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Official social media & the weirdness factor re: authorship

Here's a question I am tossing around in my mind:

Should official social media accounts have individually named authors?

Or should they be considered the amorphous "voice of the organization?"

I used to think they should be anonymous.

But in the wake of the current high-profile Twitter scandal (you know the one), I am not so sure.

Here's why.

A long time ago the issue of authorship on social media was simple. Personal accounts were for people living their personal lives. Official ones were for organizations.

Then everyone became enamored with the concept of personal branding through social media. Twitter handles went from names or pseudonyms to brand identities. (I am @thinkbrandfirst.)

The issue became, how do I separate:

- my personal LIFE -

- from my personal BRAND, which is a professional identity of my own construction -

- from my JOB...which may or may not reflect my desired brand.

The solution was the ubiquitous disclaimer, which I also use: "All opinions my own." Which isn't really a perfect one. Since you can google most people and find out where they work. Which means that not mentioning your employer can be seen as astroturfing.

But I digress.

The above three distinctions are navigable enough, as long as you are operating a social media platform that is inherently operable by a team.

Facebook is a prime example. The audience "gets" that a group or business page is run by a team. Even an individual celebrity page is understood to be run by a PR team.

Blogs are another. Again, the audience understands that people routinely ghostwrite for their bosses, and leave your personal opinions out of it. Although if you are a political extremist writing for the polar opposite side, that would seem irreconcilable. (Not that most people would do that, but hey, it's a bad economy.)

However, highly individualized platforms like LinkedIn and especially Twitter present a problem.

LinkedIn is actually less troubling. Because it is clearly for professional networking, recruitment, etc. But still there is the issue - you are supposed to be representing yourself, so how do you distinguish that from promoting your employer? People actually do this, but I find it odd and frankly, dishonest unless they are very clear about it.

Twitter, though, presents a truly thorny dilemma. If you are tweeting for an organization, the job demands that you bring your personality to it, in real time. So it is you. No matter what the organizational brand is. And yet you are a nameless, faceless "them." Again, odd.

This is really evident when you see people receiving a shout-out (an @ message) from a handle that named for a company rather than a person. Who is this, you think?

On the other hand, if you explicitly name the account as your name, all sorts of lines are blurred. You are you, but you are "them," but you are also your carefully constructed professional brand, all at the same time.

You can say in the bio who you work for, but people don't normally check bios when they see a tweet, do they?

This is the situation we are in with "the politician" and "those tweets." Was it clear to the recipients what role the person was playing? I am not so sure. Politician on his personal time? Politician making contact in an official capacity? (I honestly can't say the latter without smirking or, alternately, fuming...let's just call this a learning opportunity and leave it there.)

Look at this post. What a bunch of weird, surreal questions I think none of us could have imagined even a year ago. With no clear answers. These are some crazy times for sure.

At the same time, it's an exciting time to be a communicator. I am glad to be part of this evolving conversation and look forward to learning from others' experiences.

For all of those engaged in social media for their organizations, I hope this one at least raised useful questions for you, even if there are no clear answers.

Good luck!

What I graduated from when my daughter graduated high school

In the olden days religious Jewish girls didn't go to school.

In my mother's generation they went to public school.

I went to a private religious school.

And when my kids came of age, it was a given that so would they.

I cried buckets at my daughter's graduation. It was an overwhelming experience. She was beautiful and so poised. My little baby all grown up. Flooded with memories. All the usual mama stuff.

I cried for the things I believed she surmounted to stand there. I won't presume to speak for her here, what it meant to reach that point. I don't really know and it is really her business.

I can only talk about what it meant in ways that connect with other people's experiences. More broadly.

The class was mixed-gender. I am a feminist. I looked at the girls. Reflected that the right to education empowers them, us, my daughters, me.

They cried openly as they gave their speeches. They said they would miss the school, that it was a place they ran to rather than dreaded.

I was stunned that they spoke out in many languages. That they could be themselves, not falsely assimilated. And that the diversity didn't detract from the school's identity as an American institution, but rather made it stronger.

The audience was silent. There was awe. It was a spiritual experience. The world living as one. This was it.

In their native lands, young women wouldn't go to a school like this.

As a young woman, I couldn't go to a school like this.

My daughter almost didn't, either. Except for one thing.

By the middle of her experience at the religious school, I decided that I had had enough.

The details aren't important. The point is that I broke free.

All my life they told me that religious school was the only option.

But it took her leaving the school for us to really explore our faith.

And that is what I want to share.

You may inherit a belief or tradition and think you have no choice but to follow it.

And you may choose another path only to find yourself questioned at every turn. ("We should go back...")

But if you truly believe what you're doing is right, just keep going.

You may be fortunate, as I was, to glimpse the fruits of your labor.

And to find that what you thought you left behind, is still sitting next to you. Stronger than ever. And more real.

Have a good weekend everyone, and good luck!

Time Out: '80s Nostalgia

A number of references to the 80's tonight via Twitter have me waxing nostalgic. Plus I need a break from editing my book. So here goes:

1. Molly Ringwald/John Hughes movies

2. No responsibilities

3. Blowout perms

4. Madonna

5. "Footloose"

6. Neon

7. MTV actually played music videos

8. The mall

9. "Valley Girl"

10. The Brat Pack

11. J-2 and Kosher Delight (NYC)

12. No all-consuming smartphones, texting, Facebook, etc.

13. The NYU library - real books, real stacks, real quiet

14. Greenwich Village before it became "corporatized"

15. Nobody knew what "branding" was

What do you miss?

5 Fashion Trends On Their Way Out The Door + 5 Here To Stay


1. Gladiator sandals

2. Ruffled tops

3. Crop tops

4. Maxi dresses

5. Unevenly hemmed anything

Here to stay:

1. Tattoos + weird piercings

2. Ripped jeans

3. Flared leg pants

4. Oversized sunglasses

5. Pure white shirt of any kind or brand

Never Doubt That A Small Group of [Mutants] Can Change The World: A Personal Branding Lesson from “X-Men First Class”


You know those articles like “100 Million People Can’t Be Wrong” and “How to Land a Job Interview” and all the stuff like that?


If you read them, keep it casual.


Because the really smart people don’t follow the crowd. They know there is no value in being a copycat.


More than that – they are aware that they “think different,” proud of the strength it gives them, and strategic about leveraging their intelligence to live a better life.


If you think about it, in every sphere of life, it is the UN-conventional wisdom that helps people win big-time. In Seth Godin-speak, having this capacity makes you rare, and indispensable – a “linchpin”:


·      Investing: “Buy low, sell high” is the first rule of stock trading. Some would say the only rule.


·      Fashion: The truly well-dressed avoid like the plague anything “in style.” (Guaranteed you would never find Anna Wintour in a sleeveless top with ten layers of ruffles across the front – not anymore.)


·      Real estate: Mavens look for undervalued properties in “up-and-coming” neighborhoods that nobody’s ever heard of.


·      Government: As noted in a recent Fast Company article, the most innovative solutions come from the local level, not from large, centralized bureaucracies.


·      Technology: Did you not see “Wargames” more than twenty years ago? Or read any biography of Julian Assange? Self-taught hackers know a lot more than classically trained geeks how to secure a computer network.


At the same time, “mutants” can’t make it on their own. They have to know how to blend in to “normal” society. For obvious reasons. (Credibility, literacy with what’s already being said.)


In addition, not everyone has the unusual capacity to “think different,” nor do they want to.


This is why small, synergistic (forgive me for that word) teams are the best route to success. Combine a freethinker with a diplomat, add a couple of other unique personalities, and go forth to conquer the world.


As they say in the movie – “Mutant and Proud.”


Good luck!




Photo source here









10 Reasons Not to Compete on Price

A brand to remember does any or all of these things:

1. Simplifies the complicated (Apple)

2. Opens the door to possibility (Google)

3. Makes me feel safer (Toyota - yup!)

4. Gives me joy (Trader Joe's)

5. Makes me feel at home (Starbucks)

6. Gives me confidence in the transaction (

7. Gives me encouragement (Nike)

8. Elevates my social status (Ralph Lauren)

9. Defines the outsider (Hot Topic)

10. Empowers the community (Avon)

...Notice that not one of these has to do with "low low prices."

“Disposable people,” social media, and the future of government


It’s classic movie narrative: Quiet, obedient, trusting wife. Confronted by cheating, lying, backstabbing husband. Wife turns murderously angry, loud and vengeful.


It started, literally, in The Beginning.


Though it’s not in the Bible (Torah), there is a Rabbinic text, “The Alphabet of Ben Sirach,” that talks about Adam’s misadventures in marriage. For when G-d created Adam, a wife was created for him too - “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18) – but he and Lilith did not get along.


Adam: “You are fit only to be in the bottom position, while I am to be in the superior one.”


Lilith: “We are equal inasmuch as we were both created from the earth.”


Adam: “Can’t accept that.” (That’s me, imagining.)


Lilith: “The hell with you.” (Still me writing this script.)


She calls out G-d’s name and flies away. Yes, flies.


In her place there is Eve. Created out of Adam’s rib. Literally, a body part. So the two are one, right? He is the “main part” and she is “subordinate.”


Not so fast.


In the Torah, Eve is called “Ezer Kenegdo.”


Meaning – if Adam does good, she is a helper (ezer).


If he is bad, she will fight him every step of the way (kenegdo).


To this day, the genders are caught in this dynamic over equality. There’s a lot to say, but one thing is clear: We see many examples of women bringing men to task when they act like pigs. When they are treated like disposable people.


(I have always believed that the liberation of the most degraded classes – by gender, race, and money - would harbor the coming of the Messianic age.)


We can debate theology and quibble about gender roles, and be sitting around all day.


The deeper message is much more vital (though no less important) than “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”


What G-d is saying in Genesis has to do with the role of the leader and the led. Because the fact remains that we definitely aren’t all chiefs. In fact, most people around the world are poor, dispossessed, and routinely degraded.


Yet despite all that, I would posit that there is a persistent desire, among all people, to find and follow individuals who are strong, good leaders with integrity. Countervailed by an equally strong desire to take the bad ones down:


·       Ezer: If the leader is good, the people will follow. Will help actively and willingly.


·       Kenegdo: If the leader is bad, the people will oppose them. Just as actively and willingly.


In the past, “the masses” couldn’t do very much to overthrow a bad leader. But social media has restored their ability to not only fly the coop but upend it.


History, if you think about it, isn’t really in the past. We still see evil leaders, official and not, rampaging through innocent people’s lives. People who seem “disposable.”


Because the leader asks themselves, always, “Who’s going to tell? And if they tell, who’s going to believe them?”


Of course, those who did tell were quickly escorted to prison, the labor camp, the loony bin, or simply killed. Their families too often suffering a similar fate.


Social media has changed this power equation forever - in particular, the rise of Facebook.


I think of this as “Mark Zuckerberg’s Tikkun Olam.”


Shorthand for my belief that Zuckerberg’s primary contribution to repairing this flawed world is the empowerment of the masses with a free and simple-to-use microphone.


(Tikkun Olam is the belief that the human effort to alleviate suffering is the purpose of our being here.)


Think about the awesome power of Facebook. As Joel Osteen says, “When G-d wants to speak, the only voice He has is your voice.”


Facebook made social media usable for the average person.


My mother can’t figure out what a “Tweet” is. She says it sounds ridiculous.


On the other hand, she just loves Facebook.


Zuckerberg expressly intended for FB to tear down the wall between the private self and the public self. Because if you are a good person, you should have very little, if anything, to hide.


Let me be clear: I have my reservations about the way that Facebook eliminates personal privacy.


But overall the company has empowered the masses, because it has made it normal for the average person to speak out. To boldly tell truth to power. To say, outloud, “There is no such thing as a disposable person. That person you disposed of – was ME!”


This is a weapon we never had in the past.


So it’s not so easy to divide people into “disposable” and “significant” anymore.


Women are too often thought of as “disposable people.” So are poor people. So are people of color. And religious people of every faith.


I truly believe, in my heart of hearts, that people will use social media for the good. Yes it is true that people can use it to steal things. To disrupt life. Even to make it impossible to govern.


But given how badly people want to believe, and how passionately they support good leaders, I think they will use it to weed out the bad apples and put the good ones in power.


In the end, with G-d’s help, the wisdom of the people will win out against their ignorance, anger and greed. I do have faith in that.


Have a good day everyone, and good luck!




Photo source here

Thank you to whoever cut and pasted my blog post into their blog

I suppose I should take this as a compliment. Honestly I can't tell, maybe my name is included in there somewhere (it's a foreign language blog).

For the genuine blog visit or read my posts on Wordpress (, posterous (, or Govloop (free signup required.)

Ah, hell. What are ya gonna do?

Off to post the next one.

Good Brand, Bad Brand, Dead Brand


In psychoanalysis they call it “splitting.” And public figures suffer
terribly from it.

Instead of seeing people as complicated – marble-cake swirls of good
and bad – we insist that they either be heroes or the opposite.

This is visible in nearly every sphere of celebrity, from Hollywood to
Washington and in the plush hallways of Wall Street. You’re either a
“genius” or an “idiot,” with nothing in between.

Why do we do that?

The Freudians say it’s from a wound caused in infancy and early
childhood. When the baby, confronted with a mother who is sometimes
available and sometimes not, imagines that she is actually two people:
one an evil witch, and the other an all-giving heroine.

Healthy people know that it is the same mother who both gives and fails to give.

People who aren’t functioning as well can’t know that.

So they put her, and other people, in categories.

Not only that – they actually look for people to idolize, and then
look forward surreptitiously to the time that they will fall. This is
“repetition compulsion” – the desire to relive the original wound over
and over again, hoping that it will turn out differently.

Do we not see this dynamic happen every single day with the people we
call leaders? And celebrities?

It is almost as if the paparazzi look for new stars and actively build
them up – then watch and wait until they crash. No actually they
really do that.

Former child stars suffer from this especially badly. Former
Mouseketeer Britney Spears is a great example. So is “Parent Trap”
star Lindsay Lohan. Sad.

Some people refuse to put celebrities into a box. Michael Lear wrote
an amazing profile about Charlie Sheen that is running in the new
Vanity Fair. Sheen emerges as complex and interesting and human. No
false castles of glass being shattered here.

But – as they say – who cares?

This is not a diatribe about childcare.

Nor another post about how to prop a leader up or save them from themselves.

No – this time it’s about product and service brands themselves. I say
“them” because unfortunately for the companies that make them,
customers perceive these things almost exactly as if they were people.
Celebrities, more specifically.

So the same customers who so insistently “split” the leaders they
adore and hate - led to do so by a media that caters to this very
“repetition compulsion” – may spend a lot of money on a brand today,
only to be completely turned off by it tomorrow. And I mean

The same fervent wish to idolize someone that built the brand up, also
can bring it down.

And the crash can be caused by anything. The media, of course, fanning
the flames of a scandal, mini or micro. A disaster. A competitor. A
new emerging brand. And the social media whispers of the crowd – or no
whispers at all.

(Because more than anything else, people are influenced by what other
people in their social circles do.)

What that means for brand producers is very simple: “Get paranoid.”
(to paraphrase Intel’s Andy Grove)

You should always look at your brand as if it were in imminent danger.

Even more than that – you must actively kill the brand yourself.

Anticipate the cycle that is coming – they will love you and then hate
you and stone you to death – and immolate your brand on its own sword

Then come up with a new one.

That way you stay in control of what’s going on. (Theoretically – as
much as possible.)

It’s a tough brandscape out there these days, but the smartest
companies are undaunted.

Get out there, kick your OWN butt, and start over again.

Good luck!

Applause is a sign you're doing something wrong


You've seen those movies when the mom claps wildly at her baby's every step.

Many of us have experienced that. And we're fortunate.

The praise for our early victories - sports team victories, graduations, promotions, marriage - conditions us to expect the same at work.

Unless you are self-employed though, you should expect precisely the opposite.

For reasons that are completely outside your control - namely politics and culture - your success normally makes others feel like they're endangered, or lacking.

Which is why true innovators find themselves in a quandary most of the time. Because their contributions are valued, but also scare people. On so many levels.

Young people, I think, are more likely to fall into this trap of wanting people to applaud their every achievement. They are conditioned to think that if they do good, someone will clap. So if nobody's clapping, they're not doing anything, or worse, they're failing.

This is of course an expectation made worse by being part of the Facebook generation, where every living moment must be shared and commented on by the pack.

This is such a dangerous need. It causes people with good jobs to leave organizations because they don't feel valued enough. Or maybe they don't push hard enough to achieve the next level, because it just seems like such a struggle.

The fact is, when people start applauding loudly, that's the time to get really worried. Because in organizations, people compete for status. And unfortunately, your success is too often viewed as somebody else's failure. 

It is only logical to try and keep your competitors down - not raise them up.

So how do you know if you're doing well? We live in a society that stresses "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Happiness comes from being successful. The markers of success are promotions (money) and praise (social status). 

Here's the deal: You have to change your markers. Go from outside to inside.

From a financial perspective, you can measure your value to the organization by 1) the fact that they want you there 2) the complexity of the assignments you are given 3) the total value of your compensation.

From a social-status perspective, you can measure your value by contributing to conversations where nobody has a stake in competing with you. Those would be social media type conversations, or even working on your own - enhancing your education, doing research, even writing a book.

When you're actually at work, there's another big way to tell if you're achieving something. The quiet people quietly seem to like you. They don't say it out loud or even "go to bat" for what you're doing. But in their own private way, when you come across them in the halls, they nod as if to say, "You're a good egg."

Remember this. When you're in a team at work, school, or elsewhere, you're going to run into personalities of all kinds. 

* Some of them will be bright, like strawberries just picked from the farm and happy to contribute to the fruit salad. 

* Others will be moldy, like those same old strawberries having sat for three days in a car trunk and smelling up every bowl they're put into. And turning the other fruit moldy, as well.

Just say, "Whatever."

Because in the end, you have to be your own wildly clapping mom or dad. 

Nobody is going to praise you for every good thing you do. 

When you're onto something, and making progress, it's that inner good feeling of self-respect that tells you.

Forget the mentions, the tweets, the invites, the interviews, the designations "rock star," "guru," or "legend."

Find your North Star and follow it. Your inner truth, and nothing else, will be the thing that sets you free.

Good luck!