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2 posts from July 2010

July 14, 2010

Another side of The Boss

If George Steinbrenner is indeed resting in peace, that would be quite a contrast to how much of his life played out. Because it was hardly peaceful.

Mention Steinbrenner and you tend to think of words like brash, overbearing, belligerent, egotistical, quick-tempered, a win-at-all-costs mentality. This was a guy who fired and then rehired Billy Martin -- five times. He clashed with other owners. He ripped his own players. He was banned from baseball not once but twice.

But in the only encounter I ever had with The Boss, a completely different persona emerged.

Steinbrenner once was active in the U.S. Olympic Committee. He sat on the USOC board as a public sector member and served two terms as a vice president. He took those responsibilities to heart.

After a pitiful showing by the U.S. at the 1988 Winter Olympics, Steinbrenner chaired a commission that urged the USOC to refocus on winning medals and supporting athletes. The report is credited with spurring a major increase in the U.S. medal haul in succeeding years.

And Steinbrenner backed his words with his checkbook. He personally supported several athletes. In 1993, for example, he gave $10,000 to a 13-year-old skater whose family was struggling to come up with the money to fund her ambitions. Her name: Michelle Kwan.

So it was that Steinbrenner showed up in Des Moines in June of 1989, when the USOC's executive board met to choose the U.S. city that would bid for the 1998 Winter Games. After Salt Lake City was selected, several of us gathered around Steinbrenner to get his thoughts on the vote.

Someone had told me that I'd see a new side to Steinbrenner when he talked about the Olympics. That person was right. Steinbrenner was accommodating, good-natured, thoughtful and knowledgeable. Most of us in the group were "locals," yet he treated each question seriously and never acted like he was too big or important for us.

As I walked away to start writing, I'm thinking to myself, "That was George Steinbrenner? Wow."

But don't jump to any conclusions here. It wasn't enough to turn me into a Yankees fan.

Sorry, George. I respect what you did for the Olympic movement, but become a fan of your team?

Not this Indians fan. Not then. Not today. Not tomorrow.

Never.

July 08, 2010

"Customers will expect you to find them..."

I'm finding it impossible to keep up with the social media frenzy. But I'd better keep trying. At today's luncheon for NAWBO-CI (National Association of Women Business Owners - Central Iowa), Adstringo's Gabriel Glynn told all-too-busy business owners that in the future "people are going to EXPECT YOU to find THEM." I'm having trouble with a vision of reading the minds of potential customers and knowing precisely when to enter their lives and have them look up from their cell phones and say, "I'd hoped you'd be in touch. Here's what my company needs communicated..."

So they won't be LOOKING for me anymore outside of their preferred social media networks. It's just assumed I'll be there. One NAWBO member said a 40-something woman told her that if she couldn't find a company on Facebook she wasn't going to use them. Facebook was her TOOL, and that was that.

So I came home and decided to explore Foursquare, the location-based social network which as 1.9 million users and nearly 13,000 are new each day. I've heard and seen the name a lot, but didn't know how it worked.

I wanted a clear definition of their service and when nothing happened when I clicked on "What is Foursquare?," I typed the same thing in the search box. Up popped 22 venues in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Johnston, Urbandale, Ames, Clive, Ankeny, Perry and Ames (including the ISU recycling trailer). I hadn't told them my geographic location (Big Brother is watching!). If you're the top (and sometimes only) visitor to one of these venues, you're the mayor. You can see who on Foursquare has been there. You can even earn badges. Is this to appeal to my inner Girl Scout? I am clueless on the value of this. I will have to try harder. Next week, next year, next something.