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Apple iPhone 5S Resale Value August 28, 2014

Posted by Brian Link in apple.
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Doing my annual analysis of upgrading my iPhone. I’m still not sure if I *can* upgrade my phone or not – will be calling AT&T shortly (att.com gladly tells me I can upgrade to their AT&T Next program but I’m not interested). So, I figured my research may be helpful to others – pretty sure prices on iPhone 5S will drop very quickly as the new iPhone 6 launch approaches.

There’s an interesting Wall Street Journal article that covers some high level stuff, but I wanted to see the specifics myself. You may not have the exact same phone as me, but the numbers should be indicative of how each of these services compare I’d guess. I’ve upgraded once with Gazelle, once with TechPayout and last time the Apple Store paid me $10 more in person than whatever service I was about to use so I used them instead (Apple is likely to do the same thing this year, but I suspect you may get more if you act quickly).

I used my iPhone 5S (AT&T, 32GB, Good Condition – some minor scratches, no damage, No accessories included) and came up with the following prices on these services today on Aug 28, 2014:

  • ItsWorthMore.com: $310.00
  • TechPayout.com: $280.75
  • Gazelle.com: $260.00
  • Glyde.com: $256.00
  • uSell.com: $236.80
  • Apple: $225.00 (iPhone 5 only?)

 

ItsWorthMore apple gazelle glyde techpayout usell

 

Columbus Geek Night January 14, 2014

Posted by Brian Link in Internet culture, startups.
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There’s a lot of events in town, but it’s rare to find a good cross-section of passionate technologists in a purely social meet-up. There are many places software developers come together and interact, but it’s often in the context of something else: Startup Weekend, Code Mash, Code and Coffee, startup pitch events, Tech Columbus or individual meet ups for smaller groups on their own like agile, PHP, ruby, hadoop, etc.

We have a lot of great talent in Columbus and I’m hoping to introduce something interesting I found while living in Providence, Rhode Island. A no-agenda, completely independent casual get-together for software engineers. If this sounds interesting, please check it out and join us: http://columbusgeeknight.wordpress.com. The first event will be Jan 22, 2014.

I’m also hoping that some subset of us can drive this thing forward, not just me or any one company. Please let me know if you’d like to get involved.

See you there.

What do you really *love* on the Internet? June 29, 2012

Posted by Brian Link in agile, Internet culture, startups.
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There’s a few things that I have come across on the interwebs recently that have inspired this blog post. And I post pretty rarely, so this feels like a momentous occasion.

First, I clicked through the fun little app called “Fish – a tap essay”. It’s a great summary in poetic dramatic fashion of how we are overwhelmed by liking and sharing online and asks the question “what does it mean to love something on the Internet” when most sharing is fleeting and forgotten (reminds me of the business case for Toobla, a previous startup I worked with, which everyone has surely forgotten.) In short, the stuff you love is the stuff you come back to over and over again. Or share with multiple people over time. The apps on your phone you use everyday, those great reference sites or blog posts or articles that you repeatedly refer people to. These are the things that shine above the everyday “like”.

That little “Fish” app encourages us to think about what really matters when you share online and I like that. So I think I’ll publish a few of these things that I think matter.

Here’s a few of the things I’m most often referring people to are on entrepreneurship and building Internet startups. Here’s some resources I hope you find useful.

* Early Stage Startup Advice and Funding:

This blog post I wrote last week covers a lot, and I’ll keep adding to it over time just for fun

* Books for Entrepreneurs:

Here’s a few different sources of good books on Quora.

And an excellent condensed list here for startup entrepreneurs.

* Must Read Startup Resources Online:

http://steveblank.com/tools-and-blogs-for-entrepreneurs/

* Lean Startup:

http://leancanvas.com/ – this one piece of paper is more powerful than any 20 page business plan

* “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy” – First time I saw the phrase ambient awareness:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/magazine/07awareness-t.html?pagewanted=all

* My Favorite Awesome Apps:

Amazon Mobile – price check anything anywhere. and order stuff you know, whenever you think of it.

Evernote – this app is my brain so I don’t have to keep things in my brain

Pandora – addicted to the discovery and familiarity at the same time

PocketPedia3 – bring your DVD catalog with you anywhere so you don’t buy dupes!

Scrabble – nothing beats the real thing with words, friends

Starwalk – augmented reality astronomy interactive guide. shows the stars’ names and constellations, locations of planets as you hold it and rotate it over your head at night

Zite (iPad) – this is my secret news source. only tool that gets me and my passions (startups, entrepreneurship, particle physics, cosmology, apple, disruptive technology)

Image credit: Joe Stump

Early Stage Startup Advice and Raising a Seed Round with Crowdfunding June 20, 2012

Posted by Brian Link in entrepreneurialism, startups.
Tags: , , , , ,
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Many of the entrepreneurs I meet ask about how to get funded. It’s the inevitable first hurdle every entrepreneur must cross. And it’s often the first place they fail and return to their cubicle jobs… for good Imagereason, it’s pretty hard. Here’s a few basics I assume everyone knows already:

  • Build a compelling product with a compelling business model. (Know your market, build the MVP first, price it appropriately or use an appropriate business model. Revenue beats users, IMO. But read this too.)
  • Show some kind of traction. Attract a team. Win your first paying customers. Get enough users or downloads of your app. Whatever is relevant. (And more is required typically the higher amount of money you’re trying to raise)
  • Build your own relationships with investors. Find all your local people. Get on AngelList and follow investors. Research investors that are in your space. Follow them on Twitter. Read everything you can. Leverage LinkedIn to build connections. Meet them and ask for advice first, not money. Get introductions through strong connections. Investors invest in friends and friends of friends first (they’re human too).
  • Build a killer pitch deck. What problem do you solve? What’s the solution? Make sure it’s a pain killer not a vitamin. Keep it simple. If it can’t be said in a sentence or two, your pitch is too complicated. Tell everyone about your pitch. Take advice from your wife, Mom, advisors, and guy at the bar until it’s perfectly clear and says something compelling. Consider putting a professional 2 minute video on your site.
  • Seek out advice proactively. Have coffee multiple times a week with helpful people. Make new connections. Be just as giving in helping others. Engage in local meetup groups. Startup weekend. Conferences and events. But don’t overwhelm yourself networking, it should be a constant but limited amount of your time.
  • Share your idea. When talking to advisors, peers, investors, friends, etc. please don’t hesitate to discuss your idea. Too many entrepreneurs fail because they don’t get critical feedback early enough. If you’re asking people to sign NDAs, you’re doing it wrong. Consider patents if you need to.
  • Have an expert. No matter what industry you’re in or how much you think you know, it’s always better to have someone on your team who has specific, credible experience in your space. If it’s not a core team member, they should at least be a dedicated advisor or board member.
  • Give away your equity. At very early stages where you’re most likely to fail, it’s important to build the right team. If you don’t have a technical co-founder with skin in the game, you will fail. If equity will entice someone to work on your project as hard as you are, for heaven sake, give it away. If you haven’t landed your first seed round of funding and you’re afraid to give away 1% or even 10% for some critical resource/advisor/service provider/technology partner, you’re doing it wrong. Be smart, and seek advice of those who have done this before, but definitely don’t be stingy. 100% of nothing is still nothing.

Bootstrapping is best possible solution, if you can afford to fund your own startup. Plenty of great success stories start here, but it’s a lot slower and harder to build a startup while working a full-time job. Friends and family is where most entrepreneurs go next. And if you run a Lean Startup as you should, raising $100K or less can go a very long way to getting a new startup off the ground.

You likely don’t have a dozen rich friends you can borrow 10 to 20 grand from each, and will therefore be looking for funding. You can try to find those angels: in your backyard, in a local ACA group, or on angel.co. Or you can even try to find Venture Capital. But unless you’re a rock star, are looking to raise an A/B/C round or have a personal relationship, that’s extremely unlikely.

What’s left is crowd funding. There are many new crowd funding options emerging for entrepreneurs, especially as the JOBS Act becomes a reality. I’m not sure how well each of these will work today, but I suspect going forward they become one of the more popular options for early stage startups looking to raise initial rounds of cash. You might first look at the National Crowdfunding Association to learn some basics: http://nlcfa.org/crowdfund-101.html

Startup Fundraising Options in America

  • 40billion.com – Raise money. Build dreams. Since 2008, early crowd funding platform.
  • CrowdTilt.com – Group funding, designed to raise funds for a group of people to do stuff together.
  • EarlyShares.com – Equity based crowd funding platform.
  • EquityNet.com – Business plan software and Angel Network.
  • Fundable.com – Designed for startups. Built by people I know in Columbus, Ohio.
  • FundaGeek.com – Crowdfunding for technical innovation
  • Fundrazr.com – Reach more people, raise more money.
  • GoFundMe.com – General fundraising platform for individuals.
  • GrowVC.com – Global startup fundraising plus nurturing ecosystem, raising up to $1M
  • Indiegogo.com – Fundraising for more than just films.
  • Invested.in – Helps anyone raise money for anything
  • Kickstarter.com – Perhaps not originally intended to fund startups, but has been used as such.
  • MicroVentures.com – Connecting Angel investors and startups.
  • OnSetStart.com – They have a free crowd funding bible available too if you help promote it
  • PeerBackers.com – Funding entrepreneurs to raise funding from peers
  • RocketHub.com – Launch, Fund and Fly!
  • SoMoLend.com – Lend. Borrow. Grow. People investing in people.
  • Start.ac – Crowdfunding platform with mentors. US based.
  • TechMoola.com – Project fundraising in the technology space

Nonprofit and Charitable Fundraising Options

International Fundraising Options

There’s plenty of resources out there. A few worth reading on the topic:

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/

Facebook Needs Relationship Pages October 2, 2011

Posted by Brian Link in Internet culture, socialmedia.
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Now that timeline is coming out, I’d love to tell stories that are more interesting than just ones that decorate my own history. In fact, to help reconnect and reminisce with people, why not give us a place to tell stories like how we met. Or of old college friends, and the stories we share. Old work friends, the projects with crazy bosses. I know I can just create entries in the timeline and only share them with certain people, but what I’m looking for is Facebook to encourage people to share stories about their relationships with other people.

When you click on a friend, it shows you what you have in common as far as interests and other friends, but why not expand that into a full page. Prompt me for how we first met, things we did together and pull in any photos that have us both tagged. And use the timeline interface. The default should be to only share these timelines between the people who are mentioned in them but could of course be shared more broadly.

High schoolers would love the BFF-ness of it. College friends might enjoy talking about the raging multi-keggers they had. And married people would love to tell their joint stories, whether just to preserve them somewhere or to share them with just family or with everyone. I’d also like to capture a few fun stories about some of my lifelong friends, which would be fun to share with their wives, for example. Things like a running dialogue with a childhood friend and I remembering random things like trading star wars cards and what we were for halloween years and years ago.

Think about family vacations that could be told jointly, with entries into all of our main timelines too. And more importantly, our collaborative stories all in one place. We all upload pictures separately, but since we created this relationship page with its own timeline it would automatically capture our separate photos as a joint collection (think iPhoto event). And as photos are uploaded and tagged by anyone who was there on the vacation, they’d be included in this timeline and be able to contribute to the stories.

I’d use this product. And it would make my own personal timeline a lot more interesting.

What do you think?

Google+ and Facebook Observations July 12, 2011

Posted by Brian Link in Internet culture, socialmedia.
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{EAV_BLOG_VER:34b3e0baca916fff}
Jason Calcanis recently sent out an email asking for some feedback on Google+, so I took the time to reply.  Thought I’d post it here as well since there seems to be no shortage of discussions around the topic. It’s hard to get a really good summary of the issues and salient differences though, but it’s out there.  Here’s a quick attempt to round up some of the discussion:

1. Is Google+ better than Facebook? If so, why?

You’ll undoubtedly get a mixed result of answers to this question. The average user won’t be able to tell the difference, once they take a close look. But the subtleties will matter to us geek users. Three topics matter: Sharing, Privacy and Integration.

SHARING: You might love circles, for example (even though almost everyone I talk to or read on G+ doesn’t realize that Facebook actually still has better functionality here, they just don’t have the beautiful drag n drop UI. You can share or consume through friend lists or circles on either platform but you still can’t *exclude* circles from an update on G+).  Google has clearly brought some much needed attention to the creating and using of friend lists when sharing, which I’m happy about, but users who care do this on Facebook already. [Google wins the perception battle due to the fancy circles UI, but I think Facebook still wins, mostly because of the next topic - privacy - when it comes to sharing]

PRIVACY: So, to get even more granular in the sharing topic is the public vs. public debate. Strangers can jump into your conversation on G+ which some people like, but would scare the crap out of people less techie (or less Twitter-aware) over on Facebook who love their little walled gardens.  Google is encouraging more public sharing and people with large follow lists get a ton more engagement (which is great for the big geek early adopters, which is why folks like Scoble really like Google+ and Kevin Rose has redirected kevinrose.com to point to his Google+ stream) but Google clearly has an issue with privacy and I suspect news like this MSNBC article will continue to spread. [Facebook wins the privacy game, oddly by not making it front and center, but rather a de-facto walled garden of who you've friended - you just need to make sure you're actually friending people you know!]

INTEGRATION: So people tout the google tie-ins that exist already (the sandbar, upcoming gmail integration and how easy you can bounce into G+ from an iGoogle home page) and the fact that many people are already in google apps; this will undoubtedly help tie together all Google services. If you’re a googler, this may be super compelling. Facebook has its hooks in people for many other reasons too. Not just the friend list lock-in (which is reason enough for the 40+ demographic to stay put I think) and the fact that Facebook doesn’t want you to take your contact list with you (see here and here). But the ubiquitous “log in with Facebook” and all those apps people have already authenticated is not going to change anytime soon. OAuth through Google will also be a factor, but I think the mainstream is already much more comfortable with those little Facebook pop-up login windows. And do you know anyone playing Zynga games? Yeah, they’re not going anywhere either. [Google is a strong contender here, but many people will not be leaving Facebook due to the various social lock-in factors.  This particular point is soon to be moot however, as people will soon learn how to connect their Google+, Facebook and Twitter all together at least for sharing and consuming their big streams, cross-posting everything everwhere even to LinkedIn. Many users will end up using both just as many of my friends use Twitter and Facebook equally today. The real trick will be if some new player can create a true friend-list syncher that keeps your circles, Facebook friend lists and Twitter lists all straight and privacy settings included]

2. Is it possible that Google+ could compete with Facebook?

It will, because it appears clean and open and everyone uses Google. But I wonder if the privacy concerns don’t hamper it’s growth beyond the early adopters and hardcore Googlers.  (And I wonder if some of the fresh and new wears off after extra noise from brands and spammers and too many people crowd into the network.  I’ve been playing with Google+ with the early adopter crowd which was kinda nice, but I wonder what it’ll be like once there’s many more people.  Pretty sure I’ll need to prune my follow lists and spend way too much time cleaning up my circles.)

Scoble has said it will be wildly popular with the geeks, and that might be enough of a success. Many millions will “just try it” and get hooked. But once it becomes easier to hook up all your networks and share once and engage everywhere (much like people send their streams to friendfeed or twitter into facebook) it doesn’t really matter, does it?

3. Facebook: buy, sell or hold at $100B market cap?

I thought 80B was pretty huge. But those secondmarket sales keep rising… The more interesting story to me is the non-public markets and whether Facebook has a chance of evolving that drastically, more than they already have. I wonder if they don’t ever go public, just stir up the pot and tease us that they will – then go crazy with the secondmarket where they and the employees can control demand.

4. You can only have one, pick now: Facebook, Twitter or Google+?

There is no need to pick one :) But if I personally could only share (and engage) on one it’d be Twitter because I have the largest audience there, including a wide variety of my friends. But Twitter isn’t as personal – and if I really thought about the most meaningful conversations to me, not just link-sharing and banter, I might just pick Facebook instead, because it’s a more comfortable environment where I know exactly who’s consuming my messages.

5. Any other observations two weeks

Huge hype deflated after invites became less scarce – I wonder how many people will try it once then bounce because their graph isn’t in G+. Most main streamers, I suspect. If you’re Facebook-only and don’t dabble enough with Twitter, then Google+ won’t appeal to you that much. It takes a little more savvy to figure out how to really navigate and control your signal to noise on Google+ – which is exactly how the bitheads at Google think, so I don’t suspect they’ll change that too much. Facebook will always cater to the lowest common person and focus on simplicity. They’ve tucked away their privacy controls because most people don’t care – the same people who’d freak out if a stranger started commenting on a public message in their stream… and they will blissfully stay ignorant in their Facebook walled garden.

My conclusion is that Google has created a very surprising and impressive social network with explosive growth that will capture a large part of the market, but there are hundreds of millions that are going nowhere on Facebook.  Personally, I think it’s great that we have a new network and I’m glad that Google finally got a social solution with some traction (RIP Buzz, Wave, etc.) but I won’t be using it extensively.  Time, ultimately, is the biggest opponent to a newcomer even if you’re Google… I just don’t have the time or inclination to setup the synchronizing/reposting strategy to be able to span both and its too easy to just keep doing what I’m doing.

An Entrepreneurial State of Mind March 12, 2011

Posted by Brian Link in entrepreneurialism, startups.
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This week is the big South by Southwest conference in Austin, TX where every well-known geek (good definition here) in the country converges to mingle, party and play with the latest tech and apps. Some even attend the conference and learn something. I’ll miss hanging in the blogger lounge meeting all the luminaries I’ve come to enjoy keeping up with online.

And not being there at SXSWi makes me feel a little like I’m ignoring that entrepreneurial part of myself I enjoy exercising occasionally. I’ve also recently removed myself from the startup ratrace, having worked for one startup or another over the last 5 or 6 years. My new job is with a company called KACE owned by a big stable company, Dell. And I gotta say working from home with a great job with great benefits is an awesome thing – stability goes really well with families :)

But the point of my blog post today, and what I’ve recently started to reinforce and remind myself of, is that you don’t have to give up stability and join the ranks of startup enthusiasts full-time to be an entrepreneur. There’s plenty you can do on the side to keep that entrepreneurial dream alive.  In fact I know plenty of people that do great startup work on the side: like the guys from Big Kitty Labs, my friends at weBuild, students who build some killer iPhone apps and web apps and plenty of people from TechLife Columbus.

What you really need to do is just start doing something.

Picture credit: Baltimore Studios

Great Business and Agile Books for Startups January 26, 2011

Posted by Brian Link in agile, startups.
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I keep running into great sources of information.  List of books I should read that I rarely find time for.  I’ll post a few great lists I’ve found. I’ve been wanting to build myself a list of must-reads that I hope you’ll find helpful too.

Here’s a list of Agile related books that I recommend.  Please add more in the comments – I’m interested in finding new books too!

  1. Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum – Mike Cohn
  2. Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash – Mary and Tom Poppendieck
  3. Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change (2nd Edition) – Kent Beck
  4. The Art of Agile Development – James Shore
  5. Agile Web Development with Rails – Sam Ruby, Dave Thomas, David Heinemeier Hansson
  6. Agile Project Management with Scrum (Microsoft Professional) – Ken Schwaber
  7. User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development – Mike Cohn
  8. Agile Estimating and Planning – Mike Cohn
  9. Agile Software Development with Scrum (Series in Agile Software Development) – Ken Schwaber, Mike Beedle
  10. Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products (2nd Edition) – Jim Highsmith

Must-read books for startups (and general business books) great list from Quora:

  1. The Four Steps to the Epiphany - Steven Gary Blank
  2. The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development: A Cheat Sheet to the Four Steps to the Epiphany - Brant Cooper, Patrick Vlaskovits
  3. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers – Yves Pigneur and Alex Osterwalder
  4. Founders at Work – Jessica Livingston
  5. Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur – Pamela Slim
  6. My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley - Ben Casnocha
  7. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini
  8. Crossing the Chasm – Geoff Moore
  9. The Innovator’s Dilemma – Clayton Christensen
  10. Getting to Plan B – Randy Komisar & John Mullins
  11. The Art of the Start – Guy Kawasaki
  12. Venture Capital and the Finance of Innovation – Andrew Metrick
  13. Viral Loop – Adam L. Penenberg
  14. The Monk and the Riddle – Randy Komisar
  15. The PayPal Wars – Eric M. Jackson
  16. The Facebook Effect – David Kirkpatrick
  17. Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good – Sarah Lacyhttp://amzn.to/gd0sJ4
  18. Made to Stick – Chip Heath and Dan Heath http://amzn.to/eo6ndK
  19. Landing Page Optimization Tim Ash http://amzn.to/gYpVPY
  20. Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity Avinash Kaushik http://amzn.to/etvEZe
  21. The 48 Laws of Power – Robert Greene http://amzn.to/h5oiYa
  22. The Non-Designer’s Design Book – Robin Williams http://amzn.to/hXtbyL
  23. Getting Real - Jason Fried, David Hansson, Matthew Lindermanhttp://amzn.to/gdY3VX
  24. Dreaming in Code - Scot Rosenberg http://amzn.to/dX5MSq
  25. Do More Faster - David Cohen, Brad Feld http://amzn.to/fwdbH5
  26. RockStar Business - Adriaan Pienaar http://amzn.to/dKipra
  27. Crush It – Gary Vaynerchuk http://amzn.to/fz2e2b
  28. Fascinate – Sally Hogshead http://amzn.to/i9wgEY
  29. The Theory of Fun – Raph Koster http://amzn.to/dEt2n1
  30. Lincoln on Leadership – Donald Phillips http://amzn.to/fmLeC9
  31. The Paradox of Choice – Barry Schwartz http://amzn.to/gwpAkd
  32. How We Decide - Jonah Lehrer http://amzn.to/gRYTUr
  33. Courage: The Backbone of Leadership - Gus Lee http://amzn.to/gzEUVV
  34. The E-Myth Revisted – Michael Gerber http://amzn.to/glZPcE
  35. Don’t Make Me Think – Steve Krug http://amzn.to/eiKUIC
  36. The Mythical Man Month – Fred Brooks http://amzn.to/hhKTR0
  37. Difficult Conversations: How to discuss what matters most - Doug Stone et al. http://amzn.to/f9Xkeg
  38. Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy – Carl Shapiro http://amzn.to/hn4Wbj
  39. Only the Paranoid Survive – Andrew Grove http://amzn.to/ev5Z6d
  40. Delivering Happiness - Tony Hsieh http://amzn.to/dJNO2X
  41. Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure – Jerry Kaplan http://amzn.to/fTnqHe
  42. The Nudist On The Late Shift - Po Bronson http://amzn.to/eCtiAV
  43. The Microsoft Way – Randall Stross http://amzn.to/ekJ8P3
  44. Inside Intel – Tim Jackson http://amzn.to/fhVS0w
  45. Accidental Empires – Robert X. Cringely http://amzn.to/gf0hTa
  46. Wisdom Of Crowds – James Surowiecki http://amzn.to/ekOH0A
  47. Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell http://amzn.to/eIM0Cx
  48. Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation – Steven Johnson http://amzn.to/fVFgdi
  49. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Coveyhttp://amzn.to/e3Z1Yp
  50. Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant – W. Chan Kim, Renee Mauborgnehttp://amzn.to/dV0Upi
  51. The Deviant’s Advantage – Ryan Matthews, Watts Wackerhttp://amzn.to/dMlpko
  52. Good to Great by Jim Collins http://amzn.to/e5oALJ
  53. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Dan Pinkhttp://amzn.to/hnmyz
  54. Crucial Conversations Kerry Patterson et al. http://amzn.to/hhQ41Y
  55. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Carol Dweckhttp://amzn.to/eygzLp
  56. Influencer: The Power to Change Anything – Kerry Pattersonhttp://amzn.to/dYpyAM
  57. Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace – Gordon MacKenzie http://amzn.to/fH5AYj
  58. Hope for the Flowers – Trina Paulus http://amzn.to/icpQHb
  59. Finding fertile ground – Dr. Scott A. Shane http://amzn.to/guIkjN
  60. Making Ideas Happen – Scott Belsky http://amzn.to/dUSmUk
  61. Rework – Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson http://amzn.to/gZI8wW


Did I just share my location with an axe murderer? January 4, 2011

Posted by Brian Link in Internet culture, location-based services, socialmedia.
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You never know who’s out there on the Internet. Mike Myers didn’t know he was marrying an axe murderer either and he knew Harriet IRL.

Many people are just getting into the craze of LBS or location-based services. You’re an LBS user if you check-in on Gowalla, Foursquare, Facebook Places, Yelp, Loopt or use services like ShopKick or even Instagram.  And the trend is likely to continue as these services are integrating deals into their platform, so while you’re out and about with your GPS-enabled phone, you may learn about a special deal at Starbucks or a sale going on at The Gap.

As these services mature, there is still a large number of early adopters that are just using these services, like myself, because they’re fun.  By checking in, I’m telling my friends that I’m at Panera right now.  And once in a while, someone notices and we have this serendipitous meet-up just to say hi.  Friends of mine have discovered friends while making connections in airports or while visiting other cities.  (Honestly, in Columbus we don’t get the same advantage that my friends in NYC get with the greater density of people and LBS-users though.)  I also find myself, for absolutely no good reason, competing to win mayorships at the places I visit frequently on Foursquare. How proud am I that I’m the mayor at my local Kroger and the two Paneras that I work out of frequently.  It’s silly, but fun in a warped kind of way.

But here’s the thing.  And the real reason I wrote this post.  LBS is yet another way to broadcast some very personal information.  And it’s another filter through which you should look when adding friends on social networks. When you friend people on Gowalla and Foursquare, for example, you’re saying something like “I’m OK with you knowing when I’m away from my house or out of town on vacation”.   You wouldn’t go broadcasting that information to just anyone, so please be careful about broadcasting it online.  Last year, a site called PleaseRobMe.com was created just to illustrate that point – people oversharing on social networks.

What’s my advice?  Simply put: be diligent about adding friends to your network. And take a good look at your privacy settings.  Posting on Facebook, for example, seems so innocent, right? Because you know everyone there – or at least you should.  But it’s very easy to post using the setting “Friends of Friends”

Oversharing

Oversharing on Facebook

or “Everyone” and not realize that you’re broadcasting personal information to potentially thousands of strangers. And when posting to Twitter, realize that all messages on Twitter are public by default (which is part of what PleaseRobMe.com was trying to raise awareness of). Also be especially mindful of your status updates being shared between or sent to all of your social networks.  It’s hard to keep track of all your friends everywhere online and services like ping.fm and Facebook apps for Twitter make it all too easy to send everything everywhere.

Personally, I love sharing and believe in the openness of the web.  But I’m also very careful about who I friend on networks through which I share my location.  I try to never send my location updates to Twitter and make sure my location related updates on Facebook are set to only certain groups of friends (if you haven’t yet segmented friends into lists, you should).  It may seem strange to you to be so careful about these things, but privacy is a big deal online and a little bit of time and effort will help keep you and your family safe.

UPDATE: For those interested in learning more about LBS, Danny Sauter created a very well written summary of why people even use LBS apps on Quora here: https://www.quora.com/What-do-users-want-on-a-location-based-app/answer/Danny-Sauter

Happy sharing,

Brian

* photo credit Sony Pictures

Myths and Fears of Social Media October 4, 2010

Posted by Brian Link in Internet culture, socialmedia.
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There are many misconceptions about the ubiquitous term “social media”. Let me start addressing this first with a truth: Social media is not going to immediately or perhaps ever radically change your business.  It can however, make significant changes to the way you think about your brand, finding leads, recruiting, and communicating with and supporting your customers. I tell my clients that it’s the modern telephone; back when phones were brand new, not everyone had one, but soon everyone expected you to be using them. The same is true with every milestone in the way communication has evolved. Social Media is just another communication medium that facilitates conversations over the Internet.

Social Media may seem like a fad because of all of the buzz.  But it’s important to be able to see through the flurry of activity to the larger trend: 79% of Fortune 500 businesses are using social media everyday (according to the 2010 Burson Marsteller study).  There may be thousands of social networks of different kinds on the Internet, but there are really only so many places you are likely to find a significant portion of your customers, partner businesses and prospective clients. Most US based businesses need only address the following: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I also recommend that you produce a blog and share multi-media content on one other site regularly such as YouTube or Flickr.

Today’s Internet culture is unavoidable. Can you imagine a business forbidding their employees from even using the Internet to do their job?  It will soon be the same for social media sites, but today many businesses block Facebook, Twitter and other social sites at the firewall.  Clearly, businesses need to make a decision about how much their business will embrace the new social web and enact and enforce policies that both caution and encourage their employees to do the right thing appropriately.

Creating a culture that accepts the social web and having a management team that sets a strong example (think Zappos) is perhaps the best strategy, but it starts with great employees and an open culture.  If your business isn’t there yet, it’s important to start taking steps in that direction in a way that makes sense for your company. I think you’ll find if you trust your employees, you’ll be happy with their innovation and productivity. Employees are free to say what they want over email and in public already aren’t they!?  With a little training, you can trust them with social media channels as well.

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