Karen Swim

Writer, Marketer, Woman of Purpose

Love, Loss and the Pursuit of Life

Today would have been my 20th anniversary. I was married for 10 years and now have been widowed for 10. As I ponder this fact this morning, I reflect on the woman I have become in my widowhood. I was widowed before 40. At a major turning point, nothing in my life was as expected but I fought to find my footing even as I began to write a new chapter in my life. Today, on what would have been my 20th anniversary, I am whole, healthy and happy. I am all of these things not in spite of losing a husband but because of it.

I have come to this place through my experiences. I don’t feel cheated by what could have been, for what is while unplanned has still brought me to a place of joy and peace. I did not wake up today a wife and mother but I still have cause to celebrate. I have a good life, a growing business and a purpose.

I am long past the initial raw grief of losing a spouse but many see my continued “aloneness” as a sign that I am not healed. They cautiously ask if I am dating, in their mind the act that would signal that I am fully okay. Yet it is not dating for me that validates that I am whole – strong enough to just be and not seeking the security from uncertainty in the familiarity of being coupled. It took time to learn to become one, rather than one-half of a couple, but learn I did.

The people you love and lose are always part of your life. Rather than be defined by the loss I am refined by the love that enriched my life. For me the loss is a thread in the pattern of my life but there are other threads that make up the tapestry.

Today is a good day to remember and to give thanks for where I have been and where I am headed. Getting here has not always been easy but I am very grateful I have arrived.


May 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 15 Comments

Gone to the Clouds – Ex Apple Steve Jobs Has Died

October 6, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Labor and Rest

Labor Day is the time we celebrate the American worker and their contributions to our society. It has also become the unofficial end of summer. During this three day weekend we have the opportunity to rest from our Labor and enjoy the final festivities of the summer season.

Entering this Labor Day weekend I was desperately in need of rest. My mind, body and soul were drained. During one of many quiet moments this holiday weekend I remembered Matthew 11:28 – “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (KJV). While I am responsible for the physical and mental demands of my job and life, what a joy to know that I could always find rest in the Saviour.

I am thankful for the time off, the opportunity to rest and renew mind, body and soul. I am most thankful though that I can always find rest from my labor in the loving arms of the Father.

I hope that you too are resting from your labor this weekend and enjoying a happy, holiday weekend.  Happy Labor Day!

September 5, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Workers are Red, White and Very Blue Over August Jobs Report

September 2, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Empire in Peril

July 19, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ur Doing It Wrong: How Not to Suck in Social Media – Advertising Age – DigitalNext

Ur Doing It Wrong: How Not to Suck in Social Media

Lessons From the 2011 Suxorz Awards Teach Us How to Avoid a Campaign Catastrophe

Posted by Rebecca Lieb on 02.16.11 @ 02:50 PM


Rebecca Lieb

Quick! Which is the worst social media faux pas?

  1. Inviting consumers to follow your company — via a locked Twitter account; or
  2. When a customer posts a negative comment about your business, track his identity and learn where he works. Then, contact his employers with the suggestion he be fired?

New York’s Social Media Week featured wall-to-wall sessions on how marketers can do social media right, but nothing can hold a candle to the sheer Schdenfreude of watching the brands and agencies that are doing it wrong.

Horribly, horribly wrong.

Enter the Suxorz Awards. Brainchild of Blogads CEO Henry Copeland, the Suxorz have been calling out the worst in social-media marketing since 2008 (disclosure — I was a panelist at the inaugural SXSW session).

Here’s how it works: a panel of four marketing experts nominate their picks for worst-of-the-worst social-media campaigns. Then (this being social, after all), the audience picks a winner in each category. Competition can get fierce, and no one on either side of the stage is discouraged from opining. It makes for a lively evening.

Herewith, the contenders for the 2011 Suxorz awards — together with some lessons learned, because really, we’re not just here to laugh at them. Really.

Category 1: Meme Purgatory
No, you can’t bottle viral. Nominees were VW’s Sluggy Patterson, star of videos, tweets and a blog. An irascible old coot, Sluggy invented a complex game in which he punches people every time he espies a VW. Smirnoff’s BrosIcingBros.com, a site that basically encouraged binge drinking; and another awkward character, Dell’s Dr. Ashley PDA who has bad hair, hypnotizes patients with a GPS device and thumb-wrestles with them when they’re out cold on his couch.

And the winner is: Cisco’s Ted From Accounting series, an unabashed attempt to cash in on Old Spice’s popular video campaign. The videos were as long as they were utterly baffling. The audience actually begged the presenters to hit the “stop” button.

Lesson Learned: Character development counts. So does some sort of obvious link to the brand. But do try not to make it an overtly negative one, e.g. advocating hitting people, drinking irresponsibly, or simply boring their socks off.

Category 2: Missed Connections
That’s why they call them the “basics.” Thousands of Hungarians launched a Facebook campaign to launch Starbucks in Budapest. It worked — Starbucks opened a restaurant and erased the fan page, along with its 3,000 biggest fans and brand advocates. Pharmacy chain launches on Twitter. Their pages features the legend: “@CVS_Cares’s Tweets are protected. Only confirmed followers have access to @CVS_Cares’s Tweets and complete profile. You need to send a request before you can start following this account.” (And no, requests to become a follower are not acknowledged.). Leo Burnett’s you have to see it to believe it “HumanKind” video in which Chief Creative Mark Tutssel drones on for so long even he seems to regurgitate the Kool-Aid.

And the winner is: Denny’s menu footer call-to-action (visible right underneath dubious-sounding Senior Country Fried Steak) inviting diners to follow the chain at twitter/.com/dennys. So far so good — until you click through and learn “dennys” is some guy in Taiwan named Dennys Hsieh. He tweets in Mandarin — or maybe it’s Hokkien?

Lesson Learned: Hire a proofreader. And a copyeditor. Dot those I’s and cross those T’s.

Category 3: Mean People Suck
Does not work well with others. In the U.K., Dr. Pepper launched a Facebook status takeover campaign. Motto: “What’s the worst that could happen?” Answer: updates like the one to a 14-year-old Glaswegian girl’s page, “I watched 2 girls one cup and felt hungry afterwards.” Oops. Nestle fared no better on Facebook when a protest erupted against the company practices that are endangering orangutan habitats. At best, Nestle replied to comments with phrases like “Oh, please.” It also threatened to sue users for infringement when they modded the Kit-Kat logo. Finally, Mercedes Tweetrace campaign, which forced people to “like” the campaign before they could participate in what amounted to an attempt to spam Twitter with Mercedes-oriented tweets.

And the winner is: Hands down, PriceChopper, the supermarket chain that tried to get Jonathan Hoster fired from his job for being “negative” after his tweet negatively compared one of their stores to the rival Wegman’s chain.

Lesson Learned: Don’t hate on your customer, clients and prospects. Duh.

Category 4: You’re So Vain
Even celebrities must learn social graces. Up was Kenneth Cole’s very un-PC tweet during the demonstrations in Cairo, and Fast Company’s Influencer Project, which proved “influence” is really a code term for “spam” and “affiliate scam.” And LeBron James opened a Twitter account at the height of speculation about where he’d land, and tweeted nary a word to address the speculation.

And the winner is: Alicia Keys’ oh-so aptly named Digital Death campaign. The cause was noble: to raise a million dollars to fight HIV/AIDS in the third world. The means? Less well plotted. Keyes enlisted a host of celebs to put the kibosh on tweeting, blogging, and general social-media’ing until the target goal was raised. When it wasn’t, rather than rally with calls to action, all this social-media firepower was under a self-imposed moratorium to do…nothing.

Lesson Learned: It’s not as about you as you think it is. And when it is about you, it’s not necessarily about the part of you that you think it is. Plan accordingly.

The floor was then opened to audience nominations, which were not in short supply. The TSA’s attempt to wrangle bad publicity on full body scanners at airports, BP’s response in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, Charmin’s Facebook page (because it’s a Facebook page about toilet paper).

Following a spirited debate, PriceChopper was awarded the 2011 Suxorz for, well, pretty much violating every precept social media is supposed to be based on. The evening’s “social-media DJ,” John Accorino, posted a note of congratulations on PriceChoppers Facebook page.

It’s not there any more.

Rebecca Lieb is a digital marketing consultant specializing in content, SEO and social media. Learn more at rebeccalieb.com or follow her on Twitter.

The access and ease of using social media platforms is not a guaranteed formula for success. Utilizing social media in your campaigns and outreach should not be approached with a half-hearted effort or ill-formed plan. This article from AdAge recaps social media gone wrong and how we can learn from these failures. What examples would you add?

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog Action Day – and the Age of Conversation – Servant of Chaos

The Age of Conversation Official Charity – Charity Water

The first piece of news is to confirm that the charity that benefits from each and every sale of each and every book, is Charity Water. Charity Water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. 100% of public donations directly fund water projects.

Amazingly, just $20 can give one person clean water for 20 years. An average water project costs $5,000 and can serve 250 people with clean, safe water – so purchasing a copy of the Age of Conversation 3 really can make a difference to someone’s life!

October 15th is Blog Action Day and this year’s focus is water. Many of us may take it for granted but many around the world do not have clean and safe drinking water, something vital to human survival. Charity:Water is also the official charity for The Age of Conversation 3, so we’re asking that you support both Blog Action Day and Charity;Water by tweeting, sharing and blogging about the topic and buying a copy of The Age of Conversation 3 on October 15th.

Read Gavin Heaton’s full post here: http://www.servantofchaos.com/2010/10/blog-action-day-and-the-age-of-conversa…

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Corner Office – Kasper Rorsted – E-Mail Can’t Replace Interaction

Q. Do you remember the first time you were somebody’s boss?

A. That was in 1989, right when I got promoted from being a sales rep in the Digital Equipment Corporation to being a sales manager at the age of 27. I had about 20 people at that point in time. All but two of them were older than I was.

Q. Was that a good experience?

A. When you’re 27, you’re inexperienced, so you don’t know what to fear. I didn’t know what I probably should have known. The first time I realized it was serious was when, after about six months, I had to lay somebody off. And then suddenly you move from the sunny side of the deal to the real deal. I remember I was sleeping very poorly for almost for a week. He had a family.

So one of the lessons I learned from that, which I’ve been very aware of since, is to be friendly, but not a friend. I had grown up in the company and I knew everybody, so I was more a friend. But then I had to start having honest conversations with people about how they performed, and that taught me a lesson. I’ve always been friendly but never been friends anymore. When we have parties, I’m the one who will leave early.

Q. What were some other lessons?

A. Later on in my career, I realized that there is nothing personal in business because most decisions are made for business reasons.

Q. How did you learn that?

A. In 2004, I was dismissed by Hewlett-Packard. My immediate reaction was to take it very personally and say, “What are they doing to me?” I was running a division with 40,000 people and $30 billion in revenue. I learned a lot from that.

Within a month, I had 11 job offers, all in high tech, and I had one that came from a completely different industry. It was from Henkel, a consumer goods and adhesives company. And I decided I would take the job offer from Henkel because there was a clear path I could see to get the C.E.O. job.

But I realized when I came in that I had no clue. I didn’t know the industry. I didn’t know the employees. I didn’t know the customers. I didn’t know the competitors. And when you grow up in an industry, you tend to know more and more, and a lot of people, me included, become a bit complacent or arrogant because you know it all. You’ve seen all the problems before.

Here, I had to start from scratch again. It was like going back to first grade in school and I had three years of questions. It was a reminder of just how important it is to ask questions and listen and listen and listen and just be humble again. It was a great lesson for me, and I think I’ve changed my leadership style, to be much more humble and listen much more and ask questions.

Q. It was your first C.E.O. job. Were you surprised by anything?

A. I was surprised about a couple of things. One was how much conflict actually ends up at the C.E.O.’s desk. All of the problems that nobody else wants or can’t sort out, they end up on your desk. And there’s the immense amount of time you deal with people, and how important it is for you to be there and be visible, not sitting in the office, so people can see you and feel you and ask you things instead of just sending an e-mail.

Q. How would you say your leadership style has evolved over time?

A. I do less e-mail and a lot more of being present. Last year, I just moved my office to the U.S. and traveled around for six weeks without going home. This year, I’ll go to Asia for six weeks and will visit as many sites, employees and customers as I can. So that’s one — just understanding how important it is to be where the business is and understand how it works. The second part is being very clear on what is urgent and what is important and being very selective about the battles I pick.

Q. You mentioned you’re doing less e-mail.

A. I think e-mail is very often disruptive in corporate cultures. You sit next to people and send e-mail to each other instead of walking over or making a call or just trying to look for the personal interaction. I use e-mail more and more as text messaging — just very, very short messages. It’s very efficient, but I am convinced that e-mail does not replace presence. Also, I never read cc e-mails.

Q. What do you mean by that?

A. When I see on an e-mail “cc Kasper,” I delete it. I don’t read it.

Q. Why?

A. Because it’s a waste of time. If they want to write to me, they can write to me. People often copy me to cover their back.

They need to deal with their business and I need to deal with my business. If it’s important, they need to write it to me, but I’m not going to read a cc e-mail. I’m not advocating against e-mail, but you can get into a great argument in e-mail because people can read whatever they want into the words. It takes two minutes to pick up the phone, so I try to encourage that as much as I can. It’s not either/or. I’m just saying you’ve got to get the balance right.

Q. And when you became C.E.O., did you already know who you were going to keep on the executive team because you’d been working with them?

This interview with Kasper Rorsted offers some interesting insight from a seasoned leader. You can read the entire article here: http://nyti.ms/9Umuj4
I believe that new leaders can benefit from the advice but I was most interested in his views on communication, since I am exploring these very issues in a series of posts this week. I share his views on email and have seen gross misuses that lead to complete breakdowns in communication. Conversations, especially the ones we often wish to avoid are best handled by real human interaction.

What are your thoughts?

August 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ARMANDO ROBBERY! « Detroit Sports Nation – Blog

As a sports fan and Michigan resident I am no stranger to bad calls. Every team in every sport has had them and when they happen in games that really matter – final seconds of a playoff, last play in OT or in this case in a game that would have been perfect – well, it is heart wrenching.

Poor Jim Joyce. Here is a man who had quietly built a solid career for years. There were no scandals, no protests calling for his firing. He made a mistake, a big one and now his career is being measured by one fault. How many have had years of hard work erased by a single error, a bad call? How many have quietly built a career of proven successes only to receive the spotlight when they blow it?

And how many can relate to Armando a player who worked hard, stepped to the plate and pitched a perfect game only to lose his rightful recognition because of the call of someone in authority?

We all have the potential to be the umpire or the player. We can allow one call to change our destiny or we can like Jim, admit our mistake and get back in the game, and like Armando dust it off and step up to the plate persevering to repeat our success.

Posted via web from Marketing, Musings and More from Karen Swim

June 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Will Your Story Be Written?

“No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.” — Napoleon Hill

I was so inspired by this story that I shared it on Facebook and wrote about it in my newsletter today. This young woman is nothing short of remarkable in my book. Yet, as I read her story I pondered all the wonderful stories I’ve heard of those who overcame adversity, obstacles and impossibilities to reach their dreams. Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, Wilma Rudolph, Larry Page and Sergey Brin and so many others.

We can all list long names of those who inspire us not to give up. But what about the stories that never get written, the ones we will never read? There are many more people who fall prey to “three fee from gold syndrome” whose tales will never be known. The “would have been’s” who gave up after one or several attempts.

How will you know what you can accomplish if you give up when the results are not immediate? We all have a choice to fight for what we really want or walk away when we fail or it gets too hard. We can be among the millions with unwritten story or we can be courageous enough to be remarkable in whatever way we choose.

Posted via web from Marketing, Musings and More from Karen Swim

May 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment