The Trouble with Tribbles and Klout

by Karolyn Hart

There is this fantastic scene in the class Star Trek with Captain Kirk mistakenly opens a hatch on the Enterprise and suddenly finds himself immersed in Tribbles. Troublesome fuzzy creatures they are and there appears to be no end to them. Oh heck, for the fun of it let’s ALL watch the scene. 

Classic!  If you are new to social media (or even if you are not) the creation of algorithm scoring tools popping up everywhere may make you feel a bit like poor old Captain Kirk.  Go on, I dare you, go and google “Measure social media success” and just see how many things come up. It’s the Tribble problem all over again.

A history lesson for you kids. 
Back in the  day there was thing called “Tweet Grader” when it arrived on scene I remember the Twitter world being all abuzz about this new tool.  Now, it’s basically used to look at how long someone has been on Twitter which is very useful in determining if the account is a bot or a real person,  but for the most part people mastered  the tool and along with that you rarely hear about it.  Case in point, my score is 100. (I still love you Tweet Grader, and not just because you think I’m perfect!)

K is for Kool!
Like most things in social media, there is always another new tool coming out to help measure your social media savviness.  After all, since 98% of people on social media are self-professing “social media experts” (I can’t help but roll my eyes here) then surely there must be a way to prove they have…oh what’s the word? Clout! But wait, let’s spell it with a “K” to make it kool!

I admit that I am only a recent Klout user.  In fact, it was just a couple of weeks ago at a networking event where someone paid me a social  media compliment stating, “Your Klout score must be like 100!” Crap. Now I have to know.  After all, I’m 100 on Tweet Grader.

Starting from Scratch
So I signed up, but my first run on this algorithm tool was miserable.  I scored a miserable 10.  Wait. What? How is that low of a score even possible?  One of the biggest challenges I have from my IT background when it comes to computers is that I know that I can fix everything, eventually.  After fiddling around for a few moments and not having the patience to go through all the settings, I did what anyone with QA testing experience does.  I deleted my account and started over.

This time it gave me a respectful 55 and I am now up to 58 , but it’s not entirely accurate.  My twitter (which is the basis of most of my work) is not properly connected so I am hoping when it does that I will pop-up to a higher number.

Kloutterific?
So what do I think of Klout? Well according to a Forbes article your Klout score is becoming incredibly important, and could even limit your chances of getting a job.  I will give Klout this, it’s far more sophisticated than most of the other tools that have ever come out.  For that, I give it the thumbs up.

BUT, and there is a but, I have a huge problem with anyone putting all their stock into one algorithm.  The fact is that Klout doesn’t score true influence.  It can’t possibly measure the fact that last week I posted a funny Facebook message about a real problem and had three phone calls made to me on it. Might I add they were from some very influential people who finding an excuse (any excuse) to have five minutes of their day with them is HUGE for me.

Here’s the other challenge, it only focuses in on the online world.  Does it REALLY show a person’s true influence? The answer is no.  If this were true then according to Klout (as of today August 20, 2012) Justin Bieber ranks higher than Bill Gates with a Klout score of 92 vs 90.  The Queen of England trails at 80, and the Pope only has an influence of 62.

No offense to the Biebs, but I am pretty sure that the Queen of England and the Pope hold far more influence in any realm.  That said, now that I know my Klout score I will keep on working the algorithm to improve my score and in the meantime, when people ask me what my Klout score is, I’m going to answer that I’m only 4 points away from matching the Pope.

Why Ashton Kutcher Ruined Twitter!

by Karolyn Hart

It was 2008 and the internet was abuzz with something called “Twitter”.  Wait, let me reiterate.  The internet “nerd world” was abuzz with Twitter.  For most of you, this thing called Twitter wasn’t really on your radar.  Here in Canada, Facebook had grown in popularity and I had joined in March of 2007.  Let me put that in perspective for all those who just turned 20 this year.  You were 15, you couldn’t even drive.  Still, by the time 2008 came around Facebook was still great, but those of us making a living in technology, or in my case at the time, technology and marketing were looking for something different.

In 2007, I had successfully convinced a financial company to take a risk and do a “social media campaign” on something called MySpace.  You have to understand – this was HUGE!  For you 20 year olds, a bit of a history lesson.  Back in 2006 and 2007 MySpace equalled molesters.  That’s why ,when you were 15, your parents were freaking out about you being on “social media”.  It sounds crazy, but that was the reality. So after convincing a very conservative financial board to let us do this, it was successful. (No surprise) Our small company got a nice small write up in The Globe & Mail on it for the customer and everyone was happy.

But to say that people got “social media” back then would be an understatement. (I still have executives in my life who don’t get it now, but I digress.)  Shortly after that we did a similar MySpace campaign for a government organization and were forced to shut it down after a MySpace user posted a picture of themselves with a gun tatoo. (Yes, that really happened.)

So it was in the midst of this environment that I was hungry to find the “next thing”.  The place that wouldn’t be so controversial.  That wasn’t just about connecting with people from highschool, college, or university (like Facebook) but something that could really be useful.

Enter Twitter.

Oh, glorious day that evening in November when I first signed up.  I spent 4 hours that night doing everything that people told me to do to make Twitter effective.  Oh wait, did I mention, the people who were directing me were my fellow “tweeters”?  There were thousands of us, and so many fellow technologists. I mean we are talking about network administrating, sql coding, back-office integrating, project managing, ITers.

During what I call the following year-long honeymoon I fell in love with Twitter.  I started a new job and was tasked with finding a way into top execs. My answer? Twitter.  When travelling to meet those top execs and needing a recommendation for a great local restaurant? Twitter. When wanting to know what the “latest buzz” on anything, but wanting it from people with a real pulse? Twitter.

Yes, it was amazing.  At this point, corporations just didn’t get “it” and you know what? None of us cared.  It was a true social network made up of the people who did.  Ya, we were a little on the geeky side and made fun of the jocks that thought a hashtag was some sort of drug paraphenalia. #lifewasgood

Enter Ashton.

2009-01-16 02:40:06 Memorize that date and time, because that was when my Twitterverse as I knew it died. Mr. Kutcher had arrived.

Now at the time, it was exciting.  The “cool kid” at school had just stopped into the chess club and announced we were all “all right”.  None of us could have imagined the lasting damage this would cause.

With all due respect, let’s talk about Ashton.  He’s a nerd’s worst nightmare.  He’s a model, turned actor, turned entrepreneur – and now he was turning tech.  Really?!?! Let’s just say it now, he may as well turn “superhero” and get it over with.

The thing is, the one thing we “nerds” owned was our space.  At this time our heros were Mr. Jobs and Mr. Gates – who got our hearts pulsing because of their intellect not because of their looks.

So we welcomed Mr. Kutcher into our world, indeed, he was embraced.  Within months of his arrival 1,000,000 fans of his followed and along with that historic landmark moment – the entire attention of the advertising universe.

Crap.

I know it’s hard to imagine, but do this. Imagine twitter with no corporate twitter  accounts, no heavy amounts of x-rated spammers, and really no spam. Oh hindsight is 20/20, but really there was no turning back.  The times they keep a changin’ (that’s an old song for you 15 yr olds) and that train was leaving.

Interestingly, I went out to view Mr. Kutcher’s rankings while writing this article and they were way down.  Lady Gaga owns the top spot now and according to the news articles it appears @aplusk has fallen out of love with Twitter.  Wait. What? Ugh.

That’s the thing about cool kids.  They are always on to the next trend.  Don’t get me wrong, we tech-nerds are just as addicted.  Even now, I’m scouring the web to find the next social scene that is uninhibited by corporations.

But twitter and me? We’re here to stay for a least a while longer.  I have made some changes as of recent.  Deliberately doing something as brash as unfollowing every corporation I currently follow. (More on the rationale on this social experiment to come.)

Ya, Mr. Kutcher did change our world and while I didn’t love the changes it was a reminder that this is the way the world turns.  Besides, on behalf of Mr. Dorsey I am grateful for Ashton.  The one thing we all kept asking during that honeymoon phase was “How are the Twitter guys going to make real money.”

It ends up the answer came from a superhero. 🙂

What Every Professional Women Should Know

by Karolyn Hart

I was fortunate.  I had started my career extraordinarily early. Still in my mid twenties I had six years of corporate experience under my belt and I had just started a new job with a leader who believed in mentoring. (It’s hard to believe that I’m now in the 18th year of my professional life. Ugh. That’s for another article.)

Since the first day of my career in IT I had found myself surrounded in a male dominated industry and comfortable in meetings or working on projects where I was the only woman.  That said, the turning point and the launching point for me in my career was when my boss at the time gave me some precious insight.  For those of you young ladies (and even some older ones) who are in the midst of their career development, I wanted to pass along the Top 5 pieces of advice that I believe every woman who wants to succeed must embrace.  Here they are:

#1 – Your work is not WHO you are, it’s WHAT you do – so don’t be so defensive.
My boss at the time was a very progressive equal opportunity type guy.  That said, he pointed out that gender differences do exist.  Men and women tend to view everything about the world differently.  (If you doubt this, get married.)  He put it to me this way.  When a woman receives a compliment about her home it really means something to her.  Not so for many guys who see their home as they place they sleep, shower, and …you know.  That doesn’t mean they don’t take pride in their homes but the difference is that if you don’t like their home…they don’t take it personally.  Not so for many woman who see their homes  as an extension of their personalities. You insult a woman’s home and for many woman you are saying you don’t really like them.

This tends to translate into the workplace.  When a woman  has her work critiqued it can be a huge blow and if they aren’t prepared it can be disabling.  The thing you must understand is that criticism is a gift.  It helps you see the flaws or  gaps you can’t see and will ultimately make your end product strong.  Your goal is to get to the place where  you are the one initiating and seeking out the criticism on your work.

#2 – Want to fight? Do it in the boardroom but be sure to let it go the minute you leave. While you’re at it – go for a beer.
Ok, I don’t drink but the premise is really important.  When women get angry or disagree about something it can take much longer for them to get over it. If you want to understand why, there is a tremendous amount of research that talks about the physiological and psychological differences in men and women that make it difficult for  women to just “let it go” but it’s not impossible.

Like Tip #1 it’s important to realize that a disagreement over a project or approach to something in the workplace does not mean you are not liked, or cannot have a meaningful relationship.  I’m not condoning unprofessional bullying here in any way, that’s entirely different.  What I am talking about is you sulking around because you didn’t get your way on a project and forcing your colleagues to coddle you.  (Even now as I write this I remember trying to bridge the ice zone with one female colleague after I opposed her in a meeting.  After the second day of me asking a third time “Are you sure we’re ok?”  and bringing her a tea she finally came around. Really?)  Here’s some hard loving truth for my female counterparts – while women are busy sorting through their complicated array of inter-office relationships and trying to smooth over how your  behaviour  made them “feel” – our male counterparts who went all “Braveheart” at each other in this morning’s meeting have already put it behind them over lunch and are now working furiously on meeting their next objectives.  And you wonder why they are getting all the plum projects?

#3 – Don’t just socialize – use your network strategically.
Many women are conditioned from the time they are wee lasses to try and level the playing field, get along with everybody, and make everyone friends.  Men think entirely differently.  They want to know who the leader is and where they stand in the pecking order.

With that in mind, they think strategically about where they want to go and who they need help from (based  on where they are) to get there.  They offer up advice and service to another “You looking for an X? Ya, give Joe a call and tell him I sent you.” I’m oversimplifying this of course, but when was the last time you thought about WHO you know and HOW they could help you out?  If that statement feels to you like it’s selfish or scheming – then you’re missing out.  Men don’t apologize for being driven or their desire to achieve and other men instinctively get this and respect it.  Here’s something else – they LIKE to do this so leverage it and more importantly ASK.

#4 – Get a Mentor. Not a “Life Coach” and Make It  Someone  REALLY Successful.
This by far is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received.  Mentors are someone with years of business experience ahead of you who are going to save you from having to “learn the hard way”.  I have a few mentors in my life and I didn’t select them on their gender, I selected them on their achievements.  A mentor will help provide you advice when you have tough decisions in front of you, allow you to bounce off some of your innovative ideas, get you thinking about your next steps, and in my case literally pick up the phone to open doors for you. In my experience, life coaches don’t really create substantial business opportunities.  They may help you learn more about yourself or clarify where you need to put your priorities, but it’s not the same.

#5 – Have a work/life balance. Take the first day of school off work to be with you kids. Set your priorities.
I don’t have children but watching my boss in action left a lasting impression.  Here was a man who was unabashedly a family man – BEFORE it was “in”.  Every year he  took the first day of school off work to be with his kids.  He took his holidays and he left at a decent hour to be home for dinner – every night.  I wish I could say I mastered this like him, but I admit I am a hypocrite.  I preach this to my teams and I genuinely mean it, but struggle.  Lately, I’ve been trying to build in balance.  Especially since I read that the COO of Facebook leaves work everyday at 5:30.  It makes it rather hard to excuse my lack of balance.

However, what I know to be true is this.  That I usually have my “a-ha” moment right after I take a break.  That when I am rested and refreshed, I am a better team member and have more creativity than when I am not.  That when I am tired, I am also burnt out, irritable and cranky.  Not surprisingly, I can rarely remember a time where that boss was ever “irritable”.

Welcome to Cracked Glass!

Let’s talk straight.  46.2% of the labour force in Canada is made up of women, but we only hold 32% of managerial roles, 14% of senior management roles, and 6.7% of the highest corporate titles – CEO, CFO, or COO.  I’m lucky, I’m a VP and make up part of that 14%. Truthfully, in my career which has been predominantly male-dominated careers I never really cared about the lack of females around me.  I mean, I get IT…no really, working in Information Technology meant that often I was the only female in the room.  Personally, when I was younger, I felt like it was a feather in my cap.  Ya I ran with the guys, and they respected me because I knew my stuff.

However, age has a way of providing you with insight.  Now I realize that being the lone female in an industry is an alarming trend, and truthfully, I feel it places organizations at a disadvantage.  Consider the Automotive industry in which I found myself.  A few years ago, the numbers come out that everything has changed and the major decision makers in the purchase of a vehicle are now women, not men.  Yet, the majority of decision makers producing these products at the Automotive OEM’s are men.  It makes no sense.  Can you imagine if Revlon or Maybelline had no female executives weighing in?

Thus the creation of Cracked Glass, where I will be taking a hard close look at issues challenge women in today’s world. My goal? To enlighten myself on what I can be doing to help my fellow younger sisters so that they too can experience the thrill of cracking the glass!