Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Good Guys

It has been too long since my last post, more than a week. Sometimes life gets in the way of a blog I guess…As a novice blogger I will do better in the future.
We are nearing the end of February and like all Canadian golfers I admit that I am getting a little twitchy waiting for the snow to melt and the courses to open. The fact that we are still at least six weeks away from playing here in Nova Scotia does not dampen my excitement, I am a “glass is half full” kind of guy so I say we are ONLY six weeks away from golf season, I should start to get ready!
While waiting to place my first drive of the year 270 yards out and in the middle of the fairway I get to do two things. Spend quality time at my local golf retailer and watch the pros play on beautiful lush green courses south of the border. This week it is the Accenture Match Play World Golf Championship in Arizona.
I have never played a real match play event; they are incredibly exciting to watch. When the brackets for this year’s event were posted on line I could not envision any one golfer as the obvious favourite – and that makes for a very exciting tournament! The PGA tweeted a link to the experts’ picks and I thought no way, the tournament is not going to be played on paper, it will be played on the course.
As a Canadian I have a patriotic loyalty to Mike Weir. The most successful Canadian on the PGA tour is always someone I want to see do well each week. Mike was not in the field at this week’s event and that left my choices wide open.
So like any self-professed expert I tweeted back I don't like any of the Expert Picks: WGC-Accenture Match Play I'll go with @stewartcink this week” believing that Stewart had an opportunity to win if he could upset the defending Champ in round one.
He did. I have no particular connection to Stewart Cink as a golfer. I think he is as real a person in a professional sport as you can get and yes, I follow him on Twitter. He is one of the good guys. Any time one of the good guys is contending I want them to win. After winning his first round match I was sure my prediction was right on the mark!
Unfortunately Stewart lost in round two and will not win the match play event this year. My prediction was as accurate as at least 67% of those made by the experts so I am ok with that. The one thing I do know is that Stewart Cink has a new fan here in snowy Canada. After his second round loss he sent out a tweet “@RalphBastarache thanks for having faith but I couldn't quite deliver today!
Next week at the Honda Classic in Florida I will be cheering for the good guys…if the final pairing on Sunday is Stewart Cink and Mike Weir, it will be the best possible finish as far as I am concerned and I will be hoping they end up in a playoff, that there will be extra holes. When it is over it will be unfortunate that one of them had to lose but I will know without a doubt that the winner is one of the good guys.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Privacy and Social Media

Lately I have been hearing more and more about Facebook and its privacy settings, and how everyone is up in arms about it. I just don’t understand what all the commotion is about. I should preface what follows with the fact that I work for a social media monitoring company and that this posting reflects my personal views only, and that I am not speaking on behalf of my employer.
For the most part I am a fairly guarded and private person. In conversation I often choose to answer a direct personal question with a vague and ambiguous reply, as I have always believed that my privacy was important. It may seem odd to some then to learn that I have had a Facebook presence since 2007, I have been on LinkedIn since 2009 and I have recently taken to Twitter and blogging. Heck, I even use Foursquare on my iPhone and link that to my Twitter and Facebook accounts.
I have always been protective of my social presence and my personal brand. I am very selective with regards to what I post to my status updates and my tweets. So it should not be a huge surprise to anyone that when I read that specific aspects of my profile can be seen by everyone who has a web browser my reaction is a genuine “so what?”
Let me explain. I use the different social platforms in different ways and for different purposes. After all, that is what they were intended for.
My first (and only) rule of social media is that my Facebook page is my personal space, family and friends only. Occasionally a friend of a friend, if I met you at least once and it seemed like we shared some commonality. A friend of mine summed it up best: “To be my friend on Facebook you have to be someone I would sit down and have a beer with.” That is a good rule of thumb if you ask me. I have the ability to “untag” a picture of myself if I need to but have never had to exercise this right. I don’t care what the public can see because I have only updated what I am willing to share. My profile is not locked down so people cannot see it, they can only see what is there, what I am willing to share with the world.
I use LinkedIn for business and professional development purposes. If I have ever worked with you I will connect with you. In fact if anyone sends me a request to connect I will accept it, regardless of how I know you or even if I have never you. This is my professional arena where I belong to global groups and share knowledge with people I have never met in hopes that it helps all of us perform in our jobs better. My Facebook and LinkedIn accounts are not connected in any way, and I see no reason that they should be.
Twitter resides in the delicate space between my personal and my professional worlds, and yes this is where the two worlds collide. I work in social media so I have an understanding that it is important to be diverse, informative and entertaining with my tweets. It is also important to engage in conversations not only professionally but also personally. I also need to be sure athat I do not become a megaphone for my employer or any other cause as that is not conversation.

My goal is not to amass a specific number of followers, but to follow people I respect personally and/or professionally. Some tweets entertain me, some educate me and others keep me up to date with what friends and colleagues are doing. Hopefully my tweets accomplish the same those that follow me.
So if you really want to protect your privacy, be sure to check your security and privacy settings. Not the ones on Facebook, the ones you use to filter what you are posting and commenting. You know the ones…they are the same filter settings we use every day when we meet someone on the street that we haven’t seen in a few months. I believe the technical term for them is common sense.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

UpperDeck or O-Pee-Chee?

Like most young Canadian boys, when I was growing up I planned on being an NHL superstar. This was before the time of big contracts and endorsement deals, it was before every game was televised and player merchandising ran rampant. I didn’t want to play professional hockey for the money or the fame, I wanted to play because I loved the game. Isn’t that what we all want when we are young – to do something we love to do? Of course getting to be on my own hockey card was a bit of a perk.
I would spend hours every weekend playing street hockey. Living in suburban southern Ontario I was fortunate to have a long straight street right outside my front door that had minimal traffic. We would pretend to be Guy Lafleur from Montreal or Darryl Sittler from Toronto or Bobby Orr from Boston. We did our own play-by-play. The shout of “CAR!” was akin to a timeout and some drivers were a little impatient but for the most part I remember seeing smiles and waves as the cars rolled past. Sometimes the driver would even roll down their window and ask who was winning today? It was just like a player interview between periods but shorter and without the camera.
If there had been a professional road hockey league I may have pursued my dream. Unfortunately for me I am a minority in Canada – I can’t skate. Well let me clarify, I can’t skate well. I know you hear hockey pundits say an NHL player or prospect is a weak skater but seriously, there are 5 year olds that are better skaters than I am. If the NHL was the NRHL I could have been like Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux. Probably not, maybe I would have been more like Jon Morris. Who is Jon Morris exactly? That is my point, look him up. I still have his 1991 hockey card.
From a business perspective the professional athlete is the engine of the organization. People buy tickets to see them play and broadcasters pay a lot of money to have the rights to show the games. I don’t know for sure but I am guessing you still see a few Lemieux and Gretzky jerseys around and fans spend a lot on player merchandise. It is the players that drive the revenue generation of the team. They are the product and they are the sales people.
They are the sales people? Sales people are the engine of corporations. Without a sales organization a business has no revenue. The similarities are uncanny, and organizations generally revere and pay their sales staff very well, especially their top performers. I overheard a CFO say that his favourite cheque to write was a commission cheque. In fact it is not uncommon for successful sales people to earn more than their managers.
Wait a minute, I have been in sales my whole career. I am just like my hockey heroes after all, doing something I enjoy, making a decent living, contributing to my organization in a valuable way. All I need now is my very own collector card. Does anyone have the phone number for UpperDeck or O-Pee-Chee?