I gave this little talk at Limmud in December, and it was a great experience. While I was giving it, there were a couple of Jewish heavy-hitters in the front row of the audience who WEREN’T MAKING ME NERVOUS AT ALL. After the event, one of those people came up to me and my husband and said, “I’m going to say something immodest.” 

He turned toward Alan for a moment, then back at me. 

"I love the way he looked at you while you spoke," he said. 

So apparently, Natan Sharansky is a romantic. 

Hope you enjoy the talk!

Tips for An Effective Professional Presence Online

I was putting together a presentation for Jewish communal folks on developing an effective professional presence online, including some bits about the personal/professional continuum, some about reputation management (there’s gotta be a better term than that, right?), some about privacy vs. publicy (really a word; I read it in a book once), and other technical tips. Before I finished the presentation, I asked my network: What advice would you give? Here are their answers…

Rebecca: Creating separate lists for professional contacts and adjusting privacy settings accordingly.

Arnie: Ask questions consistently. Value people’s responses. Engage them in conversation. Respect them. Maintain a sense of humor and a sense of perspective.

Deborah: Just like in in-person communication, consider verbal, vocal (tone) and non-verbal (appearance). They all make an impact.

Stephanie: Nothing is truly personal. You must always represent yourself professionally, even in your personal spaces (i.e., your hobby blog, your “personal” Twitter.

Liz: Don’t just “sell” your programs and/or yourself. Also answer others’ posts, share others’ ideas/posts, participate in the on-line community.

Peter: Be a digital role model (easier said then done).

Ken: Don’t just talk to your own pals. Better yet: try and make new pals, as often as possible.

Lisa: Be generous — respond when people ask or share. Also, re Stephanie’s comment which I 100% agree with, look at the ratios of personal sharing, professional sharing/promoting, generosity/appreciation for others, network engagement, etc. Only a small percentage should be the cute things your kids said (that don’t relate to anything else), otherwise professional contacts will have a hard time taking you seriously. All about the ratios.

Mimi: Connecting with people authentically, keeping things light/funny (the new professional) and warm! AUTHENTIC. GENUINE. REAL. HONEST. (Grabbing my thesuarus here ;)).

Asaf: To the point about reputation maintenance online, I think the best term is personal branding. I think from a professional point of view, people should consider their online presence as supporting the brand that is them. This relates to what they post,where they post, and to whom they post.

Isaac:To be a brand you need to have a consistent voice, tone, message and point of view. To be a personal brand, the above needs to be authentic and closely connected to your actual personality and style.
What advice would YOU give?

The Three Social Media Skills Everyone Needs

This is a tweet I recently saw posted by HARO

And (silently acknowledging to myself that there really is no such thing as a “social media expert,” and if there is I’m really not one, but what the hell) here’s what I replied - agree? What would you add/change?:

Listening: The social media revolution may be about talking, but the social media revelation is about listening. Listen to others. Don’t just use social networks to reinforce your opinions; you’ve got access to the entire world! Get out of your comfort zone and really hear what other people are saying. This is where great ideas and rich relationships come from.
Filtering: There’s a lot of great stuff in social media, but, let’s be honest - there’s a lot of crap out there. When not used with care, social networks can suck your time, your energy, your hope in humanity… Take a breath. Check yourself. Are you engaging with people and content that inspire or challenge or fulfill you? Or are you arguing with conspiracy theorists and spambots?
Sharing: The “stuff” you share is your social capital online; every piece of content is a digital water cooler. Be mindful about what you share, when, and with whom. Remember that online, everything is always happening right now, so any piece of content you share gets associated with you (the right-now you, not the then-you). It becomes part of your digital fingerprint. Put a pause between your fingertips and the keyboard and share wisely.
What three social media skills do you think everyone needs?

How Blogs Build Community

This is a video on how blogs build community created for the day school parents of Knoxville, TN, who are doing a training with The Jewish Ed Project’s Parent to Parent initiative. I was supposed to co-hot a session with them, and had a last-minute conflict… :/ So, this is me being there without being there. Hit me up with any questions!

Script:

Great to connect with you all, and I’m so sorry I can’t make it. I’m really looking forward to next time when we can have a deeper conversation about social media, and really dig in with strategies and fun tips and all kinds of goodies.


I love talking about blogging because it ties in so well with Jewish sensibilities about content and conversation. The Talmud was, arguably, the first blog - a conversation that takes place across time and space, bringing in many voices, contradictory opinions, and preserving it all. Even the format speaks to this. If you’ve ever looked at a page of Talmud (and not gotten completely intimidated, as I usually do), the main content is at the center, the comments in chronological order reverberating out from there. Folks comment on the main idea, then comment on the comments, then comment on the comments’ comments… Ah, Judaism, the ultimate obsessive-compulsive book club.


While blogging was hot news online about ten years ago, it’s still, i believe, at the heart of the internet. Blogs are where the stories live and breathe and grow. Think of it this way. If the Internet is a city, then Facebook is a college campus, LinkedIn is a convention center, Twitter is a series of cocktail parties in little, connected clubs, Pinterest is a shopping mall and an art gallery (in many ways), and so on and so forth, but blogs are often the homes. Blogs are where authentic stories come out. And people can visit your house, and engage in your story there, and that’s amazing and valuable. But more and more, as social media has evolved, it’s when those stories are brought into all those other places - the shopping mall, the convention center, etc. - that they become part of the bigger conversation. Sharing the story in your home, but then opening it up to this larger audience help create a sense of fluidity, of comfort, of community. Stories get set free when they’re shared in these larger spaces and the conversation around them gets hosted there. And the best part is, often, those stories don’t stay online; they influence the way people interact with one another in real life, then flow back into the online world.

So, blogs are a place for establishing a voice. For being your most authentic self, outside of “proprietary” social networks like Facebook and Twitter. But if you want people to join you in your home, to share in your story, you have to go out into the world and introduce yourself. Share that story. Ask questions. Visit other people’s homes and listen to what they have to say. Take this metaphor with you as you think about writing your blog post. And most of all, have fun! Please send me any questions you might have over email (or via Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn…I’m all over the city), and I’ll see you next time!

How to Have a Fight on Facebook

It’s inevitable. You put a billion humans together in a social network, there are gonna be a few digital punches thrown. I’ve gotten into fights on Facebook. I’ve done it well, and I’ve done it really, really poorly. If you’re in a Facebook situation and you’ve decided you’re more Michael Jackson in “Bad” than Michael Jackson in “Beat It,” then, here are my fightin’ words for you:

  1. Know thine opponent. C’mon, it’s Facebook, and you probably know this person, where is this conversation going to go? (And if you don’t know this person, why are you arguing with them on Facebook in the first place? Is it even a real person?) In Judaism, we have the concept of argument “l’shem shamayim” - for the sake of Heaven. Basically, ask yourself, is it worth it to even reply in the first place? Is it worth engaging this person?
  2. Remember it’s public. I don’t add this caveat to dissuade argument, actually. This might actually be a really good reason to get into a Facebook fight in the first place. Do other people need to see this? Who? Why? 
  3. Remember it’s permanent. I like to think of the things we post online as our digital fingerprint as opposed to our digital footprint. Our online actions don’t follow us, they accumulate, become part of our identity, and live in the RIGHT NOW…forever. When someone - your mom, a current boss, a future employer, CNN - Googles your name, what do you want them to see?
  4. Breathe before you type. Social media moves really fast, and it’s easy to get sucked in. But one of the advantages of social media platforms is that you can put a pause between your fingertips/thumbs and the keys before you post. Use that pause to breathe.
  5. Don’t post over mobile. Be honest: you’re doing something else. You’re going to spell things wrong and look silly. You’re going to hit send before you’re ready to and regret it. Just don’t have a Facebook fight over mobile.
  6. Remember you can’t convey tone in text. Your snark and sarcasm may be very clever in person. That backhanded compliment may play well in a bar. That moment of dripping, saccharine sweetness may come off well over the phone. But this is text, baby, and there’s no guarantee you’re be “heard” the way you imagined.
  7. When in doubt, get a second opinion. Not sure you should respond at all? Not sure your response is clear? Thinking that picture or video or gif that really brings the point home might be a bit too much? Ask someone you trust. And not your friend who always agrees with you. That other person.

And finally, don’t feel bad if you decide you duck out and end the conversation. Again, you’re still Michael Jackson, and you are still cool (well, I think you’re cool).

This campaign is a fascinating example of what it means to know your audience. I’m conflicted about this example, but I’ll share and would love to hear your thoughts.

Essentially, an ad for the international day for the elimination of violence against women was put up in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. Knowing that a public image of a woman would not be tolerated, the agency running the campaign put the message of the campaign on a separate layer behind the woman’s face. Ultimately, the billboard was - quite literally - defaced, and the announcement revealed. Click the link for the contrasting images.

Powerful, disturbing, brilliant…

Tags: marketing

Pinterest has just launched a new feature - an interactive map function! (And I’m obnoxiously excited about it.) Now your pins can “live” somewhere in the world. Users can now explore a Pinterest board by the images themselves, as before, or through the accompanying/background map associated with the pins.
On one foot, here are a few thoughts on how nonprofits might be able to capitalize on this new feature:
- Showcasing volunteering efforts in different locations - snap a pic, post a blog, pin it!- Or highlight your online community, or off-site staff! Grab pics of your team and/or most engaged members along with links to their blogs or other social spaces, and see how the Internet is bringing everyone to the same space, even when we’re in wildly different physical locations.- Got a conference coming up? Use this space as a virtual gallery of speakers or attendees - link to folks’ bios, websites, and showcase their work and where they’re coming from.- Are you an advocacy organization? Use it to raise awareness! Create a board showing where materials or food come from for a particular product and link to info about these different elements. Highlight stories of child slavery, or sex trafficking, or any number of dark but important issues. Or find examples of success and change all over the world and bring out the good. - Somewhat like the previous example, use the board to highlight where your donor’s dollars are going.- Follow the travels of your organization’s leadership. Where is your CEO speaking next? Blog and map the tour!Are you a nonprofit that works, for lack of a better term, B2B? Create a board highlighting lateral/partner organizations.- Feeling adventurous? Turn your board into a virtual scavenger hunt or quiz. The title of the board is a question, the links are options to click and learn more. Where in the world is Carmen San Diego, literally, do-gooder style.
Some organizations are already using services like Google Maps to do these kinds of things, which is immensely valuable. But I believe there’s added value to this approach:
- It’s on, y’know, Pinterest, so there’s tagging and repinning and all that good stuff. To be blunt, Pinterest is huge and growing and nonprofits ignore it at their own risk.- The board becomes a vehicle for social storytelling - as the board grows, you can continue to share and grow the conversation as well.- It connects well with other social networks, Twitter and blogs in particular. 
Regardless, I think it’s a fabulous new feature worth experimenting with. 
Ready to give it a try? What ideas do you have for your nonprofit?

Pinterest has just launched a new feature - an interactive map function! (And I’m obnoxiously excited about it.) Now your pins can “live” somewhere in the world. Users can now explore a Pinterest board by the images themselves, as before, or through the accompanying/background map associated with the pins.

On one foot, here are a few thoughts on how nonprofits might be able to capitalize on this new feature:

- Showcasing volunteering efforts in different locations - snap a pic, post a blog, pin it!

- Or highlight your online community, or off-site staff! Grab pics of your team and/or most engaged members along with links to their blogs or other social spaces, and see how the Internet is bringing everyone to the same space, even when we’re in wildly different physical locations.

- Got a conference coming up?
Use this space as a virtual gallery of speakers or attendees - link to folks’ bios, websites, and showcase their work and where they’re coming from.

- Are you an advocacy organization? Use it to raise awareness! Create a board showing where materials or food come from for a particular product and link to info about these different elements. Highlight stories of child slavery, or sex trafficking, or any number of dark but important issues. Or find examples of success and change all over the world and bring out the good. 

- Somewhat like the previous example, use the board to highlight where your donor’s dollars are going.

- Follow the travels of your organization’s leadership. Where is your CEO speaking next? Blog and map the tour!
Are you a nonprofit that works, for lack of a better term, B2B? Create a board highlighting lateral/partner organizations.

- Feeling adventurous? Turn your board into a virtual scavenger hunt or quiz. The title of the board is a question, the links are options to click and learn more. Where in the world is Carmen San Diego, literally, do-gooder style.

Some organizations are already using services like Google Maps to do these kinds of things, which is immensely valuable. But I believe there’s added value to this approach:

- It’s on, y’know, Pinterest, so there’s tagging and repinning and all that good stuff. To be blunt, Pinterest is huge and growing and nonprofits ignore it at their own risk.

- The board becomes a vehicle for social storytelling - as the board grows, you can continue to share and grow the conversation as well.

- It connects well with other social networks, Twitter and blogs in particular. 

Regardless, I think it’s a fabulous new feature worth experimenting with. 

Ready to give it a try? What ideas do you have for your nonprofit?

On Confirmation Bias, or The Tyranny of Homophily

My great uncle is a brilliant and kind man who reads anything and everything he can get his hands on, then recaps it with such articulate precision and grace you’d think he’d done his doctorate on that book. And he seeks out information on subjects with which he has zero familiarity in order to be able to make connections across disciplines, and play with those connections the way most of us twiddle with our phones until something cool happens.

“I like to read people I disagree with,” he once told me. I asked him what he was currently reading. It was Sam Harris’s “The End of Faith.” My uncle is one of the most devout atheists I know, so I asked him, “Then why are you reading Harris?”

He paused.

“I want to see if his arguments are the same as mine,” he replied.

I don’t think I will ever see my uncle pick up a copy of something by Heschel or Augustine or any theological thinker talking about faith. Even this wildly knowledgeable seeker, at heart - just like me, just like any of us - craves validation. It sounds like something Stephen Colbert would say, but we want to hear other people say what we think.

At yesterday’s Jewish Futures Conference, I was re-introduced to the term “confirmation bias,” or people’s tendency to seek out information or hypotheses that confirm what we already believe to be true about the world. I heard this term and was struck to the bones. Because I am guilty, guilty, guilty.

To be fair, confirmation bias is not always a bad thing. There’s often good reason to surround yourself with supportive voices. That’s part of what builds community. That’s what gets people through hard times. That’s what makes us feel safe. All good things.

But there’s real danger in confirmation bias: one can fall subject to the tyranny of homophily.

Homophily is a term that comes out of network theory which essentially means “birds of a feather flock together.” Like (-minded) people tend to group together. And then you end up with situations like this.

This is a network map of the political blogosphere from several years ago, indicating which blogs representing which parties linked (literally and metaphorically) to one another.

See the problem? These blogs, theoretically representative of the political conversation in the country writ large, aren’t breaking out of their echo chambers. They suffer from a bad case of homophily, and therefore confirmation bias, and the conversation becomes increasingly polarized.

The danger of confirmation bias is not just in governing a ridiculously diverse country that needs every voice to engage with one another, but in spurring innovation. As I see it, there are three basic definitions of innovation: 1) something entirely new that’s never existed before (“good luck with that,” says Kohelet); 2) something that already exists put into a new context (for instance, the movie Aliens was pitched as “Jaws in space”), and 3) two old ideas put together to make something new (“drive-through” + “bank” = drive through banking).

So, what happens when those two old ideas never get a chance to meet? Or we don’t learn about other contexts, and can’t drag those ideas into our own, or share ours with others?

Nothing. The stifling tyranny of homophily. We curl in on ourselves and begin to wither.

Breaking out of confirmation bias is hard, and scary. It leaves us raw and vulnerable. But, I’m learning, that’s what makes humans who we are.

My baby is about four months old right now, and trying and failing and learning all kinds of things. It’s thrilling, but it can also be dangerous for him. He’s really, really vulnerable and needs lots of love and attention to help him navigate this big crazy world my husband and I brought him into. But if he had been born and, like many other animals, could already walk and feed himself and do everything he needed to do to survive, he would never learn how to learn. And that’s what makes us different. That’s what makes us human.

Breaking out of confirmation bias and resisting homophily means we have to make ourselves more like my son. Learning to learn, learning to unlearn. Being more curious, and more foolish, perhaps. Being unabashedly braver through embracing our own vulnerability.

I’m not sure it’s something I’m ready to do - it’s much more comfortable to stick with what I know and hear from people who make me feel good about that - but I know it’s something I need to do, because that’s how things change and get better. The question now is how.

I officially love everything Charidy does. Watch this video, smile, and have a great commute home.

This post is based on an exercise I did with my awesome colleagues at The Jewish Education Project, and I’m thrilled to say that the good folks over at Crackerjack Marketing picked it up and gave me the chance to share it through their blog. Yay! Enjoy! And do let me know if you give it a try…