Parametric Shamrock

Handshake 2.0 offers you St. Patrick's greetings in the form of a Parametric Shamrock created by Handshake 2.0's Web 2.0 Developer. 

Handshake 2.0's Web 2.0 developer uses Mathematica

Parametric Shamrock Greetings from Handshake 2.0

Handshake 2.0's Web 2.0 developer is the author of Parametric Hand Turkey and Parametric Valentine, all created using Mathematica.   Parametric Hand Turkey is listed on the Wolfram Research News & Events page.

A Formula for Business Results Using Twitter

According to HubSpot’s State of the Twittersphere – Q4 2008 Report, 5 million Twitter accounts exist and an estimated 5-10 thousand new accounts are opened per day. 

TechCrunch reports a quadrupling of Twitter followers in the past month.

According to Cameron Nouri of Mailtrust about Twitter:  "It's our essential application."

Google “Twitter” and you’ll see 244,000,000 results.  How does one sort through all that information? 

What's the bottom line on Twitter?  More importantly…

What's a business to do about Twitter?

To answer that question, Handshake 2.0 offers you a white paper (.pdf):
A Formula for Business Results Using Twitter.

While it is a white paper, we've limited the white space so you can print it out and not feel like you're anti-green.

And it’s two pages.  Now that’s a bottom line white paper.

A Formula for Business Results Using Twitter from Handshake 2.0

Connecting People in the RNR – The Young Professional Movement

Handshake 2.0 brings you edition #17 of Connecting People in the RNR with Stuart Mease.

"RNR" refers to the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia.

Stuart Mease writes the blog Connecting People.  On Stuart Mease's about page, you can find myriad ways to connect with him online and in person.  You can find out more about Stuart Mease on Handshake 2.0.

Connecting People in the RNR
a video show by Stuart Mease
for Handshake 2.0

 


 
The opinions expressed by Stuart Mease or of those he interviews are solely their own and are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0 or its clients, sponsors, or advertisers.

Twitter – The Essential App at Mailtrust

From Z. Kelly Queijo:

Not long after writing: From “Follow” to “Follow-Up” – Using Twitter in Business, I had the opportunity to chat with Cameron Nouri, Online Customer Experience Manager at Mailtrust.  Here's what he had to say about Mailtrust's use of Twitter.

ZKQ: How does Twitter fit the mission of Mailtrust?

Cameron Nouri, Mailtrust Nouri:  A month and a half ago, we started using Twitter, but we aren't trying to use it as a selling tool.

It's not the greatest medium to use to actively go push sales. We use it to demonstrate to the world we are more than just an email hosting company. We want to be the leader in the software-as-a-service solution in the industry. So with our Twitter account and our blog, we're trying to promote our company and point to what we see in the industry as important.

ZKQ: How do you use Twitter on a daily basis?

Nouri: Support. Twitter is one of those great tools where, instead of leading a customer to frustration, we can actually stop customer frustration. Literally, within 20 minutes of a customer having an issue, we are able to get a team support lead on the phone and solve the problem.

ZKQ: Which Twitter functions help you do that?

Nouri: Search.twitter.com. You can follow anything – a phrase, a company, or you can use programs like TweetDeck. It's our essential application. We're able follow anytime anyone is talking about Mailtrust, or other topics in the industry, like Cloud computing and email hosting. We are able to build our base of followers because we can reach out to them. Anytime someone says something about Mailtrust, we're able to monitor that and respond.

ZKQ: How do your customers use Twitter?

Nouri: Our customers are using Twitter and they're talking about Mailtrust. So, if we're not in there and talking with them, you know what? We're not controlling that conversation and they're not getting the help that they need. If a customer comes to us saying they are having a problem, or they are saying “I had a great experience with Mailtrust.” We want to acknowledge them. Then, they are actually going to go out and actively tell others that they had a great experience. We don't want to be seen as a faceless company. We want to engage with customers on many different levels; Twitter is just one of the ways we do that.

ZKQ: What do you like best about Twitter?

Nouri: I think Twitter is one of the greatest mediums that has come across in the past year and has taken the world by storm. It really pushes the envelope on transparency, and the best thing about Twitter is that it can be whatever you want it to be.

Mailtrust on Twitter

***

Z. Kelly Queijo writes about business and technology, people and their passions.  She is a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0.

Legendary Challenge: A Recipe for Success

From Z. Kelly Queijo:

One of the challenges in building business is to do something successfully one time and then be able to  replicate that model multiple times. Charles Lattimer, founder of Cooperative Leadership Institute (CLI), has done just that with the launch of Legendary Challenge, a movement to help others "Dream, Mobilize and Succeed." 

Recipe for Success:

  • Take 1 Top-Tier University Coach
  •  Add 1 Top-Tier University Leadership Guru
  •  Mix with a Personal Challenge
  •  Heat it up with an Infusion of Energy and Excitement for two hours
  •  The result – a Top-Tier Motivational Event that will work for colleges and universities nationwide. Serves 600 or more.

The inspiration for Legendary Challenge came to Lattimer while on a drive back to Blacksburg following client visits in DC and Virginia Beach. “I had a burning desire for CLI to have a regional impact. I thought, “Who are the best leaders in our community?” Coach Frank Beamer and Professor Chris Neck are not only regional icons, but global brands and leadership experts.”

Lattimer partnered with Virginia Tech's Alumni Association and ISP Sports to promote the first  Legendary Challenge which kicks off on Saturday, April 25, 2009, at Virginia Tech's Graduate Life Center. The cost is $99 per person and the two-hour event will begin a 9 a.m., the morning of Tech's Spring Game.

Former Virginia Tech and NFL player Eddie Royal will join them. 

Lattimer will also host a tailgate party and invites anyone to drop by and donate a book to support to Coach's Beamer's challenge to raise awareness for Herma's Readers, a nonprofit organization named for Beamer's mother and founded to support reading success for children in grades K-3.

The $99 price point and the two-hour time frame is Lattimer's way of addressing need during a time when both individuals and businesses are watching every dollar spent. “These are tough economic times and people have a tough time taking off from work. I believe what we have successfully done is to tighten the message to 'Dream, Mobilize and Succeed.' It's the genetic code of making a difference in the world.”

Lattimer's goal is to have millions of people participating in the Legendary Challenge movement at other universities to inspire people to make a difference in their own lives and within their communities. It's a model worth replicating. 

***

Z. Kelly Queijo writes about business and technology, people and their passions.  She is a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0.

The Power of Twitter – An Allstate Story

From Richard Hammer:

I'm a technology adopter and tend to integrate new technologies into my life easily. I guess there are advantages to being the Director of Web Application Development at Modea ( @Modea ) which make that a little easier [wink].
 
Richard Hammer of Modea When Twitter was launched, I was suspicious, as the business model was based on instant, seamless communication about the where's, what's and why's of everyday lives:  where the hottest new dance club was; what bars were having drink specials; where this movie star was last seen eating dinner; basically sharing detailed updates on some of the mundane details of life. At its heart, micro-blogging at its best.
 
What it has become [and has the possibility of becoming] is a completely different story and I would like to share one of several experiences:
 
Like so many people out there, I have a house on the market for sale. I transplanted my family from NoVa to Blacksburg, Virginia last spring to take advantage of an amazing job opportunity. The house in NoVa is empty, but utilities are still on to make it "show" friendly.

A number of weeks ago, we had a bitter cold stretch connected to an ice storm. Needless to say, the house lost power for several days and the pipes became frozen and burst. I'm fairly handy at sweating copper pipe, so I trekked up to see what could be done. As it turns out, we had not 1 frozen pipe break, but 18, and the recently installed commercial tile floor in the basement was destroyed.
 
I posted a status update on Twitter:

"The good news is it's not a total loss; the bad news is it's more than I'm able to get done in a weekend. I'm in good hands with Allstate."
 
Not 5 minutes later … I see an @reply … from @Allstate.

"@FireByDragon I'm glad!"
 
I @reply, thinking this is quite a unique opportunity, given the context of my status update and my unfamiliarity with corporate entities monitoring Twitter:

"@allstate Me too!!! Happy customer since '92. History: 3 rentals, 2 homes, 7 cars, 2 trucks, 3 motorcycles and an RV. Thank you!"
 
@Allstate's response:

"@FireByDragon Thank you for the kind words! I'm glad you had a good claims experience."
 
Now I am impressed by Allstate's use of this medium. They are monitoring the Twitter stream and providing positive customer service in this brave new medium.

Two weeks later, @Allstate offered this direct message, DM, communication and me as a reference:

"@[Twitter User] Sorry, was out of office when you asked earlier about Allstate insurance. Try @FireByDragon Or. DM me for more."
 
There are those out there who might make these points:

  1. It's alarming to think someone else is monitoring your information stream.
  2. It's more alarming that they would be bold enough to interject themselves in that information stream.
  3. It's even more alarming that they would make a referral…even within a context.

Maybe my work history and experience make me unique, but I go the other way.

Here is a brand and a company that, in my opinion, gets it. Here is a visible, public social medium where people are sharing publicly their views and thoughts on anything and everything in their lives. Communities are sharing their experiences and current state of consciousness. Consumers are expressing opinions, both positive and negative, about the world around them and how they interact with it. It would be a missed opportunity for any brand to ignore this medium.  Listening and being aware of what is being said about their band, allows them to, in some cases, actually do something positive and nurturing about it.
 
Hats off to @Allstate. They are truly adopting this medium as a brand marketing tool and have a positive plan in place moving forward. They are ahead of the curve.

***

Handshake 2.0 – on Twitter @handshake20 - follows Richard Hammer on Twitter @FireByDragon.

High Five – A Break from Business Could be Wild

From Bob GilesHigh Five from Handshake 2.0:

Already thinking about getting away from the business this summer? Heading for the wilds of state and national parks and forests? Hoping to see wildlife? Your high-tech camera ready?

You have to be very careful out there, more so than in the past. More people getting away and more people who don’t understand the dangers and how to avoid them will be there, too.

Bear cubs are cute but the mother bears in the bushes below do not think that people are cute. I have seen the awful results of a bear attack on a man. Bear attacks are increasing.

A black bear cub is cute but danger is near.

Numbers of attacks by animals are increasing. The very skittish coyote is now becoming abundant in the Eastern United States. Well-known for attacking sheep, it is now in the cities and attacking cats and child-sized dogs. California has had 89 attacks on humans since 1988.

Animals along roadsides can be very dangerous. They seem tame and calm.  That can change in an instant when a person gets too close.  They will attack. How close is “too close” is each animal’s decision. Some become familiar with humans, habituated. Approaching on foot is a foolish risk to take. “No person, experienced with wildlife or not, can handle a serious attack by an elk, grizzly, or even a buck deer,” said behavior expert Dr. Val Geist.

Will  Graves, in Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages, has analyzed attacks by wolves in Russia over many years and now believes that the absence of guns has led wolves to “know” that people do not need to be feared. Thus the old story that wolves “never have killed a person” is not true and conditions are changing to reverse the story in the United States.  Now introduced and becoming abundant, wolves without experience with harmful humans, are becoming a potential threat beyond that to livestock and large game animals.

Over the past 100 years, cougars tallied a human death in the United States every 10 years. Now over the past 10 years they claim 1 a year from hikers and recreationists.

Have a wild time on your break from business.  But be careful out there.

***

Robert H. Giles, Jr. writes High Five for Handshake 2.0, a business news and Web 2.0 services enterprise of Handshake Media, Incorporated, a member company of business acceleration center VT KnowledgeWorks.  The opinions Robert Giles expresses are solely his own and are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0 or its clients, sponsors or advertisers. 

You can follow Robert H. Giles, Jr. on Twitter @Bob_Giles

Robert H. Giles, Jr. is a Virginia Tech Professor Emeritus with a vision for a rural land management system.  He writes two blogs, The Survivalists and Faunal Force. 

Connecting People in the RNR – Positive Signs in This Economy

Handshake 2.0 brings you edition #16 of Connecting People in the RNR with Stuart Mease.

"RNR" refers to the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia.

Stuart Mease writes the blog Connecting People.  On Stuart Mease's about page, you can find myriad ways to connect with him online and in person.  You can find out more about Stuart Mease on Handshake 2.0.

Connecting People in the RNR
a video show by Stuart Mease
for Handshake 2.0

 


The opinions expressed by Stuart Mease or of those he interviews are solely their own and are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0 or its clients, sponsors, or advertisers.

A Legendary Challenge Begins

Conversations with Charles Lattimer, CEO and founder of the Cooperative Leadership Institute, were instrumental to the beginnings of Handshake 2.0.  He's a master of idea execution.  What is he beginning now?  Legendary Challenge.

From Charles Lattimer:

Legendary Challenge is a movement that inspires people to Dream, Mobilize, and Succeed.  Coach Frank Beamer, head football coach at Virginia Tech, has set his personal Legendary Challenge to support Herma’s Readers, a non-profit organization named for his mother in support of reading and education in grades K-3. 

You're invited to get coached by Frank Beamer on how to set your own Legendary Challenge on April 25, 2009, in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Doing Business in Floyd – Anne Vaughan Designs

From Neil Sagebiel:

Like an attractive piece of jewelry that perfectly accessorizes an outfit, Anne Vaughan founded a business that perfectly complements her creative talents, entrepreneurial spirit and family values. Started two years ago in Floyd, Anne Vaughan Designs offers unique handcrafted jewelry: earrings, necklaces, bracelets and more.

Anne Vaughan, Anne Vaughan Designs, Floyd, Virginia Vaughan calls her designs “earthy and elegant,” and they fit a wide range of tastes, budgets and occasions, from casual wear to formal events. About 30 percent of her products are custom designed.

Many customers of Anne Vaughan Designs tend to be professional women, but there are also others, including men who appreciate Vaughan’s help with creating or selecting a piece of jewelry for those often befuddling gift occasions.

According to Vaughan, first-time customers usually become repeat customers due to her zealous commitment to individual satisfaction and a “no returns” company goal.

“We have less than a half of a percent return rate for flaw or dissatisfaction for the more than 8000 items we have made,” she said.

Home to many artisans, musicians and creative folk, Floyd County has been well-suited for both Vaughan’s business and family, which includes husband Aaron, who oversees marketing, and their two young children.

“Fortunately, we love Floyd, and the surrounding communities [Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Roanoke, Smith Mountain Lake and North Carolina] help support a small business such as ours,” Vaughan said.

“One of our other goals is to provide employment to people in the Floyd area, especially in these economic times. We currently employ three-plus part-time employees, all of whom live in Floyd County.”

Anne Vaughan Designs also contributes to local community causes.

“We don’t just write a check to organizations,” Vaughan said. “We actively promote their good works and are involved in the giving, usually with our customers.”

Whether it’s supporting local community efforts or designing jewelry for her customers, Vaughan said the creative process is energizing.

“Pleasing my customers makes it worth it,” she said.

That’s a perfect design for any business.

***

"Doing Business in Floyd" is an occasional series by Neil Sagebiel that spotlights Floyd, Virginia-area businesses and how they thrive in a rural setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Neil Sagebiel is a Floyd, Virginia-based freelance writer who blogs at HEADLINES FROM FLOYD and ARMCHAIR GOLF BLOG.  You can follow him on Twitter @armchairgolfer.