Knock Knock

Seth Godin is a legend. He’s an entrepreneur, consultant, and author. He’s written 14 books on marketing and all of them are best sellers. He starts companies, fixes broken ones and writes the most popular marketing blog in the world.

So the the man is brilliant. He knows nearly everything there is to know about web marketing.

Except, in February 2010, how to best embed a video.

The day started like most others for me: check email, RSS feeds, and read Seth’s blog. Godin posts little nuggets of wisdom nearly every day. But this one was different. This post had video. Not embedded video (where you click play and watch in the current page) but a link away from his blog to go watch the video on vimeo. I followed the link, but most people don’t.

Seth has button on his blog: “email me”. So I emailed him, suggesting a better way. He quickly responded, and we exchanged a few ideas. Then he embedded the video the way I suggested and emailed back “Better?”

So what?

Imagine you’re Seth. You have important meetings, phone calls, books to write, and 500,000 people reading your blog. Do you publicly post your email address? Do you stay open to advice?

Most of us don’t.

Most artists, organisations, board members, CEOs… we’re too busy to be bothered by the little requests, suggestions and feedback. We don’t believe the benefit is greater than the pain of an overflowing mailbox. I suppose the thesis behind much of social media and this post, is that it’s worth it. That for every 10 dead end requests, there might be a useful suggestion.

Sure there’s going to be a lot of distractions along the way. It’s a skill to know which emails to delete, which ones to quickly reply, and which ones to pause and think about. But is it worth it? Certainly.

If you have a Web site, it’s probably because you want to interact with your customers. So give me a phone number and an email address. A real one, one that goes to a person, and quickly! Put it on every page.

Seth Godin “Knock Knock” download the free ebook

Creative Fridays

"do a lot of work" ira glass

Master storyteller Ira Glass gives this advice to creatives:

“Do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that your will be as good as your ambition”

Today is my first week of a 4-day work week! I’m talkingt Fridays off to (hopefully) do a lot of creative work. I’ve never worked on a documentary, I’ve always wanted to, so what better time than now?

Big thanks to work for the flexibility, and to my wife, friends, family (and commenters) for the encouragement to be risky, chase dreams, and tell stories. And thanks Mr. Ira Glass, for this:


10 Essentials for your Non-Profit Website

If you’re working or volunteering in digital at a non-profit, you probably have limited time and even less budget. Before you invest a week on your pintrest presence, it’s important to get the essentials right.

Whether you’re at an established organisation or a brand new social good startup, here’s 10 suggestions for your site.


1. A compelling “About Us” page

This page will get lots of traffic because it’s the number one place visitors will go to find out more about you. So it’s good to spend some time brainstorming your approach — how can you best communicate your org’s work? What sets you apart from other non-profits? What have you accomplished? Your fundraising costs? The content on this page is likely to be the most copied and pasted information about your organisation by the press, supporters, and critics.

If you’re stuck, check out these two pages from charity : water.

The “About Us” page is also a great spot for a short video.


2. Install analytics

Google analytics is a great (free!) tool that can give you heaps of data. With a few updates to your code, you can see where traffic to your website is coming from, what content is most compelling to your users by interaction, and how users are behaving. Set up eCommerce functionality to track online donations in real-time.


3. Tell me a story

Storytelling is the most powerful way you can reach your audience. People would rather read a story than your latest press release, so make sure your homepage features several good story-telling aspects — titles, photos, and descriptions. The “stories” don’t need to be long, but attractive either with great photos or excellent titles.


4. Subscribe/follow options

Ok, so you’ve piqued my interest, but I’m still not ready to give…

Opt ins are great ways for a user to follow your organisation around the interwebs. Email opt-in, Facebook, Twitter, and blog RSS feeds are standard.

BONUS: A separate RSS feed for your job offerings will allow interested parties to keep track of your vacancies.


5. Donate button with regular giving option

The donate button should be featured on every page in the navigation and go directly to a page where the user can support your org. Have a clear ask that  Provide an option for monthly giving: It’s easier and more convenient for their budget, and increases long-term revenue for your org.

“Make this a monthly donation” image:


6. Show your Impact displays their victories.

When it comes to important web content, impact is near the top. It’s no longer safe to assume that your donors will be satisfied by giving you their hard-earned money and receive little follow-up. Charitable donors today are more connected than ever before, and expect reporting and proof of impact.  Be specific when you show outcomes: examples like “we helped pass a congressional bill” is better than “we lobbied during lobby week”. “We accomplished this” is better than “we raised money for that”. Share facts, figures, numbers, impact stories as often as possible.


7. Contact information

Simple really… Your phone number, address, and email to an email address that is monitored and replied to. Your donors and potential donors need to know you’re accessible. Providing your details shows this as well as giving visitors an open door to engage further.


8. Pictures!

On social, we know pictures are the number one way people are engaging with content. Apparently people like looking at photos. So have captions, tell a story, make it beautiful.


9. Search functionality

Even simple and lean websites expand from archives of campaigns and content. Whether it’s the 2006 annual report or that position paper on the Carbon Tax, built-in search functionality helps users quickly find what they’re looking for.

Added bonus: You’ll learn what’s most searched for and can make optimisation decisions based on real donor data.


10. Inspire

Everyone wants to make the world a better place… but we’re busy. And we’re not exactly sure how to help. Show me an example of what my donation, signature or support can lead to, and ‘ll consider signing on. But I might need a little inspiration first.

So always, always inspire. Inspire visitors with stories of your work. Highlight donors who are fighting for your cause. People are infinity times more likely to share your inspiring content then your “Donate NOWWW!” page. Infinity.


You might also like: Five reasons to think about the state of your website before diving into social media” by @Prarthb123, Digital Strategist at UNHCR

Desmond Tutu’s Inspiring Speech: God’s Dreams

Last month a group of us wrote about our dreams.  Then I stumbled on this incredible speech from Desmond Tutu and it brought tears to my eyes; I had to share.

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And so God said, ‘I have a dream, I have a dream, that my, my children will come to know that they are family. I have a dream. I have a dream that they will recognize there are no outsiders in this family. That all, they all belong.’

Fantastic. Too many of us think it is, oh well, sentimental stuff. That isn’t it. Some of the most radical political stuff that we are family. All, all, held in an embrace of love that will not let us go. God gives up on no one. All. All rich, poor; tall, short; substantial, not so substantial; beautiful, not so beautiful; clever, stupid. All, all, all, men, women, children; old, young; white, black, red, yellow. All, all, all, all, all, gay, lesbian, so-called straight. All, all, all, all, all.


All belong. All. Sharon, Arafat, belong in this family. Bush, Bin Laden, family. Family. Family. It’s explosive stuff really, it’s explosive stuff. Imagine if they really believed it. If, if as you took off with your bombers you realize, hey, I will drop these on my family, my sisters, my brothers. If we accepted this, how in the name of everything that is good, can we justify spending as much as we spend, on what we call budgets, defense budgets. How, how could we possibly?


How could we possibly justify it when we know a very small fraction of those budgets would ensure that our sisters and brothers, and children over there…our family would have clean water, enough to eat, decent education, educate, health care. We know this if we are family. No outsiders. All are insiders.

God says, ‘Please, please help me realize this dream.’ And some of God’s best collaborators are the young, because you dream. You dream God’s dream. You dream that it is possible for this world to become a better world … Many of you go out to other parts of the world. Fantastic! Because when you look around, there must be times when God said, ‘Gee, whatever got into me to create that lot?’ When God sees the kind of things we do to one another. God sees the Holocaust. God sees genocide in Rwanda. God sees apartheid. God sees racism. God sees. There’s a whole long list. And God weeps. God weeps to see our inhumanity to one another. God weeps and then, God sees you…as you go out to these poverty stricken places, where you don’t get any publicity. You go and you help and you build schools, and you build clinics, and you help, and you help. And the smile breaks through God’s tears, and God, God begins to smile and says, ‘Yeah, they have vindicated me. They vindicated me. Yea, yea.’ And then, God’s smile is like sunshine breaking through the rain. God smiles and says, ‘Yea, yea, they are helping me to realize my dream. For I have made for this world goodness, love, laughter, joy, compassion, peace, caring, gentleness. Help me. Help me. Help me realize my dream. Help me, help me make this a home that is hospitable to goodness, to laughter, to joy, to peace, to caring. Help me, help me.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

You can read the full text here.

Strength for your Dreams

Today, an eclectic mix of bloggers are reflecting on or publicly admitting our dreams. It’s the web at it’s best: authentic, positive and communal encouragement. Kudos to @LindseyTalerico and @richendag for putting out the challenge.

When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be an artist. I drew pictures and everyone told me how good they were, so obviously, I wanted to be an artist. A painter, perhaps.

I imagine most kids have a go-to answer of what they want to be when they grow up, and usually pretty exciting things too: police officers, astronauts, famous singers and rock stars. College students have bold dreams too. They want to flip the system, invent something, do good and never sell out. No one dreams of becoming a cynical middle manager that commutes too far and just works for the check.

It was a sad day in third grade when I realized I wasn’t the best sketch artist in my class. Paul was. This kid was incredible. He could draw cartoons or portraits or anything he wanted… really fast. Compared to him, my drawings were rubbish. So in third grade I decided I didn’t want to be an artist anymore… a short-lived dream.

Now, many years later, I can say with content that I’m quite happy in my career path. I don’t especially regret moving away from sketching. But when it comes to my dreams, I can still default to that same reaction: “I can’t dream that big, someone does that better than me” … I find it all too easy to let my dreams be intimidated by other people’s opinions and talent.

Seth Godin writes:

By their nature, dreams are evanescent. They flicker long before they shine brightly. And when they’re flickering, it’s not particularly difficult for a parent or a teacher or a gang of peers to snuff them out.

For me, it’s been the fear of failure and self-doubt that threaten my boldest dreams. I don’t often admit that, but in the spirit of chasing dreams, it’s good to say it, then move on.

*        *        *

At university I studied Mass Media Communications and International Development. They don’t really match, those two. I wavered between dreams of working at an ad agency and the peace corp. Thankfully, an internship at World Vision introduced me to non-profit marketing. The Chicago office ran like a start-up — relaxed, innovative, risky and endlessly encouraging. When my dream became a different role in field video comms at HQ in Seattle, the Chicago team, especially Michael and Lauren, pushed me hard towards risk and pursuing the next step. Every few days, Michael found a way of asking me what I was doing to follow my dreams, and then encouraged me to walk forward.  Without  that encouragement, I probably would’ve never pursued my goals.

That’s the thing about dreams: We have to move past the fear of failure, self-doubt and small thinking and declare them out loud. Private dreams are on their own. Shared dreams can be supported.

2008 video shoot in California with Michael Chitwood and olympic runners Ryan and Sara Hall

*        *        *

My wife Richenda is an inspiration when it comes to chasing dreams. She knows an ounce of action is worth a ton of words, acknowledges risk and calmly proceeds forward. I poke fun at her for publishing things online with spelling errors—she makes fun of me for posting… nothing.

Our honeymoon was an awesomely peaceful time of reflection and dreaming about possibilities and the future. The day after we returned to work, we met for dinner, and Shen confessed that she was ready for a new adventure. She was ready to move on from her current role and start something new. A small part of me feared failure for her. But thankfully, our wedding vows reminded me of the support I promised her as her a husband, a beautiful line (we copied and pasted) in our vows:

“I promise to lend you strength for your dreams”

It’s my favourite lines in our vows, and one of the great privileges for me as a husband to walk beside Richenda and her dreams.

In less than three months, she’s successfully launched her new enterprise ntegrity. It was a short time for such a big dream and I’m beyond proud of her. Not for her success, which I know will come in time, but for her boldness to move forward, and the kindness in which she works with and encourages other people. Dreams beget dreams.

honeymoon dreaming

*        *        *

No so long ago, my dreams were to move to Australia, marry my best friend, and find a job that I love. The big ones. Now that I’ve done those, I’m in honeymoon-dream-phase and everything else is icing on the cake.

So for now, I’ll pursue some more creative gigs on the side. A short film, perhaps. I’ll make it in my style and ignore the YouTube views and comments.

I’ll take more pictures and post them, and never concern myself with comparing my skills (or lack of) to others.

Someday, we’ll move somewhere different, maybe Kenya or Thailand, and I’ll work with an NGO to tell stories as they happen in the field. Instead of flying from the fundraising office, I’ll live somewhere for a while, and spend some time on each story, the time and experience the each story deserves. I believe local offices will soon take the lead in resource and story collection, and I’d like to be a part of that.

Someday soon, I’ll run another marathon.

And in a few years we’ll have kids, and personal career goals will dissolve a bit.

It’s ok for dreams to change, or shrink or disappear when they’re over. The point of dreams isn’t just to accomplish them, but to push us on a journey that we wouldn’t have traversed without the dream cheering us on. Dreams makes life a better story, prevent regrets, and bring a lot more fun.

In the wise words of my friend Michael Chitwood: What’s your dream? And what are you doing to make it happen?

(You can.)

How to Get Rid of Ads on your WordPress Blog

Dedicated to my buddy @LindseyTalerico is great. It’s easy, free, and simple to use. The only downside are those pesky ads… like this dodgy one that greeted me on Lindsey’s blog.

Yikes. Lucky for you Mrs. Talerico-Hedren, you have options. The simplest way to get rid of ads is to pay $29.97/yr for an ad free site. On your wordpress dashboard choose Upgrades >> No-ads. 

If you’re keen to have more control over you blog and you don’t mind spending around $75/year, you can switch to a self-hosted wordpress site.

You can read about the pro’s and con’s of each here. Switching to self hosted opens up a whole new word of options, plugins, themes. Plugins allow you to easily add photo galleries, social media likes and tweet buttons, google analytics code and more. With a self-hosted wordpress site, you have complete control of how you page looks and functions, and can run your own ads if inclined.

I pay $6/month in hosting through bluehost, and have had no problems.

1. To migrate your blog, sign up for a hosting account at bluehost (or whichever hosting solution you like) and follow directions to either register a new domain or transfer yours

2. Install wordpress software on your site

3. Export your blog content and import the files and attachments.

4. Check to make sure your old posts still have the same link structure. (After I migrated from Squarespace, I manually relinked them using a plugin called “Quick Page/Post Redirect DEV”)

5. Choose a new theme, widgets, plug-ins, and enjoy!

…Alternatively, WordPress offers “guided transfers” for $119.


Canos Band Photoshoot

There is a saying that too many cooks spoil the broth, but that is certainly not the case with Melbourne’s folk troupe Canos. With eight different musicians adding their own creativity to the mix, the end result is a gorgeous combination of traditional folk instruments with dreamy vocals, layered harmony’s and pop sensibility’s instruments

The band was originally formed by frontman Cam Lee in early 2008 to add group dynamic to his solo musical efforts. Since then, Canos has evolved into a fully fledged musical act in it’s own right, leading the Melbourne nu-folk revolution. Influenced by musical geniuses like Neil Finn, Elvis Costello, Paul Kelly, Counting Crows and Nina Simone, Canos’ mellow sound, meaningful lyrics will leave you dreaming of green hills and summertime.

A few weeks back, Richenda and I escaped the city and joined the guys and gals from Canos in Phillip Island. We shot 5 take-away shows, a one-take-style music video pioneered by Vincent Moon of La Blogotheque. Hope to have the videos up shortly, but for now, please enjoy the photos.

Continue reading Canos Band Photoshoot

5 beautifully produced NGO videos

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of filming at CBM’s partner organisation, CCBRT in Tanzania, and community based organisations and clinics in Kenya. I was fortunate to work with Greg Low, a veteran documentary producer, and learned a ton from him. We met individuals living with–or caring for children with–disability. It was humbling, powerful and inspiring.

For me, making videos has always invoked equal parts excitement and fear. I’m often overwhelmed with the tremendous responsibility it is to share stories from the field with our donors. Sometimes it’s a good overwhelmed: it keeps me honest, focused, and aware of my role. Other times, it’s simply overwhelming and I become frozen or fearful. I’m usually nervous to review the footage and start editing, for fear that I won’t be able to relay the story as compellingly or as powerful as I first heard it. I’m learning to work within the tension.

In the spirit of inspiration and sharing, here’s five videos from producers I admire. I love the style (most are shot on Canon DSLR’s) and the way the stories are told. I’m keen to hear what others think.

Title: Radar Development People with Disabilities
Organisation: CCBRT


Title: Voices for Change, Delhi
Organisation: Greenpeace
Produced by Philip Bloom

Title: 37 Scars
Organisation: World Vision USA
Produced by Josh Batchelder

Title: Clean Water for the Bayaka
Organisation: charity: water

Title: Baby Heart
Produced by Ricky Norris, Discover The Journey