Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One Last Wish for Happiness

Forewarning: This is one of those "make you choke up" stories.

My agency's president sent us all an e-mail the other day about an 11-year-old boy named Adrian Gerber from Caro, Mich. who is terminally ill with leukemia. A member of her church works with pediatric cancer patients like Adrian and passed along word that Adrian's illness took a turn for the worse and he was asking for one small thing - greeting cards. Greeting cards make him very happy, and his one last wish was to receive cards from the community.
So with heavy hearts, we each took a card, drew a colorful picture and wrote a happy message to brighten up Adrian's day.

The person who wrote the e-mail described Adrian as an amazing young man and the most caring 11-year-old that he has ever met. He's one of those kids who cares more about cheering up other kids who are battling cancer than he does about his own illness. Adrian finds joy in making others happy, so he absolutely deserves nothing more than happiness during his last few weeks on earth.

Here's a touching article from the Tuscola County Advertiser about this courageous boy.

Hearing Adrian's story and learning about the simplicity of his last wish really put things into perspective. So many people think happiness equates to tangible items like money or flashy purchases. Don't get me wrong, I'm ecstatic when I save a lot of money from my paycheck or when I buy something new that I've wanted for a long time. But when all is said and done, are those things really the meaning of happiness? I think not. Adrian got it right - doing something to create happiness in someone else's life is the best way to bring happiness into your own. A part of me felt absolutely miserable for this boy and his family to know that his life will soon be tragically cut short. But an even bigger part of me felt proud and happy to know that I played a part in making Adrian's last wish come true.

Whenever you're feeling down, do something to help someone else out. It's the ultimate pick-me-up.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Creative Quips from Module '09 Midwest Digital Conference

Two really cool events took place this week that unfortunately I wasn't able to attend. These things called work and clients got in the way (so kidding, I thank my lucky stars every day that the economy has not affected my job).

Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) was in town for the Module '09 Midwest Digital Conference, so he put the word out on Twitter for a last minute Tweetup in Royal Oak. My PR buddy Brandon Chesnutt(@bchesnutt) gives a good overview of the Tweetup for those of us who had to miss out. 

I was able to catch a few of the tweets from the Module '09 conference this past week, but my crazy day didn't allow for much Twitter time. It seems the conference was a smashing success, so a huge congrats to you @adrianpittman!! I looked through some of the Module tweets using Twitter Search and found a ton of really creative and thought-provoking quotes from the presenters. Here are a few:

@charliecurve - Facebook reconnects your past. LinkedIn and blogs connect your present. Twitter connects your future.
@hajjflemings - Creating content is not hard. Making content that matters is what takes time and commitment.
@penguin - Social media doesn't make you awesome, it just exposes what you already are.
@chrisbrogan - I believe it was Vanilla Ice who said, "Stop, collaborate and listen."
@chrisbrogan - PR is immediate. Think "nano-time". It's all about the velocity.
@shannonpaul - Don't focus on selling - make it easier to buy. 
@shannonpaul - Surprise people with things that are yummy and awesome (love this one!)
@ozsultan - Instead of ROI, think ROBI - Return on Brand Investment.
@scottmonty - Social media is not a campaign, it's a commitment.

For more on Module '09, check out @terrybean's 7 takeaways from the conference.

If you attended Module '09 and have some words of wisdom to share, please share with the rest of us and leave a comment :)

My Startup Weekend Detroit Experience

I recently had the opportunity to participate in the very first Startup Weekend Detroit at Compuware's headquarters in Detroit. The concept of Startup Weekend is very simple: A group of highly-motivated creative types (ranging from Web developers and entrepreneurs to graphics artists and marketing/PR professionals like myself) get together for a weekend to launch businesses. Andrew Hyde founded the idea of Startup Weekend in 2007. Learn more about Startup Weekend at its Web site.

I have to give a HUGE shout out to Shannon Paul and Jeremy Tanner for all they did to bring Startup Weekend to Detroit and to keep everything running smoothly those three days!

I'm not at the point in my life where I'm interested in starting a business, but I figured those who are need help with branding and marketing their business. That's why I decided to check out Startup Weekend and help out where I could from a PR and marketing perspective. 

After devouring coney dogs, fries and salad from American Coney Island Friday night, many attendees got up in front of the crowd to pitch their business ideas. We voted on the ones we thought were the most interesting and then divided into teams to see how far we could get in the business development stage come Sunday. It was hard to pick a team because many initial business pitches were really interesting, but I ended up working with 
Brandon Chesnutt and Hajj Flemings to help develop their idea - Pitchlab. 

Essentially, Pitchlab is a social networking site that allows people to perfect their elevator pitch (the short, concise pitch you give to sell yourself or your business). It combines elements of LinkedIn and YouTube, so people can upload videos of their elevator pitch and viewers can rate and comment on the pitch. 

We made tremendous progress by the end of the weekend. Our group was really dynamic because our members had a wide range of skills, so we were all able to work on different aspects of developing the business. Here's a list of my Pitchlab team members and their Twitter names:

Hajj Flemings - @hajjflemings 
Brandon Chesnutt - @bchesnutt
Billy Strawter - @3sixteenweb
Brandon Joerges - @brandonwj
Henry Balanon - @balanon
Jason Raznick - @jasonraznick
Keun Lee - @keunlee
David Damore - @admore
Todd List - @tjlist
Dave Benjamin - @davebenjamin

Here's a quick video that Curve Detroit's Charlie Wollborg shot of Brandon and I talking about our business idea (this is back when we were going to call it Rate My Pitch).

Also check out our group's Twitter page and YouTube channel. If you REALLY want to get a glimpse of Startup Weekend Detroit, take a look at all the tweets

I learned a lot and had a great time, but above all I met some AMAZING people and continued building relationships with people I previously met. Yes it was a long weekend and yes I was exhausted on Sunday, but it was absolutely worth it. We use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to network and establish relationships, but I've learned those relationships are truly solidified once you meet in person. 

I wish Brandon and Hajj the best of luck with getting Pitchlab up and running!