A Sweet and Juicy July 4th

Juicy at Bospar

July 4th is Independence Day – a day of flag waving, BBQing and – watermelon.

When I was a child, I longed to eat watermelon the way you see it done above – just take my spoon and dive right into the best part. But, of course, my parents wouldn’t let me do that. They insisted that I cut uniform slices, taking the paler outer parts along with the ruby red, perfectly ripe and juicy center. 

I did as I was told. But throughout my formative years, I worked hard to achieve independence. I wanted the ability to pursue the kind of opportunities that would allow me to consume and help shape – the ripest and juiciest parts of our world’s progress. That’s how I found my way into technology.

I’m fortunate to live my life in the center of the watermelon.

For those who want to live and work in the center of things, there’s nothing that comes close to technology.  And within technology, nothing serves up the red, ripe and juicy center of the universe as does working at a leading tech public relations and public affairs firm. 

Our clients drive innovation in the most exciting and competitive industry on the planet. We further the biggest causes and address the largest issues of our lifetime. We enable people to get to the sweetest pulp. We help work around any seeds that get in the way. 

We never, ever, allow our clients to settle for the light pink or green parts.

Last week a client rang the bell at NASDAQ.  Yesterday, a client was quoted in one of the biggest news stories of the day. Two weeks ago, a client issued a security report that was heard ‘round the world.  Another was chosen by a major healthcare provider to keep our IoT delivery systems safe, while yet another one produced a groundbreaking study on an AI-enabled workforce. 

Tomorrow – who knows? I can’t wait to find out! 

As we celebrate July 4th – let’s raise a spoon to our freedom to each live at our individual centers of the watermelon.

Media Interviews Where Everybody Wins

Media at Bospar

One of Walt Whitman’s many bon mots to live by was: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then – I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.”

I’ve quoted that many times over my career whenever caught in the act of, well, contradicting myself. But the most wonderful part of it is “I am large. I contain multitudes.” Think of all the wonderful implications that has for being a media spokesperson.

I was reminded of that recently when one of our clients was presented with a great interview opportunity. At first they were excited, but then they started second-guessing themselves on how deeply they could address the specific topic in which the reporter was interested. And this is a fairly common behavior.

Assuming we’re talking about a positive situation for visionary contributions, there should be few media opportunities that a C-level isn’t happy to take on. After all, you don’t make it to the C-suite unless you are large and contain multitudes.

One of the first things we present in media training is that “a question is not a command performance.” Media generally come to an interview knowing a lot less about your home territory than you do. They are fast-on-their-feet pursuers of a million stories in the naked city of technology, and their excellence is in being able to take a thread of an idea and get people like you to build it out for them.

What the media presents to you upfront usually are “fishing” questions — opening salvos to learn, as they go through an interview, what the real issues are that they should be addressing. Media are the fisherpersons, and you are the BIG FISH. If you share generously of your big- picture knowledge, wisdom and beliefs, both sides will leave the interview on a happy and productive note that might even lead to a great ongoing relationship.

Here are a few things to think about as you spread your multitudes of knowledge across broader arenas.

Colorful Usually Trumps Quantitative

Media are usually looking for anecdotal comments and commentary — not quantitative knowledge — and that is all anyone else is likely bringing to the table.

Their finished stories often stray far afield from what they said they were writing about because they “follow the content” they get from people like you. Just like with a good sports broadcast, the more detail and color you can bring to the party, the more you help the reporter write a great piece.

Each interview is literally an opportunity to help “write the story your way” if you let the real “you” drive the conversation.

And while it’s not about quantitative, a few solid proof points are always a great addition to your discussion. Your PR partner should be able to remind you of data you’ve created in-house or Google you up some third-party points.

You’ll Almost Always Be Glad You Did

If you can get good reporters on a call with you, you almost certainly can share some information that will engage them and that they will find useful for their reporting.

Not only will this likely result in a media placement, but it can also be the beginning of an important relationship — especially if you are a good and dynamic storyteller.

It is difficult to get interviews in today’s busy media world. You really shouldn’t pass on any of them if you can avoid it. Something good will almost always come of them — from a good mention in the reporter’s article to a foot in the door with a desirable publication.

You Contain Multitudes

The bottom line is that you almost certainly have more to offer a reporter than you may initially think. So, if you’re tempted to turn down an interview, first think a little more broadly about all the great wisdom you have to share.

And, as another American great, Woody Allen, said, “80 percent of success is showing up.”

Long Live the Mouse

Mouse at BosparToday, the computer mouse turns 50. Like other major technical inventions, it too will suffer the cruel effects of time and eventually fade into oblivion. In fact, while it continues to blossom in more forms, sizes, colors and capabilities than ever before, it’s already in its decline, chased by laptop and smartphone track pads and touchscreens. It’s only a matter of time before it joins gee-whiz colleagues like desktops, VCRs and flip phones on the technology hall of fame shelf.

While the future of the mouse may be dim, its past is the blazing stuff of dreams – one of the great technology tales. Its inventor, Doug Engelbart, was one of the all-time scientists of our age. He shook the technology world 50 years ago today when he did his famous demonstration in San Francisco’s Civic Center Auditorium. Doug also is credited with inventing the graphical user interface (GUI). And no interface was as mind-boggling as the ability to slide a device around on a table and cause the nearby computer to come to life and seemingly do things all on its own.

I worked closely with Doug Engelbart while helping those who led the ecosystem he created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the mouse. The event was spearheaded by our client, Logitech, which housed Doug’s Bootstrap Institute, Stanford University Libraries and The Institute for the Future. Rather than make it your routine birthday party, we set our bar at something worthier of Doug’s contributions. The plan was a full day set aside for a symposium that would draw technology’s best and brightest from around the country to come take part in a celebration of the past, combined with a look at the future.

We called it “The Unfinished Revolution.” We dedicated the morning to a look at the last 30 years of computing technology. And the afternoon was spent looking ahead at the next 30. It was a day to remember. Speakers who came to honor Doug and share their vision included luminaries like Alan Kay, Jaron Lanier, Stewart Brand and Andy Van Dam. Media coverage was massive – from CBS News with Dan Rather to a multi-page spread in Business Week. The Bootstrap Institute still has full details on the event posted on its site. http://www.dougengelbart.org/content/view/223/#Press

It was an incredibly good-feeling day all around. But the greatest feeling of all was from Doug’s reaction. He told us that it was, quite simply, one of the best days of his life. That’s the kind of memory one treasures forever.

Doug’s Bootstrap Institute continues on. He founded it to achieve the lofty mission of “boosting mankind’s capability for coping with complex, urgent problems.” And can’t we all just use a whole lot more of that.

The 50th anniversary of the mouse is in some ways a farewell to it. Chances are that by the time its 60th anniversary rolls around, there will be a new generation who doesn’t know what a mouse is any more than older ones no longer know what a carbon copy was. But the real celebration is around all the innovations that the mouse, and all of Doug’s other inventions, have spawned.

The mouse will always live as a major breakthrough of our past and a vital link to our future. And never has Doug’s goal of “boosting mankind’s capability for coping with complex, urgent problems” been more needed than it is today.

Long live the mouse and all its tech offspring. Long live Doug’s vision.