My So Called Life—Day Job or Dating

“My So-Called Life” was a 1990s TV show that showcased a bastion of teen angst.  Many of the shows plots focused on Claire Dane’s character, Angela crushing on heartthrob Jordan Catalano. In the new world of single adults, does this type of angsty behavior still happen? Does anyone have time for it?

18z8n5rf74zw8jpgI have dated a lot. Sometimes I love dating and sometimes I hate it. To be honest, I’ve been on a dating hiatus for a while now.  It just seems like so much work and I put so much energy into my work day that I just want to be quiet when I go home at night.

I had a revelation this week. I think my day job is sucking up all my personal dating juice. Who knew that B2B Marketing and dating have so much in common? I don’t know why I didn’t see this before. It seems pretty obvious.

Here are a few things you have to do for both:

  1. Communicate authentically. Don’t try and be something you’re not. People see right through that. It’s one of those kindergarten lessons that stay with you for life. It’s the worst to meet someone in person that oversells themselves on a dating profile. Same is true in marketing.  Don’t oversell your features or promise things that aren’t in your product domain.
  2. Build relationships. You have to meet people and then get to know them. Building relationships often gives you insights that you wouldn’t see by just basing decisions on a first impression. Sometimes it takes awhile to see who a person is. Sometimes it takes awhile to see what product is like.  If you build a relationship by adding value to that person’s world and listen to what they are looking for, it’s likely they’ll come around.
  3. Find a channel that worksNot all avenues are equal. Find the best path to leads. Optimize and limit the areas that don’t work. It sounds cold, but you might be a Tinder or Hinder person in the digital dating world. Match.com and EHarmony might be too time consuming for you. Find the channel that works best for your personal habits.  Same is true in B2B marketing. We’re constantly optimizing digital channels to find leads that meet the needs of our sales teams.
  4. Setup qualifications. It’s important to know what you are looking for so you can make sure you are moving in the right direction. Also note that it’s Ok if  your criteria changes over time. (Do I really have to expand on this? I think I’ll skip it.)
  5. Leverage your network. I think every daytime TV host has done a show on this topic. Who are your brand or personal influencers? Can they help connect you to people that are qualified targets?  I don’t expect Oprah to walk out and say “here’s a boyfriend for you.. and a boyfriend for you.. and a boyfriend for you” but a hint or a direct question to the right person may put you in the path of exactly the person you are looking for.  The same is true for your company or product. (Is Oprah not a contextual reference anymore?) 🙂

So what’s a girl to do? How do you save some energy for your personal brand when it’s part of your start-up day job? Suggestions and adult Jared Leto substitutes welcome.

iOS 9 Organizes Our Narcissistic Traits…So We Don’t Have To

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On Saturday morning as I sipped my coffee and did my morning news skimming on my iPad, I decided to update my iPhone 6 to the much-touted iOS 9 release. I had deliberately steered clear of articles detailing the new iOS 9 features and enhancements, preferring to play around to discover the new stuff organically as a measure of the overall user experience and usability.

The update went smoothly and quickly (as it typically does, thanks, Apple) and soon I was playing around with the enhanced interface and new apps. In between the interesting new keyboard font and caps toggle controls (thumbs up on the readability and usability) and the new card-stack behavior of the Home screen button (jury’s still out on whether this is enhanced usability or not), lay an enhancement to the Photos app that nearly made me spit out my espresso.

A new folder was now in my Photo Albums lineup, innocuously named:

Selfies

It had a photo count of 747.

747 photos??? I felt a little woozy.

After getting over the initial surprise and confusion that such a boldly-labeled folder would exist, I ruled out that I had somehow semi-accidentally created the “Selfies” folder myself during a cold-medicine fugue episode where I decided that 12,000+ photos in a single folder was just finally TOO MUCH. (After all, I had been on Dayquil most of the week due to a nasty little virus I picked up on a recent trip to St. Petersburg, and to be honest, I’ve had some blurry moments these past few days as a result. But still…).

It then dawned on me that this was clearly an iOS 9 “enhancement.”

Holy Kardashians, Batman — how could the count be so high??!!!?

Had I really snapped over 700 pics of my own mug and failed to delete them?

But then I got suspicious. And a little scared.

For as I scrolled through the contact sheet view, looking at pic after pic that included my own face (or part of it, as my selfie game has never really been that hot), I realized that I’d personally never tagged any of these selfie photos with my name.

As a matter of record, about 95% of them had never been seen beyond the confines of my iPhone screen — never having been posted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media or otherwise public forum.

These were truly my private photos, spanning the past 3 years and often taken after I’d had my hair styled or was checking out my makeup, a new hat, outfit, or some other shiny accessory I was thinking of buying. Others involved selfies with my partner, friends, family, pets, or just random moments in time that I hadn’t bothered ever looking at again but hadn’t bothered deleting yet, either.

Was it: Algorithms? Facial recognition software?  How did iOS 9 know it was ME????

And after about 3 minutes of muttering to myself about Big Brother and the dangers of technology, it finally dawned on me:

The damn front-facing camera.

Minus an error rate of about 2% (where the pics weren’t actually taken by me but were sent to me via text), the contents of my auto-generated “Selfies” folder were solely pics I’d taken using the front-facing camera on my phone.

A Google search quickly confirmed my breakfast hypothesis.

I felt slightly let down at the news. Despite my initial fearful flutters about how advanced facial recognition software must be or Apple to be using so casually in this consumer context, I actually wanted this latest iOS to be *that* clever.

Because I’m inherently lazy about organizing my own burgeoning collection photos, I wanted my phone to be smart enough to do the work for me, even if it meant introducing a bit of creepy technology to do it.

And while iOS 9 can certainly help organize photos based on geo-tags, e.g. Siri very helpfully found all my photos that were taken on multiple trips I’ve taken to say, Milwaukee, it’s still a far cry from the more granular organization of pictures by other topics and objects (A request to Siri to find my photos of “cats” returned no results; my kittens will attest to the fact that there are definitely a number of photos of them in existence.)

In the meantime, though, I guess I’ll take this incremental advancement that Apple has given us towards organizing our own narcissism as a handy “usability” feature. After all, it not only organizes all those spur-of-the-moment salon shots into a single location, but it enables me to delete them much more quickly.

And perhaps I’ll think twice about how much I use the front-facing camera going forward. But likely not.

~~~

When not contemplating whether to put out a book of her worst selfies, Sarah Kling enjoys designing and delivering great products. Follow her on Twitter at @uevision

JUST IN: “LOL” out, Traditional “Haha” Back In

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According to a new Facebook study, online laughter has devolved from the modern “lol” to a more traditional “haha.”

“As denizens of the Internet will know, laughter is quite common: 15 percent of people included laughter in a post or comment that week,” a Facebook blog post said.

The classic “haha” prevailed, followed by different emoji and the giggling “hehe”; “lol” and variations thereof, meanwhile, were scarce.(Source: http://bit.ly/1DId5EY)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

San Francisco, California (August 10, 2015) — According to a new and completely non-scientifically-validated Facebook study, traditional word-based expressions are making a comeback in the online world.

According to Facebook rep ROTFL_LOL, “Apparently, users of Facebook (“humans”) are finding that their ability to communicate using rudimentary miniature hieroglyphs and bizarre letter sequences is creating a less rich, expressive forms of communication, making us feel more isolated and alone in a digital crowd.

He continued: “We were shocked. I mean, who knew words were more expressive than symbols and letter sequences??”

In case excessive online acronym and emoji usage has caused your language capabilities to atrophy, we’ve compiled a helpful guide to word-based expressions you may run across online so you, too, can participate in a “traditional” conversation.  

1. Emotional Expressions

    • “That’s funny.” Your humorous joke / story / wry observation of modern life made this person feel mirth at your attempts at humor and they are driven to express it. Generally, this delightful feeling is expressed through laughter, but it may also result in the slightly less intense reaction known as a “smile.”
  • “I’m sad.” This person is experiencing emotions that center around sadness, a feeling on the darker side of the emotional spectrum and one that most digital devices cannot actually decode. May occur in response to an event or action, or possibly just because s/he is feeling, well, sad.
  • “I’m having a bad day.” This person had a day that, for some reason, is not going well.
  • “That makes me angry.” This person is experiencing feelings of anger over something that has happened. See also, “That really chaps my hide” and “I’m seeing red” or “WTF??”  (Editor’s note: We apologize for the rogue acronym. It won’t happen again.)
  • “I’m a Happy Camper” This person is one who feels joy and / or elation around a campsite. Also an expression of general happiness.

2. Commands and Exclamations 

  • “Sit down.” Sit the rear end of your body (also known as your behind, booty, or caboose) down onto a chair or similar furniture. Also a statement sarcastically directed at Kanye West when he attempts to pseudo-intellectually rant and ramble during a music concert.
  • “Help!” This person needs assistance of some sort. More specific details to follow but be prepared to react quickly.
  • “Go away!” This person has no interest in interacting with you, now or possibly ever. Best to leave them alone before they throw a digital device at your head.
  • “No really, please just go away.” See above; clearly, this person does not want to interact with you. Ever.
  • “Sigh.” An vocal expression that no words can actually convey; more a sound than a specific word. If this sound is directed at you, it typically means that your audience’s patience has probably been worn thin by A) your excessive use of LOL, OMG, and ROTFL or B) your excessive use of emojis instead of actual words or c) both A and B.

3. Environmental Hazards

  • “Slippery when wet.” The floor may be covered with a liquid substance. Be careful. Also a classic Bon Jovi album from the ‘80s that is still in frequent rotation in New Jersey bars.
  • “Danger” Hopefully self-explanatory. Otherwise, get the HELL out, girl! And be careful on that wet floor.
  • “Charge fully before first use.” A very annoying state that most shiny digital devices show up in. Typically, first use charge takes anywhere from 4 to 234 hours.
  • “Do not use in the bathtub.” If you need a definition of this one…then please, by all means, use it in the bathtub.

Despite any dependence on elementary-school acronyms and the modern equivalent of cave-man scratchings, we believe you, too, can learn show a full range of emotions online using W-O-R-D-S. We hope this simple guide to basic human word-based expressions serves you well in your endeavors.

And if not, we’ll be ROTFL LOL’ing….hahahahahahahahahahaha.

Haha. 🙂

Are You Listening? The Key To Building Your Best Relationships.

I think today more than ever it is really hard to get people’s attention given all of the distractions around us.  This is true in my personal life (getting my husband and 13 year old son to hear a thing I say is a near miracle) as well as professionally.

Years ago I worked with an amazing marketing consultant and sales trainer, Linda Pogue. Anyone who was in publishing back then will remember her. She started her career in marketing before becoming a consultant, trainer and coach. She was way ahead of her time in terms of her philosophy around sales and marketing. She is also an amazing lady in many other ways. She no longer coaches and is happily enjoying a leisurely life by the sea. I do miss her though and I’d love to know what she thinks about social selling.

Her philosophy was truly applicable no matter what company, product, brand you were selling. I worked with her when I was a sales person as well as when I moved into sales and marketing management. She helped me and my teams many times to improve how we approached both our marketing messages and our sales process. Her philosophy was simple. It all came down to two key elements: “Listening” and “Why”.

I find that incredibly ironic because back then there was no such thing as social media, no google, no tools at your fingertips. The “listening” included “doing your homework” by researching and reading about that company in trade publications or whatever else you could get your hands and eyes on. And we’d set-up face to face meetings (yes people met face to face all the time not all that long ago!) with people associated with that brand or company (as well as at that company) to really listen and ask informed and open-ended questions that would help you understand that company better. The best in class “selling” was not about “telling” it was about listening and understanding the needs and challenges facing that company/brand.

“Social selling” is now at the forefront of sales best practices. And when you come right down to it social selling is all about listening and understanding your potential clients and their needs and challenges. Social selling is about them, not us. It is exactly what Linda taught us back in an analog world. She was right then and she is right now. Now more than ever. Companies today have so many resources at their disposal to understand the landscape, the competition and compare your brand/product to others long before the speak/connect with you. They are in control from start to finish. And they do not want us to “sell them”. The premise is the same today as it was then, though the “tools” are a lot more advanced. Now we have many ways to “listen” and can capture a wealth of information and understanding if we do it correctly.

On the marketing side of the equation she was also “spot on”. Whenever we would put together sales materials she would ask as if she were the buyer: “Why should I care? What’s in it for me?”. If I gave her a stat about our brand/product she would say “So what? How does that help me? What does that mean to me? Everybody says they are the best. Why should I care about your brand more than the others? Why you?” She pushed us hard to always keep the customer at the forefront. To answer “The Why”. To stay away from being trite, cliched in the way we communicated our brand. It was brilliant and again it is no different today. People still want us to answer “The Why” and provide relevant, helpful, information so that they can learn more about the industry, category, and us. They want us to offer insights that help them with their needs and challenges.

This need to answer “The Why” is behind the growth of social selling. It is what our customers want, if not demand from us. We need to do a great job providing relevant, informative, useful information that addresses “the why” and that does not trigger a “so what”.

Customers are no more demanding today than they were in the past. They just have a lot more power and insight. We as marketers and sellers need to heed Linda’s excellent advice – “Listen” so you understand your buyers and use the incredible tools at our disposal to answer the “Why” and meet the needs of your customers.

Any by the way, truly listening works really really well when it comes family and friends too.  The best relationships are always built on trust and its damn hard to trust someone who doesn’t listen so — listen-up!

 

Kittens 2.0 to Launch SnapCat

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PURRNewswire – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

San Francisco, CA — June 30, 2015

Kittens 2.0, the latest entry in a long line of cat-run Internet ventures, has officially launched, with first product offering SnapCat currently in beta.

Kittens 2.0 aims to disrupt the existing cat-driven internet by bringing more ridiculously cute kitten-focused content to the masses, while simultaneously enabling younger cats to connect with the world that frankly adores them.

Says their spokes-human and lead investor, Sarah Kling: “We’re really excited to have the kittens enter this market. The Kittens 2.0 team found through research that the current cat-loving market is underserved by today’s technology solutions because younger cats find the current solutions to be daunting.”

“Younger cats are simply not using such social media tools as Twitter, where the bird logo is too distracting, and Facebook, where too many pictures of homely dogs and sticky toddlers dominate horribly-organized news streams.

“And as for YouTube and Google+:  The Kittens’ deep market research re-affirmed other human’s findings that the UX is too complicated for younger cats to navigate the steps it takes to create a channel and post content.”

“They’d rather be stalking their own tails or learning to scratch on the forbidden new furniture in mommy’s living room than to sign up for a Google+ account.”

She added while attempting to lure our the founders with a fleece-on-a-stick toy:

“Younger cats simply lack the focus it takes to wade through traditional social media channels.”

When finally reached for comment under the living room sofa, Kittens 2.0 founder and CEO Harley states, “Our focus is to really expand the reach of the younger cat audience by exploring new channels through our mobile and web offerings. We’ve found that the Internet is saturated by images and videos of entertaining older cats, doing things that older cats can do, which we as kittens find….[big yawn and stretch]…

“Do you have any tuna-flavored treats? I love tuna-flavored treats!”

Says co-founder and VP of Marketing, Ringo, who was reached for comment while crouching under a bathmat: “Frankly, everyone knows that the kitten population is underserved by today’s mobile and social media offerings. But what’s weird is that, as kittens, we alone possess the absolute maximum amount of that critical “aww, so cute!” adorableness factor.

“We believe we can leverage our cuteness to disrupt the existing cat-driven internet.”

Chimed in CEO Harley, while pouncing on the bathmat: “It’s kind of shocking, really: There are NO kitten-specific apps currently in either the App Store or the Google Play Store, and frankly, we think this is a missed opportunity. We know from our research in the incubator that kittens are very capable of using touch-screen devices. Think about it…all that tapping. It just comes naturally to us.”

Kittens 2.0’s first product offering, SnapCat, is currently in limited beta testing in the living room, and is expected to be available for general release later this summer.

So far, the Kittens 2.0 team is keeping the details of that product secret, but they do expect the features to be very “kitten-user-friendly, with lots of quick tapping and pouncing interactions supported.”

Kittens 2.0 is currently in an explosive growth phase, with expansion plans including the hiring of more humans to “handle the more mundane tasks such as procuring snacks and tuna, and doing things around the office that require opposable thumbs.”

Originally created in a field near Petaluma, California, Kittens 2.0 was then incubated for several weeks in a Petaluma “tech shelter” before moving last week to their new offices in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco.

To learn more about Kittens 2.0 or to book an interview with them while they’re crouching under an ottoman, contact spokes-human Sarah Kling at sarah@kittens20.com.

My OC Behavior (Obsessive Connected)

My OC Behavior (Obsessive Connected)

On the first day the iPhone 6 came out – I bought two. One for my husband and one for myself. I’m that person in our family who is the tech junky, finding, installing and fixing everything. I’ve got my kids and husband trained to just give me the device, and I’ll get it going again.

My Obsessive Connected (OC) behavior has been cultivated by all of the new devices that are:

  1. very inexpensive
  2. very specific with their purpose, and provides immediate benefits
  3. very easy to install, manage and interconnect.

If there’s something new to the market that hits those 3 criteria, likely it’s in my home.

Today, I look around and have to say that these devices are truly making my life easier to manage.

  • My family is healthier
  • My family is better monitored (I hate using the word “safe” because I don’t think that’s what devices really do)
  • My family can focus on what’s important to us vs. worry about remedial things

These are my favorite devices that are currently feeding my Obsessive Connected behavior:

Pebble Time SmartWatch

pebble time - whiteFirst thing that’s been amazing to use for alerts and monitoring is our new His & Hers Pebble Time smartwatches. Disguised as a birthday gift for my husband, we became one of the 73,000 backers on the Kickstarter campaign, and having the watch has been extremely helpful tracking our activities & staying in the know on the important things.

Sonos for home & Jambox for bike

sonos-theaterTo keep us mentally engaged, we always have music going on in each room or outside, thanks to Sonos & Jambox. Both controlled by our phones or our Pebble Time smartwatches – which is really convenient to use. Sonos allows us to control wired patio speakers through the phone via “connect:amp”, and also allows us to control their wireless speakers which are equally amazing – like the Sonos 3 – in our kitchen.

Jambox (by Jawbone) is nothing new, but easily amazing. For being a family that loves music, we carry this little guy everywhere we go and are always playing our favorite tunes.

Piper Security Camera + GE Z Wave Light Switches

Piper-1We have an elaborate home quasi-security/ monitoring system installed, where we use Piper Security camera including Night Vision, which is our Z wave hub for our device controlled dimmer switches. If Piper detects something wrong (like movement or sound) during times when the house should be silent, it turns on lights and alerts those within the “trusted circle”. Piper also notifies us for severe weather alerts, reminding us when to cover outdoor furniture and the like.

There are many Z Wave light switches out there, in the end, we chose GE. I am impressed with the 600 W capacity and are compatibleGE Smart-Dimmer with most Z wave hubs, including the one built into our Piper camera. Synching them was a synch, and then adding the lights onto an alert workflow was also extremely easy.  The Piper app is also the mobile interface we use to control the light switches.  Hopefully soon, Piper will make a Pebble app, so all of this can be controlled through my wrist.

Skybell Doorbell

skybellWe also installed Skybell, which is a wifi-enabled smart doorbell, that has a tiny color camera with good night vision and a 2 way mic, mounted above the button. When someone rings the bell, it alerts us through our smart phone that there’s someone at the door, shows the video display, and allows us to have an actual, audible conversation with the visitor without even answering the door. I also get alerts that there’s a visitor at my front door on my Pebble Time.

Sidenote: Skybell is great because it also allows me to see packages when delivered, and left on my stoop.

Sense by Hello

Sense Sleeping Monitoring SystemJust 2 nights ago, we began using Sense from Hello – which monitors our sleeping habits to understand what are the ideal conditions for us to get the best sleep! The Sleep Pill that clips onto your pillowcase is one of the smallest and most intelligent devices I’ve seen, whereas it knows when I’m laying down and wide awake, or actually asleep, and the level of sleep I’m in.  The pill connects to the Sense (ball), which monitors the bedroom for sound, light, temperature and humidity, and correlates conditions to my actual sleeping pattern, giving me a “sleep score” in the morning. The Sense also knows how & when to wake you up, so you can stop wearing-out your snooze button.

It’s been really eye-opening on our whole shut-eye (sorry – had to).

Evernote on my wrist

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To manage those pesky HoneyDo lists, Home renovation punch-lists, and to manage all of the kids’ activities, we use Evernote. Thinking the “Premium” subscription plan that we’re on should be renamed to “Life” because that’s really how we use it. Sharing these tasks with family to contractors has been helpful to understand what’s going on. It too is integrated on our Pebble Time smartwatch, so when tasks are complete, or I forgot what I was supposed to get, I have it on my wrist.

If you’d like to know about other devices I’m obsessing about, or have recommendations of your own, please tag onto this post through comments! I take pleasure in meeting other OC people like myself.

Interview with Marketplace Host and Tech Correspondent Molly Wood

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Molly Wood is a host and senior tech correspondent at Marketplace, the public radio show produced and distributed by American Public Media.

Previously, she was a personal technology columnist for the New York Times, where she wrote in print and online about the trends and technologies that are changing the daily lives of real people, and produced a video series to drive the point home.

Prior to the Times, Molly was an executive editor at CNET, where she created, hosted and served as executive producer of Always On with Molly Wood, a broadcast-quality technology reviews and news show. She also authored the always controversial Molly Rants column at CNET News, for which she was a 2012 National Magazine Award finalist for commentary.

Molly is an online media pioneer: she co-created and hosted CNET’s flagship podcast, Buzz Out Loud, which was one of the first well-known tech podcasts on the web. She also created and hosted the Buzz Report, a tech news show that debuted in 2005 and was, for a time, the web’s longest-running weekly video series. Molly has done almost all forms of media, from print to books to magazines to wire services to video, TV and radio.

I was thrilled to bits when Molly agreed to chat with me.  I’ve known her for a couple of years and have been seeking an excuse to pick her brain about her experience in journalism, especially in the tech sector for just about as long.  This post is the first in a two-part interview project.   There was so much good stuff, I convinced my internal, adolescent editor to grab a beer and chill on the back patio for this one.   Molly would be proud.  Or horrified.

EZ: You’ve covered a myriad of subjects during your career from general news to sports.  How did you end up in tech?

MW: I moved to the Bay Area in 1999. There was, sort of no way NOT to end up in tech, even if you were a journalist.  I quit my job at the AP and moved here, did some temp work and a friend of mine got me a position at a magazine that covered Apple.  It was a MAC Magazine called MAC Home Journal. It was the baby competitor to MAC World.  It’s no longer.  It was a random, “Here’s a journalism job for you!” because I didn’t want to keep working for AP.

EZ: Had you felt like you found your niche at that point? Did you love it?  Or was it more an understanding that this was where all of the stories are?

MW: I’d like to think that there was any sort of conscious decision making going on but it was more like I was living in Omaha working for AP and a friend called and said “I live in Oakland and I need a roommate!  What are YOU doing?”  And I said “I’ll be there in a month!”  The whole thing was just a series of serendipitous events.  I was considering the temp job for the time being and then the magazine job came along.  I took the job because it was writing and I was just lucky enough to like what I was doing.  I don’t remember being super conscious of ever thinking “I like this tech stuff!” Although it did happen when I wrote a review of the iMac DV…..(I blink in stupor at her).. cause this was SO long ago, right?  I don’t even remember what the difference was.  I think it had a DVD drive or something like that.  I remember looking up all these specs and thinking….because it isn’t that dissimilar from sports because it’s specs and  numbers and…it’s all dudes…

EZ:  I never thought of it that way!
MW: It was kind of similar and when I wrote that particular piece I thought “Oh, I LIKE this. That was really fun.”

EZ: How did you take that experience and make more of that work for you?

MW: Again, I don’t think it was as conscious of a decision as it may seem in hindsight.  I didn’t want to stay at the magazine forever.  I mean it was great training.  It got to the point where I was almost writing the entire magazine.  There was a small staff and I…..like to work (she laughs). I played dumb little video games and wrote stories about them.  But I did want to move on eventually and was lucky enough to fall into the world of the internet.  I applied for a copy editing job at Salon.com back in the day which I did not get.  But before I was hired at CNET I remember looking at them and thinking “Okay, well I’ve been doing this tech thing so I can probably get a job there.”  I will say that it didn’t ever occur to me to go back to hard news.  I knew I didn’t like that.  It’s a lot of bad hours, it’s really depressing (she laughs sardonically into her drink) you have to work on Christmas and sometimes your covering a murder on Christmas!  That just was not the kind of life that I thought I wanted.  Also, CNET had good grammar.  It wasn’t totally janky like so many of the things that I encountered on the internet.

EZ: LOLS!  Srsly.

MW: We didn’t have that then.  We had the turkish guy that was in love with you.. . The “I kiss you!” (again, I betray myself with my blank stare)…  It was SUPER early days on the internet. I can’t say that I said to myself “I’m going to embrace this tech thing as a career.”  It was more like, “okay, now I’ve been doing this for a year, so I know what I’m talking about and it seems like that’s what everyone’s doing here.

EZ:  You ended up at CNET for quite a while after that.

MW: I got to CNET as an associate editor covering ISPs and 13 years later I had done just about every other editorial job that they had.  Two great things happened to me while I was at CNET.  One is that I left CNET.  I wasn’t happy with my job at the time and I ended up leaving to do tech book editing at O’Reilly for nine or ten months for the shortest period of time ever.  The second great thing was that I went back to CNET for a better job where I started doing podcasting and video editing and I was a columnist.  So I had a platform!  By the time that I left, I was definitely among their primary talent.

EZ:  After you came back to CNET and established your platform, you developed some super creative ways of challenging the latest and greatest tech innovations that were either JUST about to hit the market or even just in the conceptual stages.  How did you come up with your ideas and continue to create compelling material for your audience?

MW: I think that my approach to journalism was always a little bit 7-On-Your-Side.  I was always the consumer advocate.  It started because I was really into policy and I was forever ranting about net neutrality and digital rights management and even the refusal of studios to digitally distribute music and movies.  It was always from the perspective of the consumer.  From that, my specialty became that experiential approach where I wasn’t trying to me more of an expert, I wasn’t trying to be a tastemaker, I was being a real user.  My approach to technology was always about how it would integrate with my actual life.   I think people just responded to that because it’s practical.  People would tell me that it was just honest.  It wasn’t overly focused on what a particular company was trying to achieve.  It was more like “Well, how does this work for me?”  It made a ton of sense especially coming from CNET.

EZ:  I also feel a large part of your audience and the market, let’s face it, are like me.  I’m a single woman watching your approach to tech as a single mom with a BUSY life.

MW:(gently interjecting)…Also, this part of the market, while big, is not such a huge part of the reviewer base.

EZ: Right!

MW: Which I always felt was guys with nothing but time to figure this stuff out.

EZ: And your approach is so refreshingly unpretentious.   Above all, it looked like so much fun.  In fact, I feel like I almost want to answer this question for you because I think I know what it is, but I’ll ask anyway:  What was the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of testing technology?

MW: (Laughs, knowing exactly to what I am alluding)….I mean, the helicopter jump…. is obviously.. the one.  What was happening at CNET at this time was that I was kind of at the end of the line.  At this point, I had not traditionally done gadget stuff.  I was really more about trends and policy and then CNET was moving in a direction of wanting everything to be much more core to it’s central mission which was reviewing products.  So I decided to create this show.  I was thinking “THIS is it.  This is my moonshot to try to do something that I feel great about that’s going to move my career and my ambition and my interest forward.”  ….cause I like a lot of variety.  So I launched this show that was like a baby startup within CNET. I made a budget for it and basically pitched it and asked for money.  I said “I’m going to need this much money and these are the staff I want to hire, I want to hire totally external people and were going to shoot out in the world!” …and this had not been done before.  I guess I had been there for so long and had done pretty much every job and had built up enough capital that they ended up approving my “moonshot’ budget.  Remember, this was me going for broke.  It was amazing!  So I hired seven people and we just started coming up with crazy cool ways to present tech interactions.   So one of the first ideas we had was to re-create this commercial we’d seen for this HTC phone where some guy jumped out of a helicopter and did a photo shoot, trying to capture this model in mid-air.   And of course we were like “That’s not….that can’t happen.”  At this point I was just trading ideas with a friend who happened to know someone really high-up at Go-Pro.  So we ended up with the Go-Pro stunt team to work with us.

EZ: (agog) ….no way…

MW: The Go-Pro Bomb Squad.  It was amazing…..I mean…IT WAS AMAZING!!!  I mean, here we are with the Go-Pro Bomb Squad and we’ve set up this jump which is out of a helicopter and not a plane which is SUPER unusual for consumer skydiving.  And these guys come in and they are all super tanned and ripped and they’re like (doing her best Keanu Reeves impression) “You’re gonna love jumpin’ out of a helicopter because the sensation of free fall is just SO much more intense!”  Which basically means you’re jumping from a standstill and it’s just (mimes vomiting into her mouth)…it was all I could do not to vomit in mid-air much less take these pictures.  One of the guys dressed up in a unitard and a feather boa and a helmet that my producer made that had feathers all over it, and it’s me and him in a silver unitard and a boa…. and I got the shot!!  And all the Go-Pro guys were like “Dude, that was sweet.”  They were like “We didn’t think you were going to get that shot at all!”  And I was like “Dude, I thought I was gonna barf.”  But that was the first in a series of amazing shows.  For example, I rode on the back of an America’s Cup catamaran, which was one of the COOLEST experiences of my life, followed up shortly by taking a ride on the world’s fastest sailboat, I did a mud-run in Vail at eight thousand feet, where I thought I would die.  I broke an iPad on the streets of Paris (she romanticizes this as if it were a wine and food pairing in a french bistro).

fly

EZ: Tell me about the mind controlled skateboard. Of all the mind-blowing things you’ve done, that kind of took it to another level. By the way, you REALLY need to keep a catalogue.

MW: I really do!  Just all of this amazing stuff that has happened in my life!

EZ: You have done a LOT of stuff in such a relatively short period of time.

MW: I have!  Do you know that Kanye quote? I want to make this my Tinder profile: “My life is dope and I do dope shit.” That’s how I feel about my life.

EZ: Seconded.

MW: So, they had this mind-controlled skateboard, and it’s not a stunt.  It’s actually a mind-controlled skateboard and they had this helmet with a bunch of electrodes which attach all over your skull and it’s this slimy, yucky thing.  But you put on this weird electrode thing and you stand on the skateboard and the electrodes are hooked up to a Window’s tablet that powered the motor and you had to THINK the commands to drive the skateboard.  It was the weirdest thing cause they would say “You can’t think ‘GO.’” If you just think “Go” you aren’t going to go.  You actually have to think about going.  You have to imagine yourself going.  Which is even harder when you want to stop. Because you can’t just think “stop.”  You have to actually imagine yourself stopping and so the focus that it takes for you to imagine yourself stopping for you to stop when you’re headed right into a wall is a whole other level.

EZ: That…..(Not..nope …not any words coming to me).

MW: (Mercifully interjecting) WE LIVE IN THE FUTURE!  THAT THING ACTUALLY EXISTS!!!

EZ: Are they manufacturing this now for the general public?

MW: I don’t think so.  They may be licensing the technology but they aren’t making the skateboard. It’s a company called Chaotic Labs and they are a lab.  But THEY have a cool job.  I mean I have a cool job…but they have a COOL job.

Molly is a recognized technology expert who appears on national media regularly. She has has built a strong brand with humor and sarcasm mixed with genuine and often outraged consumer advocacy. With more than 95,000 Twitter followers and more than 500,000 followers on Google Plus, Molly has a loyal and engaged fan base, and communicates with them regularly.

Tune in next time when we dive further in to Molly’s adventures in public media!

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