1. Friday, July 17, 2009

    some people flock to the spotlight 

    some people adore the public attention

    not me. i like the behind the scenes action. i like the personal relationships. i like helping those with the dreams of being a star to reach those dreams.

    yet somehow i often find myself on a stage or in front of a camera or being quoted by the powerful and its so embarrassing to me because i swear to you my desire is to be in the back back background.

    a ghost in the machine.

    yesterday at this time i was freaking out because i was preparing to be the host of a panel discussion in the Chandler Auditorium at the LA Times.

    that would be scary enough. but in the audience was all of our major advertisers. so one false move and… tragedy.

    little did i know our publisher (pictured, above) was going to introduce me, and my boss was going to follow me and show off our new redesign which we will launch next month.

    on the panel were two entrepreneurs (one from Ning, one from Passenger), our social media chief at the Times – Andrew Nystrom, and a VP from Facebook. the discussion was social networking and social media and how brands and advertisers could better use it to attract and retain their customers.

    i was shaking, which in a way is a cool feeling because it reminds me that im alive. its the same feeling i get right before im about to kiss a hot babe for the first time. but its not a feeling that i live for like some of the actors and musicians ive met. its an unnatural buzz that i wouldnt mind not having for the rest of the year.

    but i learned from years of public speaking when i was a rep for Philips/Magnavox and several startups that the best way to get rid of the shakes is to literally jump into the fear. so off-script, after i took the stage but before i introduced the panel, i took the wireless mic with me into the standing room only crowd and said hi to the advertisers in the front row. there was amoeba and audi and LA Live and several others and i asked everyone to give each other a round of applause for making it to the 9am summit and we were ready to rock.

    all went well, people laughed when they should. we had a twitter stream running on a huge movie screen behind us, and we invited people to comment with the hashtag #smms at the end of their tweet, and i think many were impressed and amused that their message instantly made it on the screen for all to see. it was proof that social networking was all around is, part of our literal and virtual conversation, and it was clearly in the house.

    afterwards people congratulated me, but i was just happy it was over. some people are Talent, as they call actors and musicians in hollywood, im quite satisfied just being part of the crew.

    around lunchtime i got an email from one of the powerful women who put together the summit. she was inviting me and the dozen other LAT staffers who were integral to the event for a pizza party upstairs, and i saw something that id never seen before. it was super cool. after we had our pizza and ate cupcakes, she went around the table and personally thanked each and every one of us in a heartfelt and beautiful way. she even thanked my intern (who had been running the computer that showed the twitter stream) because one false move and tragedy could have happened. as we walked down the hall after the lunch i told him, i know youre 20 and never had that many jobs – what you just saw, high ranking management being that sincere and geniune is something ive never seen in all my days – and ive worked with great people before, and i currently work with great people. but i told my guy, dont get used to that, that was super cool and very out of the ordinary.

    and the rest of the day was wild, but i felt the after buzz of all that adrenaline. and it was so very nice to end the day with sushi with karisa and much needed booze.

    the best quote of the panel? it came from andrew leary of the social media network Passenger. in describing social networking he said something so good that it fit this tweet: social media is like teen sex. everyone wants to have it; no one knows how to do it; when it’s over they say “that’s it?!?”

    the best reveal of the summit? our publisher announced that according to neilson the LA Times website is the fastest growing newspaper site over the last 12 months. whereas some websites have actually lost readers (huge newspapers that many of you know), LAT.com is number 1 by a LOT.

    you can see the rest of the stream of #smms tweets here.