Craft Beer, Fine Wine, Artisan Spirits, and Mouthgasmic Food.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Prelimary details for Cupcake Smackdown 2.0

You've heard mumblings about it.  You've seen some tweeting about it.  It is true.  Cupcake Smackdown is back this year, bigger, better, and cooler than last year.  Cupcake Smackdown 2.0 is rolling, and we're letting some of the details out.  This year we're taking on some new activities, we're pairing up some some really cool organizations, and we're going to shoot cupcakes at people.  We're also looking for a few more sponsors, so keep on reading to see how you can help.

Hashtag: #CupcakeRiot

Date: August 21, 2010 (Also my birthday. Birthday Cupcake Party? Yes, please).

Time: TBA

Location: Le Cordon Bleu, 3110 Esperanza Crossing Suite 100, Austin, TX 78758.  It located near the Domain.

Venue details: There will be ample parking, and most of the event will be held indoors.

Proceeds from Cupcake Smackdown 2.0 will benefit Lights, Camera, Help, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, and Keep Austin Dog Friendly.

Activities include, but are not limited to:

  • An attempt to break the Guinness World Record for Most Jaffa Cakes Eaten in One Minute

  • An effort to set a world record of Most People Simultaneously Frosting a Cupcake certified by World Record Academy

  • A cupcake cannon.  Yes. We will have a cannon that propels cupcakes.  You want to be there. 

  • More details on the way.  This event is open to the public and fun for the entire family. 
How can you help: 

  • Volunteer - coordinating the world records isn't an easy feat.  We'll need volunteers on the day of the event to help give instructions, set up, and break down.  Email to sign up for a volunteer position. 

  • Show off your baking skills - setting a world record for Most People Simultaneously Frosting a Cupcake will require many cupcakes.  We'll have to enlist the help of skilled bakers to bake those record setting cupcakes. 

  • Photography and Video: Handy with a camera?  Breaking world records means we need to provide proof of our activities.  Just show up on the day of the event.  Post the photos and videos, and be sure to email the link.  You'll be credited properly and thanked profusely. 

  • Be a Vendor: While treats are sweet, we recognize that one can't live on cupcakes alone.  If you're interested in providing other nibbles and bites at Cupcake Smackdown 2.0, please contact for more information.  We're also inviting craft vendors to hang out and share their products. 

  • Be a Sponsor: We're looking for several more sponsors to cover the cost of supplies, signage, and tee-shirts.  In-kind donations as well as monetary donations are welcome.  Sponsors will be thanked on all media material including social media, and the sponsor's will be printed on the Cupcake Smackdown 2.0 tee shirt.   Deadline to get on the tee-shirt is July, 10th, 2010.  Hurry up!

  • All sponsors and volunteers will receive a Cupcake Smackdown 2.0 tee-shirt as well as an invitation to the Cupcake Smackdown 2.0 pre-party.  Email to get involved!
Current Sponsors and Partners Include (Twitter list here):
This is not our Cupcake Cannon, but you get the idea.  It will rock!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Waterstone offers $25 haircuts to benefit the American Cancer Society

Operation #givetolive hair donation has been completed with success.  Not only did Joel Hamburger and Nanette give me an awesome hair cut, Waterstone is offering a generous deal.  From now until July 1st, haircuts booked with select stylists are only $25 (be sure to mention #givetolive or ask for Blanca).  That $25 is going to the American Cancer Society.  If you believe in karma, Waterstone definitely has a great bit of good karma coming to them.  I'd also like thank Sugar Mama's for providing yummy cupcakes for the event, and to St. Germain for the drinks.  From #BATHH and other donations, we raised about $100 for #givetolive.  Thank you so much to everyone to contributed to the cause.  

Don't forget.  The $25 haircut deal for the American Cancer Society only lasts until July 1st.  Make sure you give Waterstone a call at (512) 373-7546 and mention #givetolive. They'll set you up with the stylists.  Waterstone is located near 30th and Guadalupe.  

Joel is messing with my hair.  He's getting a feel for it. 

Measuring the hair. I've already committed. No turning back now.

Nanette is going for it.  She cut off the bulk of it.  Read her blog about dealing with cancer here.

It turned out to be 11 inches of hair.

There's my former locks.

I'm about to giggle.  I can't remember why.  Joel is concentrating on the hair. 

Trimming the ends. 

And the final product.  Wow that looks shiny. 

There's the cupcake fairy, sans hair, with smile.  I love the new cut.  Thanks to Joel and Waterstone Aesthetics for their generosity to cancer research. 

@Mousethedog is a big purple cow!

We all know the concept of a purple cowSeth Godin repeatedly uses the concept purple cow to describe something that is different, stands out, and that is remarkable.  You probably won't make a remark about brown cow, especially driving around in Texas.  But if you see a purple cow, I'll bet $100 you'll make a remark.  Even if the cow is lavendar, deep purple, maybe even magenta-y purple, that $100 bet is still on.  Let me introduce one of my purple cows.

My big dog is a purple cow.  Not really.  He's only about 125 lbs, and tri-colored (called Irish spotted).  But he is a great purple cow if you're talking about something different and remarkable.  A few things make him a great purple cow. Disclaimer: I love my dog.  This list might be biased. 

  • His sheer size makes people comment. And the comments are usually somewhat funny.  "I bet he eats a lot."  He actually doesn't.   "I bet he takes up the entire bed." I actually have a king sized, and he's not allowed in the bedroom  "I bet he takes big poops."  Actually, being on raw diet, he has little poops.
  • His Irish spotting is very distinct.  He stands out.  His colors are striking.  
  • His head is bigger than yours.  See picture above.  No joke.  He's a BIG boy.
  • It isn't everyday that you see a dog in a horse buggy.  Not only is my dog's appearance remarkable, but his skills and activities are as well.  There are many events that we attend regularly where people ask for him.  He's remarkable and memorable. 
  • He's become a mascot at many of the activities I attend, gaining more publicity than I have.  I'm pretty sure he's been on television more often than I have been, so far anyways.

When Mouse does events, being remarkable pays off.  Not only is he extremely friendly and outgoing, he knows how to work a crowd. Note: I didn't teach him any of this.  When people start walking by his donation jar, he looks at them with sad pathetic eyes.  When they show interest, he wags his tail just a bit.  When they come up to him, he goes full fledge into shameless mode pushing his donation jar towards them.  Not only is he remarkable, he loves to make friends.  It has been said that Mouse should do social media, because the basic premise it to make friends.  Mouse is an accomplished friend maker.  

I've loaned him out to vendor booths at events, and we frequently do fund raising for various groups.  When we work the Houston Eukanuba Shows, he's sometimes able to pull in several hundred dollars a day laying on the ground.  The last time we attended the show, we earned 98% of what our rescue group got all weekend long.  Mouse and I: 98%.  Six other people and four dogs: 2%.  Yep.  I think he has a great method down.  My dog is a remarkable oxytocin machine.   He is available for rent and for social media consulting. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Dishes of Marfa Shadows come to Austin

You might remember the trip that I took to Marfa several weeks ago.  We were wined and dined by John DeMers.  From taking us on a tour around Marfa to a drive along the US/Mexican border, John DeMers entertained us with stories of cooking, history, and culture.  I was lucky enough to spend three days with this Texas culinary giant, and I also got to sample some of his yummy eats including white bean bruschetta and Texas Peach-Biscotti Crumble.  Lucky for you, John Demers will be teaching a class at Central Market, on Sunday, June 27th, 6-9 pm.   You'll watch as he makes a number of signature dishes from his latest book, Marfa Shadows.

Dishes include:
  • Terlingua White Bean Bruschetta;
  • Texas Snapper with Pecan Butter; 
  • Praline Sweet Potatoes;
  • Shiner-braised Beef Short Ribs;
  • Jalapeno-Cheese Polenta; and
  • Texas Peach-Biscotti Crumble with Muscat Canelli Whipped Cream

While we're on the topic of Marfa, I'd like to give another thanks to all the sponsors and hosts of the wonderful trip as well as show off some of @windaddict's photos.

A BIG thank you to:
Looking handsome and oh, very Texan.
Omelets for breakfast.

Texas Peach-Biscotti Crumble with Muscat Canelli Whipped Cream

Dinner at Cochineal

Amazing date pudding at Cochineal.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How to brand yourself as a %!@*$# business - a relationship perspective.

Relationships. I’m a relationship evangelist.  It is what I’ve been studying relationships in academia for the last decade.   So what do you do when you meet a company that does nothing but destroy them?  Call it a firing or call it parting ways, sometimes it is just best to not work with companies that don’t share the same philosophy.  There have always been people out there who don’t get the social part of social media.  Social media isn’t the only place where relationships are important.  Relationships are also important when working with outside vendors and contractors.  Vendors and contractors talk to each other as well, and word of mouth works well in reverse as well.  Don’t turn your business into one that none of the vendors will tolerate.

Here’s a list of tips on how not to treat vendors and brand yourself as a *#&#@!% business.

1. Reply to contractors in a timely manner (usually within 48 hours).  If you’re asking a contractor to devote 20 hours a week to your business, don’t keep them hanging for months after saying “Can you start? We want to hire you now.”  Also, don’t expect that they won’t throw you to the bottom of the priority ladder after a week of no contact.  We call that being a flake.

2. Don’t ask for multiple meetings without expecting to pay for them.  Typically, a first meeting with a contractor or vendor is free as both parties are getting a feel for each other.  Asking for more meetings after that should be paid meetings.  It is just plain sleazy to keep asking for meetings without paying for time.

3. Don’t try to offer to buy someone coffee or lunch in exchange for their time. A meeting over lunch is a meeting nonetheless.  Be prepared to pay for that meeting.  I find it odd in particular when business that know I’m a food blogger/writer thinks that lunch or coffee is worth my time.  I get invited to dine at very nice restaurants on a regular basis.  Lunch at Subway really isn’t that impressive nor worth my hourly rate.  *Note: I love going out to business lunches or coffee with friends.  I like my friends.

4. Don’t berate your vendors.  This one didn’t happen to me, personally.  I was one of five contractors for a particular Austin startup company.  The list included a video team, design team, industrial designer, supplier, advertising team, and myself.  An employee of said company called one of the other contractors and yelled at them on a weekend.  It is my understanding the team did an excellent job on one aspect and made another contractor look bad.  Don’t ask me the logic behind berating a contractor for good work.  I guess I’m glad I didn’t get yelled at on a weekend.

5. Don’t follow potential contractors on social media only to question why they weren’t working for you. The marketing director at the previously mentioned Austin startup followed me on Twitter apparently to learn about social media.  After a trip I took the San Francisco, he questioned my activities (being a tourist and foodie) there.  At this point, I was not (nor did I ever in the end) working for or with said company.  The only person who should be questioning my activities is my boss, and that’s me.

6. Don’t insult your vendors and contractors.  After not hearing from said Austin startup (yep, they sure were screwy) for a long time, I received a phone call with an apology about the lack of communications.  Apparently, the company had officially hired the advertising team, but they were unhappy with the work accomplished.  They finally decided they wanted to hire me.  I heard nothing for three weeks after that.  Then I received a phone call out of the blue.  They were frantic.  They wanted to start as soon as possible, so I forwarded over my agreement along my hourly fees.

It appears there was a major breakdown in structure, policy, and communication in the company.  My fees were not communicated to the founders, even though I had sent them my list four months prior.  I received an email from said Austin startup company offering to pay me 20% of my hourly fees.  The logic was that they had already spent money on a “high priced ad agency,” and now they needed a more economical vendor.  I found it insulting as I don’t do advertising, and there was no reason why I should accept their offer of 20% of my typical fees.  I wrote them back a very nice “no thanks” letter.  Not only did they destroy their relationship with the previous ad agency, but also with me.  They should probably stay off social media as well. I can’t imagine that they would treat customers any better than they treated their contractors.

7. Don’t treat members of the company so poorly that they leave. One of the founders of same Austin startup company was so frustrated with his own company that he decided to take a lengthy vacation away.  If the founder doesn’t have a strong positive relationships with his own company, it might be time to euthanize it.

There you go.  7 easy tips to keep yourself from becoming that (#!@*%#* business.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

#GivetoLive invites you to check out My New Haircut, Cupcakes, and Libations

I'm getting my hair cut for Locks of Love on June 23rd at 6:30 pm.  Nanette (@rocknrealty) is going to do the honors of cutting off the donation portion of my hair, and Joel at Waterstone Aesthetics is going do the styling portion of the hair cut.

If you haven't met Nanette yet, she's a rock'n realtor in Austin, who is courageously battling breast cancer right now.  Her blog on her cancer progress is  My donated hair will go towards making wigs for children who are losing hair, typically from chemotherapy treatments.  Donations collected will be going towards Isabelle (@Spoonsie) #givetolive fund raiser. 

We're inviting you to join us at my new hairdo make over event.  Sugar Mama's is going to be serve some delicious cupcakes for the hair cutting event to go along with some libations. So come on out and watch me lose more than 10 inches of hair, nosh on some cupcakes, and have a drink.  If you can't donate in person, you can always donate to #givetolive through this link.  

Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Time: 6:30 pm- 8:00 pm. 
Location: Waterstone Aesthetics 3016 Guadalupe St, Suite B-100, 78705 512.373.7546  Parking is plentiful.

If you can't make it to my new haircut event, I'll also be at the June 17th #BATHH on Union Park with a donation jar and some bacon chocolate chip cookies.  I'll be taking donations there as well. 

P.S. Bonus cookies if you can recite My New Haircut(the original) from memory.  MUSCLE MILK!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Celebrating the life of Dr. Devendra Singh

Today is the day that I celebrate and remember the life of someone who was my enabler, mentor, and friend.  Over the course of my life in every activity I pursued, I strongly believed in finding a mentor.  I've been asked many times how I manage to do so well with my hobbies, and the short answer always is, "I have great mentors."  Dr. Devendra Singh was the first of my many mentors, and a phenomenal one at that.  He not only mentored me in his area of expertise, but he also encouraged me to I try my hand in other areas.  There's no shadow of a doubt that Dr. Singh shaped my personality, sense of humor, and intrinsically motivated me to find my passion for research. 

It isn't until after the memorial ceremony today that I realized how much of an influence he had and how many similarities we had together.  I learned today that he was featured in a 1986 issue of Austin Home and Gardens for his cooking with a two page color spread.  I also learned that he was in theater and public speaking in high school.  It is almost as if I was following his footsteps long before I met him.  In his line of research, he encountered many humorous situations.  One was winning the top 10 more influential women award by a British organization, except that he wasn't a woman.  But he accepted the award anyways.  I can only hope to have a life just half as rich as his.  To my first mentor, rest in peace.  My memorial speech below.

In 2008 at Dorian and Matt's Wedding.
You might think that in a sea of 50,000 other student, you're not special.  You might think that with so many students per professor, it is nearly impossible to form a meaningful relationship with busy professor.  Dr. Singh showed that this thinking is far from reality.  I was first exposed to Dr. Singh's works as a child reading magazines.  While the layman and entertainment magazines I read glossed over the technical portions of research, the concept of waist to hip ratio and other evolutionary terms stuck in my mind for years.  Upon starting my undergraduate career, I was advised to take a class with Dr. Singh - I liked that evolutionary sort of stuff anyways.  Being a college student, I picked the most appropriate one - Psychology of Sex.  Someone described it as the funniest and hardest class I'll ever take, and everyone described it as a must. 

It wasn't until a few weeks into the class when I realized that Dr. Singh was THAT Dr. Singh.  I was in awe.  The researchers that I read about years ago, were real. And teaching my class. And he talks to me!  I was taking a class with a celebrity.  Now I wouldn't describe Dr. Singh's class as funny.  They aren't just funny.  They are falling on the floor hyperventiltation inducing hilarious.  There was a woman named Bambi who would almost flip her desk as she fell to the floor from laughter.  Dr. Singh's classes were more than tough.  It wasn't just knowledge that you had to absorb; it was also a new way of approaching research and information.  We were taught to not blindly absorb information, but to challenge it.  We didn't just learn concepts, we had to apply them. 

If you've ever taken one of Dr. Singh's courses, you'll know the fig method.  For a type A, middle child, this method had me on pins and needles when it came time to awarding the coveted figs.  The stars and the galaxies must have been aligned many times as I did earn three lunches with Dr. Singh over his three classes.  Lunch wasn't the only time or place where the topic of discussion morphed into a discussion of food.  In my substance abuse class, Dr. Singh once spoke of this chocolate chip recipe that was supposed to be sinfully delicious.  The recipe called for 2 cups of butter, 2 cups of shortening, and 4 cups of sugar.  It was bound to be good.  If anyone remembers my baking skills from almost a decade ago, let's just say that they were in the development stage.  My cookies were, well, for lack of better terms inedible.  I had not yet mastered the art and science of levening agents and egg white behavior.  It was failure after failure after failure.  I asked Dr. Singh to bring the recipe to class, and that I would try to make it at home.  Miraculously, the cookies came out perfect.  They were crunchy on the outside, and gooey and chocolaty on the inside.  I guess all I needed was a solid recipe and some pressure.  This is still the same recipe sitting on my counter that I use today.  The food business didn't stop there. 

After finishing undergrad, I was lucky enough to be invited to Dr. Singh's home on many occasions, and I didn't even have to earn any figs for the pleasure.  And on those many occasions, the mouth watering aroma of garlic, onions, and spices would be intoxicating.  Dinner with Dr. Singh wasn't just an eating experience.  In addition to the regular research and teaching talk, I got a cooking lesson as well.  After a meal of spicy mutton briyani with Dr. Singh and Dorian, I immediately bought a pressure cooker, the necessary spices, and jasmine rice and started experimenting with briyani recipes. I was so excited about making briyani many times that I bought two whole goats.  Eating with Dr. Singh has inspired me to pursue my cooking hobby much more fiercely than I ever intended. Now that I've mastered baking, I've been dubbed the Cupcake Fairy.  There are also many Indian influences in my dishes now including cardamon rose cupcakes and chocolate kaju kathi.

Dr.Singh's love of cooking influenced my cooking, and his love for teaching influenced my teaching as well.  Oftentimes, we would meet in his office to find anonymous hand written notes slid under the door.  "I was having a bad day today, but after your class, I feel better."  "Thank you for making me laugh."  "Can I bring my boyfriend to class?"  It was obvious that his teaching wasn't just about content, but he sparked curiosity and cured a day of the blues.  His advice and teaching strategies are being passed on to my classes, and I'll report that my classes enjoy his jokes as much as I did.  Not only was Dr. Singh a great influence in many realms of my life, he was also a great supporter of my endeavors.  With every activity that I've tried and with every research project attempted, Dr. Singh was an never ending source of emotional and intellectual support as well as inspiration.  With every pet I brought to his office or home, he was happy to see them.  Mouse and Basil were always happy to visit Dr. Singh.  If not sneak a bite or two of delicious food, but also to roll around on the floor hoping for a belly scratch.  Thank you to Barbara, Adrian, Dorian, and Matt for sharing a wonderful teacher and incredible person with us.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

#GivetoLive and Give to Locks of Love

Ever driven a car from Vancouver, Canada to Austin, TX? That's quite a ways.  Ever think about doing that on a bike?  Meet @Spoonsie, otherwise known as Isabelle.  She's a super awesome chick who's going to bike from Vancouver to Austin over 9 days all in the name of raising fund for cancer research. #givetolive That's 2650 miles on a bike.  That's not all.  Once she gets here, she's participating in the Livestrong Challenge in October.  That's one cool chicka.

Donate to her cause here.

Along the way, @Spoonsie has also put on some additional fundraisers for her campaign.  I must mention that one of the activities was selling bacon cookies.  That's right.  I said BACON cookies.  If you haven't donated yet, you need to do so now. Also, look for a Happy Hour event with @Spoonsie sometime in late October 2010.  If you're lucky, we'll also have #bacon cookies. 

So what announcement do I have?  I have one that is pretty unusual for myself.  For most of my life, I've had long hair that I've maintained myself.  I think I've only ever had three people cut my hair besides my mother and myself.  See, here I'm cutting my own hair in Oct. 2008.  It took less than a minute!

It isn't a secret that I've donated my hair to Locks of Love in the past, but the announcement this time is that someone else is cutting it this time!  Joel Hamburger from WaterStone Aesthetics is going to be the featured stylist to use scissors on my long locks.  Joel has been doing hair for about seven years, the last two in Austin. He trained at one of the top salons in San Francisco, and takes classes at Vidal Sassoon and Bumble & Bumble. Joel also styles hair for fashion shows and magazines, including my own hair from last year's Austin Fashion Week. Currently, he is putting the finishing touches on a new hair blog called


Growing hair for Locks of Love is a long-term laborious commitment.  It has been 20 months since my last hair cut.  That's 20 months of rarely using styling products in my hair.  I've only applied heat to it for styling maybe five times in the last 20 months, and I condition and protect it everyday. Before my long locks are sent to become a wig for Locks of Love, I'll be driving donations to @Spoonsie's #givetolive campaign.  I'll also be at the #BATHH on Union Park with a donation jar so bring some spare cash.  The haircut will take place at WaterStone Aesthetics on June 23rd.  Stay tuned for more info!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Downtown Eats: M2

M2 is a new restaurant in downtown Austin at 208 West 4th Street next to Peche and Hacylon.  With Chefs Mat Clouser & Mark Strouhal heading up the kitchen, they are bringing some interesting dishes to the table.  @windaddict and I popped in for a visit last week, and here's our findings. Also, the beer menu is quite interesting, interesting good.  They have Rogue Dead Guy, Watou Tripel, Delirium Tremins, Konig Pilsner, Fireman's Four, and Allagash White just to name a few.   Photos by @windaddict.

Here's what the inside looks like now.  M2 is still undergoing some remodeling so it may look drastically different. 

Beet chips with green olive dust.  I absolutely love these chips.  They remind me of terra chips, and the olive oil dust was pretty interesting.  It seems like the type of seasoning that you use to add depth of favor to many dishes.

Pork fries with malt vinegar aioli. I'll start by saying that I typically hate mayonnaise and aioli.  But I loved this sauce.  I want this on a roast beef sammich. 

Irish sea trout with pistachio-mint pistuo, scallion hearts, and carrot jus.  The skin on this fish was perfectly crispy.  I grew up eating fish skin and other fish parts, so this was a blast down memory lane.  Yum. 

Nilgai antelope kabob, grilled watermelon, and curried yogurt.  The antelope was extremely tender, and the flavor the grilled watermelon.  The watermelon is meant to be ice cold on the inside with a smoky flavor on the outside.  My favorite though, was the curried yogurt.  That was pretty darn awesome. 

House-made sausage flatbread, caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes, cerignola olives, and farmer's cheese.  It's like an open face pizza. 

And lastly, Eel bacon zepple, vin cotta.  This is literally eel bacon.  A piece of eel belly is cured and smoked, and oh my goodness, it is delicious. The smoky, caramel flavors mesh perfectly with the rich fat of the meat.  If you like bacon, try this.  If you like unagi, try this too. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Social Media has gone to the dogs!

Social Media has gone to the dogs.  After training, showing, handling, and judging dogs for eight years, social media and dogs have their similarities in concepts and behaviors.  *Note: This post is mostly intended to be humorous.  Don't be too offended.  Also, Happy 8th Birthday to @Mousethedog!

1. Classical conditioning is an old dog training principle.  Classical conditioning is simply the pairing and associating of two things.  In Pavlov's case, his dog associated a bell with dog food which lead to drooling.  Eventually, the dog would begin to drool with sound of the bell even in the absence of food.  In dog training, the trainer should always be in a cheerful mood regardless of what the dog is doing (much easier said than done).  The dog will associate the trainer with cheerfulness and other good things.  If the trainer is always angry and upset, the dog will begin to associate the trainer with angry and upset feelings.  It isn't hard to figure out why some dogs avoid their owners in this case. 

If your Twitter voice and Facebook posts are always unhappy and angry, people will stop following you.  You are a debbie downer, a stick in the mud, an angry cloud on a sunshiny day.  On the other hand, if your Twitter voice and Facebook posts are always cheerful and happy, people might start to associate you with positive emotions, engage with you more, and tend to follow you.  Classically condition people to like you, not to run away from you. 

2. Everyone wants to chew on the new toys until it is broken.  Dogs love to play with new toys until they are un-stuffed and shredded.  Just give a group of dogs a fuzzy stuffed toy and check back in a few weeks to see if you can find the parts of the stuffed toy.  This is the same thing with social media tools.  Today, Twitter is big.  It is so popular that it fail whales frequently.  Everyone wants to play with Twitter, and now we've broken it.  Tweets have gone missing. Twitter search is a joke.  While the Twitter toy has lasted a couple of years so far, how much longer under social media gets a new toy?  Other examples of broken toys include the iphone.  AT&T's network (especially in San Francisco and Austin) just can't support iphone users anymore.  Looks like the HTC Evo 4G is the new toy. 

3. In dog training, like social media, there's not only one single right way to do things (many wrongs as well).  There's countless numbers of dog training methods, and there are also countless numbers of social media strategies and tactics.  Different methods for different dogs.  My big dog doesn't respond well to repetition methods.  He gets bored.  However, my little dog loves doing the same exercise over and over again, especially when she is very confident about her performance.  Different social media strategies for different audiences.  In social media, hard selling or spamming on Twitter usually get you a kick in the pants.  You'll probably also get blocked.  However, hard selling or spamming in the adult website industry probably works considering how many wind up in my spam box. 

4. In dogs, they all want to sniff the newbie's butt.  Who's that new dog at the park?  What's his story? Should I pee on him?  In social media, we all tend to google and search for dirt on new users.  Who's that new blogger?  Has anyone ever met that newbie with only 3 followers?  Before you get started in social media, be sure that you clean up your Facebook and Myspace (may it rest in peace) accounts.  No one needs to find that photo of you doing a keg stand in your sister's bikini and high heels when sniffing your online butt.

5. Dogs breeds were developed with certain innate characteristics over hundreds of years.  Border collies love to chase moving objects.  Daschunds love to dig.  Huskies love to pull.  You can try to train them to not engage in those behaviors, but the dogs like to do what they like to do.  Your audience has innate characteristics.  They like what they like, and you can try to change it, but good luck.  If psychologists knew how to consistently and reliably invoke attitude and behavior change, we would have put an end to drug abuse, unsafe sex practices, and unhealthy eating habits.  We're still working on those. 

6. Motivation.  Dogs wake up in the morning wanting to pee on things, eat cat poop, slobber on the couch, and hump stuffed animals (maybe not in that order).  They are dogs after all, and that's what they are motivated to do.  Users wake up in the morning and look for interesting news, follow new users, and play Farmville.  Face it.  They don't wake up saying, "I would LOVE to spend my time writing a blog post about your product!"  Dogs have different motivations than their handlers.  Consumers have different motivations than businesses.  While your business might have fans who like your products, they aren't as motivated as you are to stay afloat. 

7. Be genuine.  Dogs can smell a fake from a mile away.  They can read your body language much better than humans can.  Users can also smell a fake on social media as well.  You can't put up a fake front for long.  We'll call you out!

8. Dog training and social media never ends.  I get asked frequently how long it took to train my dogs.  My reply is, "It never ends."  The notion that one can take a dog through few obedience courses and get a well-behaved dog is pretty far from the truth.  Training a dog happens is a never ending process, especially if they are trained for performance activities.  Training lasts a lifetime.  Successful social media also never ends.  I've been asked "How long do we have to use Twitter? When do we are we finished with social media?"  The answer is: Unless your business or your internet presence ceases to exists, social media should not end.  Social media tools may come and go, but hopefully the social part never ends. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Age of Entitlement in Social Media

Disclaimer: The Age of Entitlement attitude is not limited to age, nor do all Generation Y-ers have that attitude.

Generation Y, those babies born in the 80′s and 90′s, have been dubbed the Generation of Entitlement.  There is a plethora of articles from business journals to psychology magazines describing the typical attitude of Generation Y-ers.  Early in my teaching career, seminars on how to deal with this type of attitude and expectations were common, even at major universities.  We were warned that these generation of students were demanding.  They wanted exams grades posted within hours of the exam.  They wanted credit for effort, regardless of mastery or completion.  The phrase “But I tried….” was fairly typical.

The first lecture class of 250 freshmen I taught was likely the poster children of this attitude.  While that class was soon under control with a reality check, I decided that there had to be a serious culture setting procedure right from the beginning.  I use old school teaching methods where I set expectations high, keep my grading scale difficult, and ban all misbehaviors from my classroom.  Any student that has an unpleasant attitude is asked to leave, forever.  I also show Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture video, and I insist that all my students perform as well as his students did.  Needless to say, by the end of the semester, the generation of entitlement is turned into the generation of hard work and gratitude.

There’s no attitude switch for the Generation Y-ers when they enter social media.  The attitude of give me, credit me, and make me feel special persists everyday on social media.  It doesn’t take long to see someone on Twitter complaining about what they should have gotten.  Just show up late to a party advertising free food and free drink.  You’ll hear the Generation Y-ers complaining about how they didn’t get any free food or free drink that they deserved.  Some businesses have reported hearing the “I’m a Yelper so you should give me free food/drink.”  Sadly, that’s not unheard of from unscrupulous bloggers as well.

It isn’t any secret that I was a born in the 80′s.  I’m technically a Generation Y baby, and I’m embarrassed about the attitudes and behaviors of my generation.  Some people assumed that I was given things like my house.  Sorry, I bought my house when I was 21 by saving up all that I had earned as being a nanny.  I could afford to invest in my hobbies because I worked many hours during my early years of graduate school.  Now that I started my own business, I get emails and phone calls from people asking me how I did it.  The short answer is, “I worked hard.”  Fortunately, my doctorate is in social psychology so I had a knowledge base that translates easily into marketing and social media.  But most importantly, I worked hard to build up my skill sets and to build relationships that now support my business.

I very happy to help others get started in social media.  On the other hand, I’ve been contacted by many generation y-ers about social media and food blogging.  Most recently, someone who had only been on Twitter for two months was now wanting to start working as a social media consultant.  This person was straight out of college with no work experience to boot.  I was speechless.  Had Generation Y babies completely forgotten about hard work, learning from mentors, and earning a reputation?  Did they not realize that many successful people worked their way up?  Gary Vaynerchuck is living it up now, but he started from a basement, literally.  Rachel Ray is highly successful now, and she started making only $50 per show.

So what can you do if you’re a business that faces the Age of Entitlement regularly?  I’d advise that you set a strict policy on how to deal with the most common challenges you have.  If your business regularly gets people asking for free product because they are active in social media, implement a policy on how to handle those requests.  Hint: A complicated policy requiring those people to send you samples of their writing and/or detail the impact their strategies have on your type of business usually sends them on their merry way.

If you’ve got that Entitlement attitude, don’t be hurt.  Just be prepared to work hard.  If you fail, just try again.  If you have a passion for something, look for a mentor to help you cultivate that passion.  Show gratitude.  Thank people for their time.  Thank people for helping you.  Open your ears to criticism.  You can’t improve if you don’t know where you need it.  Look for communities in which a hardworking attitude is required and rewarded. This Week in Startups is one I highly recommend. @Jason is the complete opposite of a Generation Y-er.  If you haven’t watched Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, this is the time to do it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Cars of Maker Faire San Mateo

Maker Faire 2010 San Mateo was a blast.  From Oldies to New(ies?), there were all sorts of interesting transportation vehicles. 

I like how it says Stop.

I'm not quite sure what he's thinking.

I wish I could remember what they did to this thing.

A Ford Fiesta.

I'm not sure how one would get on this one.

Chevy Hydrogen Fuel Cell Equinox - Unfortunately, I don't have much to say about this vehicle.  Let's just say that the representatives were pretty tight lipped with the information.

The interior.  Since I only had about a 30 second drive with this car, I don't have much to say.  I could feel vibration in the steering wheel.  That's as notable as it gets.

On the course.

Toyota Pruis converted to be a plug in.

These people were also tight lipped with the information as well.

This car wins longest name contest. CMT 380xblackbird diesel turbine electric serial plug in hybrid sports car at Maker Faire San Mateo

The owner of this car was the most secretive with information.  No words, just pictures here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Eating through San Francisco - part 4 - The Slanted Door and Tu Lan

Eating across the spectrum in San Francisco can mean many things.  For us, that meant eating at hole in the wall cheap joints and also eating at fancy pants dining locations.  Of the many recommendations that we received for places in dine in San Francisco, the Slanted Door was by far recommended the most often. 

The Slanted Door is an upscale modern Vietnamese restaurant.  The dishes were creative, and the view across the water was amazing.  Additionally, they also carried Nikolaihof biodynamic elderflower, an elderflower syrup that is near impossible to get in the United States.  This particular syrup isn't from the United States, it is from Australia.  I asked my waitress for a sample to see how it compared to St. Germain Elderflower liqueur.  It seemed to be very similar for the most part, but slightly grassier and more citrus notes. 

We started off with mesquite grilled lamb sausage topped with Chinese black olive and preserved lemon relish and kusshi oysters . The mesquite grilled lamb sausage has great flavor however slightly tough.  The black olive relish was just a tad salty. 

The kusshi oysters on the other hand, were fantastic.  The oysters were incredibly fresh and smelled like the ocean.  The garnish on top was tangy, crunchy, citrusy, with a slow cool yet spicy burn at the end.  These were a sure winner. 

I ordered the Becker lane pork shoulder with green garlic and wolfberries in banana leaf with pineapple-anchovy sauce. The flavor combinations in this dish were well-balanced, savory yet sweet, and perfect with rice.  The meat was incredibly tender, and the pineapple-anchovy sauce was pretty fabulous.  Sweet and salty, with great depth of flavor.

As you can see, we didn't like it at all. 

For a soup, we ordered the asparagus and wild dungeness crab meat with white pepper and sesame oil.   It was pretty light and tasty.

And lastly, we ordered the grass-fed estancia shaking beef, cubed filet mignon, sausalito springs' watercress, red onions and lime sauce. The shaking beef is one of Slanted Door's more popular dishes, and the recipe is online here.  The dish was pretty tasty, but not something I'd order again.  This steak dish is available at other Vietnamese restaurants, and I can make it at home.  I was looking for something that isn't on the menu at other restaurants that really show cases Slanted Door's creativity. 

For dessert, we had the banana tapioca with sweet potato, avocado ice cream, and crisp lime meringue.  This dish probably sounds odd and gross.  You might think that banana tapioca, sweet potato, avocados, and lime have to be the a terrible combination.  You are wrong.  This was the most delicious and well-balanced dessert.  The tapioca is infused in pureed bananas.  The avocado ice cream was mild and creamy.  And the lime meringue (which was more like chunks of lime divinity) pulled everything perfectly together.  The textures and the flavors of this dish were amazing.  This is the type of dessert  that impresses.  The final bill with tax and tip was $125.74.

The other end of the dining spectrum was Tu Lan.  While Tu Lan wasn't the cheapest place we ate at in San Francisco (I paid two dollars for a dim sum meal), it certainly did qualify for hole in the wall.  I'm not sure if the clientele or the restaurant was dirtier, and I didn't care care.  I didn't care if the seats are duct taped together or that the counter was visibly grimy.  I didn't care if homeless people were engaging in trade at the counter. I was going for grungy hole in the wall, and I hereby declare Tu Lan to be the "Mother of All Hole-in-the-Walls."

Imperial Rolls at Tu Lan were perfectly crunchy.  Flavorful. Delicious.

Spicy beef noodle was an awesome soup.  It had reminded me of Chinese spicy beef noodle soup, and it was perfect on a cold night. 

Chicken curry with potatoes was pretty good, from what I got.  @windaddict ate most of it.  Total bill: $18.  And the food we got could have easily fed another person.  Now this place closes pretty early at 9:30 pm, and we saw an endless stream of people coming in wanting to be served even after closing.  I asked the chef  if they were always that busy, and he said nope.  Could have fooled me.  Wouldn't it be awesome to have an endless stream of people wanting to eat at your restaurant?