Archive of ‘English’ category

Money can’t buy you love

Seriously, the Beatles have sung it so many times that anyone that sees the title can probably hum the tune to it. However, marketeers still do not seem to be able to understand that it is the truth. Especially in this age of social media. Money cannot buy you love. However hard you try. And lately we have seen many trying. Over the past weeks, Shell has often turned up in my Facebook timeline. They are talking about how wonderful they are. How much they care about the world and the environment. And only a day or two ago they posted the oil companies’ equivalent of the old boys game “who’s got the biggest”. (See image.) This morning I was greeted by the results of all their money spent. Three of my friends have liked their page. Pathetic.

So, I went to take a look at their Facebook page. It is a site describing Shell in all its glory. Like the sites of so many large companies, you could call it a corporate display of narcissism. The subjects adressed are Shell, and Shell alone. If they address any other subject, it is solely from the Shell point of view. Where working on a less pollutive environment has become about the Shell eco challenge. And even regular oysters are turned into a Shell product. To be honest, it does not matter how many dollars you spend on Facebook marketing, the general outlook does not trigger me to be a Shell fan. And it shows. For a company with over 90,000 employees and almost 500 billion in revenues, a mere 2.5 million Facebook fans should not be something Shell is excited about.

I could understand if you, and Shell, would come up with the argument that its business is fuel. Nobody loves fuel. It is something you put in your tank whenever you want, wherever you are. And that is a reasonable case to make. However, that whole process changes when you put love in it. When you love your customers. When you talk to them. When you address the things that they feel are relevant to them.

I know the comparison with coffee is going to be a big step. But for many, coffee used to be like I described fuels. At some point in time you will be craving a cup. You need it and you bought it whenever you want and wherever you are. And then Starbucks came along. They made buying coffee a rewarding experience. They put the love in it. And if you go to their Facebook page, you see that they care for their customers. This morning when I went to their page, they had just used a customers’ picture as their cover photo. They talk to their customers and address their issues. They even allow their customers to vent their thoughts towards Starbucks. When I visited their page today, there was someone who posted about how Starbucks does not support the military. And 107 comments below the post where from fans defending their shop and setting the record straight. Why? Because they love their shop and their coffee. The 33 million likes prove that point.

If you want to be on Facebook, remember one thing. It is never about the likes. It is about your attitude towards your customers and potential customers. Because your Facebook Page (or your Google+ page, or any other social network page or account) is not about YOU, it is about THEM. And if you remember that, your likes will come. Because they care about you, because you care about them.

Scott Harrison just inspired me. Get inspired, watch this.

It is a week after day 2 of LeWeb in Paris. And when I went to LeWeb I had Jeroen voor ‘t Hekke tell me that Scott Harrison was someone I had to see on stage. Needless to say that I was running around like crazy that whole days and I never got to see him. I saw a picture of Mercy Ships‘ Anastasis pass by on a screen somewhere in a room, but that was about it. Today I chose to sit down and watch his talk. If you have not seen it, I urge you to watch it.

This morning, I left my TV inspired. Scott went out and did something that I have been talking about for the past year to a number of charities. He has done something that many charities can do, but either are afraid to or cannot see function in their particular situation. He has brought the charity back to the people. By splitting income between the money needed to do a project and the money needed to run the organisation, he has made Charity: Water a much more transparent place. By giving GPS coordinates for every single well dug. For putting the donors name on the plaque that sits at the well. But mostly by having ordinary people ‘own’ the project. By allowing people to decide that they are going to be helping 5, 15 or even 1500 people get clean drinking water. And then enabling them to raise the funds to do exactly that, without having to worry about what will be taken off that budget as overhead for the organisation.

I truly believe we can change the world. And there are many who show us. Scott’s example is one that we can easily understand. But now we need to put it to work. 800 million people do not have clean drinking water. And then there are thousands of other things that we can do every day that keep us alive and healthy that other people do not have. Get inspired. Set your dream and go for it. I know this has got me thinking.

Watch the video below. And tell me, where will you be in a years’ time and whose live will you have impacted?

How my insurance promotes my dishonesty

Image graciously borrowed from

I bet that my title already triggered something in you. You must have had this experience as well. I know I have. Today has not been the first time, nor will it be the last I’m afraid to say.

Last week I spent the week in Paris for LeWeb. And as you do, I lug around with a lot of equipment. I carry a laptop an SLR, a couple of lenses, some chargers, phone and all kinds of small stuff in a nice backpack. And I am sure the backpack always is taken care of. Either it is in a secure area or it is with me. And when it is in a secure area, I often lock it to something as well. Just to be sure. Anyway, none of this has helped me in this case.

I was carrying my little Holga HL-C lens for the Canon EOS. It is a fun lens that allows you to shoot lomo images with your regular SLR. A good thing as I have quit carrying multiple camera’s around to events. And I love the pictures it shoots, so I decided to bring the lens to Paris. However, with the lights being low inside, shooting with an F8 lens is not very easy. So, in the end I ended up not using it. I remember showing it to someone on Tuesday morning at the venue, but I believe I put it back in the bag and left it there until I left. However, when I wanted to get it from the bag on Thursday, it was not there. So, here is the trouble. I had it on Tuesday, it is gone on Thursday and I don’t know where it has gone or how it happened.

This is the point where I often call my insurers. After all, you are never sure whether your insurance covers it or not. I explain what is going on and they return with a negative result. They cannot cover it. But then the whole thing goes weird. If I would have noticed on Tuesday night that it was lost, or if I would remember that I still had it on Thursday morning, everything would be great and they would cover my loss. So, the trouble is not that I might have misplaced it myself or someone might have taken it. The problem is in the 36 hour timeframe that I was lugging my bag around but never noticed that the lens was gone. Never mind the fact that I would not be using the lens due to the light conditions being unsuitable, so I never needed to take it out.

This would almost trigger you to lie. To be dishonest, just to cover the 36 hour gap. As I am sure nothing happened in between. Oh well, that is insurers for you. So, if anyone remembers seeing my Holga lens on Thursday, that would be awesome. 😉

My second day of LeWeb

Marko Ahtisaari meeting with bloggers

Ok, LeWeb is great. You might have figured that out by reading my previous post. But I love it. Unfortunately, due to what I am doing at LeWeb, I find I have much less time to write blog posts than I would like to. So I decided to just give you a quick recap of some of the things that made my day yesterday.

As LeWeb warmed up for the second day, I sat down with a startup that pitched their service to me. It was a good conversation and they told me that they left with a great view on how to improve their startup’s strategy. Later that morning I was at the main stage long enough to see Marko Ahtisaari launch the new Nokia 620. Soon after, I was talking to the Nokia crew and Marko. It was great to work out a way to have Marko spend half an hour with the official bloggers of LeWeb. It was a great session where bloggers could ask any questions and Marko answered all of them. Regardless of how difficult they were. Then I met a friend who wanted to pitch her startup to Robert Scoble. Having made it happen, that left me time for a walking pitch with another startup after which I made my biggest LeWeb mistake so far. We sat down in the hallway for about 5 minutes so he could show me their service on his laptop and we talked about live blogging. A guy across from us got interested and he was included in the conversation. I saw his face and I distinctly remember seeing him before. So I told him that I was sure I had to know him, but that I had no clue what his name was. After a while he introduced himself to the other guy as “Matt” and it dawned on me. I had not recognized Matt Mullenweg of Automattic and WordPress. Ooops. Even though we had dinner with a small group of people in 2010. That is what you get if you are running around like mad all day. And it was going to stay that way, because before the demo was finished, I was joined by the industrial designer of the Lumia 620 and some of the technical minds behind it. They spent another 45 minutes with the official bloggers to show the new devices and explain why certain choices were made in the design process. But what struck me most was the passion and enthusiasm of the team. They know Nokia has lost a lot in the smartphone market, but for each of them personally, that what drives them to try to build the best phones they can think of.

To be honest, the two hours after that just flew with people that wanted to meet and making connections between various people that I believe can work together to achieve great things. It is awesome to see how happy people are when you can put them together with other great people.

At the end of the day, I fell into a chair up in our blogger lounge to unwind and hear how bloggers enjoyed their day. And really, it was just great to be in a chair for more than five minutes for the first time since 9am.

I hope that you will have as inspiring a day today as I had yesterday. If you have questions about LeWeb, let me know. I’ll try to answer them. If you want to be inspired about social media, look up Ramon DeLeon. While I was writing this, he did an awesome presentation of what they have done for six Domino’s Pizza in Chicago. I am not sure when the presentation will be out on the YouTube channel, but when it is, you need to watch it.

LeWeb 12, The Internet of Things, or life really

As most of you will know by now, I am currently in Paris at LeWeb. Interestingly enough, I have been at main stage for about an hour and a half now, and I have just been listening breathlessly. There have been some great speakers and some great subjects. But for me, the thing that has been most important so far, is not the internet of things. It is the way life and technology are getting closer and closer together. The internet of things might seem far away from the comfort of your life and your home. However, within half an hour we have seen so much already. At first we got comfortable temperatures in our homes, through the intelligent Nest thermostat. After that we have seen live interaction with technology through your brain changing fonts in emails to show your mood, or controlling other things through your thinking. And lastly, we have seen Mars Rover Curisosity land and explore a new planet. From your home to the future for the world. It has been here within half an hour. And most importantly, I really feel it shows how we are connecting every day life and technology. I know there will be people out there that are nervous about this. Will we get implanted chips? Will we be controlled by whatever? Or are we moving towards big brother and 1984? But I believe that connecting technology has huge opportunities to enhance our lives in ways that it serves us and helps us live our life in better ways.

Did this trigger you at all? I hope it did. It sure has triggered me to watch more closely. If you want to watch more closely as well, click below to see the live stream. Enjoy!

Choose: lunch or customers

Image gracefully borrowed from

Sometimes that is the choice you need to make. Having a successful business often is about choices as trivial as the one in the title. Even though you might have the perfect business that draws people from afar for your unique personality and style, or that unique product. But to lift your business from an average business to a great business, sometimes you just need to make basic choices. Like leaving your lunch.

Yesterday I walked into a large retail store. I was interested in a purchase involving a lot of cash and frequent return visits when I would be spending more cash to keep my initial purchase in great condition. The sales team of seven sat on a table and was having their lunch. I was the only customer in the store. I browsed all their products and did a slow walk around the store. And the only time one of the salespeople stood up from the table was to answer a question from a mechanic -who obviously take their lunches at another time in another part of the building.

The trouble was not with the fact that they were on their lunch break. The problem with this is that I left. And I left disillusioned. Because as a customer I am worth less than their lunch. Their coworkers are worth more than their lunch, but as a customer I have no value to them whatsoever.

Today, choose. Choose to make your customer feel special. By doing little things like giving him the attention he needs.

Do you blog/podcast/vodcast etc? Register to be an official LeWeb’12 blogger now!

Yes, we are gearing up for LeWeb Paris again. Personally, I am looking forward to visiting one of the greatest conferences in Europe. And the great thing is that you can be there too. Obviously I want to encourage everyone to buy tickets, but if you are a blogger, you might have another way.

If you think you can add unique coverage to LeWeb, then you might be the blogger we are looking for. If you love writing about conferences and spreading the word on everything you have heard, then you might be the blogger/podcaster/vodcaster/etc we are looking for for LeWeb.

What will LeWeb’12 be about? Watch this video, then go on reading.

What do we expect of official bloggers? We are looking for people that:
Have a passion for content and reporting;
Commit to attending and covering the conference (it’s in English) on their blog (any language);
Have significant reach and influence inside their community.
And naturally, they have to have a proper, publicly accessible and established blog or postcast. And by the way, having huge numbers of followers on whatever social network does not make you a blogger. Blogging does.
(An official blogger will receive tickets to LeWeb’12 for free. Every blogger will need to cover their own expenses for visiting the conference.)

Stephanie Booth, Frédéric de Villamil and myself will be going over all submissions as they come in. This takes time. Please allow us to take that time. Each blogger we select to become an official LeWeb’12 blogger, will be contacted by us personally and directly.


And now, sign up if you feel you meet our criteria!

We need to inspire to get people to solve problems

I love people. I love how the internet has enabled us to connect to people in ways we could not imagine 20 years ago. I love the people I have become friends with through the internet, through social networks and through internet conferences. I am enthusiastic about startups. I enjoy seeing people follow their dreams and building startups that make a difference in the world. However, there is a problem. More and more, I meet people who want to get into the internet world to make quick money. They are internet specialists, social media experts or they start a quick startup with the sole purpose of becoming an overnight billionaire after an Instagram-style exit.

What are the posters you had on your wall when you were a kid? What were your dreams about? It seems to me that we are bringing up a new generation on a money-infused diet of social network founders, rock stars and television personalities. With a purpose of making as much money as quickly as you can, to then be able to do whatever you want. And to be honest, that is bad news for the world we live in. After all, the internet is not a problem that we need to solve.

What we do need to solve are problems on a much bigger scale. Things like feeding more and more people in a much better way. Finding solutions for society to live as comfortably while using fewer resources. Lifting worldwide healthcare to a very high standard, while bringing down its cost. Bringing pollution levels down and addressing worldwide environmental issues. That is what will allow us to breathe, eat and sleep every day.

To achieve that, we need people with a vision for all kinds of engineering. People that can ignore the boxes that we have been in and start fresh. Personally, I feel that we need to inspire our younger generations not just to code. We need to inspire them to explore the marvels that engineering can offer them. Not to fit into the major engineering firms of the world, but to start anew. To build new companies that do things that we thought were impossible before. Things that solve problems.

I have always loved cars and speed. Which means that I have also always loved Land Speed Racing. No, land speed racing will not solve the problems in the world. But a poster of the technology behind a land speed racer on the wall of a child, might urge them into engineering and then trigger them to move on to the greater problems of the world. I used to have a plot of the Space Shuttle on my wall. And chassis drawings of desert machinery. Just because I was awestruck by the design and engineering that went into them.

There are new pioneers in this world that are there to inspire others with their engineering projects. About a year ago, I wrote about Solar Impulse. The plane that has now been around the world in various legs. I loved how Bertrand Piccard told me that it is not about the plane, it is about starting a movement and inspiring people to think beyond current conventions. Watch the interview here.
Yesterday, when catching up with land speed racing efforts, I came across Bloodhound SSC. And I agree with what Richard Noble is saying in a video of Bloodhound SSC, his latest attempt of breaking the land speed record and lifting it to 1000Mph. It is not there as a personal toy, it is there to inspire others.

Thanks Bertrand and Richard. I’ll be thinking about what I can do. And you?

Twitter wants to kill third party clients, bids to compete with Facebook?

Yesterday, Michael Sippey wrote an extensive blogpost on the new Twitter API on the Twitter developers blog. It talks about delivering a consistent Twitter experience as its main motivation. But in between the lines, there seem to be secondary goals. Goals of a much more strategic nature that can influence the way we are using Twitter across the board.

Naturally, the blogpost starts off with changes to the authentication process (security) and the new way in which rate limits are set. (Those limit the amount of requests your application can make through the Twitter API.) And that is al good and nice. It is pretty positive news, as it promises improvements for all of us. However, then it turns towards changes to the developer rules of the road. And this is where it gets tricky. For one, everyone now has to adhere to Twitter’s Display Guidlines. Those determine that a tweet should look the same regardless of where it is published. Which will influence a lot of the third party clients we now use to send and receive tweets. Beyond that, every new application needs to be certified by Twitter, giving them control over the whole channel. In other words, you might have an awesome idea that you can build on the back of Twitter, but if the boys at headquarters believe it is not in their best interests, you might never gain access to the Twitter API.

One of the most interesting decisions by Twitter is where they require developers to work with them directly if you need a large amount of user tokens. It is all brought in the most positive way possible, but in the end, this is where the restrictions for third party apps come into play. If you believe you will ever need access for more than one million users, you need to work with their developer team. But if you are building something that captures the home stream for a user, you need Twitter’s permission to build it if you expect it to go over 100,000. Obviously they say they will not be shutting down applications, but they do state that you can no longer grow beyond that 100,000 users point without their permission. Clients that currently have over 100,000 users can grow to twice their current size, before they too need to go to Twitter for permission to grow bigger.

This smells like control. But it gets worse. They then get into the ecosystem story around the whole thing. And at the end of that, they more or less publicly state that services like Storify, are in a quadrant that they do not want to have third party apps in. So are pure Twitter clients like Echofon and Tweetbot. And that is where control really grabs a hold of Twitter HQ.

Is it imaginable that Twitter wants to go the way of Facebook? I believe so. Between the introduction of Twitter Cards and the limit to the way you can use Twitter, this seems to aim to keep the customer solely at Twitter’s website and official apps. For those of you who have not heard, Twitter Cards is more or less a preview of links posted as you would see on Facebook and Google+. Obviously, Twitter already added photo sharing last year. If you combine that with having to go through the Twitter site or specific applications for use, then you are in control of a platform that allows better advertising hence more income. Also, you might keep more people on your own service than moving towards Facebook’s timeline, as they get all their information bundled at one place just like Facebook.

Personally, I am not a fan of this approach. And I doubt whether it strategically is a good one. Twitter grew on the back of the third party apps that allowed easy access in the way people wanted to use Twitter. In fact, the way users have used Twitter, has never really been the way in which it was planned by Twitter in the first place. And that is what made them big. Twitter only wanted single sided statements online. Users wanted conversations, users invented hashtags and retweets to facilitate those conversations. Twitter has picked up on some of them, but has overruled others.

This is going to be an interesting race. Twitter has a huge following, but will it stay with Twitter as it apparently tries to grow into a network that can rival Facebook and Google+ etc. for the users’ attention? Specifically as Twitter seems to always ignore the users’ requests and follow a slightly different course. What are your thoughts? Let me know.

Summer 2012

Apparently it is here. The summer of 2012. Not that the weather seems to have taken notice, but I refuse to have that spoil my summer. I thought I would leave a couple of lines here as it has been quiet on my blog lately. Not because I do not have things to write about, or because I am taking it easy. On the contrary, it has been busier than the last couple of months. I have been mentoring startups, having had great conversations with two startups at LeWeb London and coaching others to Startupbootcamp’s Demo Day in Amsterdam. I have gone over a large site for a government organisation to help them improve their content. And I am working with Logos Hope on a proposal for a completely new online extension of their ship.

Next week me and my family will join TeenStreet in Germany where I will do the English to Dutch translations. And where I will generally be hanging out. My wife Linda will be working with teens there, so whe will have enough on her hands. In the meantime that will give me the opportunity to gather my thoughts for after the summer. I still have two great initiatives that I have started on, but that are not launch-ready yet. Check out 48 Hours to Code and Techpastors for a little information on those. If you want to participate, or want to know more, let me know.

For now, I wish that the summer will be awesome for you. I wish that the things you do and see will trigger you to start the new season afresh with an urge to explore the world, the net and the people around you. And regardless of the weather, I wish that you will come back rested, fuelled up and full of enthusiasm to build something awesome, something that can fully captivate your attention, fuel your passions and build up our world for good.

Have a great summer!

Does the Chrome still need to be polished?

To be honest, after my last post, I really wanted to like Google Chrome for iOS. I really, really did. Yes, I rely heavily on Google’s products. I use gmail and have three apps accounts with all the assorted documents. I use both Chrome and Chrome Canary on my Mac and Chrome on my Nexus S. So, when Google announced Chrome for iOS, that sounded great.

Some of Chrome’s functions sounded like someone finally got it. Especially sharing open tabs across devices. I have that often. I have been browsing the web in the evening on the couch, then come across something I really want to continue on the Mac the next day. And all there was to do with Safari, was copy the link and send it. Or type it on the Mac the next morning. All very annoying.

And yes, that feature works. I can now see the tabs from my Mac on my iPad, on my Phone and all the other ways around. However, Chrome has one major problem for me. And it is something that always happens with Google. I don’t know why, but it always does. Google Chrome does not play well with its own products. And I mean gmail specifically. To be honest, there are only two tabs that remain open on my iPad at all times. One is Gmail. And it works fine on the Safari browser on the iPad where it will show the mobile version. However, on Chrome, it tries to load the desktop version and fails miserably. When I leave it to load the page completely, it crashes. When I want to select messages before it finishes loading, it opens them, then crashes. In all honesty, whatever I do, in the end, when the page finishes loading, it crashes.

I know. It is probably just me. Who in their right minds still possesses the Original iPad, right? And still uses it. I mean, Apple has more or less stated that when they decided not to bring iOS6 to the iPad one, though the technology can still take it. Maybe that is the trouble with Chrome as well. I don’t know.

But in reality, there might be something that is flawed in the basics of Google Chrome. Sharing the tabs is great. However, some of the sites just need to be viewed in mobile instead of the full version you use on your computer. And there seems to be no intelligence filtering that out. That, even though I love Gmail’s desktop interface, it is unusable on the iPad where fingers are bigger than mouse pointers. So, that needs the mobile interface. However, others like Facebook, I want to use in their desktop guise. Oh, and there is the minor issue that I don’t like to have the browser I use crash every five minutes.

Get that sorted though, and Chrome might be worth using for me.

Google and the tech cool

Yes, I watched (part of) the Google I/O keynote today. And I loved it. There are reasons why I have an Android phone, and Google I/O is one of those reasons. I have to be careful not to write yet another Google versus Apple piece, but lets face it, there is something about Google.

Just to get this out of the way, yes I have an Android phone. But I also have a MacBook and an iPad. Oh, and three Windows machines. So, how partial am I? I don’t know. After WWDC I decided that when the iPhone 5 would be released, I would get it. Now I am watching the Google I/O I want to stay with the Nexus series. The reason? Everything around it.

The way I see it, if we look at Google and Apple, we have two very different companies here. If you buy an Apple, you know you are getting great quality. It will work great and fluently and will keep on doing so for years to come. But more and more Apple has become the ‘safe bet’. The one to go for, because you know it will boost your productivity. The stuff you use will be integrated and the new features are cool enough and designed well enough to make you want one.

And then Sergei Brin walks on stage, completely messes up a reasonable Google+ presentation to have four people jump out of a blimp about a mile above the conference center to have a Google Glass brought in. With the live jump on Google Hangout, the stunting mountainbikers, the climber abseiling from the building. So much could go wrong. But they do it live. Why? Because that is their passion.

The Google I/O is not as slick as the Apple WWDC. To be honest the two people presenting the background for Google Glass should never have been on that stage. They were not very good presenters in the first place. But unlike Apple, Google bares it all. You see the people behind it, you see that sometimes little things go wrong and the whole world can watch it happen. And that is what attracts me to Google products. They bare it all. They show you the gears, the nuts and bolts if you will, and they are not afraid to show you that it is greasy inside.

Is my Nexus S perfect? Nope. Far from it. After a year of using it, I could really do with a new Nexus. It has that problem more than my iPhone did. But it is a love and hate relationship because of that same reason. After Google released Ice Cream Sandwich, it uploaded to my phone automatically a little later. It makes you feel like you are part of the progress. It gives it something of a tech cool. I cannot put my finger on it, but it does.

Well done Google. Well done for taking the risk, well done for pushing it forward. And I am sorry I wasn’t at the Moscone Center today. (If nothing else, because now I do not get that free Galaxy Nexus phone, Nexus Q, a Nexus 7 tablet and the Jelly Bean preview.)