A Lite Brite Christmas

lite brite

At this time of year I’m not thinking too much about marketing and business so I just thought I would tell you a Christmas Story.

This is the tale of the only Christmas present that ever made me cry.  

When I was a little boy, all I ever wanted for Christmas was a Lite Brite set.  Lite Brite was the Photo Shop of the 1960s.  You could create beautiful picture light shows by manipulating tiny colored pegs on a black paper screen.   This was right up there with 8-track tapes and Seas Monkeys as the technology marvel of my generation.   

But I was the eldest of six kids and we didn’t have a lot of extra money for Christmas presents.  Actually asking for something as glorious and exotic as a Lite Brite seemed impossibly greedy.  So I kept my little secret between me and Santa Claus.  Every Christmas morning I would open my presents and find socks and shirts and maybe a baseball, but no Lite Brite.  Yuletide after Yuletide passed, never brightened by the phantasmagoria of Lite Brite masterpieces that lived so vividly in my mind.

Eventually I grew out of my Lite Brite phase but never really stopped wondering what it would be like to feel that little peg break through the crisp black paper to unleash its beauty.

Fast forward 30 years.  I received a mysterious Federal Express package.  No return address and it said “Don’t open until Christmas!”  Being just a little spooked in an era of terrorist bombings and anthrax letters, I opened it right away.  It was a Lite Brite set with this enclosed message: 

Dear Mark,

You will never guess what happened. I was cleaning out my sleigh and found this Lite Brite set for you!  It must have dropped from my sack many years ago.  You were a good little boy and deserved this present.  Sorry I goofed.  Have fun!  

 Love,  Santa

A grown man had tears in his eyes as he finally opened up his Lite Brite set, a gift from a sister who had paid attention, kept a secret, and had a loving heart.

May your Christmas, and every day, be filled with the joy and wonder of a child painting with little colored pegs!  — Mark

Eight lessons I’ve learned from Twitter

Twitter visualization

I’m writing this blog as a way of accepting a challenge from my friend Venessa Miemis.  Always glad to be pushed in new ways!

I’ve been a devoted Twitter-er for nearly a year.  In that period I’ve moved from reluctant skeptic to poster-child advocate.  Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned.

1) Respect the person behind the icon.  Early on I “blocked” a young lady because her icon was a little provocative. My assumption was that she was spamming me or worse.  Later that day she wrote a comment on my blog – she was a student trying to learn from me and she was disappointed that I turned out to be a smug elitist. Wow, talk about being humbled. I apologized profusely and now we’re friends.  This was a great lesson and I’m glad it happened early in my Twitter career. Think about the real people behind the icon.  You should be honored they are interested in you. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

2) This is best kind of networking.  About a year ago I was attending a live, weekly meeting with a networking group that had the initials “TNT.”  Every time an attendee reported something positive, everybody would suddenly yell “BOOM!”   TNT … get it?  Scared the crap out of me every time. The long meetings, the referrals, the score-keeping and gimmicks – not for me, especially after I discovered the power of Twitter.  Nearly every customer, partner and supplier I currently work with came through Twitter. This is the NEW networking. No limits. No scary noises.

3) It’s not for kids. This is a business tool.  Get in the game.

4) It’s not for everyone.  I have not quite placed my finger on it, but there is a certain subset of the human race who will not, can not tweet.  I think it has something to do with being an engineer, but I need more data on this. : )  Accept them. Love them. Move on.

5) Go to the party.  One of the most over-used descriptions of how to succeed on Twitter is adopting the “cocktail party” persona:  Be nice, entertain, be helpful, don’t sell.  It might be trite, but it’s also about the best advice you can give anybody.  It’s a metaphor that’s easy to understand and it’s accurate. If people will pay attention to you at a party, they’ll pay attention to you on Twitter.

6) Adapt and adopt.   If you spend too much time trying to “find your audience,” you will completely miss the amazing audience who has found YOU.

7) Twitter is an appetizer. But to get to the main course, you need to write your new friends, call them and, if possible, meet them.  That’s when the real magic happens!

8) Don’t tweet drunk.  ‘Nuff said.

Please tell me the lessons you’ve learned from Twitter.

Illustration: This visualization came from a place calledMentionMap. I have no idea what it means but it looks very high-tech and cool, don’t you think?  I have always wanted to be a node.