5 of my favorite posts from Google Plus – September 18, 2011

Events of the week included the Obama Jobs Speech, straw poll in Florida won by Herman Cain, 2 policer officers in Fullerton California were charged with murder for beating death of Kelly Thomas, Two and a Half Men killed off Charlie Sheen’s character, and 6 tons of space junk falls harmlessly in Canada.

5 of my favorite posts in Google + week of September 18, 2011

Posted by Zacarias Abad Torres 

Posted by Dave Beckerman

Posted by Massoud S

Posted by Pedro Henrique

Posted by Michel Rajkovek

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5 of my Favorite Posts from Google Plus – Week of Sep 11, 2011

The big news item this week was the 10 year anniversary of 9-11. I was especially moved by the reading of the names by family members at the 9-11 memorial. A few things that struck me was that  there were no political speeches given during the ceremony out of respect for those lost on that day.

Here are some my favorite posts what are yours?

Posted by Rapha Ritchie

Posted by Morgan Abbou

posted by Suraj Hota

Posted by Viktor Skurko

Posted by Denise Oliveira

I hope you enjoyed these posts as much as I did. For more follow me on Google Plus or on twitter @Fierce_Living and @Fierce_Chat

5 of my Favorite Posts from Google Plus – Week of Aug 28, 2011

Google Plus is about 2 months old and has approximately 25 million users. There has been a lot of discussion lately about the battle between Google +, Facebook, and Twitter. Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages and there is enough room in the Social Media universe for all three platforms in my opinion.

Many of you who know me know that I am a huge fan of Google Plus. I am a visual learner and have a great appreciation for all of the visual imagery available on the site. You can have a hangout with friends and watch You Tube videos, you may be bombarded in your stream with a boat load of infographics or you can check out the work of many great photographers and artists who have taken to the site.

Over the next several weeks I am going to select my favorite 5 posts of the week and share them with you in my blog.  The criteria I am using is the wow factor of images, creativity in infographics, quantity of comments generated by the post, or it’s just one of my favorite topics.  What are your favorite posts this week on Google Plus? Leave me a comment with a link.

Posted by Morgan Abbou

Posted by vikhil nv

Posted by Graham Smith

Posted by Steve Raffner

Posted by Misha M.-Kupriyanov

Power to the People of Empire Avenue

I’ve been using Empire Avenue for about 3 months now and while I enjoy it, it feels like something is missing. I can’t really put my finger on it so I thought I’d survey some users and get some additional perspective.

I asked the following questions and received 21 responses.

Survey Questions:
1. How long have you been on EA?
2. How did you find out about EA?
3. What do you want to get out of EA?
4. What do you like best about it? What do you like least?
5. What SM do you use the most?
6. Has EA impacted the way you use SM?
7. Have you made any new contacts? Do you connect with them on other SM sites?
8. Do you have a strategy for EA? Have you set any goals?
9. How many hours per day do you spend on EA?
10. Will you continue to use the site?
Bonus:
11. If you are a new user (within the last 2 weeks) what are your expectations from the site?

What I really wanted to figure out through this survey was not just why people were playing the game but are they actually getting any practical value out of it. I think for the most part they are but let’s dig into the responses and see what we can discover.

Time on the site
I was pleasantly surprised that I received a response from somebody who had only been on the site for 4 hours. I just checked and CITYCHATTR (Saskia Wijngaard) is still playing and has a stock share price of over 50 with dividends of 0.37. Another respondent, CASTREZANA  has been on the site for 6 months and I am happy to say that he is doing great with a share price of 91.26 and dividends of .81 per share. I did not hear from anyone who had been on the site for longer than 6 months.

How did people hear about the site
Almost everyone who responded either found out through Twitter or FaceBook, although, a few were referred to the site by their friends and one came across it by accident.

Why do people want to play Empire Avenue
More important than how they found out about Empire Avenue, however, is what they do with the site once they are on board. Empire Avenue is a game that channels the stock market but can you actually make money by playing it? On the surface it doesn’t seem likely, however, if you look at the survey responses carefully it is quite clear that there can be significant financial gains generated through this venue. For example, ARIIX CANADA is an entrepreneur and stated that they have made a staggering amount of contacts and consider their entire network expanded by over 2000 people as a result of registering with the site. This account also is doing very well with a share value of 103 and dividend of 0.71.

Like Best/ Like Least
While Empire Avenue is certainly a place to connect, learn about social media, and just have fun there are certainly a few things about it that drive people crazy. By far the most annoying thing about Empire Avenue is that if you take a few days away from the site or from using your social media connections it is very likely that your share price and dividends will take a  hit. KRMC states “the share price can fluctuate widely and once it goes lower it is very difficult to bring it back up again.” A few other complaints are the site takes a long time to learn how to use it and the site itself can be slow at times. One last complaint is the social media sites you get credit for using are limited.

On the other hand, respondents really enjoyed the abilitiy to make contacts that they never would have made otherwise. The site also makes it very easy to connect with people on the social media sites that are connected to Empire Avenue. The site has an algorithm that is used to measure activity on the social media sites which also serves as a motivator to increase your activity in those sites. It’s also fun to watch your share value increase and interact in the hundreds of communities that have sprouted up on the site.

Strategy and Usage
Social media is the heart of Empire Avenue and all of the respondents to the survey were aware of this and the associated benefits. Of course, my sample size is small compared to the total number of people on the site and I was hoping to run across someone who’s main focus was on gaming so I could get a different perspective.

Respondents were most active on Facebook and Twitter but there are many who use LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ and even eCademy. Most people spend about 30 minutes a day on the site but there are several who have it open all day and check in periodically throughout the day. The amount of time spent on the site tapers off over time. CHOCOHOLIC started at about 9 hours per day but now only spends close to 30 minutes per day.

Like anything in life it is my belief that you need both a strategy and goals and objectives to be successful with Empire Avenue. ZANZPLANS has a strategy to buy people she likes and try to find those who will reinvest in her. KCHAMP26912 says ” Yes I’m working on purchases at least 100 shares in all who have purchased 100 or more in me and matching anyone below, then I’m going to work on increasing my daily earnings so I can start putting more in those who own more than 100. On the social side I plan to get to know everyone better as time allows.” Great strategy, I say, because her share value is 119, her net worth is over $7M and her dividends are 1.34 per share.

Will you stay on the site?
Almost everyone said they were in it for the long haul, however there were a few who were going to play it by ear. 365GRATEFUL will only stay on the site if she can garner interest from others. PETERADIO can’t live without it and ARIIX CANADA says of course, it’s pretty much the future of social media.

Bonus Question
JOEBURROUGHS stated that he hoped to get some friends signed up so that he could compare networks. CITYCHATTR expects to bump up their traffic on other SM sites. Both are doing well with share value in the 50’s and dividends close to 0.40.

My Responses
Several people who took the survey wanted to know my responses to the questions. So here they are.  I started playing about 3 months ago. I’m pretty sure I heard about Empire Avenue on Twitter. Like most people I use it to make connections, have some fun, and measure my activity in SM. What I like best about the site is it encourages engagement in social media and offers you a way to measure that activity. What I like least is that unless you really invest an enormous amount of time on the site your score plateaus and is difficult to get a strong bump unless you become hyper active.

The social media sites that I use the most are Twitter and Google+. I do engage differently on social media than I did prior to signing up for Empire Avenue. I think this is due to The Hawthorne Effect. I have connected with several people on the site and carried those connections over to Twitter and Google+.  My strategy is to focus on trying to connect with interesting people, buy into at least 3 players per day, taking into consideration their activity in social media, share price, and dividends before I make a purchase.

Each month I set two goals that I’d like to achieve during the month. My current goal is to increase from 130 shareholders to 200 shareholders and increase my net worth from $745K to $1 million. I noticed that when I started setting goals and making them public, quite a few players invested in me just because they wanted to contribute to my success and help me to meet my goals. I encourage anyone playing the game to set goals and make them public by posting in the communities they are involved in.

I’m still not able to put my finger on what’s a little off about the site. I would love to hear from you to see what your thoughts are. I do think it is a fun way to make valuable personal and business connections, keep track of your social media footprint, and improve your engagement in social media.

Additional Tips for Empire Avenue
For tips and cheats on Empire Avenue click here
http://www.michaelqtodd.com/eavtwitter
http://commercialscott.com/2011/06/re-5-tips-tricks-and-tools-for-empire-avenue/

Shout out to the survey participants:

PETERADIO, KRMC, JOEBURROUGHS, EMMAG, WHOIS, SANZPLANS, RAYCOLON, 365GRATEFUL, ZAGORATH, ARIIX CANADA, PVH, CITYCHATTR, KCHAMP26912, ANJLEE, CALL, AHYNES1, CASTREZANA, FR05TY, CPERKCPA, and CHOCOHOLIC

DADT Repealed What’s Next – One Man’s Journey

I have been following @Jethro_Aryeh on twitter for at least 3 or 4 months. I’m not sure why or how I connected with him but the first thing I noticed was that he had an unusual icon for an avatar and he was in the military.

His tweets were always a bit mysterious as he is still active duty military and was not able to come out or let himself be known. It was interesting to watch his posts as it became more apparent that DADT would be repealed. Shortly after Obama signed off a new avatar appeared and Captain Perez was officially out of the closet. He was now able to share his picture as well as his full name Alberto Aryeh Perez DeJesus.

So who is this guy?  When I decided to write this blog post I knew I had to interview him to get the whole scoop and he was more then happy to oblige.

Alberto is currently employed as a captain in the army and is stationed in Waipahu Hawaii where he enjoys the weather and thinks the people are very nice. I joked with him that he must be tired of eating all of that SPAM (Hawaiians love SPAM).  He pointed out that he was Jewish. Ok I wasn’t expecting that one. I just assumed that he was catholic. He went on to tell me that he can trace his ancestry back 5000 years and mentioned to me that the surname Perez can be found in the book of Genesis in the Bible. Lesson learned: Don’t make assumptions and don’t judge a book by its cover.

I asked him about his dating life and he told me that because of DADT he has not been able to date. He realizes he has had to make a huge sacrifice and would love to have someone to cuddle with at night but it’s always been out of the question due to military policies. At this point he would love to meet that special someone, however, his bandwidth is all used up due to his career, his studies, and the pending case. Even though I just talked to him briefly, my first impression is that I think he would make a great catch.  All you single lads out there keep your eye on him.

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A few more things that are important to know about Alberto is; that he has been independent since the age of 17; he ran away from home and completed high school on his own; and upon graduating he joined the Air Force because he knew he wanted to do something for his country and he had career aspirations that included secondary education. He remained in the Air Force for 2 years until his mom died. Not too long after leaving the Air Force he re-enlisted in the Army where he has served for 19 plus years. While in the Army he has had tours of duty in both Korea and Iraq. I asked him what it was like serving time in Iraq and he said he spent most of his time dodging bullets and IED’s.

I talked to him about coming out because I wanted to know how people in the military handled being in the closet. Alberto reminded me that DADT is technically a law and he wanted to do everything he could to uphold it (DADT is still in place until the repeal is fully enacted). One thing he wanted me to understand was not only could enlistees not discuss their sexual orientation but the armed services were not allowed to pursue anyone either. The title of the law really should have been Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue.

The obvious question is if the military cannot pursue why have so many military personnel been discharged? My personal opinion is that the military did pursue enlistees. I have no evidence to back that up, however, I have heard through various sources that it has occurred. Gay military personnel have legitimately been discharged as a result of verbal or written communication, through complaints, by snitches, and via confession. Here are some personal stories of military people who have been discharged as a result of DADT.

Until recently Alberto never told anyone in the Army that he was gay. Although he did come across others that he knew were gay, he did not say a word out of fear of being outed. Like anyone else who is gay and in the closet he had constant feeling of anxiety and caution when dealing with people because he had no idea who he could trust.

Now that DADT has been repealed and will be put into effect shortly, everything should be coming up roses for Alberto, right?. That’s a big NO. The opposite is true. After serving faithfully in the US Army for over 19 years he is being forced to retire because the Army claims that they cannot promote him and he must retire. Alberto is convinced that his pending discharge is because he is gay and he has evidence to back it up.

Alberto began to have questions about his status after being passed over for promotion on many occasions. He felt that he was an ideal candidate because he had always received positive reviews from his direct reports and he did not believe he had any negative information in his employee file.

To get a promotion in the military the candidates paperwork is submitted to a review board and that board decides whether there is merit or not. If the board determines the candidate is worthy of promotion they will forward the appropriate documents up the “food chain” and if the stars align the person will be granted a promotion.

Alberto soon became skeptical of why he was constantly being passed over for promotion and filed a formal complaint with his local inspector general per military policy. His complaint was denied via a very vague memo. He filed another complaint recently that has gone all the way to the Pentagon and that was also denied, stating that he is not competitive (what the hell does that mean?), his records are not complete, and thus he does not meet the requirements for promotion. His only alternative according to the Army is for him to retire.

Most of us would probably be glad to leave and take our pensions and take a permanent vacation. But this is not what Alberto wants to do at this time. He is happy serving his country and is studying to be a behavioral therapist. I find it very suspicious that at a time where military suicides are at an all time high and there is a severe need to have military personnel trained the field of mental health that they would take a stand that Alberto does not qualify for promotion.

The icing on the cake is that Alberto has a stellar record in the military, he is enrolled in a prestigious university and his current GPA is 3.8/4.0. Alberto is convinced that the military wants him discharged because of his sexual orientation and he told me that he has proof. His current status is that he has 3 classes to complete prior to beginning his internship. He is funding his education on his own and he plans to begin interning as soon as he possibly can. A forced retirement would throw a huge wrench in his plans so he is fighting with everything he can to retain his position.

What is the bottom line?. Alberto has served his country and sacrificed his life for the armed services in a way that no straight man or woman ever had to. Because of his sexual orientation he has not been able date, marry, or have healthy discussions about his sexuality. Further, Alberto educated me to the fact that under the repeal, even though the military cannot discharge personnel legally based on sexual orientation, gays and lesbians WILL NOT have the same rights as non-gays. As a matter of fact, there is a reference to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the repeal, which prohibits gays who are able to marry from having the same benefits as those who don’t. The repeal of DADT DOES NOT MEAN that gays and lesbians will receive equal treatment as those who are not gay or lesbian.

Going forward, Alberto has hired a lawyer to represent him and has received the backing of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and Senator Richard Blumenthal from his home state of Connecticut. He has filed a a legal complaint against the army claiming an Official False Statement. This appears to be the first case of it’s kind and will likely be ground breaking and precedent setting. Ideally, he would like to see his case resolved before he is forced into retirement, However, he has the mindset that this is a case that, win or lose, he will be pleased because it will move the discussion of equality forward.

Alberto is a great guy and deserves all of our support. If you help Alberto you are supporting equality. So what can you do? Follow this link and sign his petition. If you really want to take it to the next level contact Senator Blumenthal and let him know that you are happy that he is supporting Captain Perez and encourage him to act quickly to get resolution of the case. This is a great opportunity to help the cause and you can do so very easily.

To engage directly with Alberto follow him on twitter @Jethro_Aryeh

3 Totally Amazing Photographers you Should Follow on Google Plus

Google Plus now has over 20 million users and is growing at a phenomenal rate. There are so many different genres on the site already that it can be difficult to decide who to follow. Although I am not a professional photographer, I thoroughly enjoy getting lost in visually stunning photos, and Google Plus has become a visual sensory experience on steroids for me. I am currently following over 100 photographers but there are three that I am especially fond of and would like to highlight in this post.

First, however, let me give you a brief peek at what a Google Plus post looks like and discuss with you why it has so much potential as a visual social media platform.

One thing that I noticed immediately upon registering with the site was how the visual experience on Google Plus was something that I have not seen on any other Social Media Platform. Even something as simple as posting a link to a blog has a visual component to it. Another key factor to the experience is that you get immediate feedback on things you share on the site via comments or a plus one. The pluses and comments reside with the post for life just like a blog.

Posting goes to a whole new level and pops off the page when pictures are added. It’s a dream platform for marketers and advertisers and great for anyone in the arts because you can very easily display your work and get an immediate response or critique from fans and fellow artists. One more great feature is the ability to add a short (or long) caption to your post.

Photographers have taken note and there are many that have joined in and are posting some of their best work on the site. The quality and quantity of work that streams live every day on my timeline is something that I have not ever seen before. Here are three artists I have encountered (when you see their work you will know that they are truly artists). I hope you enjoy their work as much as I have and will take time to get to know them better.

Elena Kalis specializes in underwater photos. I randomly started following different photographers and was blown away when I saw Elena’s work pop up in my stream. I was immediately intrigued and I dug little deeper to learn more about her. I discovered She was born in Moscow Russia, currently lives in the Bahamas, and became an internet celebrity when her Alice in Wonderland series went viral. Elena’s inspiration (the ocean) as stated on the website http://bentrovatoblog.com/ is no surprise:

 -The ocean. It’s vast and multifaceted. One day it is bright, sunny and fun. Yet there is another side which is darkness, unconsciousness, death. I can never get tired from it and it is my main daily dose of inspiration.

She goes on to explain that the the idea for Alice in Wonderland came from her favorite book of all time and she decided to use her daughter in the starring role. Take a look at the photos I’ve included below and tell me you are not in awe. If you just can’t get enough check her out on Google Plus or click here for a very large selection of her photos.

Photo

Elena Kalis

elena kalis ben trovato13 Photography by Elena Kalis

elena kalis ben trovato4 Photography by Elena Kalis

elena kalis ben trovato8 Photography by Elena Kalis

elena kalis ben trovato3 Photography by Elena Kalis

Another very intriguing photographer I came across on Google+ is Robert Larson. I was immediately touched by his “Waiting for Haiti” series where he documents life and death from the perspective of a street photographer in the country of Haiti one year after a devastating earthquake destroyed the island. Robert Larson currently lives in Los Angeles, CA but enjoys traveling throughout the world and gives a unique street smart perspective when documenting his encounters on a digital canvas. The following quote is where Robert draws much of his inspiration.

“I wish more people felt that photography was an adventure the same as life itself and felt that their individual feelings were worth expressing. To me, that makes photography more exciting.”

— Harry Callahan

To learn more about Robert you can find him on Google Plus or click here for some of his best work. By the way he is looking for funding for his next trip to Haiti so if you know anyone who would like to sponsor him I’m sure he would be thrilled to hear from you.

Robert Larson

Last, but certainly not least, you will want to follow Trey Ratcliff for some absolutely stunning photos. I first heard about Trey on the “Tech Guy Radio Show” by Leo Laporte. While I had heard about his “Stuck in Customs” website on the show I (and I always thought it was such an unusual name) I never took the time to visit the site. I’m not sure how I encountered him on Google Plus but I am sure glad I did. Trey is probably one the most well known photographer/ bloggers on the internet. His HDR photos are breathtaking and his blog keeps fans coming back for outstanding tips, a very unique point of view, and his always quirky take on life. You can find Trey’s Google Plus site here and his Stuck in Customs site here. If you want to try to understand what inspires Trey click here.

Trey Ratcliff

Google Plus has given me the opportunity to get to know many photographers that I would have never known otherwise. One thing that sets this platform apart from all of the others is its ability to integrate an intense visual experience into every post. Another is your ability to engage directly with the artists and get to know them better.

If you are into art or photography and you browse with Google Chrome be sure to add this extension for Google Plus. It enlarges the photos when you hover over them in G+ and really takes your experience to a whole new level.

Be sure to follow me on Google Plus and I will engage with you and share many more visually stunning photos from other photographers I have encountered  as well as keep you updated on the latest trends, blogs, and really cool stuff I have up my sleeve.

Hangout with Mark Hoppus from Blink 182

From a Google + Hangout
Hangout

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For those of you who don’t know, Mark Hoppus is bass guitarist and one of the lead vocalist for Blink 182. He is also a member of Google+ and just had a short hangout that was public, open to any fan who happened to notice and was quick enough to join in. He only hung out for a few minutes and I didn’t have a chance to join in but I am really glad that he did this.
Hangouts are an awesome feature on Google + and one that I hope more celebrities and Social Media A-listers will take advantage of.  Actually I challenge you A-listers and Celebs to use Google + as a way to interact with the fans who support you and helped you achieve the status you have today.
Let me count the ways you can do this on Google+
1. Once a week or every two weeks, randomly have a hangout that is open to everyone for 10- 20 minutes. You can talk about your latest project, open up the hangout for Q an A, or structure it however best suits you.
2. Randomly post comments in one of your followers G+ stream. I see hundreds of comments posted into your streams why not return the favor and post a comment into one of their streams?
3. Create a post where you will offer something to the first 10 commenters. Maybe you could set up a hangout with them or send them a copy of your book or a personal email. You could do the same but randomly select 5 or 10 people who have commented on a post.
4. You could select people that comment on a regular basis and create a post giving them a shout out.  Think of the followers they would gain just because you took a moment to recognize them. Heck you could even add them to one of your circles.
I am sure there a lot of creative ideas you superstars could come up with to pay it forward to your fans. Google + is the platform  to make it happen. Who will take me up on this challenge?
p.s. Look who else I just caught hanging out:
Bradley Horowitz  –  12:33 PM (edited 12:35 PM)  –

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Bradley Horowitz is hanging out with 5 people right now!

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