Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Physicians who live in glass houses...

I was reminded this morning by a dear and respected friend of mine to wake up and smell the coffee.

In case you are wondering, the wake-up call was courtesy of an industry veteran.  She (we will call her Sam) possesses not one, but two Master's degrees – one in business administration and one in e-commerce.  Sam also possesses more than two decades of premium marketing experience with leading global insurance and financial institutions. Sam is brilliant.  In fact, her only weakness (as I have observed over the past 20 years) is her occasional willingness to underestimate her own talent and potential.

The wake-up call came in the form of an innocent (and sarcastic) e-mail that read:

I thought you were switching providers so you could update and redesign [your website]? What gives. No new clients since 2007???

OUCH!  That really hurt; but as my father often observed, the truth often does. Sure enough, our website, which sucks, is so outdated that I refuse to even look at it anymore.

We have successfully planned its overhaul for nearly three years now. Developed a new site map, produced new content and functionality, developed visual and copy concepts, made accommodations to optimize the new site, even talked with several sources to begin the process.

But there it sits, my personal albatross, threatened with extinction, but still alive.

All the while, I have the audacity to preach to others – individuals and organizations – the vital importance of effective communication. Someone ought to  hit me upside the head with a frying pan. Oh, wait, Sam already did that.

Okay, so I am awake. And I am making a public commitment to kill the current Sweeney site; it has already crashed, now it shall burn. And staying with my bird analogy (or is it a metaphor), we will all watch it arise anew like the Phoenix from the ashes.

Thank you Sam.  I am awake. You can put the frying pan away.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Un-Social Media. Un-Thank You Very Much.

I am so very pleased that technology and the Internet have brought us all together.  We are all now united under the happy-happy rainbow of unlimited connectedness.


Have you been on LinkedIn lately?  This is a social site whose primary - if not only - purpose is to share connections.  And more often than not, you are locked out. DO NOT ENTER my connections.  My connections are private.  STAY OUT of my connections. I am collecting my connections until I have more connections than anyone else. Nanner Nanner Neener.

And how about a magazine web site that not only does not provide contact information for the editorial staff...  THEY DO NOT LIST THE EDITORIAL STAFF AT ALL!?  What the F is up with that? BUT WAIT, it gets better.  If you look them up on Burrelle's (one of several incredibly useless media database services), they offer this contact information: editorial@hbinc.com. Really? Thank you very much. That's very helpful. I've just learned nothing. Mighty social of ya!

Why not just hide your magazine under a cloak of invisibility?

And how about companies that refuse to let you find their employees' names, phone numbers or email addresses? DO NOT CONTACT US. We are too busy for you and do not want emails or phone calls. You can search our site until you are blue in the face, but you will not discover anything. LEAVE US ALONE.   But please buy our products and services.   Your business is important to us.

Seems to me - looking over the past decade - that the more access we have through technology – most notably the internet – the harder people and organizations work to hide.   

No one even reads, yet alone responds to email.  No one answers their phone or returns voice mails.  No one acknowledges real mail or faxes (does anyone use fax anymore?).  And God forbid that you show up at someone's office unannounced; you'll be tossed faster than a bean bag at a bachelor party. Even human interaction is being impacted; when's the last time you had a conversation with someone (even your kids) that wasn't interrupted by a text, email or phone call?

Of course, blogging and message boarding and twittering are popular, as are Facebook and MySpace. But really, who (other than teenagers) takes any of this seriously? Do you really know who is writing that blog, leaving that message or twittering you?  And while Facebook and MySpace go to the other extreme, do you really want or need to see photos of your cousin completely drunk and half naked? Do you want to know that your business associate supports the legalization of pot for non-medical use? Do you want to see your daughter's tattoo that you didn't know she had?

So, what's my point?  

Clearly technology has made our lives better in so many ways.  I LOVE technology.  But equally clear is the fact that technology is making our lives worse in so many ways.

I have no answers, just observations. And at this moment, technology is really annoying me.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Holy Days

Last night, my wife an I actually removed ourselves from the house, drove to the local recreation center and walked the outdoor path for about an hour - not for the exercise, but to clear our minds from all the noise.

The TV, the radio, the internet, the iPod, the cell phone, the house phone, the office phone, the instant messages, the text messages, the emails, the elevator discussions, the street corner protests, the grocery story PS system. As they say in Italy, Basta.

Slow down, you move too fast.

You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.

Along the way we met a woman who had a great big silver dog whose breed was undiscernable to us. So we asked, "What kind of dog is that?" "A goldendoodle!" she replied. Kathy looked at me and I at her. "Goldendoodle?" we whispered. "It's not gold and what is a doodle?" Then we laughed and kept walking.

Hello lamp-post,
What cha knowin'?
I've come to watch your flowers growin'.
Ain't cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in' doo-doo,
Feelin' groovy.

Anyway, after a bit more than an hour of walking we worked our way back to the car, drove to the local store and eventually headed home. It wasn't much, but it was enough. Enough to quiet all the voices and rest the mind and get back in touch with ourselves. With our souls.

I've got no deeds to do,
No promises to keep.

I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.

Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.
Life, I love you,
All is groovy.

To everyone of every persuasion, have a blessed, holy and sacred celebration this week.