C’mon Irene.

A hurricane? Seriously.
Surely they will cancel or downgrade it, as they always do…

I knew about the upcoming hurricane, Irene,  as I drove upstate to 140 conference Hudson Valley on a Monday, earlier in the week. I’ll post video of that tomorrow. I spoke on a panel and had a solo presentation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOc_dmBJEvQ&feature=player_embedded

Right in the middle of the conference, an 5.8 earthquake rolled through, causing a ripple in the floor and quite literally making me nauseous.

I shakily stood up, looked around at the people around me and said. Wow this is an earthquake. And left the building. Fast.

The week before I had just had a flood in the basement in my south shore Long Island home due to a crazy 10 inches of rain deluge. Insurance claim. Juuust redid the floor Wednesday before the hurricane.

So… when I heard *hurricane*… I sort of thought… *bad things happen in threes* and took it seriously .

I got back from my conference on Wednesday, threw 3 computers and some non-perishables in the car, packed up and left again with a carload of protesting kids (we don’t want to leave our friends and the internet) on Thursday, more than 24 hours before a mandatory evacuation of 300,000 people was ordered from the

south shore of Long Island.

The husband promised he’d join us Friday.

As my home is directly across the street from the Atlantic, to me this was a no brainer. I could SEE the horror movie tidal wave hitting my house very easily.

What followed was surprising.

I invited family and friends to join me in my upstate home, 3 hours north of the south shore. Safe. Far away from chaos.

and… NOBODY took me up on my offer. Nobody. Many chose not to evacuate at all.

They cited work.

Work wanted them to stay.

How would they get to work.

Being self-employed for 20 years maybe I just do not get it. Don’t you have to be ALIVE to work? I hoped they would change their minds.

I could not ever be the type of employer who would not tell their employees to get the hell out and be safe. Kind of hard to go to work if you’re dead, isn’t it?
Ya think? Hmm. I’m repeating myself. Anyway….

As I saw all of the reports coming in on the local networks and weather channel, I grew even more worried. How many of my friends would be killed due to abject stupidity? This thing was coming right at us.

I told several of my twitter friends where I would be because my house is in a notch upstate with no cell service or for me, internet, and I go up here to disconnect so the only internet is 10 minutes away at an undisclosed location. Ok.. It’s where I get my bagels in Hunter. But I don’t always eat bagels. So I don’t always go online. Now you know.

I was amazed at the concern I was hearing in my twitter DMS and my texts on my phone went crazy as I came into cell service range. Where are you?!  Did you leave? Please tell me you left. Run, Sueanne, RUNNN!!!

I made two trips to the grocery store because it was still unclear which of my family and friends would be joining me, if at all, and I was preparing for several days without electricity or water. Nobody at the store looked worried. They all have generators. I heard someone say *Oh, it’ll just be a little rain, so what?*

And we settled in to wait. I realized I left early but I’m not a big fan of traffic, and sure enough, when the Husband arrived Friday evening he assured me there was a mass exodus going on and the 3 hour drive took him almost 6. He told me the family wouldn’t be coming and we hoped they would use common sense and at least get to high ground. I made a ton of jewelry. It helped me take my mind off worrying a little bit. Not much.

We watched the news coverage and saw that the eye of the storm was probably going to hit our home, and mentally prepared ourselves to lose everything. I was sorry I hadn’t put more in the car, like passports and birth certificates. I kept thinking my kids wouldn’t be able to go to their new schools because I had no I.D. for them. Weird stuff like that. That’s what goes through your head.

We finally lost power at about 9:30 A.M. as we saw the footage of waves crashing into our town and the reporters being pummeled by wind 2 hours before the brunt of it was actually even supposed to hit. It was a sad moment as I realized that there would be loss of property and potentially life in the town that I love, and I would have no way to know what had happened. Our phone lines also went dead. We were now totally cut off.

We went about our business and didn’t let the kids see that we were worried.  It was raining buckets in our upstate location but we didn’t feel like we were in any danger, except maybe a tree falling on our house. We watched the wind whip through the trees and ate. The kerosene cooktop still worked if you lit a match.

It seemed like it would never stop raining. All day it rained. We realized we were now going to have to deal with another problem. Flooding of the towns surrounding us. The elevation of my little burb isn’t usually a problem. Then the basement started flooding… about 6 inches. The sump pump didn’t work because there was no power. Nothing was ruined. The boiler is elevated. As a bonus we had a ton of water with which to flush the toilet with. YAY!!! Life was sweet.

We set out for a walk the next morning, which was a beautiful day, to inspect the damage and saw that several small bridges on our street that connected the road to homes were totally washed out. We were assured that nobody was trapped.

Then we got in the car and took a ride down rte. 214. That’s the video. There was no cell service or electricity in Hunter either. Or Phoenecia. We heard the village of Windham was totally washed out when a dam broke. Sad stuff.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUPXqZuSjgA&feature=player_embedded

As the day went on we heard reports from all over New York on the AM radio. That was the only connection to the rest of the world other than talking to everybody we ran into in the neighborhood. What a mess. New Jersey seemed to be hit hardest and it seemed almost every road we take to go between upstate and downstate NY was closed. We had no idea what had happened to our home and if it was even standing. We were going to be stuck for a while. And we had no way to communicate. No phones were working.

Later that day, we finally found very kind merchants who were letting people use their phones to call their families and let them know you were ok. Thank you Ruth Gale Realty and The lady at the Pharmacy. You are very kind and generous people. We were so sad to see our favorite restaurant, Brios, was severely damaged in Phoenecia.

Finally, on Tuesday, two days after the hurricane, we packed up the car and took the long way out of town, about 45 minutes out of our way, because that was the only way out due to washed out roads and bridges.

As I drove into our South shore town, I was relieved to see almost no damage. Wow. Amazing. I still have not driven into the surrounding towns but I’m hearing some homes got flooded. I have not heard of any deaths here, and I’m so glad everyone is safe as I know there has been loss of life in this storm and river flooding and power outages continue to be a huge, huge problem.

I’m very thankful to the media and local governments for doing a fantastic job in warning people about this disaster and hope the relief efforts are as successful.

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SAY it, don’t SPRAY it. My case against extended tweets.

We all have our pet Twitter peeves, don’t we? This is one of mine. People who extend or “continue” their tweets that are too long to fit into 140 characters on twitter through TweetDeck or other “special” programs designed to do this. Here is why I tell everybody who will listen… NOT to do this.

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Wake up and smell the Social Media, Long Island

I am delighted to be among those speaking at the first ever 140 Conference Long Island on May 26th. The event will be held at the Touro Law School in Central Islip and is an all day event. I will be sharing a fun and interesting story with a panel consisting of Lee Bogner, Beth Granger, and Paul Biedermann about how a twitter tribe or “twibe” on Twitter called #usguys came about, what it is and what it can do for you.

The 140 Conference provides  an unparalleled  opportunity to wake up, connect, share, and engage with people that have found success in using the real-time web, specifically social media. This is the first time it’s coming to Long Island and I urge you to attend if you possibly can. It will also be live-streamed and people all over the world will be tuning in to watch it. You can be there in person. So many great stories are out there to be shared, not only in the business world, but all walks of life. This should be a very powerful sharing and learning event where you will hear inspiring stories from fellow Long Islanders as well as around the country.

And the speakers? There are a gazillion. Here is my video attempting to list them all in under 60 seconds:

I know every time I attend anything having to do with the 140Conf family I always come away with new ideas for my businesses. There is nothing better than being there in person, because this allows you to network with some of the greatest minds in the country. You do not want to miss this opportunity, trust me.

Here is a link that will save you 10% if you are interested in attending, that I am able to offer to you because I am speaking at the conference.  The VERY AFFORDABLE price includes some sort of breakfast, lunch and a barbecue as well as a Long Island Ducks game for the price of what you might typically pay for dinner. Not including drinks. Or Dessert. Haha. It’s an unbelievable value.

Here is a list of speakers for the event, many of these people I know and follow in various social channels. It is subject to change without notice. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn something from these inspiring people. http://li2011.140conf.com/speaker-schedule

Hope you will find the time to join me and listen to the many fantastic stories that are made possible by the real time web.

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FASHION! Tweet to the left. FASHION! Tweet to the right.

I had the pleasure of attending the first Fashion 140 conference in Manhattan on May 4. As someone with dual professional personalities (jewelry design and social media) I couldn’t really ask for a better type of event, the premise was fabulous. So I jumped on the LIRR and away I went.

It wasn’t raining on the Island but it was pouring when I arrived and I had a nice giggle with some of the other attendees as we tried to cross Broadway in an attempt to get to Lincoln Center without a classic “get engulfed in a huge puddle splash when waiting to cross the street” scenario. You could tell who was from out of town. She was the one standing right next to the puddle.

After a bit of a long wait in line to check-in  ( Good thing I stuck to heels under 4″) I entered the truly beautiful venue in a very comfortable chair at Alice Tully Hall and settled in for a day chock full of my two favorite things: Social Media and Fashion. I won’t be able to cover this event in one post. It will take me three, I think. This event was the product of masterminds Jeff Pulver and Lilly Berelovich. It was a huge undertaking and they deserve kudos galore.

I generally tweet what’s going on at these kinds of conferences from my iPhone but unfortunately connectivity was zilch, so I whipped out my pen and paper and figured I’d be better able to absorb what I was hearing if I wasn’t tweeting anyway.

The lineup of speakers was tremendous and very impressive, a lot of celebrities in the fashion world. It’s always interesting to hear how they are using social media, even if I totally disagree with certain aspects of how they are doing it. By and large most speakers had a following to follower ratio that was anything *but* social. They don’t follow their customers or fans back. They don’t really engage much with their followers. Is this social?

That’s a generalization, and not everybody in the lineup was like that, but most were.  I would argue that these type of people and companies aren’t really capable of understanding social media as well as those of us who actually jump in and follow a couple of thousand at least and are really in the thick of things. Some of us take the time to answer a large percentage of tweets and really get to know their customers. It’s a dialog rather than a monologue for those of us who do that. A highly interactive focus group.

I would have loved to hear from a few new and independent designers who were not already famous and were in the process of using social media to build their brand. There weren’t any examples of that. I may be biased because that is the category I’m in. But isn’t that the category MOST designers are in?

I found the presentation by Daymond John , founder of FUBU and star of ABC’s Shark Tank, to be very down-to-earth and helpful. He suggested we all boil our brands down to two to three descriptive words – five at the most- and make sure everything we do to promote on social media uses or relates to those words. He gave me a couple of ideas that I plan on using in my own brand immediately that were really simple things that I wasn’t doing before. He pointed out that we are coming to a time where first impressions will be judged by how good our website looks.  When he said that I immediately got this impression in my head of a girl asking a guy not what kind of car he drives or what he does, but for his URL. It’s true, isn’t it?

Another favorite from the day was Carol Brodie . I could have easily listened to this woman for two hours. Okay, 8 hours. Carol has a line of fine jewelry on HSN. Yeah. I know what you’re thinking. I’m biased because it’s jewelry. No. I would love this woman’s zest if she were selling baseball caps. She said she grew up wanting to be “Joprah– the jewelry Oprah” and believe me, she is. Her presentation was easily the best I’ve ever seen at any conference I’ve attended. She went over what she was doing on Facebook to promote her brand and really seems to understand the connection and benefits that Social Media provides for a “click and order, not brick and mortar” brand.

Thanks for reading! I’ll try to post another Fashion 140 related post soon. There were many great presentations to mention, but I like to keep each post short.

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Why is my Klout Killer?

Recently, the topic of online influence in social media has exploded into my life.

The word on the street is that I am someone who influences people in the social media realm, because I have a high Klout score compared to many people.

At first, when I discovered this, I just laughed it off, thinking somehow it would go away, or it wasn’t true. But then people started asking me questions. Did I think it was accurate, important? Would I hire someone or refer someone based on their Klout score? Have I been getting really cool free stuff in the mail from people wanting to use my influence to advertise their products? To which my answers were somewhat, maybe, and… HEY! where’s my free Godiva chocolate?

I was even mentioned last week by Newsday as a “top 5 person to follow-social media guru” on Long Island,  population 7.5 million, probably based on this Klout score. I swear, I didn’t give away any free jewelry and I still have all of my children.

Klout is a metric scoring system that says they measure overall online influence, using over 35 variables on Facebook and twitter. The higher score you have, the more likely people are listening to what you say, pass along what you are saying to other people, and take action when you say it.

Newsday, 3/28

At the time of writing this my Klout score is a 65, which is considered on the high end, for a non-celebrity type such as myself. I expect it will go up as I use Facebook more (I don’t much) and when Klout figures out how to merge the three companies I’m involved in…into ONE score. That score is for my jewelry company account, @SueanneShirzay on twitter, Sueanne Shirzay Jewelry. I also own a social media consulting company, Killer Social, and am a partner in Socialisle, LLC, another social business company. I have been on twitter for two years as @SueanneShirzay , and the other usernames are recent additions.

As far as I can tell, there is no way to cheat this system, it is what it is, and it measures what it measures. I’m not a metrics person, and trust me, I don’t want to be. I just do what I do. And I love doing it.

I mentioned to one of my partners at Socialisle, LLC, George Torres, that no matter how high my Klout score is, I will always just think of myself as “Suzy from Indiana who grew up across the street from a cornfield”.  He replied, “That’s why you have influence”. That made me laugh and got me thinking. Those are my roots. I can’t escape them, just as you can’t escape yours. I moved to NYC to go to college and never left, and now reside in a beach town on Long Island, which is so laid back that surfers literally strip down in the streets.

Let me unlock the Klout mystique. Eyebrow raise. If I can. This is all just pure speculation. I could be wrong. This is my experience, your mileage may vary greatly.

I’d like to think this score is probably just saying I’m good at communicating who I am and what I’m thinking online. A communicator with good manners, humor, wisdom, creativity, knowledge, passion, experience, and just plain human compassion.

Or I could just be a schmuck. Who knows?

I genuinely like people

I actually LIKE almost everybody I meet, online and off. I think the other humans are interesting. I approach meeting people without caution, ASSUMING I will like them. It’s pretty easy to make friends online when you like people. I rarely tweet politics, religion, or negative thoughts, though of course I do discuss such things privately, and have opinions.  I never tweet or post anything that is intentionally going to hurt another person. If I screw up, I apologize. I don’t follow or friend people who I see bullying other people, or complaining excessively. As my friend Mike LaMonica said to me recently “Social Media is not a safe place for Anti-Social people”. This was after the recent Chrysler F-bomb tweet debacle. It’s easy to be nice online.

Communication

I have a long history in advertising, marketing, art, writing, and recently jewelrymaking. That background allows me to write what I need to communicate in a clear, informative and very often humorous way. I do video blogs. It’s easier for people to relate to me when they can hear me speak. I have traveled a little bit, and I ship the jewelry all over the world, so I often follow people in different countries and tweet in different languages from time to time.

Creativity/Content

I’m a creative person, and when you are consistently writing new content and creating new things, people react to it, so I guess that’s a way of influencing people. You have to say or do something in order to create influence, not just react to what everybody else is saying or doing. Currently, I write four other blogs and am a contributor to Herald de Paris. You lead. You encourage others to lead. You create. You do your thing that you do to the best of your ability. You don’t compete. You just be true to yourself.

Manners

I have them, and I know how to use them. I say please. I say thank you. Actually I say thank you ALOT, so much so that many times, it ends up in dm or on a phone call, because if I tweeted it, all you would see is THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU all day long on my twitter and Facebook feed. I try to respond to people who leave comments on my blogs, tweet me, facebook me, like my YouTube channel, etc. I can’t always get to everybody, but I do try.

Opinions

I have opinions on everything. In fact, I consider myself a very opinionated person. I don’t make them all public, but when you share what you are thinking,  sometimes it influences people.

Humor

I’m known for having a good sense of humor, I laugh all day, everyday, and I like putting it into words and sharing it. I think that’s a big part of why people interact with me online. I don’t take things that seriously. Life is too short.

Wisdom

I’m old. I pass along what I’ve learned. I’ve met hundreds of people I originally met online… offline at conferences and social gatherings. I encourage, coach and mentor people. I do public speaking. I give back.

Helpful

I introduce people to each other. I participate and volunteer for things that are going on in my community and local and national philanthropic organizations. I also design jewelry to benefit philanthropic organizations. I truly enjoy helping other people and I appreciate all of the help I’ve received over the years.

News

I know what’s going on. I may not post or tweet about it on a daily basis, but I’m aware of what’s going on in the world

Advice

I often give advice to those who need it. All of my businesses exist to advise others, and bring people up.  Some days my DM box on twitter resembles a psychiatrist’s couch. That’s okay. Things happen. People are human. It’s okay to advise the other humans.

Respect

Even if I don’t agree with what someone is saying or doing online, as a respectful person, there is a way to disagree without making somebody feel bad or be confrontational. I try to keep my criticisms polite and respectful.

In the end, I think influence may just be  about sharing the best versions of who we all are…online with the world. If there was any way to make this influence work to get my kids out of the door on time for school in the morning, that would be even more impressive. Now, where’s my Godiva, please? Dark. Raspberry filling. Thank you.

This is my story, what’s yours? What things have you done that you think affect your Klout score? Is it important?

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