Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Helpful: Urtak

Want to learn more about your readers? Ask them some yes/no questions with Urtak.


Interesting: No Goals

An interesting thing to try out this holiday season: Set no goals, no resolutions.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Helpful: How podcasts changed my life

If your daily commute is about an hour each way, that adds up to 600 hours per year of passive time that could be used for entertainment or education. Since podcast subscriptions were first enabled in iTunes in 2005, I have tried to use my squadron of iPods/iPhones and that commute time to educate myself in a variety of subjects. 

I have used podcasts to learn about politics, new music, foreign languages, business management, technology, design, and sports. Making this a routine has expanded my education in a variety of subjects, all while using a block of time that I might otherwise waste.

Here are the podcasts that are on my iPhone right now. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, I recommend listening to podcasts and audiobooks at double speed - it helps you get through more content while still being understandable. Most people put a lot of "ums" and pauses in their speech that melt away at double speed. Try it out. 

With your iPod or music device of choice plugged into your computer, be sure to set up iTunes to add the latest 3 episodes of your podcast to your mp3 player, so it will be up-to-date. Automation is a big help, if you want to make commute-time learning a habit. 

Search in iTunes for any of these favorites and subscribe today!

  • KEXP Live Performances
  • NPR All Songs Considered
  • NPR Live Concerts
  • PODRUNNER: Workout Music
  • Latin Alternative
  • Achieving Predictable Success
  • Career Tools
  • HBR Ideacast
  • Manager Tools
  • 37Signals Podcast
  • NPR Planet Money
Productivity and Creativity
  • David Allen Company
  • Back to Work
  • 43 Folders
  • The Accidental Creative
  • Get-it-Done Guy's Quick and Dirty Tips
  • The Big Web Show
  • Build and Analyze
  • Hypercritical
  • MacBreak Weekly
  • The Pipeline
  • The Talk Show
SmartyPants Time
  • This American Life
  • TEDTalks
  • NPR On the Media
  • President's Weekly Radio Address
Comedy and Entertainment
  • You Look Nice Today
  • The Nerdist
  • Onion Radio News
  • The Sound of Young America
  • MaxFunCon
  • Golf Tips
  • ESPNsoccernet

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I+H: Joining Cellit

I'm excited to announce that I will be joining Cellit as its Vice President of Operations later this month. Cellit helps Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and other organizations connect with customers through text messaging, mobile devices and other digital marketing.

I can't imagine a better fit for my skills, or for my core belief that Each Person Matters.

Mass marketing doesn't work anymore. Thoughtless, mindless advertising is just noise. People have too much else to worry about. They care about relationships. Their friends. Their family. For companies or organizations to communicate with people, they have to earn trust first.

This concept–what Seth Godin calls permission marketing–is the basis of mobile marketing. If I send you annoying text messages, you're going to drop me. But if I reach out to you with messages that are helpful, interesting, valuable or touching, you might keep me around.

I want to live in a world with less noise and more connection. Where people are free to be themselves. Where businesses, government and non-profits compete for my attention by being more helpful, creative, generous and funny. Cellit is making that happen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Helpful: Twitter

Since Josh has sent folks over here with a post about Twitter, I figured I'd share how I use Twitter as a communications professional. I currently work for the United Methodist Church and will soon be starting a job at Cellit, a digital marketing company in Chicago.

1. Post links that my followers find interesting and/or helpful
2. Link to great things that my followers are doing (they LOVE this)
3. Post official comments from leadership (since no one seems to check their email anymore)
4. Point followers to other leaders in the industry who might have inspirational/educational things to say
5. Give a little personality to our brand – I did this by making our Twitter icon a picture of Methodism founder John Wesley wearing an iPod

You can find me on Twitter at @mattkuzma. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Secret to eating cheaply: Rice cooker

Last Night's Dinner

1 cup rice ($.50)
1 cup red lentils ($.30)
1 bag frozen soybeans/edamame ($1.99)
1 cup salsa ($1.00)
1 cup water

Directions: Put it in a rice cooker and hit start

Preparation time: 45 seconds
Cooking time: 25 minutes (with no supervision)
Yield: Tasty dinner for two and leftovers
Cost: less than $4

On the other hand...

I also am tempted to jump in to Evernote again. This article by Ezra Klein explains it all.

That turns Evernote from something I might search if I remember into something I'll search constantly without even trying. And that means I'm much likelier to be routinely confronted with old insights and facts that I might have forgotten. In that world, I don't need to rely on my memory of what I've read so much as the judgments I made when I was doing the reading. And I trust those a lot more.

Helpful: Workflowy

I like to outline and make lists. I read lots of business and self-help books. I aim to improve my skills and advance my career.

Problem: I forget all the stuff I read, lose my lists and get all my training materials trapped in a huge folder of crap.

Enter workflowy. Web-based outliner that works just an outline program should. Auto-saved, easy to export and save elsewhere. This should help me complete my Big Database of Knowledge I've been working on. Free to sign up, hopefully there will be paid features eventually (like Dropbox sync perhaps?) so it can survive.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Interesting: Changes in how I use the internet

Posts using Blogger:
2004-2008: 971
2009: 33

Posts to Twitter (synced with Facebook):
2004-2008: 0
2009: 1005

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

I&H: Day 3 Lolla 2009 Review, plus awards!

Helicopter flyby before Jane's Addiction, Lollapalooza 2009, Sunday
Well that was something. Even with a weak set of headliners, this year's Lollapalooza was fantastic. Day 3 highlights and overall awards coming up:

Friendly Fires - Strong contender for best of the day, this UK band brought an hour of uptempo party music. Like Franz Ferdinand but not nearly as annoying. What is it about Brits - all the guys in the band could sing, which made the sound so much better. Highly recommended.

Portugal the Man - We were taking cover from the sun under shady trees, so I never saw the group, but from what I heard they were pretty good. High vocals, smooth beats, from Wasila, Alaska so if you don't like them, I blame Sarah Palin.

Kaiser Chiefs - Another UK band who can all sing. Soundtrack for a night at the frat boy bar. Fun if you're part of the crowd, not fun if you're just trying to drink your Merlot in peace. Lots of singalongs make this another one for your party mix.

The Raveonettes - Mysterious and moody sounding, we didn't get up close for them.

Neko Case - I saw Neko at the Chicago Theatre this winter and definitely prefer her in a smaller venue. Her voice is soaring and amazing, but too many slow songs for a 90 degree day. Also, and I don't mean to complain, she and her friends on stage need to work on their banter. They take a long time between songs, people yell at them, and then they respond to everyone's shouts. It is distracting.

Cold War Kids - Songs sounded pretty much the same as I remember from 2007, but the audio quality from the side stage that year was so horrible I didn't get the full effect. This year they sounded great.

Snoop Dogg - Any children in the audience learned a whole lot of new words when Snoop took the stage. A Tupac cover, an impromptu eastside/westside battle, and a big ol helping of beeotch. Just what the 99.9% white crowd was hoping for. What's the word? Cathartic.

Silversun Pickups - Best set of the day and maybe the weekend. I was exhausted from the heat and crowds and heard this from across the field. Something about that high voice and perfect electric guitar just clicked for me. Tight, precise, with immense energy.

Jane's Addiction - Dave Navarro is amazing. That's all there is to say. The songs are fine, whatever, but Navarro gave one of the best guitar performances I've ever seen. Effortless, controlled, powerful, he made the show (and no offense Perry, but he is the band.)

Best Party Set: Friendly Fires (Honorable Mention: Thievery Corporation)
Best Rock Set: The Gaslight Anthem (Delta Spirit)
Best Alt Set: Silversun Pickups (Other Lives)

Style Award (male): Dave Navarro (Fedora, leather pants, ink)
Style Award (female): Lykke Li (black cape, ripped leggings, black heels)

Chicago Police Department Congeniality Award: Snoop Dogg

Photo: Helicopter flyby before Jane's Addiction, Lollapalooza 2009, Sunday

Sunday, August 09, 2009

I&H: Day 2 Lolla 2009 Review

Lykke Li, Lollapallooza 2009, Friday

Saturday of Lollapalooza 2009 was like Lollas of old: hot, muggy and crowded. Saturday is always a busier day at the fest, and you can especially feel it at the North end of Grant Park, where a bottleneck makes getting to 30% of the shows close to impossible.

But the music! Saturday rated on the list of Top 5 Lolla days for me.

Logistics: Unfortunately, we were not allowed to sneak in with our wristbands at Balbo as we had Friday (and, well, all of 2005, 2006, and 2007.) This meant our sunscreen in an aerosol can was confiscated. The can could be a weapon, they said, but skin cancer is what really kills, so we were lucky to have some backup.

Delta Spirit - A very solid rock and roll band, good vocals and the kind of energy a 12:30 band needs to bring. I could definitely see myself driving too fast to some of their songs. "We're used to playing to like 200 people, and there are like thousands of you. Hi!"

Quinn Sullivan/Buddy Guy - On our way to get ice cream, we got a Lolla text that Buddy Guy was going to make an appearance at the Kids stage, so we headed over and saw this 10-year-old blues guitar prodigy named Quinn Sullivan. The kid is amazing. Buddy came out for one song called "Buddy's Blues" and the kid basically pounded the Kids stage into a pile of rubble with the sound of his guitar. You had to smile.

Miike Snow - What is it with Scandinavia? only heard a few minutes of the set, but it had a great beat, electronics, weird sounds and fun vocals. And check out this album art.

Atmosphere - White guy rappers always start out with two strikes against them, but I liked Atmosphere.

Gomez - I've liked Gomez for a long time. Great to see them live. Professional British rock.

Coheed and Cambria - Not being into metal or graphic novels, I wasn't sure what to expect from C&C. But I stayed for 30 minutes and was pretty impressed. The lead singer has a mass of curly hair in front of his face so you can't see him sing half the time, but you can definitely hear him. Incredible guitar playing, atomic power chords that shake your soul.

Glasvegas - Put me to sleep.

Lykke Li - Crush alert. Lykke Li, the lost Swedish Olsen twin, vamped, pouted and basically put the crowd in its place. "I don't think you liked that one too much, here is a song so you can dance," she said, then sprung into action with her megaphone and black cape.

Ben Harper, Animal Collective, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Tool - skipped em! We landed free tickets to the Double Door to see The Gaslight Anthem and Constantines so we went home to clean up and be AfterShow appropriate. Via the Twitter, I hear Ben Harper was good and that Tool caused many people to have nightmares.

Constantines - Canadian. Unrelenting rock. So loud. Gravely vocals. I can dig it.

The Gaslight Anthem - They said it was their first club show in months. Another great performance. This is not the most complicated music. It's definitely made for (insert your love-to-hate alt-rock radio station here). But it's nice to have a pop band on your side. A mosh pit broke out, I almost had to crack some fool for pushing me, and it was so hot and sweaty near the front that I drive home with my shirt off. All in all, a successful Day 2.

Photo: Lykke Li, Lollapalooza 2009, Saturday

Saturday, August 08, 2009

I&H: Lolla 2009 Review

Gaslight Anthem at Lollapalloza 2009

For some reason, my grand plan to text reviews to Twitter, which would automatically publish to Facebook and my blog failed. I blame Sarah Palin.

So, here are my texts from Day 1 of the biggest music fest in the world:

Logistics: if you have single day tickets, get off the train and cross Columbus at Monroe - you can't cross the street at Congress this year, which is a huge pain.

Weather: 65, rainy and windy all day - def the coldest day I've experienced at Lolla. #summerFAIL


Other Lives - We saw them this spring open for Elvis Perkins. Cello and keyboards add so much - nice melodies and plenty of bass. Good mood CD.

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears - James Brown and the Blues Brothers are alive, and their name is Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears.

Gaslight Anthem (SHOW OF THE DAY) - Buy the album now and start learning the words, cause these guys are your new pop stars. Honest, understandable lyrics, catchy hooks, lots of energy, great vocals and the guys look like they're having a good time. Great show.

Bon Iver - One of our favorite shows at the Vic Theatre, outdoors is the WORST venue for Bon Iver, and in particular the Petrillo Band Shell is the worst stage. You have to stand on cement and the chatter of the crowd overpowered Bon Iver's delicate sound. I knew this would happen, but went and saw it anyway. So if I ended up disappointed, it's my own fault.

Ben Folds - Didn't listen much to him, but his cover of Dr. Dre always disgusts and pleases at the same time.

Fleet Foxes - playing at the same stage Bon Iver was at, I was uncomfortable listening to them. They sounded very precious. But I like the vocal harmonies and understand that I need to have their record in the rotation. But I won't bother watching them outside again.

Thievery Corporation - I love TC, while I generally don't like world music, I'm coming around to it, and TC is part of the reason. I first saw them at Coachella with Lucas back in 2005. Lebanese Blonde was on the Garden State soundtrack, and it makes me dance everytime. This year, they played more from their latest album, "Radio Retaliation." Shocking, but the words Radio Retaliation rhyme with Thievery Corporation. Great dance music, put this in at your party and your hipster friends may actually move to the music.

Of Montreal - Music and stage antics that are full of shenanigans. Costumes, balloons, gender-questionable lyrics. Good times and again, danceable.

Depeche Mode - Disappointing. Two-hour set and they didn't play a hit until 75 minutes in. Here's a hint, Depeche Mode: If you have to keep telling the crowd, "Cmon!" when they're supposed to sing along, it's because no one listens to your new albums. We left early.

Day 1 down, mid-90s and humid Day 2 coming up!

Photo: Gaslight Anthem at Lollapalloza 2009

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Helpful: 10 tips for an effective meeting

I often joke that I'm allergic to meetings. Or that I hate conferences, conventions, convocations, conference calls, summits, pow-wows or bull sessions.

But this is not true. I love meetings. Those of you who have worked with me before know this: I love to talk, share ideas, brainstorm, and solve problems.

I just hate bad meetings.

Managertools.com has an excellent podcast and .pdf with 10 tips for how to make your meetings much more effective.

The tips are:

• Pre-Publish An Agenda
as early as possible, with each point having a topic, start time and owner

• Start On Time
never late, don't wait, let the latecomers catch themselves up

• Set Some Groundrules
electronics "on stun," no laptops, trust each other, let the team help decide others

• Stick To Your Agenda
give two-minute reminders, be gentle, be respectful but stick to it, people will appreciate it

• Use a Parking Lot
tangents or items that go over are not dropped, they are put in parking lot for end of meeting, decide what to do next

• Fix Responsibilities
at the end of each agenda item, ask WHO does WHAT by WHEN? This is the core of the minutes

• Finish On Time
exceptions are listed in the pdf, but should be used sparingly - ending on time is a huge sign of respect, even if it means you have an item left for next time

• Publish Minutes
minutes remind members what they committed to - send as soon as possible (ideally the same or next day), forget the discussion, focus on decisions: WHO will do WHAT by WHEN

• Continuously Improve
every few meetings, ask if ground rules or timing need to change to improve effectiveness

• Use a Facilitator
advanced step - this allows meeting leader (or boss) to be more free to contribute to content instead of focusing on facilitating meeting

Have you ever been to a meeting that had a purpose, started on time, didn't drag on, had open discussion, resulted in solutions to problems, ended on time, and left you feeling like you knew exactly what you were responsible for doing before the next meeting?

Download the guidelines, listen to the podcast and implement these guidelines, and you'll be leading one in no time.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Interesting: Forward Wisconsin!

Wisconsin, a state that has a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, passed domestic partnerships. A small step, but another important one for the Midwest.