It only takes one

What is this all about? What do you mean by chasing goodness?

Good questions. I’m using the phrase chasing goodness because I truly believe there is some kind of goodness in every day. Even on my toughest of days, I’ve been able to find a tiny ray of goodness. The goodness I’ve found on those days hasn’t always been from a friend or family member – sometimes from a stranger, and sometimes it’s a combination of goodness from many. On some of my toughest days, a kind word, a little humor, holding a door, a simple thank you, even someone letting me letting into the traffic flow can be something so appreciated for a variety of reasons.


One tiny act afforded to me one day I still remember. A friend of mine and I were racing to get one of my dogs to the vet. I came up to a spot where it seemed like it was impossible to get into the traffic flow, and candidly, time was of the essence. One kind fella stopped and waved me into the flow. We were so thankful. I turned and gave him the thank you wave and instead of a kind wave back he gave us a thumbs up. Both of us remember that, even to this day. And his simple act of letting us into traffic was extremely helpful – more so than he could have guessed at that time.

My point is that we don’t always know how the simplest act might be just the thing someone needs. So my question: what if we begin to build a community of people who are chasing opportunities to share or bring just a tiny bit of goodness? Can you imagine the impact that could have in our communities and even beyond?

So join me! Check in once a week or maybe even more. I will share some suggestions for opportunities to chase, and some of my experiences. And I would love to hear from you about your experiences and any opportunities you might suggest.

“Look for a way to lift someone up. If that’s all you do, it’s enough.”
— Elizabeth Lesser
So, are you in? Will you join us?
So let’s start this slow and easy, how about this week we look for an opportunity to share one kind word with someone we don’t really know?
There are lots of people we come across during our week where it would be easy to offer up just one kind word.  Sometimes we see them often during the course of our week and others we might never see again.
My challenge to you as we kick this off…is to seek out at least one person that is out of your comfort zone and share just one kind word with them.

So, are you in? Will you join us?

How Do You Say Goodbye to a Legend?

That is the question Dr. Shirley Raines, President of the University of Memphis, asked as she opened her tribute to my great aunt, Elma Neal Roane, on Friday September 23, at her memorial service. It was a hard question, and candidly, up until the last few days I was unsure of how to answer it.

I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on all of the wonderful stories that people have shared, and continue to share, with me and my family over the last couple of weeks. Every story was personal and a blessing. There’s no doubt that my aunt, Elmo, as she has been known for the majority of her life was quite a woman. She accomplished so much but I think what I admired most about her was her vision, and determination to stay the course on that vision, regardless of the obstacles, or naysayers that crossed her path. I’m not sure she ever saw an obstacle – just opportunity. The road less traveled beckoned her and she forged a trail for all of us. She knew her calling and she embraced it with boundless energy and enthusiasm. I wrote about her last year as all of her papers and artifacts were donated to the U of M.

So how do you say goodbye to a legend….more importantly to my great aunt Elmo? I am not sure it is possible.  But here is what I do know. Knowing Elmo was an incredible privilege and blessing – but it came with a calling. She expected, and well lets tell like it is, she demanded, all of us to just do and be our best. I believe the answer to the question comes in a simple sentence, I must have heard her say it a million times during my life. A phrase that many may find cliché or trite – however to her it became her mantra. We all need to “keep on keepin on!” The very best way for us to honor Elmo in my opinion is for us to keep on giving the best of ourselves to our family, our friends, our work. To strive to leave people and things better off for knowing us. The best way to honor Elmo is to be good to each other, to encourage each other and to pour out ourselves into each other.

A few years ago at the Social Media Business Forum, I had the privilege of meeting Geno Church and he challenged the audience to: “Be famous for the people who love you, for the way you love them.” When he said that I immediately thought of my aunt and today those words mean so much more as Elmo was famous because of how she loved all of us – family, students, friends, and of course the University of Memphis!

I’m reminded of our last quiet moment together – we were at a tea honoring her accomplishments at the U of M. I said to her: “I’m in awe of all the goodness you have created how did you do it?”  She responded: “Everything I did, I did because I had a passion for it, not just the education but the students as well. I’ve dedicated my life to promoting fellowship, honor and integrity, and we need more teachers who are pushing that as well. That’s my passion, keep on keeping on!”

So I challenge you today, if Elma touched you or your family in any way what will you do to pay it forward? How will we keep the trail she blazed going? I am not sure I know the answer today – but it’s heavy on my heart and I am working on it. How about you?

Crowdsourcing or Democracy?

[cross-posted on the Ogilvy Fresh Influence blog]

Earlier this week we introduced you to SeeClickFix and their model of social business. We talked briefly about how they are using social technologies and process to improve how governments operate and engage their constituents.

Today we thought it would be interesting to share with you some of the intricacies and wins we learned discovered in our interview with Ben Berkowitz, CEO of SeeClickFIx.

We wanted to know where SeeClickFix is having the most success? What stories could Ben share to cast the vision and help us to see how things are working?

Ben: “The biggest success with the application, is in terms of geography. Some of the bigger cities are Richmond, Raleigh and Washington, D.C. The functionality of our app is really neat because not only can people report they can also see what issues are recorded nearby. So maybe someone without an app reported a big pothole and you walk by and you have the app and you see the issue, you can take a photo of the pothole, and add it to their issue. So it’s kind of an interim (iterate) of the reporting process where people with the mobile application can help those without. I also think there is a place for city inspectors and others with the application where they can go out because all the issues are mapped they can follow those issues around and easily close out work orders right from the phone.”

It’s interesting that the inspectors can check projects and issues and close the issues right from the phone allowing the citizens to see in real-time and track how and when their issues are closed.

One interesting story was how a town in Connecticut used the application to respond to an algae bloom in their water system but also how the community helped spread the word and prevent panic.

Ben: “Here in Connecticut, in a town near by, there was a late algae bloom, which is a non-life threatening thing that can happen to a water system, but it’s something that can be concerning. Hundreds of people voted on 20 or 30 issues in different locations as to the spread of this algae bloom and the city was able to respond back to just one of the issues letting people know that an algae bloom is safe, that they don’t have to worry, the water may taste funny, but it’s safe and they are working to resolve it. So not only could you see the spread of the algae bloom through the reports of the citizens but you could see the citizens could communicate with each other and let them know not to panic.”

Finally we brought up the question of crowdsourcing:
Does it work? Are citizens taking advantage of it?
Ben’s response was interesting:
“This is government helping to spread the word through citizens. I like the term ‘crowdsourcing’ when it comes to business and I do think that governments can learn a lot from a businesses that are focused on customer service, but the interesting thing is that it’s really not crowdsourcing when it’s government, right? It’s just basic democracy. In the US, to a lot of people, democracy happens once every four years when you go to vote then you walk away and you don’t get to shift the opinions of the people you elected. At a very local level, SeeClickFix allows citizens to help governments make decisions that better improve the citizens’ lives. We are just enabling a core feature of democracy in a real time and very dynamic way about very specific issues that affect everybody.”

I think Ben has a point and that we all are accountable and wasn’t this country founded on the premise that government is for the people by the people and of the people? And SeeClickFix is removing the barriers and not only making it easier but efficient.