Thursday, June 16, 2011

Facebookers organize post-riot clean up event

It's 8am and already 12,000+ people indicate they are attending an event communicated on Facebook to clean up last night's mess.

THAT's the Vancouver the world knows and loves. Again, the power of the social media community

Social media called on to assist police in Vancouver riot

It was a hockey game people. Not a war for food or clean water. Or standing up for personal rights and freedoms. It was a hockey game.

How embarrassing and stupid. The blight of 1994's riot was behind us, and the Winter Olympics last year were peaceful, celebratory and a beautiful display on the world stage.

Now this.

As we worried for family who were among the crowds in the streets of Vancouver, and searched for whatever coverage we could find from San Diego, social media, and Facebook specifically, took its rightful place as an organizing tool.

People from all over are using this page not only to express their frustration and shock at the disrespect shown by a minority of rioters (NOT fans), but more importantly, they are using it to post pictures taken at the scene and asking anyone who knows these people to tag them and assist police in bringing them to justice.

Let's hope the power of this amazing social network works. It's enabled "prosumers" to create content. This time it shows people that in the greater community at large, whether that's the city of Vancouver, or the social media community, your public behavior, now more than ever is just that - public.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Just follow the signs...

Sunday night, and I am in Seattle (ok, technically at the moment, Tacoma). Tonight's travel experience reminded me yet again of the importance of signs. Not just having them, and placing them in places where customers will hopefully see them, but thinking like a customer, putting yourself in the mindset of someone who needs to actually use the signs to navigate. It sounds so easy right?

The flight from San Diego was easy and uneventful. We landed in Seattle at the farthest gate from the exit of course, but no issues. First stop, restroom. Easy, it was clearly marked. Next stop, rental car.

Intuitively I knew it must be out near Baggage Claim, though no signs for rental cars appeared as we exited the secured zone. Our leap of faith paid off and we found the parkade with the rental cars and a moving marquee sign that listed a number of car companies as being on the 1st floor (there were 4 floors in the rental parkade). National was one of them, and we had a reservation with them for an SUV so we could travel the many miles up and down the I-5, and all the connecting highways in the submarkets we would spend the next two days exploring.

At this point, my travel companion Jane said to me, " that was smooth and easy". She and I have had too many trips together where we have gotten lost getting out of the airport, mostly in Houston. One year we were there on business more than 10 times, and got lost every time. It's a city where highways have multiple choice names, and directions.

I digress. Tonight we are in Seattle, on the 1st floor of the rental car parkade, following the sign that says, "National, Row P". There is one SUV left, and as we were loading our bags into it, a woman who works for National walked over to confirm we had an SUV reservation. We did, with the "Emerald" (read: VIP) version of National.... which is one floor up on the 2nd floor. Lacking emotion and energy Jane tried to explain there was no sign indicating that. The woman in green started to argue, and soon thought better of it, but maintained that yes, there was a sign, in the elevator.

That would mean you would need to know to get into the elevator. Nowhere among the signage we followed to get us this far did we see special mention that Emerald was on the 2nd floor.

As we schlepped our bags back through the parkade, re-tracing the signage we had followed, and arriving at the elevator, the 2nd floor wasn't even on the list of options. Another leap of faith, we get into the elevator and there in 12pt type is National, and then in 8pt type beneath it, "Emerald - 2nd floor".

Yes, there was a sign. But not along our path of travel which meant it was useless to us in our wayfinding effort. Think about all the paths of travel your customers take. Think about their frame of mind, and other things they are thinking about when trying to navigate their way through your business.

Jane and I found our SUV, loaded our bags once again and headed out for the 1-5 south. Thankfully, there is only one road out of the rental car parkade and the directions all along the way were clear and easy. We found our way to the hotel without one wrong turn. We just followed the signs...

Monday, June 6, 2011

What the numbers tell us, and what do we do with that?

Numbers. Added up, multiplied, calculated as a percentage of another number, and re-run through any number of filters. Usually this is done to measure something, project something, prove a point, or to tell a story.

If you are a hockey fan, and more precisely a Vancouver Canucks fan, you may have seen the stat I did this morning, that when it comes to the final round of Stanley Cup Finals and one team is up 2-0 over another in this best of seven series, the team that is up has gone on to win the cup 42 of 46 times. I want to believe, and I don't want to jinx them!

(just 30 minutes from the start of game three as I write this, I can only imagine the energy in the heart of Vancouver tonight)

Then there's the other side. When the numbers being published by the experts and pundits don't agree with your reality. That's the case for me right now, with the prolonged and some are predicting double dip in the US housing recession. In the media, it's all dire and sad news, one depressing prediction after the next.

Perhaps it's just me, but the energy in the American people doesn't seem to jive with this. No question, it's still scary out there, and the term "jobless recovery" seems painfully accurate for many. But the continued crunching of numbers to show the same negative story is getting me, and many others down.

For our business, and in our communities, we have had some stellar home sales results not only during the first quarter, but the past 30 days as well. One community posted its best sales result ever since opening in 1991, another posted its best month since March 2006. And yet another posted the biggest increase in a 30-day period since June 2007. Many others are way up over this time last year, with one community already 3 sales away from their total annual sales pace last year, with still half a year remaining.

So here's the thing. Numbers point the way, sometimes even paint the way. But they can also lag reality sometimes. I hope for the Canucks tonight that's not the case. And I hope for the US housing market our strong sales are joined by the same on the part of many others, so we can put the bad news tales behind us, and adjust to a long-term more sustainable though still positive and optimistic reality. At the very least, I am hoping for a little more curiosity and deeper analysis beyond the first layer of economic indicators. The results are there - you just have to look for them.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Apple pie

It's Saturday morning and Pam is making her famous home-made pastry for her yummy apple pie. What is it about apple pie that just says "family"? Cinnamon, lemon, sugar and hand-rolled pastry with love. Nothing store-bought.

It's the food version of one of her quilts or a sweater she's knitting. No two are the same. Each ingredient chosen carefully.

Tonight is the next game in the Stanley Cup finals and we are having friends over to help us cheer for the Vancouver Canucks. Dinner is planned. Wine is ready. But there's something about an apple pie that puts a cap on the meal.

It says more than any meal I could make, "you are family and we love having you in our home".