25 Things You May Not Know About Me

25 Things

25 Things You May Not Know About Me

My friends Heather Strout and Derek Showerman recently wrote blog posts on the “25 Things You May Not Know About Me” – and Heather ‘tagged’ me on her blog to add my own 25 things.

Actually, this turned out to be a fun exercise as I thought about the bits of my life that people probably don’t know about me:

  1. I met my wife Nancy on a blind date and she is the best thing that has happened to me (and I don’t tell her enough how important she is to me).  We’ll be married 10 years in June and we share our anniversary with my parents.
  2. I have 4 great children – Scott-18, Brian-16, Henry-8 and Kit-2, and I can discuss anything from college admissions and AP classes to Sponge Bob and diapers.
  3. I was born in Toledo, Ohio (the Glass Capital of the World and home to the Toledo Mud Hens) and grew up in Oregon, Ohio (a suburb directly to the east of Toledo and not to be confused with the state of Oregon which is actually pronounced differently).  There was a Humbarger listed in a Revolutionary
    Toledo Mud Hens

    Toledo Mud Hens

    Regiment from Pennsylvania, but I haven’t figured out if I’m related yet.  My parents are still in great health, and my older sister Linda lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio and my younger brother Gary who lives in San Francisco.  As John Denver noted in his famous and hilarious song about Toledo, “Saturday Night in Toledo Ohio is like being nowhere at all” which pretty much sums up why I moved to Minneapolis after college.

  4. My first job was as a paperboy delivering The Toledo Morning Times, and I also shelved books in the public library during high school.
  5. I’m an Eagle Scout – and the highlights of my scouting career were the two high adventure trips I took (hiking at Philmont Ranch in New Mexico and canoeing in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota and Canada).
  6. I’m the Cub Scout Leader for my youngest son’s Cub Den – and I look great in my uniform.
  7. I played ice hockey during the 6 years I lived in Minneapolis, and I’ve been living in California (either Hermosa Beach or Manhattan Beach) for the last 21 years where I dumped hockey for beach volleyball.

    Sunset at Manhattan Beach

    Sunset at Manhattan Beach

  8. I have visited all 50 of the United States – including those hard-to-believe-anyone-would-visit states like North and South Dakota.  I’ve also visited Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland, England, Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, Mexico and Brazil.
  9. I am a huge fan of Natalie Merchant (with or without the other 9,999 Maniacs) and Nanci Griffith.
  10. I also love marching band music because I played cornet in Bowling Green‘s marching band for 4 years during college (Go Falcons – Ay Ziggy!).  I am not musically gifted and constantly pissed off the music majors because I never knew if I was in tune or not – but I could play very loud.

    Bowling Green

    Bowling Green

  11. My favorite all-time baseball team is the 1968 Detroit Tigers and I can still name the starting lineup.  The Tigers and Mickey Lolich won the World Series over the Cardinals and Bob Gibson in 7 games that year, but now I’m mostly an Angels fan.
  12. I prefer a well-crafted micro-brew over any other adult beverage.
  13. I’ve been a runner for 33 years – and have a best times of 4:41 in the mile and 2:04 in the 1/2 mile (but not since high school).  I also ran the Cleveland and Twin Cities Marathons, but I’ve retired from that distance too.  Scott, my oldest son, seems to have caught my running gene too.
  14. My greatest athletic feat is swimming the 2-mile Pier-to-Pier swim from Hermosa Beach to Manhattan Beach (twice) because I had to overcome my Midwestern fear of unseen creatures and not being able to touch bottom.
  15. I have never smoked pot – which probably disqualifies me from ever being President of the United States (until I decide to light one up).
  16. I could watch M*A*S*H re-runs any time of the day and now that West Wing is in re-runs, the only must-see TV for me currently is This Old House and Top Chef.
  17. My favorite movies are Bull Durham, Mystery Alaska and The Sound of Music – and I could watch them anytime too.
  18. I was the drum major for my high school marching band and had to learn how to twirl a baton.
  19. My family used to vacation for same 2 weeks every summer in the same cabin on the same lake (Big Manistique) in the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan).
  20. I’m a CPA and still hold non-practicing licenses in Ohio and Minnesota.
  21. Tony Packo’s Hungarian Hot Dog restaurant in Toledo is my favorite restaurant, but I only eat there when I visit my parents.  Tony Packo’s is in the same neighborhood that my mom and grandparents grew up in East Toledo, and Jamie Farr memorialized the restaurant in several episodes of M*A*S*H.  Whenever celebrities come to Toledo, they always swing by Packos to sign a hot dog bun and the walls of the restaurant are covered with signed hot dog buns.


    Tony Packo's in Toledo

  22. I cut my own hair and haven’t visited a barber in 12 years.
  23. I wear boxers.
  24. My high school computer class used a teletype terminal and we stored our programs on paper ticker tape.  My first college computer class used IBM punch cards – and I got to use one of the first Macintoshes when they came out in 1984.
  25. I’m turning 50 this year and my first memories are of the activities around President Kennedy’s assasination and funeral.  I remember being royally pissed off that my cartoons were pre-empted for round-the-clock TV coverage.

So, who else wants to share?


Life Without Limbs – No Problem

Nick Vujicic Surfing in Hawaii - From Surer Magazine

Nick Vujicic Surfing in Hawaii - Surfer Magazine

Nick Vujicic was born 26 years ago in Melbourne, Australia without any arms or legs.

Last night, Nick was a guest speaker at our church in Manhattan Beach.  The audience was overflowing and rapt with attention for more than an hour.

Nick’s message was very inspiring and inspirational – in fact, my 16-year-old son said Nick was the best religious speaker he had ever heard.  Besides being a great motivational speaker, Nick pokes fun at his infirmity and told several stories that had the audience in stitches including one about him being stuffed in the overhead bin of an airplane.

His message is not to get people to feel sorry for him or to have people stop complaining about what’s going on in their life because they actually have it easy (or easier than a guy without any arms or legs).

Instead, his message was one of love, hope and inspiration.  He talked about how he first wondered how God could failed him and then he realized that God created him for a purpose.  He discovered that he had a gift to share and decided to live as passionately as he could.  Nick was excited to share that he was recently ordained as a pastor.  He just returned from a 10-week trip through Africa and Asia where he spoke 150 times.  In front of the audience, Nick gets around pretty good for a guy without arms or legs and after a while you don’t even notice his condition.

If you ever get a chance to see Nick in person, definitely do it.  In the meantime, you can check out Nick’s website – http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/ – and some of the YouTube videos below.

Here is an example of Nick speaking:

And here is how Nick gets around:

Happy Birthday Mac!

On January 24, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh.  And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984”  (final tagline from Apple’s commercial for the Mac on January 24, 1984)

The Apple Macintosh was introduced 25 years ago today during Super Bowl XVIII.  I remember watching the famous commercial during the game and quite frankly, I didn’t get it.  Several months later, I actually got a Macintosh to ‘play’ with at work.  I was working at Peat Marwick (now KPMG) as an auditor at the time, and Peat Marwick decided to use the new technology of personal computers in our audit process.  I was lucky enough to be one of the chosen few to first learn about the Macintosh and then to use the Macintosh on an audit.   I fondly remember the beautiful music that accompanied the Mac’s training exercises and how cool it was to see a graphical user interface.  It was sort of portable too and everything fit neatly into a luggable padded grey bag.

Both the Mac and I have changed a bit over the years – and I feel that both of us have weathered the quarter century quite well.

So Happy Birthday Mac and here’s a look back at your beginnings:

If you’re inclined, here are a couple of other links to check out:

So who won the Super Bowl that day?  The Los Angeles Raiders humilated the Washington Redskins 38-9.

Wheaties – Still the Breakfast of Champions

Wheaties Boxes at Minuteman Parking Offices

Wheaties Boxes at Minuteman Parking Offices

I ate a lot of Wheaties when I was growing up, but I haven’t had any in quite awhile.  However, I was reminded of my Wheaties love when I was visiting the offices of Minuteman Parking (one of my clients) this week.  Chris Fox, the president and ower, has been collecting Wheaties boxes for more than 20 years.  And he has more than 300 boxes of Wheaties lining the walls of his office.

I knew that there had to be a reason why Chris was so passionate about his Wheaties box collection, so I asked him.  Here is what he had to say:

Wheaties is one of those old American brands that are synonymous with success.  The only people or teams that they put on the box are Champions (they also usually only sell them in the geographical area of the winner on the box).  You don’t get on a Wheaties box if you come in second place.  Here at Minuteman Parking we know that there is no room for second place.  The guy who comes in second does not get the contract or keep the customer.

I ask you, how do you get to be a champion?  My answer would be through commitments; commitments to excellence, to others, to self and to your own integrity.  To have a successful career or relationship, one must make and keep commitments.

Would how you live your life qualify you for a Wheaties Box?  If not, now is the time to change.

I think Chris hit it squarely out of the park with that answer.

BTW, while researching Wheaties, I also uncovered this related links:

I Have a Social Media Dream

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.

Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 80 today.  While we won’t officially celebrate his birthday until Monday, I want to pay my respects to this great man by borrowing from his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.  If you have not read, watched or listened to his famous speech recently, it is definitely worth it to take a few moments to remember MLK’s message.

In the same vein, I have some dreams about social media and community.

I have a dream that companies everywhere will embrace social media and start doing a better job of listening and collaborating with their customers, employees and partners.

I have a dream that community managers across the globe will be recognized for the multitude of talents and skills it takes to run a quality commmunity.

I have a dream that the companies who deliver social media-related products continue to innovate and bring great software and services to market. 

I have a dream that community platform vendors  will deliver the social media analytics that I want.

I have a dream that my social networking personas and profiles will be interchangeable and shareable no matter where I am.

I have a dream that social networking will become ubiquitious and as commonplace as the telephone.

I have a dream that individuals everywhere will use social networking technology to help others by sharing knowledge and to deepen their relationships with others.

Let social media “ring from every hilltop and mountaintop”.  And thank you Dr. King for all you did for the civil rights movement…

I’ve Seen the Social Analytics Future…

…and it’s already here.

Lawrence Liu from Telligent responded to my Walking the Social Media Walk blog post last week with some great comments and a suggestion to check out their Harvest Reporting Server.

So I did.

Being a longtime fan and advocate of business intelligence and analytics, I am wowed by what Telligent has done.  And they have certainly raised the bar in terms of what I expect from other community vendors.

After taking a quick spin with the Telligent Harvest Report Server this morning, here’s what I like about it:

  1. You Can Test Drive It – Telligent lets you actually test drive their software on their site with real data.  Not many vendors are brave enough or confident enough to put software in the hands of prospects (or competitors).  I really like the idea of playing with it by myself, so kudos to Telligent!
  2. It Behaves Like Google Analytics – I love Google Analytics and think it sets the standard for how analytics packages should operate and behave.  I use Google Analytics to monitor activity on the several websites that I manage.  My favorite part about Google Analytics is how it lets you chose your own date ranges and easily drill up and down into the data – and Harvest provides similar functionality with a 2-month default view or you can select your own time period.
  3. Easily and Visually Measures Trends – The reports are very visual and display the data over time – rather than just points in time.  Plus, the dashboard clearly identifies directional trends with green or red arrows.  You can also look at the information in the aggregate or easily drill down to the individual user or comment.
  4. Incorporates “Social Fingerprinting” – Telligent has come up with a unique way to analyze member behavior using 6 different axes that they call Overseer, Originator, Answerer, Asker, Commentor and Connector.  The interface provides a ‘spider-chart’ view of each user along each dimension.
  5. Introduces Sentiment Detection – This is another new feature that I have not seen in an social media/community analytics package, but I know that it has been on the top of everyone’s list for quite some time.  This feature measures the tonality of the traffic on your community and organizes it into positive and negative sentiments.  I am not quite sure about how well this works yet since it seems that you have to have clearly defined positive or negative words or phrases.  However, this is the first vendor I know who has taken a shot at delivering this type of information.

Granted, having great analytics will not necessarily make a great community.  However, providing rich and robust data in an easily accessible format definitely helps us community managers who are tasked with analyzing community activity and behavior – and turning that data into actionable insights.

Here is a screen shot of a User Report and some links where you can make your own judgments about the Telligent Harvest Reporting Server:

Example of User Report Tab from Harvest Reporting Server

Example of User Report Tab from Harvest Reporting Server

Now if they could only let me bolt this onto the community of my choosing (just like Google Analytics).

The Importance of Active Community Management – Proved With Real Data

I think most community experts would agree that active community management and ongoing strategy are vital to a community’s health.  However, I don’t know if anyone has been able to fully quantify the impact using actual community metrics.

Until now – when I decided to analyze some of the 2008 data for my former community during the period of active management and the period of passive management.

I was the community manager for a professional community from January 2007 through July 2008.  During that time, the community grew from zero to 4,000 members.  We were rigorous with the tracking of metrics and updated community analytics weekly through a combination of our platform reports and Google Analytics.  I was laid off in July due to financial hardship of the community sponsor, but the community doors have remained open albeit with no community management or minimal upkeep.

During the time of my involvement, active community management and consisted of:

  • delivery of bi-weekly email update newsletters
  • production of monthly webcasts
  • active blog posting and blogger outreach
  • uploading of fresh content each week
  • continual promotion of the community in various forums through guerilla marketing
  • ongoing brainstorming and strategizing with respect to improving the community experience
  • priming of discussion forums, and
  • ongoing communications with individual community members

It’s interesting to discover that a neglected community will indeed continue to function without a dedicated community manager.  However, the results are lackluster and the picture are not ‘pretty’.

For example, this is a screen shot from Google Analytics graphing the number of weekly visits to the community from 1/1/2008 through 12/31/08:

Google Analytics - 1/1/2008 to 12/31/2008

Google Analytics - 1/1/2008 to 12/31/2008

Additional details from the metrics include:

Membership growth slows significantly – Community membership grew 62% from January to July at a average clip of 55 new members per week.  From July to December, the membership only grew 13% at an average clip of 20 members per week.  This is a fall-off of more than 63% on a week to week basis.

Number of visits drop 60% – The number of visits from January through July averaged more than 1,300 per week.  For the second half of the year, average visits dropped nearly 60% to an average of 522 per week.

Number of pages viewed per visit drops 22% – Not only did the number of visits drop, the number of pages per visit also decreased by 22% with the average pages per visit going from 3.76 to 2.95.

Time on site decreases by 33% – Driven by the fewer page views, the time on site in minutes during active management was 3:38 vs. 2:37 after July which is a 1:19 or 33% decrease.

Fresh activity on the site since August has been pretty nonexistant as well – just 10 new blog posts, 4 new file uploads, and less than 25 discussion forum questions or comments have been posted.  For some interesting reason, the activity on the related LinkedIn group has picked up and included 15 new discussions in just the last week.  This definitely is worth taking a deeper look in a separate blog post.

So what does this mean?  Clearly, the analysis proves that active management contributes significantly to the health of a professional community.  And that it is ultimately important to the success of a community.