September 2, 2014

A Sad Day

I don’t feel much like working today. My constant companion, office mate and friend is gone. On April 4th, my wife and I made the heart-wrenching decision to put down our 12-year-old, Neapolitan Mastiff, Cosmo. She was very sick and at her advanced age we didn’t want to prolong her suffering. Despite her male-sounding name, Cosmo was in fact a female and was named before we rescued her from the Montgomery County, PA SPCA. She was four at the time when we brought her home in 2001.

Cosmo

Cosmo

She had a hard first four years of life, the vet thinks she was bred too much, and lucky for us was surrendered to the SPCA during a not very active time, as she had stayed at the SPCA for several months before we found her.  She was under weight but always willing to eat and she soon flourished in our home. She became a constant in our home, and when I started my business was my office mate day in and day out, taking her spot on the couch in the office to “work” hard at sleeping and nudging me to be petted when I started talking on the phone.

Cosmo hard at work

Cosmo hard at work

Today, she’s gone. I will miss my office mate, our other dog, Ally the Bloodhound goes to doggie daycare three times a week, so I’ll have her keeping me company a few times a week, but there’s an energy missing from our home and office now. I’m sure eventually life will intrude again, we’ll get busy, and we’ll continue to remember and miss Cosmo lovingly, and it won’t hurt as much as it does today. Dogs have a fantastic way of making all of us slow down in life and take time to enjoy it. Often it’s just the wag of a tail or the look in their eyes that help us do that. I encourage anyone out there looking to get a dog, to please check your local rescue or SPCA and help a dog out. I know in my heart that Cosmo was eternally grateful for what we did for her and she became a part of our family, the ultimate protector of our home, my wife and the neighborhood as we went on our daily walks, and she was our friend.

Goodbye Cosmo.

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11 Things I’m Thankful For…

Hey You Lookin' at Me?

Hey You Lookin' at Me?

As I’ve been known to do I usually post something on Thanksgiving. Today, as the owner of RavenWood Creative, a designer, a blogger and social media evangelist, I’d like to give thanks for what has helped me build my business, explore social media and have some fun along the way.

11 items I’m thankful for …

1. A supportive wife, my wife Eileen, while not as into social media as me, she does understand it helps me learn about the industry, make connections and lets me experiment with it as much as I like. For that I’m grateful.

2. Great clients, who let me be creative in their design and marketing approaches. They listen to me on how social media can help them and for that I’m grateful.

3. Friends, either former colleagues, schoolmates, friends have helped me land clients, helped me find opportunities. My relationships with them helped me find the courage to go out on my own and start my business.

4. IABC – The International Association of Business Communicators is a great organization, that I’ve found educational opportunities, networking connections and most importantly, more friends.

5. FBA – Flourtown Businesspersons Association a local business group that I’ve become increasingly involved with, as I believe all business is local and the more we can do to help the small, local business the better it is for everyone. I try to bring the lessons I’ve learns at multi-national business to their level and help everyone.

6. Flourtown Fire Company – as it’s president and volunteer firefighter I’ve learned more about leadership and the power of teamwork with this organization than any corporate initiative or training ever will.

7. Social Media – the most important innovation in the World Wide Web since it’s inception. By connecting community of like-minded and sometimes those with differing opinions we all learn.

8. LinkedIn – I’ve gained clients from my profile connect with me here at this most important of social networks.

9. Twitter – Ask Motrin about the power of this up and coming micro-blogging platform. I’m so interested in how people are using it, it’s fascinating to watch. Follow me here.

10. Facebook – just a lot of fun and allowed me to reconnected with some old friends, it’s what the web is all about.

11. my iPhone – I’d be lost without it. Very cool indeed, and with all the new applications for it, the future is bright!

So what are you thankful for? Let me know and we’ll add to the list.

Until next time, Tim

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Marketing Yourself

Recently, I was made president-elect of IABC Philadelphia, which means as a volunteer for the local chapter of the International Association of Communicators, I’m preparing to become president of the chapter. As part of it, I have been the subject of press releases (iabc-board-press-release-_2008), newspaper interviews, (pbj-people, act-board-appts, chestnuthill_piece_aug2008, inquirer-people) and getting a lot of attention.

This is quite a change for me, as I was always the one behind-the-scenes, getting others media attention and promoting their business.

But in this age of social media, wired and wireless communication, I’m still amazed at two things:

1) people still rely heavily on traditional media – actually reading the business section of local dailies. That’s a question for another blog entry. Why?

2) the speed that social media can spread news, and how insurance salesmen jump on any mention of you in a press release to “talk to you about your current financial situation.”

I’ll be adding more links to this entry as I gather all the press hits a single release has garner. But what has your experience been in marketing – not your business – but yourself? How easy was it? What did you find worked and didn’t work? Let me know.

By the way, here’s my GQ shot I used for all the media attention. Thanks to Paul Pugliese and Tony DeFazio for making me look so good.

Tim Ernst

Tim Ernst

Until next time, Tim

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The magic of 8

Today is 08/08/08, the Olympics start today, because the Chinese find the number 8 very lucky.

Will you be watching?

A local newscast, FOX 29 this morning flashed 8:08 on the screen for a minute this morning in Philadelphia to celebrate the convergence of the number 8 on the time and date. What do you think of these days that at the begin of the new century seem to fascinate people?

Admit it, the 8 ball is your favorite on the pool table, because it stands out. It’s my favorite billiard ball, I know, hard hitting news here, but it has always been my favorite and ask any bar or arcade owner which is the most stolen of pool balls – The 8 ball. And then there is the favorite of teens and office gag gifts for the boss, the Magic 8 Ball where you ask it a question, flip it over and answers such as “Reply Hazy, Try Again” appear.

Let me know your 8 top things about the number 8.

Until next time, Tim

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Even a blogger needs his Mother sometimes…

Blogging is a lonely pursuit. Even though multiple author blogs are growing in popularity, the lone blogger is usually behind the reflections and observations appearing on screens worldwide.

So blogging remains mostly a lone pursuit of the “blogger” who feels the need to feed the beast, and always has in the back of his mind “is anybody reading this, does anyone care?”

I’m lucky enough to have three die-hard “TIM” fans out there who read this blog religiously. My wife Eileen and my parents. Now if I can teach my parents how email works, I’m sure making comments on this blog is next. Hey Mom and Dad, or Eileen – click on the NO COMMENTS or COMMENTS at the end of this blog entry to leave a comment about this blog anytime you like. My wife says she learns things about me, reading this blog, as I’m a pretty quiet guy around the house. Other bloggers please leave your thoughts about this lonely pursuit.

I just wanted to say thank you to Mom, Ern, and Eileen and that I love you and your encouragement of my work and proofing of my material.

Until next time, Tim

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Social Media Trends – Part 4 of 4

In this last part of this series on Social Media Trends, but I’m sure to continue, I’d like to point out some of the cool sites and people I had the pleasure of hearing about in my trip to NYC.

Social Media Research – Ryan Williams (a nice guy, whom I had the chance to speak with for a while on my trip), Tudor Williams of twisurveys.com have done some great research in how companies and those responsible for communication are using social media.

Sites recommended by Ryan and Tudor:
trendpedia.com (searching trends on the web)
forrester.com/groundswell (an traditional book, Groundswell, recommended numerous times to learn more about social media and its effects)
ning.com (set up your own social networking site)

Shel Holtz, ABC, the guru of communication technology was also at the conference. Of course he had a list of cool sites that communicators could be using to help themselves and their company.

SlideShare- the YouTube of PowerPoint presentations. One of those “why didn’t I think of that?” sites.
Stopblocking.org – a blog that talks about a lot of the same ideas I do here and with a theme of work/life balance, corporations trying to block employee access to social media sites. I recently answered a question on LinkedIn that dealt with irrational behavior in corporate world.

View Tim Ernst, ABC's profile on LinkedIn

Blocking access to the web was my answer and it drew a response from the question’s author, Ori Brafman, co-author of Sway. Seems this type of irrational behavior is evident everywhere in the corporate world where trust of one’s employees is behind the repressive act. It was something I heard about over and over again at the conference, communication leads being blocked from the Web by their IT departments to “increase productivity,” my question is what information outside your company isn’t on the web? Being handcuffed from accessing it isn’t helping anyone. What are your thoughts?

Other sites to check out:
Dopplr- if you travel a lot, this is the site to keep friends and colleaques up-to-date on your travels.
FriendFeed – collects all these social networking profiles into one neat little package.

What sites are you using and what do you find appealing or wrong with them? Let me know.

Until next time, Tim

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Finding a Balance …

Recently as the year started rolling and everyone got back to work after the holidays, I started to think about balancing work and life, something that’s very hard to do when you run your own business. Case in point – Here I am writing a blog entry on a Friday night. Seems the line between work and life outside of work is blurring more and more for me. And I’m not alone. Work/Life balance for many of us isn’t much of a balance, it’s more of a sacrifice.

We either sacrifice our work to get stuff done in our home life or more often we sacrifice our lives for our work. For those of us at 40 or older, the insidious influence of technology has been gradual. As children and teens, we didn’t even have mobile phones or PCs. Remember typing your homework or term papers? As young professionals, if you were in the city, they made a term up for you, YUPPIE, no one uses that anymore, do they? Well, yuppies could leave work at home more easily because work wasn’t portable. For teens and people in their 20s, the Internet and being connected at all times to everyone they know is as much a part of their lives as breathing and eating. I have a friend who’s daughter can text without looking at the phone, under the dinner table mostly, as they eat. It reminds me of my mother, a medical secretary who could whip out a page of text on a typewriter, while never taking her eyes off the sheet off to her side. We all evolve and adapt to new technology, one generations words per minute from a ink ribbon is another generations, thumbs/minute flashing over a mobile phone keypad.

Because Work/Life has become such an issue for us, The Wall Street Journal has recently launched a redesigned site on careers and a wonderful blog section, mainly by Sara Schaefer Munoz called “The Juggle.” As we all juggle what we feel is important in life, remember to slow down, as I was forced to yesterday, being stuck at the car dealer as my truck was being serviced – I actually read a book – that is – until my mobile phone went off in my pocket. By-the-way, it’s called The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman, it’s a wonderful book on what the planet will be like without humans, overall it does great without us.

So what do you think about Work/Life balance, any tips to leave the work behind, any technology you’ve found that helps you find more time for your family. Please let me know …

Until next time, Tim

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