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Stay hungry, Stay foolish

As we head into the beginning of MacWorld, I wanted to share one of my New Year’s rituals with you.

In 2005, at Stanford University, Steve Jobs delivered what I thought was one of the best commencement speeches. He speaks about how his unique experiences, passion, and humility have made him the success that he is today. The speech is very powerful and personal.

I make a point of reading this at the beginning of every year (and whenever I need a boost), as his lessons are an amazing source of inspiration. I hope that you get as much out of it as I do.

Steve Job’s Stanford Commencement Address


Lessons from Antarctica

My recent vacation to Antarctica was an incredible trip that I will keep with me forever. Recently, I have been reflecting on the trip and the clear analogies between the world of social media and the world of ice and penguins. Here are a few lessons that community managers can enjoy without a trip to the far south:

  • Wild Terrain: Antarctica is a land of extremes: it’s the windiest, driest, highest, and coldest continent on the planet – and there is still much that is unknown about it. Traveling to Antarctica requires planning, preparing for the unexpected and continuing to adjust plans. Similarly social media is the extreme of marketing: the newest, most technical, and most rapidly changing – and we are still trying to understand how to optimize these social experiences. The successful communities we have worked with, like successful Antarctic voyages, focus on planning, preparing for change, and adjusting plans to continually improve conditions.
  • Depth of Experience: Throughout my trip there were an array of experiences that I enjoyed including kayaking, hiking, enjoying the view from the ship, listening and naturalist presentations. Not everyone enjoyed the same things, but everyone had a great time. Successful communities deploy a wide variety of technologies and features to interact and engage with audiences – recognizing that every person reacts differently and that everyone enjoys variety. ABC does a great job of usingquizzesratingcomments, and message boards to engage as many members of their audience as possible.
  • A Rhythm: As I approached the south pole, the days got pretty long with sunset approaching midnight and sunrise at roughly 4am (so I heard). It was important to establish a routine which for us evolved around meals, a daily recap and for a few of us a evening photo review. In a land where much was unexpected, unfamiliar, and changing it was good to rely on a regular schedule. Similarly in social media, so much does change and is unfamiliar, it is critically important to maintain those regular blog posts, newsletter updates and update daily polls, and weekly quizzes. These will become the rhythm of your site that visitors will expect and will keep them coming back.
  • Great Leaders: I have been reading a lot about Shackleton and Scott lately. These were tremendous leaders and their tales of courage and endurance are incredible. What really impressed me, most notably about Shackleton, is how much he valued every member of his team and what everyone had to contribute to their overall success of the trip. Similarly, in our new world of social media, we have individuals that are helping to show us the way by pointing out the daily successes and lessons of others and adding their own shrewd insight and wit. My social media Shackleton list includes: Peter KimJeremiah OwyangRobert ScobleCharlene LiPete Cashmore, and Josh Bernoff. Reading their posts every day is a new adventure in the new landscape of social media.

So I am now hoping that I can expense my vacation. 😉


Notes from Antarctica

Now that we are at sea and there is not much to do, I thought I would write a bit about some of the general impressions of things.

Weather: We really experienced a wide range, but accouding to the naturalists and leaders on the ship, we have been very luckie. The temperature has never really gone below 32 (f). However, we have had some very fierce winds (35- 45 knots) on a few days and that has made that temperature bone chilling. We have had many sunny days and I did end up with a bit of a sunburn and I believe I will be coming back with a tanned face. Only one day did it snow a little bit, but other than that we have had no rain or snow and it has been cloudy to clear most days.

Smells: I had heard from some folks, my Mom included that the smell of penguin poop (guano) could be overpowering. What I actually noticed was that I smelled it when we first approached a landing on the zodiacs, but then the I would get used to it. Some landings I really didn’t smell it at all and on the Kayaks, I don’t recall any smells.

Death: I have not written about some of the more brutal things that I have seen, but there has been a lot. The skua is one of the prime offenders as it snatches the eggs and chicks of the penguins. The leapard seal also feeds on the penguins is savage in the way it eats the penguins. I can’t even begin to count how many broken eggs, penguin skeltons and chick corpses I have seen. We have asked the naturalists that travel with us about this, and they have explained that the penguins life span is 15-20 years. With the exception of the first 2 years, each pair of penguins can produce up to 2 chicks per season. If there were no penguin preditors, Antarctica would most likely be wall-to-wall penguins.


Sitting at Peterman Island

After the fun of kayaking at Pleneau Island we turned for a short journey back south to Peterman Island to drop off Rosi Dagit to continue her penguin population research for Oceanities. We also stopped off on the island to see where the Oceanities team lives to explore the island. There are a number of penguin colonies that populate the island that are a wonderful to watch, but the real thrill for me was the hike over the ridge to the other side of the mountain. As I hiked up the view back down on the ship was incredible, I also noticed that one little penguin was following our path all the way up. As we rounded the other side of the ridge the view over the other side was absolutely amazing. There were four enormous icebergs crowded into a bay. Their deep, glowing blue was clear from the top of the ridge. The rest of the mountains that surrounded the bay were tall jagged peaks that from which glaciers ground their slow journeys down to the sea. I found a rock and enjoyed this view for 30 minutes that felt like 30 seconds. It is sad to know that my pictures will never capture this place, but it is nice to know it is always here waiting for me.


Last Antarctic Stop: Port Lockroy

For our last stops in Antarctica we stopped at Jougla Point on Wienke Island and Port Lockroy on Goudier Island. At both islands we saw many of the Gentoo penguins. At this time of year there are two interesting things to watch. First there are the chicks that are getting fairly big and are running all around but are still in their young grayish feathers. The second thing that we saw a lot of is molting penguins. Adult penguins will stand completely still in a single spot and over the course of a week will loose their feathers and grow new ones. Because they are using all their energy for molting and are not even eating it is very important that they not be disturbed and use extra energy to walk away from us. We were always on the look-out for these molting birds and would keep well away.

Both of these spots were used extensively for whaling in the early 1900s and there are many bones scattered around randomly. Karen, one of the naturalists on the trip brought us to one very unusual site where their was a full and complete skeleton of a humpback whale. It was fascinating to see the size of the whale up close, but it was puzzling how the complete skeleton would have remained so perfect. Karen solved the mystery for us but explaining that in the mid 1900s explorers that were trapped on the island used the whale bones as a puzzle to keep themselves occupied and it remains there to this day.

The station at Port Lockroy is a now a british historical site that we visited, but was originally set up in 1944 to monitor for German submarines. They have restored the station to how it looked in the mid 40s and it is fascinating to see how they lived. There is also now a post office and a very small gift shop.

We left land in Antarctica for the last time and are starting the journey home!


Hot Dogging on the Drake

We are now underway and headed towards rough water in Drake passage again. Before we hit the open water though we got some incredible views in Neumayer Channel and the Gerlach Staight as we were saying goodbye to Antarctica. For our farewell celebration the ship brought out hot dogs and beer on the back deck so that everyone could enjoy the view and give a little toast to this beautiful continent!

As we hit the open water of the Drake later, I was completely out and needed to lay down with a sick bag handy. Thankfully, my seasickness patch has kicked in how!