Seriously, You Need To Stay at a Kimpton Hotel. They Treat You Like Royalty.

I know that I’ve expressed my love for the Kimpton Hotel chain before but I want to say it again… these guys get it.  They treat you like you’re guests in their house… like you’re royalty.  It just makes you excited about staying there.

I’m a member of their loyalty program.  One of the perks is that they’ll bring you a gift to thank you for your stay on the first night you’re there.  This time they brought me a half bottle of French wine and a plate of fruit.  That’s AWESOME.

This makes me think back to the experience that Jason had at JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK airport.  Treat your customers right.  Give them what they want and they’ll come back for me.  They’ll tell their friends about it.

This is something that we can all take away as we look to shape the products and services that our companies provide.  Are we meeting our customers’ needs?  Are we giving them what they want?  Are we giving them a superior experience?  Are we treating them like they are guests in our house or like family?

Geoff Livingston Announces Date and Speaker Lineup for BlogPotomac 2009

Geoff Livingston’s Washington, DC area social media conference BlogPotomac 2009 has announced its date and lineup of speakers.  It will be held on Friday, June 12th at the State Theatre in Falls Church, VA.  Speaking at the event there will be Shireen Mitchell, Scott Monty, Liz Strauss, Aaron Brazell, Amber Naslund, and Shashi Bellamkonda.  Finally, it will be keynoted by Shel Holtz.  It sounds like it will be an exciting show and at $95 it’s quite a deal.

Any Tips for a MacWorld Newbie?

So… CRAZY early tomorrow morning I head to San Francisco.  One of the main focuses of my trip will be attending the MacWorld Conference & Expo and meeting folks there.  I’m really excited.  I’ve always heard about MacWorld but I’ve never been to one.

I wanted to take it slow so this year I’m just doing an expo pass, which I’ve heard is all you really need.

I’m just curious, what  tips do you guys have?  Anyone I need to meet?  Do you want to meet?  Anything in particular that I should check out?

Community Needs a Physical Place… A Place “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”

(Photo by Jared Goralnick of John Coston, Nick Whitmoyer, Doris Steere, Me, and Tony Via)

Today,  a few of my friends got together and we ate some tasty dim sum style Chinese cuisine at a restaurant in Arlington, Virginia.   We had a fantastic time.   After that, we went to Arlington coffee shop Murky Coffee and just hung out.  It was also fantastic.

This all got me thinking…

It seems like for most of my life the communities I’ve participated in have had some physical location that have gone with them.  With my high school friends, we’d always hang out at this one Mexican restaurant in Lansing, MI.  When I was a freshman in college, one of our friends’ dorm rooms just somehow became the defacto dorm room that we all went to hang out in.  Later in my college years, we all spent our time at the campus coffee shops. Now it’s Murky Coffee.

If you look at popular culture, you will see a similar theme.  I’m currently hooked on the TV show “How I Met Your Mother”.  In the show, the cast spends all their time at the bar MacLarens.   The TV show Frasier had “Cafe Nervosa.”  The TV show Cheers was completely based around the idea of friends getting together at a bar.

In a place like Washington DC, achieving community is tough.   Everyone is super ambitious and super busy.  People live in geographically spread out areas.  Yet, if you want to build community, you need that kitchen table time.

You need that time where you’re just sitting around a table and talking.  You need to do it often.  It shouldn’t be something that’s on a schedule. It should be spontaneous. Life doesn’t live itself by the schedule on my iPhone.

This time is what makes your community strong.

Thus far for me, the place has been Murky Coffee.  Sometimes it’s just me and then I’ll do work on my laptop which is just about always with me.  Often, I’ll tweet about being there, some folks will show up, and we have a great time.  Also… I’ve been telling more folks that I hang out there and when I hang out there so I’ve started just running in to people.

Murky has many of the ingredients for a great common spot.  It has lots of seating, great coffee, free wifi,  kind of centrally located, and it’s pretty chill.

So does your community have a place that it gets together? If so, where?

Arlington County (VA) Government Joins Second Life… Cool But…

I was kind of surprised when I woke up this morning, drinking coffee, and flipping through the paper to find a feature story on Second Life on the front of the Washington Post Metro section.

The story talks about how the Arlington County (VA) government has just recently opened up a virtual office in Second Life.   This was done by one of the Arlington County staffer completely on his own personal time.

While I think this is cool and I really dig Second Life and what they’re trying to do with it, I think Second Life has a long long long long long way to go before it will achieve mainstream.  It’s a potential picture into the future.

What worries me is that after reading this article companies who are now just starting to approach using the Web as a medium for building communities are going to turn to things like Second Life as the answer, when they should be looking else where.

If you’re looking for tools, go to things like Facebook, blogging, or Twitter.  Heck… first on my list is probably e-mail because it’s still the biggest way that people share and pass around information online.

Let’s look at some of the numbers, Second Life to date has only had 16 million accounts created.  Only half a million of those accounts have signed on within the last 7 days.  In comparison, Facebook has around 130 million active users.

Let me say again, Second Life is awesome and I think they’re doing some incredibly innovative things.  But unless you have your entire community there or your company has a lot of disposable R&D money,  Second Life isn’t where I’d be investing my time and energy.

Have you used Second Life?  What do you think?

New York Times Features Web Accessibility and the Advances of Some Google Engineers

Today, the New York Times ran a really cool feature story about two Google engineers T.V. Raman and Charles Chen.  They’ve been developing all kinds of different software which helps users with disabilities access the Web and technology just like someone without the disability.  It’s a good story… definitely worth a read.

“Blogging Is A First Draft of History”

I talk to a lot of folks about the idea of blogging and how using it as a tool for being open and transparent about their thoughts, experiences, and opinions could help them and their businesses or organizations.

Though… for quite a few people, the idea of writing freaks them out.  They start over thinking what they’re writing and more or less take themselves out of what they’re writing.  This makes the blog infinitely less compelling.

In an interview with Jon Stewart, Arianna Huffington shares some pearls of wisdom. She calls blogging a “first draft of history” and encourages people to not over think what they’re writing.  She considers blogging to be more like e-mailing with your friends.

Watch the video.

Personal Brands, Egos, and Building Community

My buddy Nate Westheimer has a good post about “egoless community organizing.”

There has been all this discussion, especially with in the Washington DC tech community,  around whether someone with a strong personal brand can work on a team where they’re serving the team and not just serving themselves.

I think Nate hits the nail on the head when he writes that they key is, “creating a culture where people ‘stay focused on the mission, as opposed to personal ambition.’ ”

I think it’s one of the reasons why Clearspring has been so successful.  Despite there being a lot of industry rockstars here that have had some pretty massive accomplishments,  there is a culture where we’re all focused on the mission of  “helping publishers and marketers extend their reach to the leading social networks, start pages and blogs and to respond to growing consumer demand for a more personalized desktop, Web, and mobile experience.”

Who Will Revolutionize Live TV News?

Last night I was at a New Year’s Eve party and struck up a conversation with some one who spent a lot of time working in the television news industry.  She seemed frustrated with the state of things and the extent to which tv news caters to our short attention spans with sound bites and not very much actual news.  She also mentioned that if you want to do actual in-depth tv news on a show like 60 minutes, you have to have a resume with 20+ years of experience to join the team.

Of course, this conversation sends my entrepreneurial brain into gear.  On Sunday, I asked the question, who’s going to revolutionize the local news scene?  Well I ask a similar question here… who’s going to revolutionize tv news?

Between things like Twitter, Qik, and UStream, why couldn’t you produce a similar product?

I really dig what Leo Laporte is doing with TWiT Live.  He sits at his command center and broadcasts live video.  From there he can cut to his friends live all over the world and talk about the world of technology.  He can do the lower thirds and split screens just like you’d see on mainstream tv news.

Why couldn’t you have an online TV news anchor who cuts to someone with a Qik camera that’s broadcasting live from a major news event or to a story that was filed by someone who shot it with a Flip camera and edited with iMovie?  This just doesn’t seem that crazy.