Tag Archives: Ben Tannenbaum

Need advice? Let me be your Emissary.

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I was recently invited to join Emissary, a free platform that lets you share advice, make introductions, and get compensated for your efforts.

If you’re not up on Emissary, don’t trip. Neither was I.

I was checking out the profile of my good friend, Ben Tannenbaum, the new Director, Startup Engagement and Acceleration at Mastercard, and noted that he had a Emissary profile.

Intrigued, I checked out Emissary.io and was like “I do this!”

This=being sought out for advice, giving advice and getting paid for my advice.

But I realized that Emissary was doing it big, and I wanted in.

So I sent an email, had a conversation with one of the founders, Mike Sands, and Voila! your’s truly is now an Emissary.

So what? you say?

What’s so effin’ good about Emissary?

Well for one, it’s really about the power of networks.

And you know I’m a proponent of networks.

Next, it formalized the process of giving advice.

If you’re like me, people are always asking you about this or that.

Sometimes you have the answers.

Sometimes you don’t.

But when you don’t, you know exactly where to go to get the information they’re looking for.

Third, Emissary helps you make dough.

Emissary was developed because they realized that there are folks out there looking for the knowledge you (and your network) possess.

As an Emissary, you can quickly connect them with the right people in your network, and earn money for doing so.

Emissary leverages the power of networks by giving its users a platform to do what they do best.

Give advice (or referrals) to folks in need.

To be fair, I’ve oversimplified the process of becoming an Emissary.

They’re still in Beta, so there’s a pretty serious vetting going on.

When I learned about it, I went to their site and sent an email.

A few email conversations and a telephone interview was set up.

After the phone interview, there was a Skype interview, where they probed to figure out what made me an expert and justified making me an Emissary.

Having dabbled in law, entertainment, technology, and mobile, I’ve created a network of specialists in many different fields, that adds value to Emissary.

The fact that I already offer advise (as a consultant) and through my blog, probably didn’t hurt.

I’ve given you a quick overview of Emissary, but a perusal of their site will give you all you need to know.

You can check out my profile here http://www.emissary.io/u/#/stephenchukumba.

Need advice on an upcoming project or issue you’re facing? Hit me up.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be an Emissary? Check ’em out.

And tell ’em Stephen Chukumba sent you!

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Mission iPad: The Power of Personal Networks

Mission iPad is NOT impossible!

About two weeks ago, my friend Ewan at Mobile Industry Review posted a request for someone from America to purchase and ship an iPad to him in the UK.

Because the iPad was being launched in the US only, he couldn’t get his hands on one.

But if someone purchased one for him, he would happily reimburse the individual for the cost of the iPad and shipping.

As I recounted in my Dear Santa post, someone did, in fact, hook him up.

I was impressed by Ewan’s ingenuity because he tapped the power of his personal network to achieve his mission: getting his hands on an iPad.

I was also intrigued.

Did I possess such a network?

Could my network be galvanized by a similar call to action?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I think I possess the gift of gab.

I believe myself to be highly persuasive, with all the skills and characteristics of an effective marketer.

Inspired by Ewan’s initiative, I decided to put my skills to the test.

Could I convince my network to get me an iPad?

More importantly, could I get them to pay for me to have an iPad?

With my 40th birthday approaching, I’ll admit I was playing with a stacked deck.

I was essentially asking for a birthday present.

But I was asking solely through my social media networks.

Using Facebook, Twitter and Buzz, I began the campaign to get me an iPad.

It started off with the Dear Santa letter, and was followed by regular Facebook updates and daily countdown tweets.

The initial response was, ummm, underwhelming.

My wife told me I should be ashamed of myself.

A few folks said I should wait for the 2nd generation so that Apple could get the kinks out.

At least one person told me that I should be saving for my children’s college tuition.

Several of my friends openly mocked me.

Why would anyone buy you an iPad?

But as I persevered, the responses became more encouraging.

Someone inquired if anyone had contributed yet.

Another asked where they could go to make a donation.

And then people started to put up money.

My sister threw in $100.

My friend George from college threw in $5 and then another $5.

Erica Robinson added her $5 contribution.

Slowly but surely, the momentum began to build, and then took a life of it’s own.

My frat brother suggested I set up a Chipin page to give folks the ability to micro-support my little endeavor.

One of my sorors input that I could ask people to donate Apple gift cards.

Folks asked where they could send checks and if I had a PayPal account.

One of the best ideas I received came from my friend (and up-and-coming brand strategist) Ben Tannenbaum, who suggested that in exchange for the generosity of my network, that I contribute my time to a charitable cause. FYI, I’m going with CASA (wifey volunteers there too).

Universally, over the course of the past ten days, well wishers and the inquisitive chimed in on my iPad campaign (many are still inquiring today about the success of my efforts).

On the eve of my birthday, I had raised enough to purchase my iPad.

You know what?

I learned, unequivocally, that I possessed a powerful network.

One that could be galvanized around a particular (albeit self-serving) purpose.

One that, properly approached, had the capacity to help achieve any goal.

These are lessons that I intend to bring to the brands I represent.

I don’t have the iPad yet.

The 3Gs don’t ship until April 30th, but as soon as it arrives you’ll be the first to know!

Thanks to everyone who helped make my 40th birthday memorable (and everyone who put up dough for my iPad).

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I’ve Been Tagged – Honest Scrap Awards

So I’m perusing my Twitter account, and I come across my girl Aliya S. King’s tweet, which said “this post will self destruct in one hour” and provided the following link, http://bit.ly/HonestScraps.

Since I LOVE Aliya’s writing, and she’s one of my collegiate homeskillets, I followed the link to her blog, to a post in which she divulged 10 honest things about herself.

Always one to read about the bats in other people’s belfries, I went in and was genuinely touched by her profoundly personal piece. I was even more touched, when she tagged ME as one of the people for this chain-letter style social media experiment.

So (pursuant to the instructions for the Honest Scrap Awards), first, let me thank Aliya for presenting me with this Award.

Now without further ado, 10 honest things about Stephen:

1. I like big butts and I can not lie! Like Sir Mix-a-lot, I’m a bootie man. I love butts. Some men are boob men. Some like legs. Me, I’m all about the derriere. Bubble butts. Apple bottoms. Heart-shaped. Tight muscular. You name it, I like it. I’m not checking for a sloppy butt or a flat one either, but if a nice set of female gleuts pass my line of vision…well, let’s just say, I’ll pay attention.

2. My johnson curves slightly to the left. I used to be very self-conscious about my slanted schlong. I thought women would take one look at it and bust out laughing. I learned that despite the curvature, I was ‘endowed’ and quickly got over it.

3. I have a favorite child. Parents all say that they love their children equally and have no favorites. And I’m sure that many of them believe it. But it’s not true. We all have our favorites. For all parents, there is one child that stands out (for whatever reason) from the rest, and that you take to.

4. I think I’m going to win the lottery. I know that it sounds ridiculous. Who doesn’t think they’re going to win the lottery? If you didn’t think you’d win the lottery, why would you play? Right? But I REALLY think I’m going to win the lottery. Something deep in my bones tells me it’s true. Now even though I almost never play (I spend a grand total of $20 a year on the lottery), I know that one time I do, I’ll strike it rich.

5. I haven’t had a drink since 1997 (didn’t mean to one-up you Aliya). No. I never had a drinking problem. As part of my religious observation, I gave it up. And although I no longer actively practice, I didn’t miss not drinking. So I still don’t.

6. I think rappers are the most clever wordsmiths. Their faculty with language always impresses me. Now I think a lot of rap is garbage, and I’m constantly appalled when my wife turns up a REALLY ghetto song on the radio, and sings along. The first time I heard her sing, “she opened up her mouth and then I blew her brains out” with Lil Wayne, I thought, I married a gangsta bitch. But all the while marveling at how Wayne was able to so poetically describe a blow job.

7. I want to write a book. I started blogging because my friend Denene Millner said that you’ve got to write to write, and that blogging was a simple way of practicing the art of writing on a regular basis. I have no idea if I will ever actually write a book, but I’m enjoying blogging for my audience of 8, so I’ll keep doing it.

8. I want to meet Oprah. Yes. I said I want to meet Oprah. People may not acknowledge it, but Black women are treated like fourth class citizens. In terms of societal hierarchy, it goes: White men, White women, Black men, Black women. Some would argue, that it’s White men, Black men, White women, Black women. But either way you cut it, Black women are always last. I want to meet the woman, who, despite the odds, is the richest Black person in the world. Oprah, I will be your baby daddy. For real. Forget Dave Chappelle.

9. I support reparations. If the American government, actually paid reparations to the bona fide ancestors of slavery (as they did the Japanese for their internment), then they would have the moral authority to tell people of color to put slavery in the past. But so long as slavery remains the unacknowledged open wound that Blacks simply need to ‘get over’ we’ll always have problems in America. I’m not an ancestor of slaves, so I have nothing to gain. It’s simply the right thing to do.

10. I’m afraid of going bald. Sure I’ve got a head full of dreadlocks, but that don’t mean a damn thing where baldness is concerned. Lots of my contemporaries are rocking baldies to hide the male pattern baldness lurking below their shiny shaved surfaces. They say it’s genetic, and you can tell by looking at the males on your mother’s side. One of my uncles is bald and the other isn’t. How does this help me? A balding dread is not a pleasant thing to behold.

Anyway, I’ve got to present this award to seven bloggers that I admire. They are:

1. Denene Millner http://www.mybrownbaby.blogspot.com

2. James Andrews http://www.thekeyinfluencer.com/channel/

3. Cara Reynoso http://commutefromhell.wordpress.com/

4. Ben Tannenbaum http://bentannenbaum.com/

5. Anike Robinson http://anikerobinson.blogspot.com/

6. Keith Williams http://bobcatsaddict.com

7. Oneika Mays http://waytolivenow.blogspot.com/

Fellow bloggers unite!

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Virtual Promotions

So last night I threw a party at this great little spot in Soho called Gallery Bar.  I haven’t thrown a ‘proper’ party for years, and just decided one day, that I wanted to.  So, being a digital person, I determined that the best way to create the event was to only use viral tools to promote the party.  I wanted to see if I could get people to come out to an event ONLY using viral methods (email, text, social network sites, blogs, etc.).

The first thing I did was hit up a few folks via IM, using IMO.  I got my boys Ben Tannenbaum and Richard Burroughs, and my brother, to all agree to promote the party through their networks.  From there, I sent a text on my iPhone to my boy Phil Graci, with TriAgency, to shoot me over some logos for the e-flyer that Ben and I were creating.

One of the online party flyers for ReFLIX courtesy of Ben Tannenbaum

One of the online party flyers for ReFLIX courtesy of Ben Tannenbaum

Richard hit up a bunch of his contacts with clubs in the city to find one suitable for our event, by IMing, texting and placing calls to folks until we landed at Gallery Bar (big ups to Darren and his crew!)  We put our e-flyers on a few select online party destinations, such as Fusicology, Yelp, Metromix, Going, and had over 25 RSVPs within a few moments of those postings.

Ben set up a Facebook event called ReFLIX, and invited all of our friends to join the group.  We then created the ReFLIX event within Facebook, as well, and once again, invited people to attend.  In total, we sent out invitations to about 300 people, and reminders and alerts thereafter.

One of the options we offered, was the ability to RSVP via text, by simply texting in the word RSVP to our short code.  They received a confirmation message, and another alert on the day of the event, which included directions to the venue.  Of course, people were also able to RSVP via email, but we expressly didn’t let people call to RSVP.

We had a running ticker counting down to the event, presented as status updates on our respective FB or Twitter pages.  Each day, we put up a new flyer, comment or picture on the event page, and kept people informed of new sponsors, films or items of note.

Despite the fact that it was a cold Wednesday (humpday, boo!), by 9:30 p.m., the place was packed.  We hit a technical glitch or two, which I exascerbated with my lateness (note to self: never show up late to a party you’re hosting if an element of the party has to be in place before you arrive).  But all-in-all, it was a nice party.

What made it especially unique was that there was not one paper flyer, no mass street team campaign, no crazy phone calls.  Facebook, texting and a few emails were all it took to put about 100 people in the spot.  The night ended well before the scheduled time, but I had proven my point: virtual promotions work.

In hindsight, it would have served me well not to neglect traditonal methods, like word-of-mouth, because I forgot to invite most of my friends, who (for privacy reasons) remain off the Facebook grid.  I just assumed that everyone uses Facebook, the way I do, and took the simplest and most effective form of communication for granted.

My advice to anyone interested in promoting an event, small or large, make sure you tap into the resources available to you right at your fingertips (oh, and make sure you call your friends!).

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Random Thoughts on Branding

I recently returned from a conference in St. Thomas, USVI, where I moderated a panel on advertising.  The session, titled Advertising: The Convergence of Television, Film and Technology, included an attorney from Microsoft corporation, and a senior executive from Global Grind, a start-up of Russell Simmons, backed by the same investment group that funds Facebook.

The session, which started with a brief Power Point presentation (many thanks to my good friend Ben Tannenbaum for his visuals), segued into a heated discussion of the Microsoft ‘I Am A PC’ spots.  Actually, the discussion centered around the efficacy of the first series of commercials launched by Microsoft, which featured Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, and whether Microsoft had intended to lead with those commercials, before unveiling the ‘I Am A PC’ spots.

Several members of the audience thought that Microsoft’s initial spots, were simply crap, and that the ‘I Am A PC’ was a belated effort to offer a more meaningful commercial.  Microsoft’s representative (and a few Microsoft ‘ringers’ in the audience) advised that the Seinfeld commercials (I think there were at least 2 that I viewed) were an intentional patsy, or sacrificial lamb, offered to get people talking about how bad they were.  According to him, the point of those commercials, were that they were…how to put this?…pointless.

For anyone who followed Seinfeld, the pointless nature of each episode, was, in fact, the point of the entire show.  They were shows about nothing.  Similarly, Microsoft explained, the spots were intended to do nothing more than spark discussion about how pointless they were, and to have audiences asking ‘what’s the meaning of all this?’

They specifically didn’t want there to be a single mention of Mircosoft, Vista or anything remotely related to either.  More importantly, they didn’t want people talking about Apple.  Hence, the spots were not intended as a response commercial to Apple’s many diss ads, which continually punked Microsoft as a clunky out-of-touch company.  Rather, they were intended to take the dialogue in a completely different direction.

And when people were just as confused as they could be, the ‘I Am A PC’ spots began airing.  The resulting tide of adulation and praise for these commercials, which were full of life and meaning, and the antithesis of the original Seinfeld spots, were Microsoft’s resurrection.

The reason I used the Microsoft commercials in my example, was because whatever you thought of Microsoft, or its operating system, or its commercials, for that moment in time, Microsoft had captured everyone’s attention.  It had become the quintessential brand of the moment.  When the first commercial aired, the blogsphere was a twitter (no pun intended) with people debating its meaning.  Angry posts declared that Microsoft had missed the mark in responding to Apple’s clever ads, and that no one ‘got it’ (whatever ‘it’ was).

Similarly, when the ‘I Am A PC’ dropped several weeks later (after the subsequent Seinfeld spot), the blogsphere was, once again, flooded with bloggers (and regular folks) discussing the Microsoft spot.  Over the period of time between the first and last spots, Microsoft claimed that there were literally millions of independent threads online about its ads.

While Apple may be THE brand of the hip cool, current, plugged-in minority, Microsoft (if only for a fleeting moment in time) demonstrated that it had the capacity to be that hip brand (of the dorky majority).

By the end of my session, people were literally up-in-arms, and I thought contentedly (to myself) “well done, my good man.  Well done.”  After the session that day, and into the next day, people approached myself, and my two panelists, to give us hearty handshakes and thank us for so spirited a session.  Law students wanted to know how I got into the business and asked for my card.  And a few of the conference planners invited me to moderate sessions in the future.  I may be on next year’s planning committee.  Shoot, I may have even landed a client.

While Microsoft and Apple will continually be in this war of attrition, I’ll happily pimp them for the benefit of MY brand.  ‘Nuff said.

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