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My Fresh Start for 2011

Most people wake up on New Years with a hangover or a bunch of resolutions they are going to break a few weeks later. Me? Well this year I am going to wake up with a new job. I started with Destination Marketing back in 2001 as a bright eyed and smart lipped Account Manager ready to take on the world. Through the years it seems like I have done a little bit of everything at Destination Marketing, most recently being their Chief Digital Strategist.

Dan Voetmann, the owner of Destination Marketing, has allowed me to set my own path and grow within the company, and for that I am extremely grateful. Not to mention the fact that he allowed me to spend time as President of SMC Seattle these past two years. His thoughtfulness and understanding is a big reason I have been at Destination Marketing for so many years.

I also have been surrounded with some amazing people at Destination, and I have learned a great deal from each person I worked with there. While I was at Destination my two daughters were born, and everyone at Destination knows their names. My kids love coming to visit, not to see me, but because they love the office parrot Ricco.

Ricco the Destination Marketing Office Bird

When I was at Destination I even worked with some clients for the entire 9 years I was there and it is going to be very hard to not have constant contact with those friendships as well. It’s been an honor to be part of the Destination Marketing family and I will always look back on it fondly.

Starting in 2011 I pursue another path, with a different business family at Spring Creek Group. I will be the Director of Client Account Management at Spring Creek Group, and I can’t be more excited. I’ve learned a lot working with Clay McDaniel (Managing Director and Founder of Spring Creek) these past two years on the SMC Seattle board, and I look forward to working with him full time.

Also, through SMC Seattle I have had a chance to meet many of the employees of Spring Creek, and I’m always impressed with their passion for the industry and their clients. I look forward to being surrounded by that, and having some of the thought leaders in the social media space around me on a daily basis, continuing to push me forward.

So this year I have more then a simple resolution to uphold. I have a new job and career path to set forth on. That is something I could not be more excited about, and I can’t wait for 2011 to begin!


I'm a Douchebag

I think I missed one of the key SXSWi groups, "How Not To be a Douchebag" (Great re-cap by @EdRabbit), because if I've learned anything these past few months is that I have a tendency to be one. Douchebag Tendency #1 - Not Remembering People

One thing that is great about starting SMC Seattle is that I have had a chance to meet many great people. The flip side of that is that my memory sucks and I keep forgetting people.

I used to think that I had a great visual memory and would never forget a face, unfortunately because of old age, or too much Makers, that has recently been proved wrong.

At SXSWi I met a lot of people from Seattle who I had talked with before, but completely forgot who they were. I'm sure it happens to everyone, but it sure makes me feel like crap. I hate when someone comes up to me and says, "Hi, Kevin", and I have no recollection of talking with them, and definitely do not remember their name.

It makes me feel like a jerk, and if I pretend I remember whom they are, it makes me feel like a douchebag.

I have no idea what to do about it. Truth is, my memory sucks, it always has. Memorizing has always been my weakness.

Heck I had to take Spanish 3 twice in college because I sucked at remembering all those verbs. I've tried all the tricks but have had no luck.

I've seen others try to fake there way around not remembering someone. They just pretend they remember them and go with it, but I think that is even more of a douchebag move. If I do that, I could end up missing some real cool info about the person.

Do you have any ideas or recommendations?

Below are some possible options I have come up with.

1) Try to be sly, and ask questions to get more details until something jolts my memory. (Not guaranteed to work) 2) Pretend I remember them after I ask a few questions. 3) Tell them the truth, that my memory sucks, and go from there. Douchebag Tendency #2 - Short conversations.

The next douchebag tendency I have is that I have a tendency to have really short conversations with people. Especially at SMC Seattle events. I feel like I need to run around and meet as many people as possible to be a "good host".

This leads to shallow conversations that do not benefit anyone.

There is no excuse for this, and I don't like it. From this point on I am going to spend time with people, and enjoy the conversation.

I do this at other events, why should it be any different at SMC Seattle events?

Obviously before SMC Seatle events kicks off, I have a tendency to run around making sure everything is set and need to cut some people off. There is no reason I can't carry those conversations on later in the event however.

At any rate, whether it is forgetting people, or simply not taking time with them, I am going to work on it, and look for your advice as well.

I really don't want to be a douchebage, and want to learn from as many people in the community as I can.

All the good stuff always happens after you know someone's name, and get past the small talk!


How BBS’s, Nascar, and my Pastor got me into Social Media

I’m no social media expert, people have been doing this social media thing way before I ever started, and have more experience than I do, but I thought it would be good to tell my story. It’s something a recent interview by Another Passion, got me thinking about, and I believe it's good to know someone’s story, to understand how they think. The timeline is a little blurry, but you’ll get the idea. Each of these paragraphs could be it’s own blog post, but I’ll try to keep it to the basics.

BBS DashboardI’ve always been interested in technology and online communication. Back when I was in 6th grade (1989) I remember staying up all night and dialing BBS’s and talking with others, playing text games, not to mention downloading a fair share of games (there wasn’t copyrights back then correct?)

The little Hayes 12,000 BPS modem was terribly slow, and to download a simple game or image would take hours if not all night, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the people I met online, and even became friends with them offline. Some even happened to attend the same school as me, but we needed BBS’s to connect us for some reason.

Then came Prodigy in Junior High (1990-1991) boy was that a life changer. Suddenly useful/educational information was at my finger tips. Sure it was slow, and the WWW was not connected yet, but I still tons of information at my finger tips, and it was liberating.

The idea of encyclopedia type information like that on your computer was so knew that for one Jr. High Science class I “used” it to do a one page report on a specific topic. Ok, I didn’t “use” it, I simply printed out what the Prodigy encyclopedia had to say on the topic and turned it in. I’m guessing cheating in such a manner was not something the teacher knew about, so he never thought twice, and I got a A- on the project. (ok, maybe I was not on the greatest path here with downloading games, and cheating on homework.)

Well next came my high school and college years and I stayed up on technology. Used the internet to “help” me with my homework, but still very few of my real world friends were using it actively.

When I went to college in the fall of 1996, my friends and I were not even given an email address when we showed up. Actually very few of my friends even had email addresses, and the library was the only place to connect to the internet, other than my rooms 56k modem. I remember a $300 phone bill my first month in College because I accidently used a long distant dialup number.

In college I started out as a Graphic Design major, but once I realized I had no actual design talent, I moved into business with a marketing emphasis, and I was off into the business marketing world.

Not until about 3 or 4 years ago when I read “The Cluetrain Manifesto” and then followed by “Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide” did it all start to come together. With these online social tools I had been using since elementary school, you could connect with others, and also help brands not only market themselves but serve their customers better.

It all came together in my head, but I had no outlet, no where to put it. So I simply stored it knowing someday my love for tech and marketing would be combined.

That is where a weird rabbit hole that started in 2005 with the Dakar Rally, led to Nascars’ Robby Gordon and then to Jason Falls in 2007, got me following Jason’s blog and other social media” blogs using RSS feeds.

Robby Gordon Dakar HummerThen sometime in 2008 my Pastor at the time Scott Harris convinced me to get active on Twitter.  At this point I already had an account for some time but never used  it. I ridiculed Scott at first for using it, but after that I jumped on and started to using Twitter actively. I remember struggling to find people to connect with that I knew, (not knowing that was the wrong way to do it) and almost gave up. With Scott’s assistance and Jesse Andersons (another friend active on Twitter) support I kept at it however.

Through this I connected with a lot of people and was learning some great things through Twitter. Something was still missing however, I wanted to learn more and connect with people face to face. One thing Jason Falls talked about occasionally was Social Media Club in Louisville and about how he had meet great people through it and exchanged some great though provoking ideas.

This was exactly what I was looking to do, so I reached out to Social Media Club to see if they had a club in Seattle. Kristie Wells, the founder of Social Media club told me the club they had in Seattle had dissolved, so I asked if they wanted to help to start one.

Not knowing nearly any of the “Go To” social media people at the time, and having very little experience using social media, I was excited that Kristie said she would love me to help them start a club in Seattle.

Considering Jason’s club in Louisville seemed like it had around 40 people meeting in a bar talking social media at the time, I thought it would be easy to start and run a club. (little did I know)

A month later in December of 2008 I conducted the first Social Media Club (SMC) Seattle organizational meeting. I put an all call on Twitter for people who were interested in helping to come to the meeting.

Lucky for me 12 great people showed up. Blake Cahill was one of the first to reach out and offer his support and guidance, but others showed up as well such as Veronica Shoper, Rachel Bergtedt, Cass Nevada, Barry Hurd, Amy Mcdougall, Barb Jacobucci, Gina Spadoni, Tamara Weikel and many others. (If I missed you please let me know)

At our first event when we had close to 200 people show up. This is when I knew I had stumbled onto something way bigger than I had ever planed. Now, over a year later, the amazing board members and others have helped turn SMC Seattle into an amazing community with events of 300+ people and every event being sold out. My favorite part is all the great people I have become friends with, and the fact that I have learned more from this group of people than I ever did in college.

It’s amazing how it has all worked out. Years ago I dreamed about finding ways to combine my love of tech and online communication with my passion for marketing, and doing it in a way where both the businesses and consumers benefit. Through this amazing journey I have found ways to do that, and made many great friends along the way.

I’d say I found the path God has created for me, or merely God put this path in front of me whether I liked it or not. You may say it’s fate, but no matter, I found it and I’m not looking back now.

What’s your story?

Kevin Urie

It Feels Good to be Back

So the sites not completely done. Still some IE errors and some other tweaks etc. but I can say I’m back, and thanks to some amazing work by Bob Dunn from Cat's Eye Marketing I think it looks a lot better as well.I am coming back to blogging and it feels very good to be back. I miss diving deeper into my thoughts, sharing my opinions in more than 140 characters, and mostly experiencing the relaxation of writing.

I can’t guarantee much in terms of great writing, spelling, grammar, or even content, but I will give what I can. I will listen if you have something to say, and I will try to be consistent with at least two post a week from here on out.

So feel free to come as go as you please, subscribe to the RSS or email, or simply ignore me all together. Really it doesn’t really matter, cause I’m here and don’t plan on going anywhere soon.

What Blogging Will do for You

I went into blogging with certain goals in mind, but after 6 months I have gotten more from it then I would have ever imagined, and so can you. When I started my blog, there were three reasons behind it. 1. To improve my writing skills 2. Get my opinionated ideas on paper, in an effort to free up my co-workers time. 3. So I could have two-way conversations with people about marketing ideas (Twitter does this now)

Here is a link to the first post that explains it a little more.

What I did not plan on getting out of blogging was the ability to refine my thoughts and communicate them more clearly, not only in writing but also in conversation. I don't know why I did not expect this to happen, but it has been the biggest benefit I received from blogging, and I think you would as well.

We all have thousands of ideas storming around our heads all day (and sometimes night) long. We like to think we can recall them when needed, but we can't always do that.

If we can recall those ideas they are not always well fleshed out or thought through. Certainly nothing you could use in a meeting with a client, unless you put a lot more time into developing them. By writing your ideas down, it helps you develop them materialize them and put them in a part of cognitive memory you can actually use.

Of course this is nothing new.  People have been saying to journal thoughts for thousands of years.  What's great about a blog however, is that you have other people reading those thoughts, and improving upon them.  You also have somewhat of an accountability network to keep you going.

So if you don't blog, give it a try for a few days.  Just go to or and set one up.  Or if you already blog, do it more often.  (trying to take my own advice)

You will be amazed how when in meetings, or in talking with friends, you will all of a sudden start quoting your blog post.  It's like having a support group of ideas ready to help you when needed.  Best of all they're your ideas!

Empty Your Cup of Knowledge

I am a fan of old Pacific Lutheran football coach Frosty Westering and a saying he uses before he speaks “empty your cup”. (Being Frosty, he actually demonstrates the illustration, water goes everywhere etc.) The essence of the saying is that if we go into anything thinking our cup of knowledge is full, we will not have any room to learn anything knew.

We must first empty our cup, and then look for ways to fill it with the knowledge of others.

This is something that I struggle with, and am trying to work on. I am an internet geek, I know a little about a lot, but true knowledge comes from relationships not the internet.

I struggle with this at my job as well. As an Ad Exec, I have a tendency to always want to come off as the marketing “expert” to my clients. I have the education, experience, support groups, etc. and my client does not, so I should understand marketing more than most of my clients who spend most of the day running their businesses.

But that is not always the case. As much as I try to understand my clients business, they still know it better than I do. Sometimes I make a mistake or overlook something, and the client can add some good insight. Other times my clients wealth of knowledge might be different than mine, and they may offer a great idea that I have never thought of.

Bottom line, no matter how much of an expert you think you are in any particular area, always listen to others as if they are an expert. It's amazing what you learn with an open mind.

Are you hiding behind social media?

Something I deal with every time I write on this blog or even tweet, is my tendency to hide.   Am I truly being me, or am I pretending to be the person I want the online community to think I am?

I am currently reading the book “The Silence of Adam”.  It is a Christian book that talks about how men should really act.  I came across the quote below, and it made me think about social media, how I learn, and my fears.

“Men are easily threatened. And whenever a man is threatened, when he becomes uncomfortable in places within himself that he does not understand, he naturally retreats into an arena of comfort or competence, or he dominates someone or something in order to feel powerful.  Men refuse to feel the paralyzing and humbling horror of uncertainty, a horror that could drive them to trust, a horror that could release in them the power to deeply give themselves in relationships. As a results most men feel close to no one........”

What is holding you back?  Are your fears or uncertainties holding you back form achieving your potential?  Are they holding you back from truly taking a place in social media and joining the conversation, and giving people insight on who you are?

Social media can seem like a vulnerable place.  Putting yourself out there for many to see, and possibly disagree with you.  Yet only once you do that, do you truly find your place, and do you start to develop real relationships. Review – A great alternative to Pandora if they go out of business

CBS radio's As you have probably heard Pandora has been having problems making money, and may need to shut down.  Well CBS radio is trying to make money with streaming radio, and may just be able to do that with   .  (If you want the basics on, please see my other blog post. If you would like to read my vision for the future of radio view this post.)

I have been messing around with the beta version of for a few weeks now.  And I must say I am pretty impressed.  CBS took the best from the competition, improved upon it, and then added a way for them to make money.

The Interface -

Ok, the interface is not super intuitive, is way more complex than Pandora, and reminds me of the new interface.  Not surprising since is a CBS property as well.

The home page is well laid out and easy to understand.  On it you see the stations you have listened to in recent history, and also list of other stations by music type etc.  This includes user generated stations, AOL Radio stations and CBS radio stations, so you get a wide selection of options.

What let's me down the most is the player windows.  It is ugly, and reminds me of the player you get when you listen to a traditional radio online.

The Player -

The player can do everything other players can do.  You can skip songs, rate songs, buy songs from Itunes, share songs etc.  Oh, and the sound quality is great.

It is streamed at 128 kbps for broadband connections, and whatever compression they use does a great job.   I thought Pandora sounded good from streaming but has a richer fuller sound.  It is not going to replace my CD's or high bitrate MP3 but it  sounds way better than FM or Satellite Radio.

The most unique features of the player might be what it could offer in the future.  First if you look up at the buy bar, above the album art, you see a few options that are not live yet.

The CD image will probably link to Amazon or some service to buy the CD, They use a floppy disk icon (when's the last time you saw one of those?) for purchasing songs albums from iTunes. The film icon must be for buying music videos if they decide to stream that as well, The phone icon I'm guessing will either let you buy the ring-tone or let you send the song to your phone. I have no idea what the last icon is,  any of you have a guess?

At any rate all these different options for buying not only provide the user with the options they are looking for but give CBS another way to make money from the service.

On the bottom of the player window, you can find other stations, see your history, presets, settings etc.  Really you never need to leave the player window unless you are going to program a new station, you can do everything you need right inside the player

Station Creation - has two unique features that allow you to highly customize your stations. Target ratings and music variety options.

With the Targeted ratings you simply drag and drop the artist, song or album to a place on the target.  The closer to the center of the target, the more impact that selection will have on the music played.

Remember  that you must tell it in the properties on the top right of the window to weight the selections, if you choose equal, the target feature no longer works.

It would be great to have this option in the player as you listen to songs.  Right now all you get is a 5 star rating method.   Let's hope that features is added with the next version.

The second unique feature of the station creation is that you get to choose how adventurous the music selection will be.  If you choose The Hits, almost all the music comes from the artist you selected.  If you move the slider over to Go Deep, your station will play a wide selection of independent artist, and music formats.

Lastly but most importantly with the correct customization gives you a good selection of music to listen to.  Right now they say there are 1.2 million songs in the database and are adding more everyday.  Also, if you request a song/artist to add, they say they will add it.

So far with my experience it chooses good music to play out of that vast selection, which was my biggest concern before I tried it.  Actually from what I remember from when I first started using Pandora, and, the learning curve of the is a lot shorter.  It started playing music I liked right away, where Pandora took some time, and I never could get to give me a station I liked.

You can set up for music discovery, or simple listening enjoyment, or both. Whatever you want it to do can do for you.

Widgets -

Widgets?  Yes it looks like is going to offer widgets.  Right now this feature is not live, but I am guessing it will be standalone players, Facebook integration etc.  I don't know at this point, heck CBS might not even know.  They probably read an article about how widgets are the next cool thing.  Then the CMO said we need widgets on our new site.

Social Aspects -

One of the more useful aspects of is that it has several ways to share your station.  You can email your station to friends, and you get a customized url for each station you create.  I am pretty sure does this as well, but I have not given it enough time to figure out. seems to push this aspect of the service everywhere it can.  It is constantly telling you to share your music, and is telling you to become a DJ.  The folks behind it really want you to feel like you are a program director at a radio station.

Next thing you know you will be able to insert your own ads, and even be your own DJ.  See this blog post for more on that.

Business Model -

So here is the downer.  Are we going to need to listen to radio commercials in the future of streaming radio? and CBS sure think so.  Right now in the beta there are no commercials, but you do get interrupted about every 5th song with a spot.

In the future you will be interrupted with local and national radio spots, on both the customized stations and the AOL and CBS stations.  The key is that they limit the amount of stops in the break to one or two spots at most.  Any more, and they are going to turn off users.  And no you can't skip through them.

This is a great feature for advertisers, but we will see if users will put up with it.  To read more on the business model see this post.

Conclusion -

So do all the benefits of make it worth listening to commercials?  Not really, but given that Pandora may go away we may have no choice.  Since will have both national, and locally inserted radio ads, and the possibility for video ads, may actually have a way to make money doing this.

They already have the sales force, and team working on this for traditional radio, why not for online?  We will eventually get all our music that way, so the sooner they transition the better.

Pro's - Sound Quality Music Selection Customizability during station creation They will not go out of business anytime soon

Con's Ads- I don't want any freakin ads! Player could be more attractive Only a private beta at the moment.

In the end is a great service, with several unique features.  It's worth trying them out if you are not satisfied with other players, or stepping into this realm for the first time. Heck if things keep going in the current direction for Pandora, and other streaming music services, they may be your only choice.