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  2. Mobile is one of the highest potential segments for higher ed. Read below for some impressive examples of mobile apps on campus.
  3. You’re not alone. I heard lots of people all expressing similar frustrations regarding centralized control of marketing functions, getting faculty buy-in, branding, logo policing, and more. Incremental progress is the way to go. Many of the presenters talked about 2007/2008 as the year they started some of these initiatives – they’re just now presenting results at a conference. Be patient, be realistic.

Ok, so on to my summary of the experiences I had at the conference.  Day 1 started with an “interesting” keynote from Marita Wesley, director of creative strategy development for Hallmark Cards.  Many people didn’t get her presentation style, as she blew through about 200 slides in a 45 minute talk, often spending no more than 2-3 seconds on a particular slide.  Still, I grabbed a few nuggets from her presentation on trends in 2010 and beyond – including a few interesting books to check out.

The breakout sessions that followed were great for me (we had 4 great choices for breakouts, so it was sometimes difficult to prioritized and decide which to visit).  First up was a session on mobile apps on campus with Lisa Lapin and Tim Flood from Standford University.  The school embraced mobile technology early on, and as a result, they’re pretty far out ahead with their iStanford application (12,000 registered users).  Follow the link for a great look at the features of the app.

Rounding out the morning, I sat in on the presentation by Michigan State and their branding company, 160over90.  I had a chance to talk with the folks from 160over90 and was really impressed with their work (not to mention the college-themed party they threw on Monday night, complete with foosball tables and a movie reel of college movies like Revenge of the Nerds and Rudy)!

The lunch keynote was Spencer Frasher from Google, who mainly talked about the importance of search in all types of marketing (surprise).

Day 2 of the conference was again very valuable, starting with a presentation by Teri Thompson, VP marketing for Purdue University.  Since Teri came from industry, her stories and examples were a bit different from the others we had heard throughout the week – and they were all great.

Tuesday’s lunchtime keynote, Macalester College President Brian Rosenburg, was also very engaging, and quite possibly created the most buzz from those on Twitter.  Just take a look at the video and you’ll see what I mean.  Over 60,000 hits on a low-budget masterpiece that has inspired some great conversations and press for a college of only 2,000 students.  Definitely a social media win!

Tuesday afternoon, Joe Hice from NC State stole the show, again talking about location-based services on campus.  Everyone was floored by this one, since they’re light years ahead of most for-profit businesses (at least from what I’ve seen) regarding their adoption of mobile apps and the full integration of mobile in their entire strategy.  Well done, NC State!

Tuesday ended with more networking and all those drawings that I never seem to win.  You know, drop your business card for a chance at a $100 iTunes gift card – that kind of stuff.  This time,  I actually won something… big… like a 32G iPad from PlattForm Advertising!  I mean, I never even win the $25 bag raffle at Trader Joe’s, so this was a complete surprise.  Thanks again, PlattForm!

So, yeah, I actually won two grand prizes.  Did I mention the $200 Apple Store gift card I picked up from Zone 5?  I actually won by scanning a business card with a QR code – pretty neat idea and had people talking.  Now I can actually go buy a few accessories for the new iPad!

Day 3 started with a great presentation by Dave Kissel from Zocalo Group, a “sustainable word of mouth marketing” company.  Dave focused on the use of social media and provided stories from outside higher ed to show how the fundamentals are still the same.  Finally, we wrapped up the conference with what was more of a conversation between everyone in the room about their best practices, burning questions, and predictions led by Rachel Reuben, Michael Stoner (great blog, by the way, which he used to help create the content of his presentation), and Fritz McDonald.

Some conference attendees wishing they could stay in SD a little longer!

Shout outs are in order to tons of other people I met this week, but the list is pretty long (and so is this blog post).  Amy Mengel created a killer Twitter list of AMA attendees who tweeted using the #amahighered hashtag.  Some of my favorite tweets came from Michael Perrone, Ray Witkowski, Amy Mengel, Rachel Reuben, Michael Stoner, and so many others!  Thanks again to everyone for sharing great ideas and stories.  I hope you all enjoyed our fair city and had some time to get out and see the sights.  See you in Chicago in 2011!