Singing the Blues About Blue Gypsy Bluesfest 2011

I'm singing the blues about the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest. As successful as the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest was last year grossing almost $15,000 and bringing together over 350 enthusiastic people in the Tidewater Area to enjoy a day of blues and BBQ, I had to make an executive decision.

Sadly I've tabled the event indefinitely for the future.

There are two major factors that contributed to this decision. The first is the fact that I am not a non-profit. The second is that in the interest of a growing business and having to take time management into consideration, I know I don't have the amount of time to devote to the bluesfest and still keep my clients happy.

Because my business is not a non-profit there are many issues that were stumbling blocks in setting up the event for charity last year. These would continue to be a problem and would continue to grow as the event grew. I did a lot of research and soul searching about setting up a non-profit to handle the event in the future. I just couldn't see myself running a business and a non-profit at this time.

I asked several local non-profits if they wanted to take it on under their umbrella, but for each, very understandably, they had various reasons why the bluesfest would not fit into their mission or their fund raising needs. Events are time consuming to plan and in the early years do not raise nearly the amount of money in correlation with hours put in as other fund-raising efforts do. I'm well aware of this after taking on what grew into a huge project last year.

I wanted to put together committees to assist with the bluesfestival. However I added several new clients in succession last year and I didn't have the time to translate all the information that was in my head, in order to be able to guide a group of individuals. Especially since I couldn't meet with them on a regular basis due to the physical distance between Northern Virginia and Virginia Beach.

The truth is, the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest was a huge undertaking last year for a single individual.

I did everything from updating the website, canvasing for sponsors, setting up and planning the actual event, pounding the pavement and burning up the phone lines for sponsors, BBQ restaurants, and charity auction donations. I fumbled through photoshop to put together banners, advertising, flyers, bags and mugs and more. I wrote press releases, articles, and maintained all the social media while finding media sponsors and the list continues. And I fronted all the money for advertising, deposits, and services in the hopes that I'd be able to raise enough money to cover the costs. Only those closest to me knew that I wore the hats for everything.

I met some amazing people throughout the journey of putting together the event. People I hope to continue to know and possibly work with on efforts in the future. I was so pleased and happy with all the vendors, sponsors and supports who dove in and believed in the event. Every time I talked with someone about the idea, they gave me several more contacts to call. So while I did it alone, I was never really alone.

The Blue Gypsy Bluesfest was a full time job and a labor of love.

Countless unpaid hours went into the effort. I kept chalking it up to a learning experience and at times I'd worry that I would go into debt verses raising money for the charities. I was so happy by the time the day rolled around and everyone seemed to have fun, enjoying the food, the music and the sentiment of the day. I was ecstatic that we were able to not only break even, but raise money for the two charities. (Not going into debt from the event was payment enough for the amazing and at times stressful experience.)

However this year I had to make a decision. Without the proper organization, back up, and taking into consideration the distance, and the committment I owe to my clients I came to the conclusion that I had to consider my time and what the best use of it could be. With much less time than it takes to put an event of that magnitude together, I can help other local charities in many ways that have as much impact if not more.

Before the event I was always involved in charity work and after the event I realize how important those seemingly little efforts really mean.

I continue to support Habitat for Humanity and the Natchel' Blues Networks in their efforts to achieve their mission. I'm sad to let the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest go. I know it would have continued to grow and would have become an amazing annual event in the area. But in the end decisions have to be made as a small business owner. In order to grow, I knew I couldn't continue the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest in it's current model.

I want to thank all those who got involved with this fledgling event last year. You are an amazing group of people.

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The Power of Social Media: Should Jewish Organizations Jump on The Social Media Bandwagon?

So I thought I'd share this interesting debate I'm having with my sister with you.

My sister, like me, has traveled the world. She's lived in foreign countries and traveled Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and the Middle East. She's visited small little villages in South East Asia and she's even been stranded in a Typhoon on Mauritius, a tiny tiny island off of Africa.

My sister used to be a costume designer and then worked in sportswear manufacturing in Hong Kong. She led a pretty interesting life. Most of her travel was related to her business, unlike me, who was a vagabond backpacker traveling the world for discovery and adventure.

At some point in her travels, and the details are too many to go into, she became more and more devoted to her religion. And with that she became a part of Modern Orthodox Jewish society, in Hong Kong no less.

She now lives amongst the religious community in Baltimore and has traded her exotic travels and creative clothing design for creative teaching methods while working with an Orthodox school for girls. It's an interesting juxtaposition sometimes since my sister has chosen to conform to a more traditional lifestyle yet she herself was very unconventional for many years. She definitely keeps within the parameters of the society and yet she pushes the envelop at times with her creativity and worldly experience.

Her most recent venture is to win a grant to help her school. This is actually a contest where you can vote on your favorite idea. This is where the debate comes in. Her community, her school and her family embraces the belief that social media is something to be kept at arms length. They are wary of the addictive behavior some take on when using facebook, twitter and the like, and they want to safeguard their children from the ills that lurk on the internet. Fair enough.

The Jewish Communities' plight to figuring out the appropriate and best use of Social Media is no different than that of businesses when they first dipped their toe into the Social Media Stream nor that of Charities, non-profits and philanthropists.

My sister believes that what she is applying for while marketed as a "Grant" is not really a grant because it has nothing whatsoever to do with the merits of her idea for education, it has more to do with popularity. So I in turn have explained the trend toward public opinion choosing the receipts to such grants as the Pepsi Fresh Grant and others like it. These large companies that have always done philanthropic works are not only giving money away for a good cause but creating a social media playground surrounding the "Grant" contest.

This is a changing trend, and without the support of a whole community much needed money for ideas and improvements can be given to others simply because they understood the need to go "viral" with the idea to the masses who would support it.

Because of the current uncertainty in the community about the good of social media, her school did not want the fact that she was applying for this "Grant" in an online contest to go out to the parents.

What parent wouldn't want to see more money come in to their school? By allowing the parents to know about the grant contest, I'm sure this could up her number of votes. They reluctantly agreed to let the faculty know about it. My sister herself is not on facebook to support and convey the value message that has been formulated in her family and in her community.

Well of course when I heard about this contest, I took to my favorite medium, facebook. No stranger to the power of social media it was primarily my contacts through facebook that powered the positive outcome of the Blue Gypsy Bluesfest last year.

With my facebook efforts (And a little twitter thrown in) I've seen her ranking in the contest bump up from number 27 to number 14. I've been posting it on my wall, within a group of friends and family members my mother started, and most recently to Jewish fan pages on facebook.

I'd love to make a case to open her school and perhaps her community up to the positive impact social media can have on a project, a community or a cause. It's not all addictions and child predators. There are 130 people trying to win this grant. The top 10 will win.

Please go to this link and help my sister win so we can prove a point to her community about the power of Social Media and how it can be used for good.

Voting closes tonight at midnight.

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Groupon Super Bowl Ads: #Fail? or Success! - New Media Vs. Old Media

Every year, when the Super Bowl rolls around there are some of us who tune in for the action, and some of us who tune in for the advertising.

It's the only time of the year we don't want to fast forward through the commercials.

With airtime priced at a premium, and millions of viewers expected to be attached to their TV's in real time, this is an opportunity for products to hit their target market... Well, their target has got to be in there somewhere since over 151 million people will watch at least part of the Super Bowl.

At least this was the theory Groupon was going with when they decided to break their air-wave silence and go from being the word of mouth internet coupon brand to finally smashing into prime time with over 3 million dollars in controversial advertising. I don't think they set out to create offensive advertising when you see the full story on their point of view in their blog.

But they definitely raised the twitter alert after they aired their, "Save Tibet" commercial.

Tweets looked like this:

Wow, Groupon's SuperBowl ad managed to piss off Tibetans, Chinese, even the Himalayan Restaurant's owner. Good job!

Worst Ad? Opression of Tibet is funny? Tim Hutton - what happened to you?

Having a brother-in-law who escaped from Tibet/persecution, feel Groupon's leverage of Tibetan plight for humor in poor taste

Groupon seems to have achieved the unique feat of paying $3M to lose customers who previously loved them.

Groupon spends big on Superbowl commercials, but ads anger many viewers

Groupon久慈版でないかしらね (All I know is <---That can't be good....)

Now they are under fire from many bloggers, and loyal fans as being insensitive to the very causes they actually are supporting on their website. Would have been nice if they'd fit the fact that they are supporting these causes into their advertising.

The problem with a commercial is that you only have 30 seconds to convey your message. If you are trying to create a complex tongue in cheek poke at yourself while exhibiting that you support causes, that's a hard thing to create in a 30 second span.

This backlash may be what happens when social media brands try to go "Old School."

You can write nuances down in a blog, which they did in the hopes that people will better understand the intended humor behind what they were trying to accomplish. But if no one reads the blog, and no one realizes that they are actually trying to support these causes with both their commercials and with donation ports set up on their website...well then their "Old School" commercials fall short of their mark, and their "New Media" message, save the rainforest, save the whales, and save Tibet.

They could have better conveyed their message in a longer 2-5 minute mocumentary style video blog and had better success promoting that across their usual social media channels. The following three super bowl commercials has everyone talking about groupon. But is it all good?

What you don't get from the ads below is that if you make donations to the three featured charities on their site, they will make matching donations up to $100,000 per charity. So in essence they meant to encourage people to donate to the causes if they feel they've saved enough money by taking advantage of their daily deals...would have been good to get that into their ads somehow...

Save the Whales

Save Tibet

Save the Rainforest

I'm a huge advocate of large companies teaming up with causes and charities, to help create awareness and help increase donations to these worthy causes. But I think groupon may have fallen short due to the limitations of the medium they picked to convey their message. It will be interesting to see how this foray into television advertising effects their brand.

Will their loyal fans be forgiving? Will the message that they were trying to convey eventually get out there?

Only time will tell.

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Texting While Driving: Watch This Video

In this mobile world we live in sometimes we forget to turn off. Sometimes we forget that there's not anything that's so important it can't wait. This is especially true while driving.

With our smart phones, ipads, GPS systems, XM radios and so many other distractions it's not just the stuff of fast food taking our attention off our driving any more. I remember when I learned how to drive 25 years ago it was a hard and fast rule that I was not allowed to change the radio station. Now there are so many more distractions for teenagers, and for us old people too.

But to what end? Is there really a text, email, facebook update, tweet or post that we can't live without during the same moments we are speeding at each other in death machines? I know I'm hugely guilty of this. That's why for many many years I had texting disabled on my cell phone. I didn't want to be distracted by trying to read things while driving. As it is I'm a huge offender of talking on the cell while driving.

Watching this video by AT&T brought it home that there is nothing so important it can't wait:

It's just not worth it. Let's all try to remember that even though we live in a world where communication over many devises is instantaneous, we are allowed to ignore these devises and should when safety is at stake. Don't think you can look away just for a second to see what someone has written or write a quick note back. That one character punched into the phone could be the instant of life or death for yourself or someone else.

Have you ever wished you could take back a second and redo it because you've broken a glass, or lost something important? Well, this could be the most important second of your life. And there are no take backs or do overs.

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