Category Archives: Inspiration

Turn off, Tune in, Look up from your device

This YouTube video about our online behaviour really makes me stop and think about my online behaviour. Its a simple, but compelling message.  Look up has been doing the rounds on the Internet and social media for a couple of weeks and has already been seen over 21 million times. It is intended to make us stop and think about what we do online and how we are ignoring the world – and the people around us.

In the late 1990’s the “Advice to live by” video did the rounds on email. Its phrase “Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly” and other advice about sunscreen resonates even today. Some pieces of advice endure through time.

And this video will also resonate in years to come as we learn to change our online behaviour and stop relying on our hyper-connected social worlds. Just like reading beauty magazines will make us feel ugly, reading social networking updates will make us feel lonely.

In fact, I mused last summer about why our social networks make us feel lonely and how by being absorbed in this perfect online hyped world we can feel lonely and excluded from activities our friends are sharing without us.

If you go to a public place and look around you you will see the same behaviour wherever you look. Smartphones and tablets are everywhere. People are transfixed by the small screen and its messages. These people are ignoring the big screen all around them. Other people, families, nature and — REAL LIFE —  is happening all around us.

But we would prefer to stare at our smartphone…

We laugh when we see people videoing a sign describing what you are looking at in an area of great natural beauty. “It’s so we can remember it when we get back home” they say. But instead of just videoing the sign and its surroundings, why don’t they put the video camera down, look around them and spend time taking in the majesty of the view around you.


Timothy Leary said, “Turn on, tune in, drop out” Although meant in a different context, Turning on and tuning in to your device makes you “drop out” of  all that is happening around you.   Don’t miss the best things in life, the sunrises, sunsets, bees buzzing, flowers blooming.

Take some time to smell the flowers. But importantly, take that device in your hand, put it in your pocket and Look Up.

You’ll be glad you did…

Eileen Brown is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Connect with Eileen on Twitter and or contact her to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Time to create enchanting online content

imageSome blog content is compelling, some falls far short of your expectations. But after you have gone past the title page, how do you find, and more importantly write compelling copy that will keep your readers craving more?

Inspiration time

Look across your social connections.  look for content ideas on Facebook, Twitter and, Google+ and blog posts.  Subscribe to Posterous and Tumblr for content ideas

Take an idea and run with it.  My inspiration for this blog post was ‘Brainstorming’  Content for your blog.  I thought I’d add my own perspectives and create a complementary post. ideas come from anywhere.  Be open to new thoughts and inspiration

Watch some videos on YouTube and write about them. Look at other blog posts for ideas. Have a look at infographics, if you are a visual person and create a blog post.  My infographic the other week on the Pinterest drinking game could easily have turned into a blog post about how Pinterest is evolving behaviours, some good, some bad

Thinking Time

Ideas come from everywhere. Be open to new pieces of news that will spark off a discussion.  Use tools such as one note or evernote to save these snippets so you can consolidate them into a richer article

Think about your audience. Do they have questions that need to be solved? Perhaps a series of how to posts would help them out.

Get together with a friend and chat about things. Ask questions and come up with new ideas. In the office this is called brain storming, in personal life it is just a chat. It can crystallise your thinking time and help you write.

Writing time

Consider the structure of the final article.  How will you write it?  Will it be short and punchy, long and peppered with examples?

Talk about an issue you have had and how you solved it. My posts often talk about issues I have had and how I got round the problem. Others are from emails i receive.

Consider your target audience.  Are they your future customers or people you want to really connect with? Your copy should be targeted at these people.  I no longer write about deep technology.  Over the last few years, my audience has changed so I write to connect with new people. Some of my posts resonate with my old audience, some don’t  Be prepared to be flexible and adapt.

Sharing time

Your carefully crafted pieces should be read by as many people as possible. Consider syndication and sharing buttons.  Try to get your content to as wide an audience as possible.  Encourage your readers to share your content by making it as easy as possible for them to broadcast your content (see the sharing buttons at the bottom of this post).

Think about the best way to express your ideas. Some times it is paragraphs of text, other times, it is a list or set of bullet points

Finding time

Use scheduling features to post content when you don’t have the time on that day.  When you have lots of inspiration, write several posts and stack them up for later.  Good quality content is timeless

In our busy lives it is often easier to send a text than a letter, a tweet than a post. Tweets are transient, as are texts.  Well written blog posts and copy are searchable, linkable and more importantly discoverable years down the line.  Spend the time to create great content, and you will always be able to find it again 

Most of all, don’t give up on great content.  You don’t want to spend the rest of your days communicating in only 140 characters. Our language surely deserves better than that

Image Credit: Orin Zebest

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Worldwide events for International Women’s Day


International women’s day has been growing in momentum for years and the cause has very much been taken up by female technologists and geeks to try to inspire and encourage women to consider a career in technology.

So here’s a round up of some of the things that are happening on March 8th to inspire and energise you. Other events can be found on the IWD website so go along and get inspired…


BCSWomen Poster Competition for International Women’s Day

Encourage and promote a career for women in IT and you could win a Special Prize.
BCSWomen’s poster competition invites every BCSWoman to design an A5 or A4 poster to be used mainly in schools (secondary or primary), to promote and encourage girls to consider computing as a career.
The poster should portray the benefits of working in IT, by including the use of photos, for example the skills used, the exciting places that you could visit for your organisation as part of your job, and/or maybe the interesting hobbies or sports that you do outside your job. More details and the rules for the poster competition can be found on the BCS website:


Join me on the Bridge 2012

Throughout the world hundreds of thousands of women are living with the physical and emotional scars inflicted by war. Join me on the Bridge is a chance for people to stand in solidarity with these women on International Women’s Day (March 8th), and join their fight for peace and equality.

Bag Storm

From Aberdeen to Zimbabwe, Aerobics to Zumba, Asda to Waitrose – show us what you’re doing with your BCSWomen bags. Send us a picture of you & your BCSWomen bag to and we’ll put together a montage of fabulous old bags. We’ll be doing this in time for International Women’s Day – so get snapping, and email us photos by March 7th.   There is a BCSWomen Bag Storm facebook event and you can upload your photos there too.

WIE Symposium event – the Hospital club London – tickets: £150 per person

Subjects to be addressed at the conference include Tools for the Entrepreneur, Women and Leadership, Women in Media, The Luxury Industry and Financial Tools for Success. Additionally the Symposium will launch the WIE Mentorship Scheme – a program designed to provide long term support and advice from leading businesswomen to young women about to embark on their careers.

Diamond Lashes Ladies Network – International Womens Day £35.00 per person

Every woman is a role model so why not join us for drinks and canapés and meet some fabulous women in London. An inspirational evening of wonderful women coming together to celebrate style and substance.

07/03/12-12/03/12 – Women of the World Festival 2012 | Southbank Centre
Katy B, Annie Lennox, Jess Mills and Emeli Sandé confirm for the annual festival to promote, recognise and celebrate women Wednesday 7 – Sunday 11 March 2012, Southbank Centre.  Katy B, Jess Mills and Emeli Sandé will perform on stage with host Annie Lennox at a one-off awareness raising concert in association with gender […] 
08/03/12 – Funny Women Charity Challenge– Tickets £65 per person

Celebrating INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY THURSDAY MARCH 8 2012, 7.00pm Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, City of London. Please join us in the luxurious surroundings of the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in the City of London to celebrate Funny Women’s 10th Anniversary and International Women’s Day 2012. 10 high profile and inspirational women from the

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Credit: woodleywonderworks

Mask bot: The robot with the human face

I’m not sure I’m all that keen on this new concept out of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen.  They’ve created a robot mask upon which is projected the image of a human face in 3D.  And it looks eerily realistic..

Photo credit:  Dr. Takaaki Kuratate and his robot communication interface Mask-Bot


The robot appears to listen to you – and respond to your voice by moving its head, raising its eyebrows and fluttering its eyelashes,  It can talk too, responding to simple commands.  But it looks like a real person – and that is creepy..

The bot can reproduce speech typed into a keyboard, converting the text to a female or male voice, as yet it can’t understand the spoken word.  Ultimately it is intended to be used in future video conferencing solutions or as virtual companions for people living alone…

Kudos to the Kurzweil blog for the find…

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

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The evolution of productivity. From Cooltown to cool world..

I remember when I worked at HP, I was blown away by the innovations in technology hardware and software that was coming out of the futures lab.  Biometric readers for log on, cars that knew where the next petrol station was, devices that recognised who you were and digital displays in cars.  I was looking at an unlikely technological brave new world that amazed me.  At the turn of the century, satellite navigation systems weren’t common and had a large margin of error, phones didn’t have nice user interfaces, and cars weren’t very intelligent.  The Cooltown video, developed by HP in 2001 showed an incredible world, with connected systems, location aware devices and email that responded to voice commands.


The video is now a trip down memory lane.  Did you recognise the early versions of things you use every day like the smartphone, email that talks to you, web conferencing, VOIP calling  and GPRS tracking?  Technology like this is now part of our daily lives.  Software such as Windows has evolved significantly too since the early days of the GUI and Microsoft have been giving tasters of how the future of productivity is going to look like 10 years on from here…

I’m sure in 10 years time, we’ll be looking back at this video and wondering what all the fuss was about, but hopefully videos such as these will inspire us to create the need for the next technology generation.  it may only be a dream now, but… who knows?

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Spatial awareness comes to gestures: Minority report is here

I love technology concepts that stretch the boundaries – and I think that this is really good…  Techcrunch ran an article several months ago about Oblong – and I almost missed the bottom 2 videos.  Have a look at this demo:  

It’s a stunning demo of g-speak from and its very very cool.  Very minority report…

But this type of technology is on it’s way – just like touch technology is now part of our daily lives.  Exciting stuff…

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Inspiration and motivation

imageThis is such a great post from the life optimiser blog.  I often dip into this to pick up some inspiration and get ideas to motivate me.  Read the full post from life optimiser here to get the main points.  I’ve captured the main headings below – and added my own interpretation to the headings.


So this is what I think you need to get your motivation and inspiration..

1. Be decisive:  Say what you mean to say and do what you say you’re going to do.  Don’t prevaricate.  There is not enough time left to waste time by indecision

2. Act like you mean it. If you’re committed to something – show your passion, show your commitment to a task –  and do it!

3. Draw from inspirational words of wisdom. These might be from a friend, or from someone famous,  My own mantra is “you can do anything you really want to do – if you believe in yourself enough”

4. Stand on the “shoulders of giants.”  Find a leader and follow them, get your guidance from your friends and mentors.  Follow good examples of leadership, discard bad examples from your life

5. Play the favourite scenes in your mind. Imagine what winning feels like.  Imagine success.  it will make it easier to achieve when it happens.

6. Shift to the future. Don’t dwell in the past.  You can’t change anything there.  Move on.  Get over it.  You’ll feel better when you do

7. Connect to your values. Live your values.  don’t compromise.  your conscience won’t forgive you…

and one of my own…

8. Believe in yourself.  Others will follow your lead and start to believe in you too.  Your self belief will motivate others.


The life optimiser post talks about getting your own inspiration and it’s inspired me to put my own thoughts down – which is a sort of recursive inspiration spiral for me.  But a really positive way to move things forward in your life Smile

Image credit: Flickr

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

WEConnect Europe Advocacy award

Sometimes recognition matters much more than money.

How often have you wished that your manager, or team leader would praise you for a job well done, a task well executed, or a project saved due to your quick thinking actions?  it doesn’t have to be a cheque, or a pay rise either.  Sometimes, an email to the team – or a poster on the wall would be all you need to make you feel that you’ve done a great job.

I’m no exception of course – only running my own business means that I have to get praise and rewarded from the clients I work with and the associations I’m in.

eileenb WEConnect AdvocacyIMG_1611

One of these is WEConnect.  WEConnect connects women owned businesses to corporates.  WEConnect is part of an international organisation promoting supplier diversity.  I attended the WBENC Women in business conference in Las Vegas this year and was wowed by the WBENC event itself.  I’m always promoting the advantages of the strong network in the corporate world where finding the correct person to do business with is often a nightmare. 

So I’m utterly delighted to win the Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Advocacy award for 2011.  Its great to be recognised for the work I’ve done so far to get more members to sign up to become WBE’s

And yes – this does mean more than a financial incentive would from WEConnect.  I already benefit from the connection and the extra business connections I’ve made.  So all I need to do is to turn these valuable connections into purchase orders and invoices and complete the connection..

Still smiling.. Smile


Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Bullies: ugly on the inside, pretty on the outside

I stumbled upon a great post by a photographer, Jen McKen who lives in Pennsylvania.  She’s taken quite a stand against bullies and is to be applauded for her actions on her Facebook page.  Here’s the screenshot of her post:


She sent out emails to the girls and their parents, and returned their deposits.  As she says If you are ugly on the inside, I’m sorry but I won’t take your photos to make you look pretty on the outside!

It’s a really brave thing for a small business owner to do.  Taking a stand and risking losing revenue is a big risk.  Its also wonderful that Jen runs an ethical business, and stands up for what she believes in. 

May her business reap the rewards for her stand on bullying.  So many children’s lives are ruined by bullies that it’s heartening to find someone who is committed to changing this behaviour in schools. 


Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Time lapse social tourism

This is a visually stunning wonderful time lapse video – and its a very compelling way to get visitors to visit your location.  Have a look at this time lapse video of New York, filmed over a 6 week period.


Josh Owens from Mindrelic shot these time lapse images, staying in many different hotel rooms to get a great perspective of the city.  He credits all of the hotels that he stays in too, and lists the gear set up that he used.

Its a simple enough way of marketing his own services, but an incredibly difficult thing to do something like this well.  Josh has created something visually stunning and effective and he has created a video that really captures the essence of Manhattan.   Brands with huge budgets would struggle to create something as simple or as effective for their budget.

I hope Josh goes on to capture time lapse images of cities in the same way.  The tourism industry would get a much needed boost from visitors wanting to experience the pulse of the city for themselves.  As I look out at the lights of the Las Vegas strip, I can’t help wondering what an amazing and visually impressive project it would be if it was repeated here…

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.